Ph.D. Vs DBA Salary

May 31, 2020

Those seeking a doctoral degree in business administration have two choices: the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Business Administration. The DBA and the PhD are both offered by many colleges and universities. Which is better for you really depends on your interests. Here, we'll take a look at the differences between the Ph.D. and DBA and some salaries you could earn with one of them.

Ph.D. vs. DBA

These two programs are very similar, but there are some key aspects that should be considered when deciding which doctoral degree is better for you. Below, we've compiled a few of the differences for quick reference.


Both programs can take between three and five years. Duration depends on your previous degree program and whether or not you'll study full or part time. Ph.D. programs can be taken directly after completing a bachelor's degree, while a DBA program often requires the completion of a master's degree for admission. Often, Ph.D. programs are completed at a full-time rate, since they require research time and mentorships that can pull you away from work. On the flip side, DBA degrees can be taken both ways, but are often taken as part-time studies so that students can work while they earn their degree.

Study Scope

Simply put, the Ph.D. looks at the research side of business administration, while the DBA looks at the practical side. Both will look at theories, but it is more common for a Ph.D. candidate to narrow his/her focus on one specific area of business and attempt to master it. Meanwhile, DBA students will look at business with a broad scope, studying several areas that can help them in top executive business positions.

Career Outcome

Since a Ph.D. looks more at research, you'll find that most career options will be in research and academia. This means a career as a business professor or as a business research analyst would be best for a Ph.D. holder. However, for a broad knowledge program, like the DBA, you'd be better off in practical settings, working as a top executive, an entrepreneur, or a consultant.

Ph.D. Salaries vs. DBA Salaries

Since both of these degrees can lead to the same careers, you should consider very carefully the common requirements to the specific careers. As mentioned above, typically, a Ph.D. will lead to an academic or research career; a DBA will lead to more practical careers in business and management. For the below table, we've listed the degree that would most benefit someone wanting that career along with the salaries.

Position Preferred Degree Type Average Salary (2019)* Career Outlook (2018-2028)*
Business Professors Ph.D. $105,440 15%
Chief Executive Officers (CEO) DBA $193,850 -5%
Operations Research Analysts Ph.D. $90,600 26%
Postsecondary Administrators (Deans) Ph.D. $112,400 7%
Market Research Analysts and Marketing Specialists Ph.D. $71,570 14%
General and Operations Managers DBA $123,030 7%
Management Analysts Ph.D. $95,560 20%
Authors Ph.D. $73,860 0%
Top Executives DBA $104,690 6%
Marketing Managers DBA $149,200 8%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

As you can see throughout this article, both the DBA and the Ph.D. are good degrees, though each is more likely to help you in different careers. If you wish to work in the practical business world, putting your knowledge and skills to use, consider a DBA. If you'd like to work to improve the business industry through research or teaching future business leaders, consider a Ph.D. in business administration.

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