dba vs phd

  • DBA vs PhD – Differences Explained
  • Types of Doctorates

Is a DBA and PhD Equivalent?

A  Doctor of Business Administration  (DBA) is equivalent to a  Doctor of Philosophy (PhD); however, there are fundamental differences between these two doctoral degrees. These differences are nearly always at the centre of DBA vs PhD discussions, and they stem from the intended career path of the student following their degree.

A PhD focuses on the ‘ theory ’ underpinning business management, whereas a DBA focuses on the ‘ practical ’ concepts. Those who complete a PhD in business management usually do so as they wish to pursue a career in research or academia. Those who complete a DBA do so as they want to pursue a more advanced role in the business industry or within their organisation.

What Is a PhD?

A PhD is a doctorate degree and is the highest postgraduate qualification awarded by universities. It involves undertaking original research in a narrow subject field and typically takes 4 years to complete.

A PhD in Business Administration provides an individual with a specialised and research-based background for a topic in the business management field. This is one of the key reasons it’s sought after by those who wish to work in business-related academia or research.

What Is a DBA?

A  Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a business-orientated professional doctorate. Like a PhD, it is the highest-level postgraduate qualification which you can obtain from a university.

The degree programme focuses on providing practical and innovative business management knowledge which can apply to any workplace. DBAs are designed for experienced practitioners such as senior managers, consultants and entrepreneurs who want to further their practical abilities.

This form of doctorate was first introduced as a way of allowing a distinction to be made between experienced practitioners and expert practitioners. The doctorate is an equal alternative to a traditional PhD and is an advanced follow-up for a  Master’s in Business Administration  ( MBA ).

Research Scope

A noticeable difference between a PhD and a DBA is the research topic. A PhD candidate selects a research project of theoretical value to the academic environment. A DBA candidate selects a research project which has a practical application to the business environment.

This means that while the research topic for a PhD will centre around a gap in knowledge of existing theories, the topic for a DBA will usually focus on developing a new theory or innovatively improving an existing one.

DBA students typically choose research topics based on real-life scenarios they are facing or have faced. This is contrary to a PhD student where their research topic usually centres around a topic they don’t have first-hand experience in.

Programme Structure

PhD Vs DBA Salary

A PhD usually takes 4 years to complete while a DBA degree takes between 4 – 7 years to complete, with most students requiring 6 years.

Due to DBA students being working professionals, nearly all DBA degree programmes are part-time courses carried out under a ‘distant learning’ arrangement. This is opposite to PhD programmes where most are offered as full-time projects which require extensive amounts of physical presence on the university’s campus.

Another difference in the programme between PhDs and DBAs is that PhDs have no taught components, while DBAs have a significant number of taught components .

Due to these taught components, DBA programmes are split into two sections . The first section is 2 years long and covers the taught elements of the degree and involves completing coursework. A wide range of specialist business management topics are covered, such as market theory , resource partitioning , and organisational development . These first two years provide you with advanced business knowledge and develop your research and analytical skills to prepare for your individual research project. The remaining 2 to 5 years is for you to undertake your individual research project; this is the second section.

As part of your research project, you will have to produce a thesis . The thesis will outline your methods and results and include a discussion of your research findings. Although the word count will vary for each university, most use an upper word count of around 60,000 words. Besides this, you will also need to defend your work during an oral examination known as a ‘ viva voce ’.

During your degree, you’ll likely have several opportunities to present your research at conferences, universities and related organisations.

Tuition Fees

To fairly represent the two sections of DBA programmes, universities usually adopt two sets of annual tuition fees. These fees vary widely between universities:

  • The first set covers the first two years of the programme and is typically between £13,000 – £30,000 per year.
  • The second set of annual tuition fee covers the remaining years and generally is between £4,000 – £9,000 per year.

The reason for this difference in fee is that the first two years will heavily utilise the university’s resources and a professor’s time to deliver the taught modules.

In contrast, the average cost of a full-time PhD is fixed throughout its full duration and is typically around £4,700 per annum. Given this difference in tuition fee and programme duration, a DBA is approximately two to three times more expensive than undertaking a PhD.

Besides having a greater reliance on a university’s resources, another reason DBA programmes cost more than a PhD is because of the differences in the students undertaking them. A PhD student is usually a young individual who has just completed a Master’s degree and has little to no working experience. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a DBA student will be an older individual with up to 10 years of professional working experience, and will likely still be working alongside their studies. As a result, universities can set a higher tuition fee due to DBA students being financially stronger.

Funding Opportunities

Compared to PhD programmes, DBAs don’t have as much access to funding opportunities.

DBA students can apply for Doctoral Loans or try to secure funding from external sources. The most accessible source of these external sources will always be their employer. While their employer may not cover the full tuition fees, they may subsidise part of it and help supply you with data and other resources you may need.

Entry Requirements


As DBAs are intended for experienced practitioners, you will be expected to have significant experience in your field. Although the entry requirements will differ between universities, most business schools will require you to have at least ten years of professional work experience with at least five years in a senior management or leadership position.

Most universities will also require you to have a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or an equivalent Master’s degree in a business management subject. Depending on the strength of your bachelor’s degree and the significance of your professional working experience, you could still be enrolled into a DBA programme without a relevant Master’s degree; however, you will need to demonstrate why you are a strong DBA candidate.

As part of your application, most universities will also require you to prepare and submit a short research proposal. A research proposal outlines the ‘what, why and how’ of your intended research project.

Similar to PhD programs, you will need to meet English language requirements should English not be your first language. These requirements are usually:

  • a minimum overall IELTS score of 7.0, with no less than 6.5 in each component,
  • a minimum overall Pearson Test of English (PTE) of 70, with no less than 62 in each component.

PhD vs DBA Salaries

Typically, DBA graduates earn more than business management PhD graduates. This is because a DBA focuses on the practical applications of business management, and as such, what students learn can be applied in professional practice in their industry.

Due to this practical aspect, a DBA graduate becomes well suited for top leadership positions such as Operation Managers , Managing Directors and CEOs .

On the other hand, a PhD provides graduates with applied research skills and the ability to theorise, understand and develop business management concepts. This makes them better suited for a research or academic career. These positions attract less pay compared to leadership roles in large organisations.

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DBA vs. PhD: What’s the Difference?

dba vs phd

You’ve tackled your undergraduate business degree, and now you’re feeling ready to take your business education one step further. You might be wondering, “Where do I even begin?” If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to upper-level business degrees, there are a wide variety of options. Two popular options are the Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA, and the Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD. Both options can be an excellent fit for students who are eager to dive even deeper into the world of academia. In this article, you’ll get a better understanding of the difference between the two degrees and gain some insight as to which degree program is the best fit for you.

What Is a DBA?

A Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA degree, is considered a “terminal degree.” This designation simply means that the degree is the highest level of education one can receive in the business world. These degrees are centered around business education with a major emphasis on management. DBA programs often entail a research component that focuses on real-life business problems. Throughout their studies, DBA students learn to apply various theories in solving real issues faced by today’s businesses. This degree is primarily geared toward individuals who currently hold a master’s degree in business or another closely related subject.

What Is a PhD?

PhD programs are another excellent choice for those wishing to further their education. This is also considered a “terminal degree,” and it is the highest-level research degree that one can obtain. These programs involve rigorous research and extensive study. While you’re likely interested in a PhD degree in the business field, nearly any subject can provide this research-based degree, from science, to humanities, to everything in between. While DBA programs are typically intended for students who hold a master’s degree, PhD programs welcome students after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related discipline. They are the ideal choice for anyone who might be interested in carrying out research or teaching in an academic institution.

