DBA Vs. PhD in Business Administration

Doctor of Business Administration and PhD in Business Administration degree programs are distinct programs with several important differences. Learn about these differences, common coursework and typical admissions requirements for each.

View popular schools

Some of the biggest differences between a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program and a PhD in Business Administration program is their target audience, program length, program depth and career outcomes. Students trying to decide between these programs should consider their career goals and personal interests. Compare and contrast these two degree programs below.

Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Actuarial Sciences
  • Business and Commerce, General
  • Business Statistics
  • Customer Service Management
  • eCommerce
  • Logistics, Distribution, and Materials Management
  • Management Science
  • Office Management
  • Operations Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Organizational Management
  • Purchases, Acquisitions, and Contracts Management
  • Transportation Management

Comparing a DBA to a PhD in Business Administration

Doctor of Business Administration

A DBA degree program is an interdisciplinary program that is typically designed for working professionals and incorporates more applied research and business practices. These degree programs tend to be about 3 years in length, and although they are primarily offered on-campus, they may only meet on weekends and/or provide some distance learning options to accommodate working professionals.

Students in this program do still usually complete a dissertation, but they may have some more flexibility with alternative project options. Students typically take dissertation hours and several courses in research methods, but other common core courses may discuss topics in leadership, ethics, business analytics, strategic analysis and sustainability. Graduates of this degree program may move into more advanced positions in their field with leadership roles, pursue careers in academia or begin careers as consultants.

PhD in Business Administration

A PhD in Business Administration provides more specialized and theoretical research-based education to students primarily wishing to work in academia. These degree programs typically take 4 to 5 years to complete and are usually only offered on-campus, but there are some rare programs available online. Students must complete a dissertation and may focus their research and course selections in a particular concentration area that the program offers, such as accounting, management, finance, marketing or information systems.

As mentioned, courses for this degree program vary greatly depending on a students' interests and chosen concentration, but programs typically contain courses in research methods, statistics, and business theory pertaining to a student's concentration area, as well as seminars on various subjects. Graduates of this degree program primarily take positions as postsecondary educators conducting research in their field and teaching various business-related courses.

Common Entrance Requirements

Most DBA and PhD in Business Administration degree programs expect students to already have a master's degree. Programs will require applicants to fill out the appropriate application and submit the required fees, official transcripts, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose and a resume/CV.

In addition to these standard requirements, DBA programs typically require applicants to have at least 12 years of work experience, usually with 5-7 years at a senior management level. These programs also require applicants to go through an interview process. PhD in Business Administration degree programs usually require applicants to submit GRE or GMAT scores with their application and may have specific minimum score requirements, such as a 600 on the GMAT or 1200 on the GRE. Although not required, these programs may consider work experience and other achievements in their selection process.

DBA programs are typically shorter, broader programs designed for working professionals, while PhD in Business Administration programs are longer, more specific and primarily for those interested in academia. Both programs are typically selective and require students to complete a dissertation.

Next: View Schools

What is your highest level of education?

Some College
Complete your degree or find the graduate program that's right for you.
High School Diploma
Explore schools that offer bachelor and associate degrees.
Still in High School
Earn your diploma or GED. Plan your undergraduate education.

Schools you may like:

Popular Schools

The listings below may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users.

Find your perfect school

What is your highest level of education?