While the Doctor of Business Administration degree and the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Administration degree have several things in common, including their fields of study and their rigorous coursework, the key difference between these two degrees is what career they prepare you for. Generally speaking, the DBA is a more practical degree that teaches you how to apply business theories to real-life business management, and the PhD is meant to prepare one to enter into academia and focuses on developing new theories of business. These two degree types will also differ in terms of curriculum and program requirements.
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
DBA Program Overview
The Doctor of Business Administration degree is for those who already have significant business and managerial experience. Most, although not all, DBA programs will take about three years total to complete, and you will need to earn anywhere from 60 to 72 credits to graduate. As the DBA is geared towards working professionals, these programs will usually offer flexible attendance in the form of online classes and some will only require you to attend on-campus classes once a month or will only require a set number of campus visits throughout the entire program.
DBA Program Requirements
During the length of your program, you will be required to take coursework in such topics as management theory, qualitative and quantitative research methods, leadership theories, and international business. After you finish your coursework, you could then be required either to complete qualifying exams or a research project. By year three, most programs will expect you to complete a dissertation that focuses on research that you have developed throughout your time in the program. DBA programs will also offer ample opportunities for mentorship where you will work one-on-one with a faculty member who will guide you through the program and support your research work.
PhD in Business Administration
PhD Program Overview
The PhD in business administration program's primary goal is preparing its students for careers in academia as professors or as research professionals. You will usually have to specialize in one field of business study, such as finance, marketing, accounting, information systems, or international business. Unlike DBA programs, PhD programs don't offer a flexible attendance policy. For most PhD programs, you will be expected to attend full-time and be on campus. However, PhD candidates in some programs will be able to teach for the university. PhD programs will usually take four to five years to complete with around 60 credits needed (fewer for those with a master's).
PhD Program Requirements
During the first two years, the PhD in Business Administration degree will have you taking both core coursework and coursework relevant to your specific concentration. For example, if you choose a marketing concentration, your coursework might include topics on consumer behavior and marketing management while a concentration in finance would include such topics as financial theory and investments. After you complete your coursework, most programs will require you to complete qualifying exams. During the course of your program, you might also be required to complete research projects, teach for a certain number of terms, or complete field exams. At the end of your program, you will also need to complete a dissertation process.
Common Admission Requirements
For the most part, DBA and PhD programs have similar admission requirements. Some of the standard required materials will include an application with associated fees, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a resume. As for GMAT and/or GRE scores, programs will vary on this requirement with some programs requiring them and some not. For the DBA programs, most will require about six to ten years of business management experience, and some, but not all, will also require that you already hold a master's degree. PhD programs usually don't require professional experience and might require only a bachelor's degree.
When deciding on which advanced business degree to pursue, you should keep in mind that the DBA is designed for working professionals who want to further their study of business theory and apply it to their careers while the PhD is designed for those who intend to become academic professors or researchers.