Coursework and Duration: Comparing the Curriculum

While both DBA programs and PhD programs give students a deep understanding of the theories that drive the world around us, they do so in different ways. In a Doctorate of Business Administration program, you’ll focus exclusively on business and management from a practical lens. Application of theory is a major focus, and coursework often provides students with opportunities to put their knowledge into practice by solving real-world business problems. Alternatively, PhD programs are offered in just about any subject one can imagine. They take a more theoretical approach with their curricula, teaching students to understand the “why” and “how” behind both business problems and their solutions.

The typical timeline of these graduate programs differs as well. Since DBA programs are intended for people who already have both a master’s degree and significant work experience, they tend to take less time to complete. Many DBA programs are offered on a part-time schedule, and students can expect to complete their Doctorate of Business Administration in about two to four years. While PhD programs don’t always require as much experience prior to enrolling, they tend to require more time to complete. These research-intense programs usually follow a full-time course schedule with an average completion time that ranges from three to five years.

Practical Experience vs. Thesis Research

The major difference between a DBA education and a PhD education can be summed up as practical vs. theoretical. Students entering into a DBA program typically come with a master’s degree in hand and multiple years of relevant work experience under their belt. As such, DBA programs are designed to expand upon their students’ wealth of prior knowledge and experience. These programs teach students to understand relevant theories and principles of business management, but more importantly, they teach students to apply those theories and principles. DBA programs equip students to bring their education and experience to the table when solving real-world problems.

While DBA students focus on using existing knowledge to solve problems, students in PhD programs work to add new knowledge to the business world. Instead of researching the application of existing theories and principles, PhD students are expected to work on original research, unearthing and exploring new ideas. Thus, PhD programs take a much more theoretical approach rather than a practical one. To put their newly gained insights on display, PhD candidates are usually required to complete a dissertation. Through these lengthy research projects, students demonstrate their knowledge, expand upon their ideas, and showcase their experience.

Career Outcomes of a DBA vs. a PhD in Business Administration

Following completion of their degree, DBA and PhD graduates typically take two different paths when it comes to employment. Much like an MBA, a Doctor of Business Administration prepares students for jobs in both the private and public sector. DBA candidates often go on to work in senior management roles or consulting. Some even choose to open their own businesses. Their practical, hands-on approach ensures that DBA programs leave their graduates well-equipped for these roles.

On the other hand, PhD candidates typically stick to the world of academia following their graduation. They often find work with universities as professors and can even go on to be program directors. Some graduates may also opt to continue expanding upon their research while they teach, sharing their research methods with the next generation of PhD students.

However, as with any degree, the job you’ll find afterward depends on a number of different factors. Your prior work experience and unique strengths gained from both work and the classroom play a big part in determining where you’ll take your talents. Just like your interests and passions will likely guide your choice between DBA and PhD programs, they’ll also guide your job search. External factors do play a role as well. The current job market will decide what specific jobs are available at one time or another, and demand for your specific skill set can determine how well you fit the profile of those available jobs.

DBA or PhD: Which Is Right for You?

Deciding to further your education with a doctorate degree is a huge decision in and of itself. Having to choose between a Doctor of Business Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy might be an even more challenging decision. Each of these programs is considered a “terminal degree,” offering students the highest level of education possible in the field. They provide candidates with advanced training and preparation for high-ranking roles. Whether you opt for a DBA or a PhD program, you’ll be opening doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

To ensure that you make the right choice between the two degrees, you’ll want to take time to think about your career goals. Consider where you are now as well as what you want your career to look like in 5, 10, even 2o years. Do you hope to hold a title as a C-suite executive of a major corporation, calling the shots and leading the teams around you? Or do you hope to be in the classroom, teaching the next generation of business professionals about both new and existing theories in the business industry?

Be sure to spend some significant time weighing out these options, including any accreditation requirements. Once you feel confident in the goals you’ve set, look for programs that are in alignment with the things that are most important to you. Check out the academic career resources and coursework of each program you’re interested in. Give yourself the time and space to carefully consider each of these factors prior to making a decision.

Final Thoughts

Getting a doctorate degree can be an excellent way to take your career to the next level . No matter whether you opt for a DBA or a PhD, these terminal business degrees can make your application stand out among the rest and open doors to previously unattainable job opportunities. DBA programs are a perfect fit for people looking to grow their base of practical knowledge in the field. They prepare graduates to work in upper-level leadership roles within the business environment, solving real problems that companies face on a day-to-day basis. Alternatively, PhD programs are the ideal choice for anyone with an interest in the principles and theories that guide business decisions and outcomes. These programs equip graduates to take on roles in the world of academia, such as research and teaching.

However, before you take the jump into your DBA or PhD, be sure to take time to thoughtfully consider your decision. Use your career goals as a guide, and take the time to research your options thoroughly. Seek out advice from peers in the field, and learn from the stories of others making an impact in the business world, like one Crummer Executive MBA student who has a strong passion for both business and academia.

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DBA vs PhD: What’s the difference in Business Administration?

  • April 17, 2024

DBA vs PhD What’s the difference in Business Administration

Table of Contents

Business education landscape is marked by two towering pillars: the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the PhD in Business Administration . These degrees represent the zenith of academic and professional achievement in the business realm, yet they cater to distinct career paths and ambitions. So, let’s compare DBA vs PhD .

While both degrees are terminal , signifying the highest level of educational attainment in the field, they diverge significantly in purpose, structure, and outcome.

The Facts on DBA vs PhD:

  • Research Focus : DBAs are for applied business problem-solving; PhDs aim to generate new theories.
  • Career Goals : DBAs lead to executive roles; PhDs lead to academic careers.
  • Flexibility : DBAs offer part-time options for working professionals; PhDs are full-time.
  • Duration and Cost : DBAs are shorter and self-funded; PhDs are longer with potential funding.

DBA vs PhD: Academic Rigor and Research Focus

Both the DBA and PhD involve rigorous research and demand a high level of scholarly work. However, the nature of the research they entail differentiates them. 

The DBA is designed for applied research , focusing on real-world business problems and their solutions. This program is less about generating new theories and more about applying existing knowledge to enhance business practices.

Conversely, the PhD in Business Administration is theoretical and seeks to advance knowledge by developing new theories or refining existing ones. Its curriculum involves research methodologies and academic theory, preparing graduates for academic careers and scholarly research.

The best example of this difference is Doctoral Research Project that culminates the DBA program. This is significantly different from a dissertation, as it allows students to solve specific problems within organizations.

Career Trajectories and Professional Objectives

The career paths of DBA and PhD graduates often reflect the research focus of their respective programs. PhD holders typically pursue academic careers, contributing to the body of knowledge in business and training the next generation of scholars. Their work often involves publishing research and teaching at the university level.

On the other hand, DBA graduates are usually seasoned business professionals who leverage their advanced education to ascend to higher executive roles or consultancy. The DBA equips them with the tools to solve complex business issues, making them valuable assets in the corporate sphere.

DBA vs PhD: Program Delivery and Flexibility

The structure of DBA and PhD programs caters to the distinct needs of their candidates. PhD programs are immersive and full-time , often requiring students to forgo other employment to focus solely on their studies. Many institutions offering stipends and tuition waivers to facilitate this.

In contrast, DBA programs offer greater flexibility . They allow students to balance their studies with work and family commitments. DBA programs at CIU blend learning experiences, as they combine online and on-campus elements to accommodate the busy schedules of working professionals. 

