PhD in Business Administration Vs. MBA

Apr 22, 2019

Graduate degree programs in business administration are available at the master's and doctoral levels, but vary in their requirements and career outcomes. Learn about key differences between the two programs, including program length, and how to apply.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Administration and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degree programs both provide an in-depth study of business subjects, but they generally prepare students for slightly different careers. Both programs are available in a variety of flexible formats and offer multiple concentrations options; however, they vary in program length and graduation requirements. Compare and contrast the two degree levels below.

Comparing a PhD in Business Administration to an MBA

PhD in Business Administration

PhD in Business Administration programs typically require a minimum of 4 years and completion of around 60 credits. Some of these programs are available online or in hybrid formats, and most programs provide students a wide range of specialization options, such as marketing, finance, accounting, management, international business, and project management. Students in a PhD in Business Administration programs typically need to complete qualifying exams and a dissertation prior to graduation, and they may have the chance to work with faculty members on additional research projects for experience.

Coursework for this program varies based on a student's concentration area, but core courses may include topics in research methodology, statistics, and business education. Graduates of PhD in Business Administration programs are often prepared to pursue careers in academia or work as researchers and professors at postsecondary institutions, but they could also be qualified for advanced and/or research-based positions in the business field.

Master of Business Administration

MBA degree programs are available in a variety of formats, such as an Executive MBA, part-time MBA, or Professional MBA, and they can be completed in 17 months to 4 years, depending on the program. These programs are usually available in on-campus, online, or hybrid formats and may offer courses during the day, in the evenings, or on weekends for flexibility. MBA programs typically offer additional concentration areas, like business analytics, marketing, finance, or leadership.

Students may need to complete around 30 to 48 credits and will usually take core courses in a variety of business subfields, like finance, statistics, economics, accounting, management, ethics, and data analytics, as well as courses in their given concentration. MBA programs are primarily designed to prepare students for leadership and managerial positions in the business field or help current professionals continue to advance their career through enhanced management, leadership, networking, and strategy skills.

Common Entrance Requirements

Admission for a PhD in Business Administration may require a master's degree, depending on the program or given concentration, though it is possible to find some programs that admit those with just a bachelor's degree. MBA programs just require a bachelor's degree. Applicants to both programs may need to meet minimum GPA requirements and submit GMAT scores (but some programs may accept the GRE or may not require either exam). Some PhD in Business Administration programs may require students to have work experience and/or teaching experience. Depending on the type of MBA program a student is pursuing, they may need to meet a specific number of years of professional work experience. Common application materials for either program include transcripts, letters of recommendation, a resume or CV, and a personal statement or answers to specific essay questions.

PhD in Business Administration programs can be completed in 4 years and typically require a dissertation, while some MBA programs can be completed in less than 2 years and come in a variety of formats. Both degree programs usually allow students to specialize in a specific area of business.

Next: View Schools

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?