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DBA vs Ph.D. What Is the Difference?

When it comes to choosing doctoral studies, people sometimes get confused about whether they should pursue a DBA or a Ph.D. title.  Even though they both lead to the title of doctor and both involve a major commitment of time and finances, there are significant differences between the two.  

 

The first question you need to answer for yourself when choosing a doctoral program is the motivation behind your decision

 

A Ph.D. is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a career in academia or as senior researches in business or government. So if your motivation is to contribute to the chosen academic field by testing and developing the theoretical framework, teach at a university or an institute, do research, publish in academic journals or write books, then a Ph.D. title is perfectly suited for you. 

A DBA program is more focused on the practical use of theories. DBA students often conduct research in order to solve a problem or advance their practice in the field. They then use their findings to apply them to their profession. If you are a professional who wants to stay in the business world and move up in the hierarchy, by expanding your knowledge, the DBA title is the right option for you. However, the DBA title also opens you to the publishing in an academic or practitioner journal, or to share your knowledge as a guest or adjunct professor and give lectures. 

Another question you should ask yourself when choosing the doctoral program is the way you want to conduct your dissertation research. 

 

If you decide to study the Ph.D. program, your dissertation thesis should be focused on gaps in the current theoretical framework and on developing a new theory. Your dissertation thesis should be explaining broader concepts/problems and should be based on empirical observation. The data should be collected by various quantitative and qualitative methods, such as surveys or data collection.

If you choose the DBA program, you will be less pressured to extend existing theory or develop a new one. Therefore, the dissertation often uses a case-study approach to solve a concrete business problem that might test the validity of an existing theory, and as such is relevant for both business managers and scholars. Many DBA students also have access to a unique set of data, that can be accessed in their line of business (taking into consideration confidentiality clauses). 

Last but not least, do not forget to assess who you are. 

 

Pursuing a Ph.D. is more suitable for you if you are at the beginning of your career or you are passionate about conducting research on a topic of your interest, and you would like to pass that knowledge to students. 

If you have several years of experience (approximately at least 5+), work in upper management positions or it is your goal, you are the right DBA candidate. More often than not, people striving for DBA already pursued an MBA as well.

Learn more about our Ph.D. program and DBA program including many specializations we offer and start your own journey of improvement. 

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