Time Investment and Financial Considerations

If you’re wondering how long does it take to get a DBA , here at CIU, we design our doctorate programs to be completed within 2.5 years .

Typically, you can complete a DBA program in a shorter time frame than a PhD. The latter takes between six to ten years. This difference is partly due to the DBA’s focus on practical, problem-solving coursework relevant to current business practices.

Financially, the two programs also differ. PhD students often benefit from funding through fellowships, whereas DBA candidates are usually self-funded , which reflects the program’s orientation toward working professionals.

DBA vs PhD: Making the Right Choice

Choosing between a DBA and a PhD in Business Administration depends on an individual’s career goals, lifestyle, and personal interests . Those inclined towards academic research, theory development, and teaching might find the PhD pathway more fulfilling. Meanwhile, the DBA route is better for business professionals aiming to enhance their strategic decision-making capabilities and impact practical business operations.

Understanding the commonalities and differences between these two esteemed degrees is crucial for prospective students. Both degrees demand a high level of dedication and intellectual rigor and offer the potential to significantly advance one’s career in business, whether in the academic or corporate sphere.

In conclusion, choosing between a DBA and a PhD in Business Administration is not just about selecting an academic program. It’s about charting a course for one’s future career and impact in the business world. 

When making this pivotal decision, prospective students should consider their long-term career aspirations and preferred research focus. Plus, the balance they wish to strike between professional work and academic study. With thorough research and self-reflection, deciding between DBA vs PhD can be a transformative step towards achieving one’s professional and academic goals.

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DBA vs MBA: Understanding the Differences

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Choosing Your Path: The Key Differences Between DBA and PhD Programs in Business

Business Doctorate Choices

Deciding between a DBA degree and a PhD degree can be a difficult choice for those looking to pursue higher education in business. Though they sound similar, there are some key differences between these business doctorates that you’ll need to consider carefully when plotting your career trajectory. This blog breaks down everything you need to know when choosing between a DBA versus PhD degree.

What is a DBA Degree?

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a doctoral degree focused specifically on business practice. DBA programs aim to produce graduates with both strong practical business skills and solid research capabilities. The goal is to bridge the gap between academia and the real-world business environment.

What is a PhD Degree?

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a more traditional, research-focused doctoral degree that delves deep into a subfield or specialization within the business, like marketing, finance, organizational behavior, etc. PhD dissertations require conducting original research that contributes new knowledge or theories to the field. 

Key Differences Between a DBA and PhD

Though they are both terminal degrees in the field of business, there are some notable ways a DBA and a PhD differ:

  • Program Focus : DBA programs concentrate on practical business skills and strategy, while PhD programs prioritize research skills and theoretical knowledge.
  • Career Outcomes : DBAs most often pursue executive business leadership roles, whereas PhDs tend to take faculty research positions.
  • Dissertation Work : DBA dissertations solve real organizational problems; PhD dissertations involve pure academic research.
  • Cost : DBA tuition costs less than typical PhD tuition at most universities.

Let’s explore these business doctorate choices and how they impact your career path in more detail:

DBA vs PhD: How They Shape Your Career Trajectory

dba vs phd

Choosing between a DBA and a PhD can significantly impact your career path DBA PhD after graduation. It’s essential to thoughtfully weigh your skills, interests, and professional aspirations to determine which business doctorate aligns better with your career objectives.

Career Paths With a DBA

Pursuing a DBA degree is the best choice for working business professionals who want to gain the expertise needed for senior leadership roles. Typical careers include:

  • C-Suite Executive Positions – CEO, CFO, CIO, COO
  • Functional Leadership Roles – Director of Operations, VP of Marketing, Head of Business Development
  • Management Consultancy – Partner, Principal Consultant, Strategy Consultant
  • Faculty Positions – Professor of Practice, Executive Professor, Adjunct Faculty

The applied nature of the DBA program curriculum directly prepares graduates to thrive as leaders driving business growth and strategy.

Career Paths With a PhD

Alternatively, the immersive research training of a PhD in business is designed to equip students for academic careers conducting original research and instructing graduate-level business courses, such as:

  • Professor – Tenure-Track or Clinical Professor
  • Post-Secondary Administration – Dean, Department Chair/Head
  • Researcher – Think Tank Scholar, Senior Economist, Quantitative Analyst

While it is possible for some PhDs to transition into industry leadership roles, they generally need more well-rounded practical business education provided in a DBA program.

Tips for Choosing the Right Business Doctorate

As you weigh a DBA versus PhD for your future, keep these tips in mind:

  • Reflect deeply on where you see your career in 5-10 years. Let your long-term professional vision guide which rigorous doctoral program makes sense.
  • Speak to department heads and professors in each degree program to learn more about the curriculum focus and research opportunities.
  • Look for funded PhD opportunities to help offset the higher costs of investing further in your education.
  • Leverage your work experience and seek out DBA programs that will count real business projects toward your dissertation.

The Bottom Line

When deciding between investment in a DBA or PhD, moving up the executive ranks or a career shift into academia may come down to following your true passions and talents. If you’re driven by field research and theory, developing seminal thinking as a professor may prove incredibly fulfilling. But if you thrive on strategic decision-making and influencing organizations at a high level, choosing Business Doctorate can fast-track your leadership career.

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PhD vs. DBA: What’s the Difference?

A smiling businessperson works on a laptop.

Updated on March 29, 2023.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in business and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) are both doctoral degrees that allow students to engage in advanced study, examinations and research projects surrounding business administration to earn the highest credentials in business education.

Although the PhD and DBA have similarities, each doctoral degree is designed for distinctive target groups and aligned with unique career goals, resulting in varying outcomes.

Marymount University’s online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence program prepares graduates for real-world problems within their organization and teaches professionals how to lead at the highest level in data analytics.

Request My Free DBA Program Guide

PhD vs. DBA At-a-Glance Comparison

What are the similarities and differences between a PhD and DBA in business? The following chart outlines what you should expect from the two business doctoral programs to help you determine which program’s outcome, format, coursework and requirements align with your profile and goals.

Learn more about the PhD vs. DBA and discover the next step in your professional journey.

How to Choose Between a PhD and a DBA

The first step to determining whether the PhD or DBA degree is right for you is to outline your career objectives. Ask yourself questions that align with the key differentiators above:

  • Program focus: Am I interested in applying research to a real-world setting or producing original research for future business models?
  • Outcomes: Do I want to work in a business, government or nonprofit setting and solve organizational problems, or do I want to teach business theory to students?
  • Student profile: Am I an experienced executive with years of job experience or a business student in the academic setting?
  • Program format: Do I prefer to learn online or on campus?
  • Coursework: What are the key skills I’m interested in learning?
  • Program length: How much time do I want to dedicate to my continued education?
  • Requirements: Do I have the necessary prerequisites?

DBA candidate interviewing for a job

PhD vs. DBA: Salary , Job Opportunities and Outlook

A business professional who has completed an advanced degree can find new and exciting job opportunities, a promising job outlook and a higher earning potential. Consider a few figures concerning the PhD vs. DBA salary range, as well as the job forecast.

Job Opportunities for PhD in Business Graduates

Several career opportunities are open to those pursuing a PhD in business. Some common career trajectories include:

  • Business professor
  • Management consultant

Job Outlook and Salaries for PhD Graduates

Job forecasts vary for different roles that PhD graduates might pursue. Positions for management consultants , for instance, are predicted to increase by 11% between 2021 and 2031 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For postsecondary instructors such as business professors, the BLS predicts 12% growth between 2021 and 2031. While salaries also vary, the median annual salary for those with PhDs in business administration was approximately $103,000 in December 2022, according to Payscale.

Job Opportunities for DBA Graduates

DBA graduates gain access to a wide range of business roles and job opportunities. Many become management consultants working in professional, scientific and technical services, while others are self-employed. DBA graduates often work in the following roles:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Organizational development director
  • Human resources director

Job Outlook and Salaries for DBA Graduates

Outlook and salaries vary according to the position. The BLS predicts that positions for operations research analysts , including business intelligence analysts, will increase by 23% between 2021 and 2031. For training and development managers , including organizational development directors, the BLS predicts a 7% growth between 2021 and 2031. According to Payscale, business intelligence analysts made a median annual salary of approximately $71,900 in February 2023, while organizational development directors made about $123,000 in March 2023.

Why Pursue a DBA in Business Intelligence?

While there are many benefits to earning a PhD, a DBA specializing in business intelligence will expand your understanding of business theory in the context of a digital landscape and allow you to transform organizations for the future. 

Consider some of the main reasons to choose the DBA path:

1. Make Decisions Based on Data

Data-driven decision-making is a top priority for business leaders. An Invesp report noted that 40% of organizations aimed to increase data-driven marketing budgets and 64% of marketing leaders “strongly agree” that data-driven strategies are crucial in today’s economy.

A DBA in Business Intelligence teaches students how to use business intelligence tools to solve problems and gain groundbreaking insights . The hands-on coursework teaches DBA graduates how to:

  • Employ statistical methods to optimize business operations
  • Use microeconomic and macroeconomic approaches to solve business problems
  • Build a sophisticated platform to facilitate data-driven insights for an organization
  • Visualize data through industry software
  • Advocate for ethical data collection, privacy and transparency

2. Innovate in a Changing Economy

The business intelligence market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% between 2023 and 2038 . The emergence of big data and the introduction of advanced analytics makes professionals with a DBA in Business Intelligence essential for the modern workforce.

Pursuing a DBA in Business Intelligence can prepare you for new challenges and opportunities in business and government by teaching you how to:

  • Develop a data-driven plan for implementing change in a government agency, business or nonprofit organization
  • Use machine learning tools to create ethically sound applications of AI in a government or business environment
  • Use traditional business models for product and service delivery via digital platforms

3. Commit to Ethical Leadership

Governance, privacy and data ethics are top-of-mind for leaders using data to drive organizational decisions. 

Leaders who operate from an ethical foundation create conscious businesses, protect consumers and gain respect and trust as a result. A DBA in Business Intelligence can prepare you to:

  • Apply ethical theories to leadership challenges
  • Develop an ethical governance strategy in the context of using tools and technologies like AI and data analysis
  • Evaluate issues of trust, privacy and transparency from a business and policy perspective
  • Research the ethical impacts and potential bias of AI applications

4. Apply Research to the Real World

The DBA in Business Intelligence is concerned with using research to address real-world issues. The final research project is specific and can be transferable in an organizational setting. DBA students completing their final project will select their topic and engage in the following:

  • Use scientific thinking to design original business intelligent research
  • Evaluate ethical considerations when conducting research and eliminate biases
  • Integrate statistics and research methodology
  • Communicate their findings verbally and visually, as well as in writing

Benefits of Studying a DBA in Business Intelligence 

Between a PhD and DBA, furthering your education in business intelligence will benefit you and the organization you work for in various areas. Enrolling in a DBA in BI empowers you to:

  • Build connections with innovators in your field through an expansive network of alumni
  • Upskill to meet the demands of organizational needs in the digital age
  • Enter a higher salary bracket, experience faster career mobility and enjoy job security in an industry with a growing job outlook 
  • Become an impactful leader in your industry or use your skills to explore new industries
  • Prioritize ethics, privacy and moral leadership to create a better future for your team and your consumers

Marymount online DBA

Advance Your Career With a DBA in Business Intelligence

If you believe a DBA is the right fit for you and your career goals, Marymount University’s online DBA in Business Intelligence program is the next step to advancing your career in a modern business landscape.

Marymount University’s online DBA in Business Intelligence program is an interdisciplinary program designed for working professionals that focuses on actionable research, agility in a changing economy and digital integration.

The program allows professionals to acquire theoretical business knowledge, learn management skills, improve their ability to make informed strategic decisions and network with thousands of like-minded professionals worldwide.

As a student, you can:

  • Complete your DBA in three years online through a part-time, 36-credit-hour program
  • Tailor your coursework to your goals and benefit from an engaged, supportive faculty
  • Stay on the pulse of policy development in the digital age and gain direct insight into how government and business interact
  • Join the Catholic educational commitment to serve others, commit to global engagement and uphold ethical, socially responsible leadership

Learn more about Marymount University’s online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence program .

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DBA vs. PhD in Business

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Among doctoral degrees in business , prospective students can take two different paths: a PhD in business, or a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). To shed some light on just how common each degree is among AACSB-accredited  institutions, out of 251 accredited respondents to our 2014–15 Business School Questionnaire that reported doctoral business programs, 214 schools reported offering only PhDs, while 15 offer only DBAs, and 22 offer at least one of each. That further works out to a total of 883 distinct PhD programs and 54 DBA programs among the participating accredited schools. Clearly the PhD is the dominant doctoral degree type in this case, at about 94 percent.

What’s the Difference?

To gain a bit more perspective on what distinguishes these two degrees, I spoke with Praveen Parboteeah, who holds a PhD and is director of the DBA program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s College of Business and Economics . He says, “The market still sees PhDs as superior, as the level of in-depth specialization is necessary for more research-oriented institutions. However, DBAs are satisfying a critical niche whereby strong practitioners are trained in the rigors of scientific method and bring both practice and scholarly research to the university.” He believes that “DBAs will get more popular as programs gain more credibility.”

So if you’re among the ambitious souls seeking to go to the next level but aren’t sure which type of program to pursue, Parboteeah helps to provide an overarching distinction between the degrees by noting that DBAs “tend to typically be more practice oriented,” while PhDs are often more research oriented. Another notable difference, he says, is in the doctoral admissions process, where applicants to a DBA program “are expected to have a minimum number of years of high-level work experience.” At Wisconsin-Whitewater, applicants are required to have at least six years of professional experience, but Parboteeah has found that the average number of years of experience among applicants is actually much higher, at 19 years.

“The market still sees PhDs as superior, as the level of in-depth specialization is necessary for more research-oriented institutions. However, DBAs are satisfying a critical niche.”

This further means that applicants to the DBA have typically been out of school for a while, although some may have earned master’s degrees later in life after some career experience and then transitioned directly into the doctoral program. Those who earn PhDs in business tend to have more of a straight degree path, from bachelor’s to master’s to doctoral (or just bachelor’s to doctoral if a master’s isn’t required), without the professional experience, as their goal is often to teach and produce academic research.

As for the curriculum in each program, Parboteeah says, “Based on my experience with our program and the one at Kennesaw State University,” where he is on faculty as a senior global scholar, “I would say that DBAs are much more varied in nature compared to PhDs. Most PhDs offer a standardized curriculum where students are expected to become a specialist in one of the functional areas such as management, marketing, etc. However, DBAs can have a practical curriculum with the executive in mind.”

Doctoral Research: For What Purpose?

While both degree programs generally require a dissertation at the end of the degree, the research completed for each program can differ in nature. Parboteeah provides a couple examples of student research in his DBA program: “For instance, we have an individual whose expertise is on detection and prevention of money laundering. He is finding that there is a lot that has been done in economics that could be extremely useful for his work. We have another individual who is in healthcare administration and who is validating the patient satisfaction measure widely used in hospitals. These two examples show what DBA students bring to the table.” PhD research, on the other hand, is often more theoretical or conceptual in nature. The ideas that result from this work are studied by other professors and doctoral students.

End Goal: The Teaching Connection

What happens after doctoral students graduate from each degree? Because the PhD specifically prepares students for a career in academia, graduates of those programs often seek tenure-track faculty positions at colleges and universities, but other options include researchers or business consultants. DBA graduates have similar aspirations. According to Parboteeah, many of the practitioner-graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater program “want to have some connection with universities.” That may mean teaching one class per semester, while remaining in the workforce. Parboteeah says that “practitioners see it as a way to give back to their communities.” However, he notes of DBAs, “we also have others who have extensive work experience but want to transition to academia.” He even says that the majority of students in his program want to make that transition.

PhD vs. DBA: Takeaways

  • At the completion of both degrees, you get to put that coveted “Dr.” prefix before your name
  • PhDs are typically research oriented, while DBAs are practice oriented
  • Admission to a DBA program often requires years of professional experience
  • Both degrees generally require a dissertation, though the type of research you do may vary greatly
  • Both degrees can earn you a faculty position

As always, when searching for a business school program, prospective students should seek as much information as possible—especially from the program itself—in order to make the best-informed decision.

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DBA vs. Ph.D.

The DBA and Ph.D. are different degrees, intended for different types of students.

The Executive DBA is the more business-applicable degree, designed for experienced professionals who want to influence the future of business as consultants and professors, while continuing to work full time. The Ph.D. in Business Administration is a full-time, research-oriented program designed to prepare graduates for academic teaching and research careers.

The two programs each have a unique research focus, as well. The table below compares the two programs.

dba vs phd

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  • DBA vs PhD Differences: Doctorate of Business Administration

DBA vs PhD Differences: Doctor of Business Administration

Published: 3 january 2020 | by thomas graf.

Both, the PhD in Management and the DBA, are doctoral degrees and as such have similarities. Nevertheless there are important differences that can be captured by:

  • Target groups
  • Access to data
  • Qualification and career goals
  • Knowledge creation
  • Teaching mode
  • Recognition

1. Doctorate of Business Administration target groups: young graduates vs. senior professionals

PhD in Management and DBA programs address different target groups. Although there may be exceptions, the general rule is: People study a PhD program when they aim at a career in social sciences and eventually want to become a fulltime professor at a business school. Their goal is to become an academic and do research. These people often come directly from the university and start the PhD after graduating. Accordingly, they often are still in their 20s and do not have much work experience.

In contrast, people do a DBA when they are already successful in business for many years and look for a new intellectual challenge. These people often have an MBA already and want to further distinguish themselves from others by doing a doctoral degree. At the same time, they are interested in management research and may have a practical research question in mind - a specific problem from their work environment for instance - that they can approach in their dissertation and that provides benefits to their companies at the same time.

Hence, these people usually are older than PhD students, some of them in their 30s, some in their 40s, some even older. They have many years of work experience, good positions, a decent salary, and tons of ambition and motivation.

2. Motivation: career perspective vs. personal challenge

A difference between PhD in Management and DBA program is often the motivation behind the studies. For PhD students the PhD is the path to a career as an academic. Their degree qualifies them as scholars and the overall goal is to start a career as a fulltime professor at a business school.

DBAs in contrast are driven primarily by the search for a personal challenge. They already have achieved a lot in their business career and some of them have an MBA. The DBA provides them with a new challenge that goes beyond the practical knowledge that they learnt in business or in the MBA. It challenges them as potential researchers.

3. Access to data: having or not having

Central for any research is the data. Data is what analyze to find support for or against your hypotheses - whether qualitative data or quantitative data. Every scholar needs to work with data over time (unless he or she only wants to publish theoretical papers) and having access to or having built up a unique database can be an important advantage when it comes to publishing in top journals.

One of the greatest advantages of many DBA students is their access to data in their own businesses. This data often is unique and sometimes can only be used for their dissertation under serious confidentiality clauses. PhD students, in contrast, often need to build up their database from the scratch, for instance by an online survey or by collecting, coding, and processing publicly available data.

4. PhD and DBA qualification and career Goals: fulltime vs. part-time academic

PhD in Management students aim at a career in academia. They apply for positions as fulltime professors after graduating or go for a Postdoc for some years. Their key activity is doing research, publishing in academic journals or books, and teaching. And this is what PhD in Management students become qualified for – at least at top schools.

In contrast, DBA graduates usually stay working professionals in their companies and want to stay in the business world even after their graduation. However, their doctoral degree qualifies them for doing research as well. They may teach as guest professors, invited or adjunct faculty occasionally and publish in practitioner or academic journals. Also, the doctor title may open some doors for them in their company's hierarchy.

5. Knowledge creation: Differences among doctoral programs in management

Another difference may be that PhD students primarily aim at developing new theory, particularly if they want to publish in top management journals. The starting point of their research often are existing theories and their knowledge gaps – those phenomena that our existing theory does not explain so far.

  • The core idea here is: PhD in Management students work on research questions that are considered as important gaps by the academic community.

DBA students, on the other hand, are less required to extend existing theory. Instead, their great contribution is rather the combination of research with concrete business problems. Their starting point, for example, may be a business problem from their companies and the DBA dissertation may generate a theoretical model that explains that specific problem and at the same time abstracts from it so that the model can be applied in other contexts as well. Hence, the DBA dissertation uses often a case-study approach rather than an empirical research approach.

  • The core idea here is: In the center of a DBA dissertation is a practical problem from the business world that is considered as relevant from both sides, business managers and scholars.

6. Teaching mode: fulltime vs. part-time

Although some business schools offer PhD programs also on a part-time base and although some DBA programs can be studied fulltime, the general rule is: PhD programs are fulltime programs and DBA programs can be studied part-time.

Since DBA students do not want to give up their work during the program, doctorate of business administration (DBA) programs are often organized as so-called blended programs and mix distance or online learning with residential periods. By this, the students can communicate online with professors and their peer group and only have to come together for some weeks per year. In general, DBA programs offer their students a lot of flexibility and once the coursework is over it is up to the advisor how often the DBA student needs to show up physically.

7. Financing your Doctorate in Business Administration

PhD in Management students, particularly at top schools, often get financial support during the studies, either by a scholarship or through a position as research assistant. DBA students on the other hand often pay for their education even though some schools may provide scholarships for them as well.

This makes a lot of sense given that PhD students do not work in business and hence depend on a solid financing plan. DBA students, in contrast, keep on earning money and may have some savings by which they can pay the tuition fees. They may also be able to tax-deduct their DBA expenses and most likely increase their salary once they have achieved their doctoral degree by gaining better positions. Some companies even fund DBA students, especially when they use data from their employers and when their research is relevant for their companies.

PhDs on the other hand are sponsored by their universities because the university has an interest in them. More precisely it has an interest in their future publication. If the PhD student finally becomes a fulltime professor at a renowned business school and publishes in top journals, the university's reputation increases. Hence, the investment pays off for the university in that case.

8. Recognition: established degree vs. gaining recognition

Clearly, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a worldwide recognized academic degree. It is the traditional qualification for a researcher and it is accepted internationally. In contrast, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a relatively young degree and may not be, yet, as much known and recognized as the PhD.

It is very likely though that the value of the degree depends on the reputation of the institution where it has been achieved. If the DBA comes from an established and renowned institution also the DBA degree itself may gain acceptance and the respective person may profit from a higher recognition than if the degree was obtained from a no-name school. In general, the DBA seems to gain recognition and DBA programs can be considered as an emerging market for business schools.

Further links and information on professional doctorates in management

  • Please read our article Similarities between the PhD and the DBA
  • Read the Wikipedia DBA article that also lists "notable persons" with a doctoral degree in business administration (DBA)

By Thomas Graf

  • DBA Coaching: How you find the right DBA for you!
  • Doctorate of Business Administration Similarities: DBA vs PhD
  • DBA degree and the MBA: Differences
  • Online DBA: online programs or blended mode
  • Executive Doctorate: Executive PhD vs. Online PhD Programs
  • Accreditations for Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs
  • Faculty: Assess the Doctorate in Business Administration quality
  • DBA Programs: Assess the reputation and teaching experience
  • Business Science Institute (BSI), Château de Wiltz, Luxembourg
  • Audencia Business School, Nantes, France
  • TBS Education, Toulouse Cedex 7, France
  • ISM - International School of Management, Paris, France
  • Grenoble Ecole de Management, Grenoble & Paris, France; California, USA, France
  • Durham University Business School, Durham, UK
  • Georgia State University (GSU), Robinson, Atlanta, USA
  • Florida International University, Miami, USA

Executive Doctorates in Management

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Doctor of business administration, dba programs vs. phd programs.

Paper on Business Professional Doctorates

Typically, business PhD programs are focused on students who seek to become full time (tenure earning) academics. The best of these programs are full-time, take four or five years, and are focused on building the research skills necessary for publication in journals. DBA and other executive doctoral programs are generally designed for working professionals, take about three years to complete and are designed to help working professionals acquire research skills that can be applied directly to business.

Similarities to our PhD program

The USF Doctor of Business Administration was designed as a variation on our existing academic PhD program. As such, it builds upon the common core of these programs, including:

  • Research Emphasis: A focus on building and demonstrating rigorous research skills
  • Core Requirements: Requiring the same core of research methods courses that constitute the common thread of all our PhD concentrations
  • Faculty: Faculty members who are all active researchers themselves
  • Credit Hours: Credit hour requirements consistent with USF standards for doctoral programs (72 credit hours)
  • Dissertation: The student's dissertation activities (see below) are supervised by the same type of major professor and four-person committee, just like existing PhD candidates.

Differences from our PhD program

To meet the needs of students, all practicing executives, the USF Doctor of Business Administration program also differs from  existing academic PhD programs in some important ways:

  • Outside Employment Policy: Unlike a PhD program, which limits outside activities of students, the Doctor of Business Administration generally expects students to pursue the degree while working in an executive capacity
  • Distance Learning: The Doctor of Business Administration reduces residency time requirements by making extensive use of distance learning capabilities, with participating faculty receiving specialized training in the use of these tools
  • Cohort Based: The Doctor of Business Administration is pursued as a cohort, so students cannot individually choose electives. As an alternative, the cohort as a whole is given considerable voice in selecting those course topics to be covered in the final year of the program.
  • Interdisciplinary Focus: Whereas the existing PhD program requires students to choose a disciplinary concentration—such as marketing, finance, accounting or MIS—the Doctor of Business Administration is effectively a concentration built around interdisciplinary offerings such as business analytics, business strategy, and creativity and innovation.
  • Flexibility in Dissertation Form: While the existing PhD program requires a traditional dissertation or collection of related publications, the Doctor of Business Administration allows candidates to pursue alternative project options that might not lead to journal publications—provided the candidate can convince his committee that the proposed projects are grounded in rigorous research.
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DBA vs PhD in Business Administration: How to Choose Between Two Top-Tier Degrees

  • Posted by Stafford Global
  • Categories MBA Articles & Blogs , Articles and Blogs , General Articles & Blogs
  • Date November 16, 2023

Table of Contents

What is a DBA?

What is a PhD in Business Administration?

Comparing dba and phd: a table for clear distinction.

At a certain point in a C-Level Executive or Senior Executive’s career, there is a natural inclination towards wanting to pursue a new challenge or transition into a more measured pace of working such as taking on Consulting roles or becoming a board member. For these individuals, a doctorate degree such as a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or a PhD in Business or Management offers the ability to combine both paths; a new personal challenge and the ability to add exemplary academic credentials that bolster a career profile and emerge as an authority in one’s field

This article outlines the differences between a DBA degree and a PhD in Business, to help professionals determine the best business doctorate to study.

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) offers professionals an opportunity to take their career to the next level. This distinguished doctoral degree is designed for experienced individuals seeking to expand their practical business knowledge and leadership skills. Through rigorous coursework and research, students develop specialised expertise to apply to complex organisational challenges. 

DBA graduates stand out as innovative leaders, whether pursuing senior corporate roles, government positions, or entrepreneurial ventures. Though challenging, the DBA enables professionals to become field-defining authorities. For experienced executives seeking the highest business education, the DBA offers profound personal and professional rewards.

Key Characteristics of a DBA:

  • Focus on Applied Research and Problem-Solving : DBA degrees emphasise the application of research findings to address practical business challenges.
  • Development of Advanced Business Skills : DBA candidates gain proficiency in strategic leadership, decision-making, and organisational effectiveness.
  • Professional Career Advancement : A DBA can open doors to executive positions, consulting opportunities, and higher earning potential.

The PhD in Business Administration appeals to those with intellectual curiosity and a drive to advance knowledge. This prestigious doctoral degree focuses on developing research, analytical, and writing skills in aspiring academic scholars. Through immersive study, students create original research and insights that push boundaries. The goal is a dissertation that leaves a mark on business thought and practice. Though intensely rigorous, the PhD transforms students into subject experts ready for professorships, pioneering studies, and informing policy. 

Beyond academia, PhD graduates bring innovation to lead research teams and advise organisations. 

For professionals passionate about business scholarship, the PhD provides tools to thrive as an authority in one’s discipline. It’s a long but rewarding road requiring focus and perseverance. For the right individual, a business PhD promises immense personal and intellectual fulfilment.

Key Characteristics of a PhD:

  • Emphasis on Theoretical Frameworks and Methodology: PhD candidates develop expertise in developing and applying theoretical frameworks and rigorous research methodologies.
  • Contribution to Business Knowledge: PhD degrees focus on original research that contributes to the body of knowledge in business administration.
  • Academic Career Opportunities: A PhD prepares individuals for teaching and research positions in business schools and research institutions.

Both a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) and a PhD in Business Administration are valuable degrees that can open doors to exciting career opportunities. The decision should be based on your career aspirations, research interests, and desired level of academic involvement. Whichever path you choose, the journey towards a doctoral degree in Business Administration will undoubtedly be intellectually challenging and rewarding.

Interested in learning more about the DBA?

Have a look at the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) part-time learning degree awarded by our partner university, the University of Northampton (UK). 

🔗 https://www.staffordglobal.org/course/dba-doctor-of-business-administration/

Contact us and speak with a Higher Education Consultant for a consultation:

Check out our “The Benefits of a Part-Time or Distance Learning DBA” https://www.staffordglobal.org/articles-and-blogs/general-articles-and-blogs/doctor-of-business-administration-benefits/ blog.

Tag: DBA , DBA doctorate degree , Doctorate in Business Administration , PhD , PhD in Business Administration

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DBA Degree Vs. PhD: What's The Difference?

DBA degree or PhD: What's the difference and how do you choose?

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By Dr. Sherrie Lewis, assistant professor of management

The strong response we have been receiving to Saint Leo University's new Doctor of Business Administration degree program (DBA) has generated some commonly asked questions.

While the answers to many program-specific questions can be found on our program overview (available at the bottom of this post) and the previous blog post, "Taking a Closer Look at Saint Leo's DBA Degree Program," I'd like to address one issue, in particular: the difference between a DBA and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in business administration.

Here are answers to some of the questions we have received concerning the two degrees.

Q: I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in business and noticed that your university offers a DBA. Is it similar to a PhD?

A PhD is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a career in academia and conduct research that contributes to business knowledge or theory. A DBA is a professional doctorate with a focus on theoretical knowledge and its use in business practice.

Essentially, a PhD candidate is focused on making a contribution to scholarship and a DBA candidate is focused on making a contribution to the practice of management and a difference in the industry. The DBA is a professional doctorate that can be used to indicate a practitioner's level of expertise in their chosen fields.

Q: What kinds of careers can I expect as a DBA?

The DBA can lead to a variety of careers. Options include:

  • Consultants
  • Administrators
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Writers/Authors

The DBA prepares graduates for experience in these fields through coursework in management topics and related research.

Q: I've heard that the PhD and DBA are different. How do I choose?

PhD programs are generally full-time. Consider your goals, the time and resources required to complete the degree. If you can devote your time to building theory in a specific discipline, the PhD may be your best choice. If you prefer to apply the theories or have a full-time job or other responsibilities, the DBA may suit your lifestyle.

The program structure may differ as well. DBA and PhD students take coursework during the first two years. The remainder of the program consists of an extensive research project. Check each program from requirements; they may differ by institution.

Q: How long does it take to earn a DBA?

It depends on the student. The DBA and PhD take three to five years or more to complete. Consider the course work and time you have to devote to coursework, research and other responsibilities.

What other questions do you have about DBA programs?

"An education is one of the biggest investments you can make in your future," says Sherrie Lewis, assistant professor of management. As an educator, public speaker and career coach, Sherrie advises students and job seekers on career selection and transition. She teaches classes both online and at Saint Leo's Education Center in Fort Eustis, Va. She can be reached at [email protected] .

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

Taking a Closer Look at Saint Leo's DBA Degree Program

Why a DBA Degree? Part 1

What a DBA Degree? Part 2

Saint Leo Launches First DBA Degree Program Cohort

Image Credit: TheBusyBrain on Flickr/Creative Commons

Mary Beth Erskine See more from this author

Is an Executive Doctorate Right for Me?

Business doctorate vs. phd.

What distinguishes an Executive DBA from a PhD or a traditional MBA program?

While both programs develop research skills, an Executive Doctor of Business Administration is directed at research that advances business practice, while a PhD is directed at research that contributes first and foremost to theory. DBA research examines critical contemporary questions within their broader organizational and economic context with a focus on practical implementation. An Executive DBA differs from our MBA programs through its focus on research: whereas our MBA programs aim to develop strong leaders through existing business knowledge, students in the DBA program will be creating new knowledge.

What are the primary benefits of an Executive Doctor in Business Administration?

Upon completion of the Executive Doctor of Business Administration program, you will have earned a terminal business degree that uniquely qualifies you in an area of expertise thereby opening up opportunities to publish, speak, consult, and transition to faculty positions at applied business schools, and you will have earned the title of doctor. An Executive DBA will develop learning agility through the practice of applied research skills and develop confidence that is rooted in defensible knowledge.

How would you describe the experience of studying for a doctorate?

The Executive Doctor of Business Administration program requires a commitment to regular study and dedication to your research project. A minimum commitment of 20 hours a week on coursework and research is recommended for success. As your study progresses, you may want to devote dedicated blocks of time for research and writing. Because this is a significant commitment, make sure you have a solid network of friends and family who will support you through the program. Your cohort can also be a great resource—be sure to lean in to your learning community .

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dba vs phd

  • December 6, 2023
  • Academic Advice , Education Advice , Uncategorized

DBA vs. PhD: What’s the Difference?

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dba vs phd

How to Decide Which Type of Business Doctoral Degree to Pursue

PhD degrees are for people who are primarily interested in working in academia or as researchers. They aim to produce graduates who are ready to teach college-level courses in the field or conduct independent research.

Some students who enter a PhD program will have experience working in business and a master’s degree. Some PhD programs will admit students who only have a bachelor’s degree, and let them earn a master’s degree along the way—admissions requirements will vary by school.

PhD students will focus on business theory during their studies. In preparation for their dissertation—an original piece of research-based scholarship—they will conduct research that aims to offer new insight into how business is done, but not necessarily how to solve business problems.

PhD students typically spend five years completing their degree, and graduate ready to teach a college-level course in the field or to conduct research. Some PhD graduates may take on side work—for example, as a business consultant—but their main career roles will likely involve working at a college or university.

What Is a PhD, and Who Can Benefit?

PhD degrees  are for people who are primarily interested in working in academia or as researchers. They aim to produce graduates who are ready to teach college-level courses in the field or conduct independent research.

What Is a DBA, and Who Can Benefit?

A DBA degree focuses on producing highly qualified practical leaders with enhanced academic research skills. Graduates will leave their DBA program ready to continue their careers in business at an advanced level of leadership.

Because of the emphasis on practical application, most DBA students will enter their program after gaining several years of leadership experience in

business. Many of them will already hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or another business-related master’s degree, such as finance or accounting. Since many DBA students enter the program with a master’s, the time to completion is often shorter than a business PhD program. At University of the Potomac, for example, students can complete their DBA online in as few as three years.

Like PhD students, DBA students will conduct original research and produce a dissertation to earn their degrees. However, the focus of that research is very different: DBA students aim to solve specific problems that can be used in the real world immediately. Some DBA graduates may conduct research or teach as a side role, but their main career focus will involve direct work in business or consulting at the executive level.

To put it another way, the main difference between a PhD and a DBA is that PhD students want to describe how business is done, while DBA students want to change how business is done.

Are DBA Graduates in Demand?

DBA graduates are less common than MBA graduates, but the number of DBA graduates in the field is rising. The United States Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that there were 202,334 master’s degrees in business awarded in 2020-21 , making it the most popular field of study for all master’s degree students. In 2000-01, there were just 115,602 MBA graduates—a 175% increase since the start of the century.

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By contrast, the NCES reports that there were just 3,711 doctoral business degrees awarded in 2021-22. However, there were just 1,180 doctorates in business awarded in 2000-01, which means that the annual number of graduates has risen by 315% since the start of the century.

While DBA programs are less common than master’s degrees, they are beginning to be seen as a mark of dedication and a proven level of high problem-solving skills. Earning a DBA degree can demonstrate your commitment to your field and your ability to analyze and solve complex problems by applying theory in practice.

What Makes the UOTP DBA Program Stand Out?

Potomac’s DBA program offers experienced business professionals the opportunity to obtain a practical doctorate degree in a flexible, accelerated

format. Students can study online or on campus with us, benefiting from small classes led by industry-experienced faculty members.

As a proudly diverse institution, we also offer students a multicultural experience that can enhance their ability to collaborate across cultures —a key “soft skill” in today’s globalized business environment. We also provide our DBA students with the support they need for success, matching them with a faculty advisor who works with them at every stage of the dissertation completion process.

As a UOTP graduate, you’ll be ready to offer enhanced problem-solving and leadership skills to existing businesses, or be better prepared to launch your own venture—whatever option you pursue, you’ll have hands-on skills and research abilities few people in the job market can match.

Find Out More About Earning a DBA Today

Learn more about the Potomac DBA program—and how to apply—by visiting our DBA program page. You can also contact our admissions department to learn more

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DBA vs. PhD – Siblings or Cousins?

DBA vs. PhD – Siblings or Cousins?

dba vs phd

What is a DBA degree?  

A Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional doctorate and terminal degree . Completing a DBA gets you the highly coveted title of “Doctor”  – one that less than 2% of people under the age of retirement possess, according to the World Economic Forum’s Education at a Glance 2019 report.   

A DBA, like a PhD, is the highest degree level one can obtain from a university. Both degrees involve high levels of rigorous research synthesis and presentation, and the production of a tangible deliverable at the end of the program, often in the form of a dissertation, thesis, or project. Both also offer access to careers in academia and industry. In other words, a DBA graduate is well-qualified to conduct scholarly research for academia, while managing non-academic organizations.  

How does a DBA differ from a PhD?

The DBA is focused on applying theoretical knowledge to real-world business problems. It is designed for experienced professionals who want to provide organizational solutions that are grounded in rigorous research. Unlike a Ph D , which is geared towards candidates (often in their early careers) who want to conduct research that contributes to business theory, a DBA has more practical implications beyond academic literature and applications for managerial settings. At Hult , DBA students focus on problems from their own professional experience s and create new tools for their compan ies  and others like it.  

The DBA e ntry requirements  

Furthermore, while many Ph D  students are early – career starters, often newly minted university graduates, most DBA programs require an average of eight  years of work experience and a master’s in business administration or related field. This is because the practical nature of DBA research requires knowledge and exposure to real problems of practice, often experienced in one’s industry or company. Depending on the strength of your undergraduate degree and the significance of your professional experience and research topic, you could still be accepted into a DBA program without a relevant master’s degree. These entry requirements often have implications for funding opportunities. 

Are there funding opportunities? 

Often, PhD programs are funded by the university or department because the candidates are usually young individuals with little to no work experience. On the other hand, DBA students are often well-situated in their careers, with many holding high-level positions within their organizations. Hence, the expectation is that they are capable of funding their degrees out-of-pocket or accessing funding from external sources such as their companies.   

DBA vs. Ph D  careers and salaries    

While both degrees offer access to industry and academic careers, DBA graduates may possess greater earning potential. Historically, however, academia is not the highest paying industry as many academic positions attract lesser pay than their industry equivalents . The DBA’s focus on real organizations and real problems makes it more relevant for professional practice in industries with higher salaries. Due to this practical aspect, a DBA graduate can expect to hold administrative leadership positions within government agencies, consulting firms, non-profit organizations, healthcare facilities, and universities, in addition to teaching and research.      

Get a feel for what you can expect from Hult’s Doctorate in Business Administration program in this video.

dba vs phd

Kate Abraham

Related posts, hult’s renewed research strategy is designed to maximize impact, ceo magazine 2022 global mba rankings: hult ranks tier one, hult launches a rigorously relevant doctorate in business administration (dba).

Swiss School of Business Research

DBA vs. PhD: Which is Better?

by Laura Perez | Feb 4, 2024 | Uncategorized

dba vs phd

In the realm of academia, a question lingers: Which degree commands greater respect, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)? Join us as we delve into the nuances of these esteemed degrees and explore their respective contributions to knowledge and practice.

In the ever-evolving landscape of business education, two prominent degrees compete for recognition and prominence: the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the revered Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Both titles command respect and curiosity, but what sets them apart? Join us as we navigate the corridors of academia and unravel the intricacies of these prestigious degrees.

Defining the Degrees: 1. DBA: Often referred to as the “practitioner’s PhD,” the DBA bridges the gap between theory and practice. It combines rigorous research with real-world application, serving as a compass for executives, entrepreneurs, and industry leaders, guiding them through the complexities of modern business.

Check out swiss School of Business Research DBA: https://www.ssbr-edu.ch/doctorate-business-administration/ 2. PhD: Rooted in centuries of scholarly tradition, the PhD represents mastery of a field. It is the pinnacle of intellectual pursuit—a journey fueled by curiosity, critical thinking, and original research. Think of it as a lighthouse illuminating uncharted waters of knowledge.

Check out swiss School of Business research PhD: https://www.ssbr-edu.ch/doctorate-business-administration/

The Quest for Knowledge: 1. DBA Journey: DBA candidates delve into business challenges armed with academic rigor. Their research aims to solve practical problems, enhance organizational strategies, and drive innovation. They act as navigators charting courses for sustainable success. 2. PhD Odyssey: PhD aspirants embark on an intellectual odyssey. Their voyage involves deep dives into theory, empirical analysis, and groundbreaking discoveries. They serve as cartographers, mapping the contours of knowledge.

Different Paths, Shared Goals: 1. DBA Focus: The DBA’s compass points towards actionable insights. It thrives on collaboration, case studies, and industry partnerships. DBA holders emerge as change agents, armed with evidence-based solutions. 2. PhD Essence: The PhD’s lighthouse beckons scholars to explore uncharted territories. It thrives on solitude, academic debates, and paradigm shifts. PhD holders emerge as thought leaders, shaping disciplines.

Disciplines Explored: 1. DBA Terrain: DBAs explore management, leadership, strategy, and organizational behavior. Their research informs boardrooms, startups, and multinational corporations. They serve as bridge builders between academia and the C-suite. 2. PhD Landscape: PhDs traverse diverse fields, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and beyond. Their contributions span literature, psychology, physics, and more. They act as custodians of knowledge, preserving and expanding it.

The Ultimate Question: Weight in the Business World? 1. DBA Impact: In boardrooms and corner offices, DBAs wield influence. Their actionable insights resonate with decision-makers. They are pragmatic visionaries, translating research into bottom-line results. 2. PhD Legacy: In lecture halls and research labs, PhDs shape minds. Their theories ripple through academia, policy, and innovation. They are torchbearers, igniting curiosity and pushing boundaries.

There is also a third option from Swiss School of Business Research for experienced business executives. The PhD by Portfolio. A PhD by portfolio  can be completed within one year. The award enables candidates to obtain academic recognition for pre existing research, comprehensive research skills and subject knowledge that meets a doctoral level.

The PhD by portfolio programme is a fast track programme that takes place entirely  ONLINE . Students can complete the programme within 1 academic year, to gain a Swiss quality doctorate degree. The programme has 240 ECTS (European Transfer Credit System).

Our PhD students are guided throughout the entire programme by a business mentor, working to complete 3 research-based projects.

Check out our ONE YEAR PhD by Portfolio: https://www.ssbr-edu.ch/phd-by-portfolio/

Conclusion: So, which degree holds more weight? The answer lies in your compass—your aspirations, context, and purpose. Whether you seek to steer organizations or unravel mysteries, both the DBA and PhD shine brightly in the academic constellation. Choose wisely, and may your voyage be rich with discovery. Explore the academic universe at SSBR Education—where degrees become constellations!

At the forefront of this pioneering approach to executive education is the Swiss School of Business Research, championing the PhD by Portfolio in Management. With a commitment to academic excellence and a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by senior professionals, the school is redefining the landscape of doctoral education. Through this innovative programme, SSBR provides a platform where business acumen and strategic leadership are not just learned but also academically celebrated, enabling executives to achieve a doctoral level qualification that mirrors the magnitude of their professional achievements.

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