Business management students who wish to achieve the highest level of academic success work toward a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or a PhD in Business Administration degree program.
Learners in business doctoral programs often study management theory and its practical applications. In tandem, students work to build strategic and sustainable decision and analytical skills through extensive research for independent projects.
A Doctor of Business Administration or DBA degree is a terminal business-focused degree program which typically includes a real-world dimension to ready students as change agents, innovators and though leaders.
written by Rana Waxman
For this reason, DBA programs are sometimes called ‘applied doctorates’ and many schools offer specific concentrations along with the degree. This might enable a student to develop a broader grasp of business administration concepts AND more narrow expertise in an area such as (but not limited to) management, marketing, homeland security, or non-profit leadership.
How does a DBA degree differ from a PhD in Business Administration? While it is true that both are terminal degrees with a focus in business, a DBA degree and PhD in Business Administration are quite different.
Naturally, these are only guidelines. The preferred way to learn what each Doctorate in Business program has to offer is to read through course lists and requirements from various PhD and Doctor of Business Administration Programs to determine the perfect one for you.
In many universities, students in both the Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs may have substantial relevant work experience along with academic qualifications.i
Generally, though DBA students tend to be more senior than their MBA counterparts as an MBA (or other masters-level management degree) is usually a pre-requisite for enrolling on a DBA course. The appeal of a Doctorate degree in business administration could be to distinguish oneself in terms of knowledge and skills from peers and to potentially rev up one’s professional value.
DID YOU KNOW?
Per O’Net, 66% of Business Administration Professors have a Doctorate degree. ii
|Ph.D. in Business Administration
|Arizona State University
|Business Administration (DBA)
|D.B.A. with an Emphasis in Management (Qualitative Research)
|Grand Canyon University
|Doctor of Business Administration - General Business
|PhD in Business Management - General Business Management
Executive DBA programs are part-time Doctor of Business Administration Programs built to equip executives and senior managers with methods to address complex industry and organizational challenges.
In some schools, students could arrange credit for experience and so, they may be able to complete their DBA degree in as little as 2.5 years – though this is a variable. Also, as they presume students are busy with their careers, Executive DBA programs might be available in a blended (hybrid) delivery. On-campus residencies and online virtual modules may make it easier to achieve the work-study balance.
A Doctor of Business Administration program is often planned-out for experienced professionals. Students may examine the finer points of executive decision-making, corporate leadership and employee performance evaluation from the lens of domestic and global business markets.
While the actual nitty gritty of course content, credits and requirements varies from one program to the next, at the heart of a DBA program are the core (compulsory) topics. Frequently these are delivered in seminar format along with writing and presentation courses.
Research methods in the form of case study analysis, quantitative and qualitative frameworks are designed to help participants think in an action-oriented manner and make evidence-based decisions. Their ideas and insights are brought together in a final dissertation.
A sample DBA degree course plan might include some of the following topics.
DBA degree candidates must usually pass a comprehensive, written exam after their coursework is complete, then finish an applied doctoral research project. Research usually highlights one’s chosen discipline and aims to foster professional expertise.
How Long Could It Take to Earn a DBA Degree? Some schools use a 3-year course plan and about 60 credits. Students may, however, have up to 8 years to complete their degree and may be able to petition for extra time.
There are many graduate schools with DBA programs, and discerning students could scout available concentrations within them to help with their choice. See below for a few examples, then check out some of our partner schools.
DBA in Accounting: Participants might examine concepts such as revenue forecasting and cost prediction methods with the goal to boost rational decision-making. Other coursework could include corporate governance and cost allocation. Applied research methods in foreign exchange rates, controlled economies, social responsibility reporting, inflation accounting, and international taxation could harness skills in managerial accounting.
DBA in Information Technology: Students might explore new ways to use technology to cut costs, increase customer satisfaction, and create new business opportunities. Other course topics might help participants form and implement IT policies and processes with an eye to global operations, marketing and finance.
DBA in Finance: Managers who want to maximize their firm’s value could study concepts such as valuation, capital budgeting and structure, working capital management, multinational concepts, and Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM). In tandem, participants could explore advanced theories such as option pricing, derivatives, and hedging.
Admission to a DBA program typically requires a bachelors degree or its equivalent completed at an accredited post-secondary institution as well as a either a Master of Business Administration degree or the evaluated equivalency in a related field from a regionally accredited university. A range of other requirements could include a minimum GPA (E.g. 3.0), recommendations, personal essay, professional resume and interview.
Doctorate in business administration programs are usually nationally or regionally accredited. The program itself may also be individually accredited by an organization. One way to select a professional doctorate in business administration such as the DBA is to evaluate a school that is accredited by an internationally recognized accreditation agency.
Accreditations do not guarantee that the respective program is the perfect one for you, however they do indicate that the school has met some standards. The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) is one such agency. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) is another.
PhD programs in Business Administration are terminal research degrees. Students who strive towards a PhD in Business Administration (PHDBA) usually focus on thought leadership as they work to develop new theories or improve upon existing knowledge. As such, PhD candidates conduct original research on topics that have not been previously explored or examine new aspects of existing research.
There may be some overlap in coursework within PhD and DBA programs. PhD students could have the opportunity to learn problem-solving processes, research methods, leadership and business theories, planning strategies, and global business practices.
A series of research courses and academic writing seminars could sharpen students’ ability to form hypotheses, test and record data within their chosen discipline. Ultimately, to complete their final dissertation. Some universities also give students a choice of three seminars that zoom in on key practices used to teach, consult or apply in executive leadership.
A sample PHDBA degree course plan might include some of the following elements.
Other required courses might address business strategies, management techniques, and concepts in marketing, accounting, finance, and operations. Once coursework is completed, PhD students usually have to successfully pass a holistic exam before they proceed onto their dissertation research.
How long might it take to earn a PhD in Business? While each university formats their PhD programs a certain way, it is not uncommon for coursework to take place in the first two years. Afterwards, some PhD degree candidates might spend two years teaching courses and doing research. The actual time it takes to write out the dissertation might take 1-3 years more, but this is a variable.
To apply into a PhD in Business Administration program requires a minimum of a bachelors degree, though some grad schools may prefer persons with a masters degree as well. Other requirements might include a minimum GPA, current GMAT or GRE scores, statement of purpose, resume and references.
A Doctor of Management (DM) is a terminal degree for mid and senior professional managers. Through applied research and analysis of real-world management issues, students work to gain sophisticated knowledge for the executive level of management.
Many DM programs highlight management theory and strategic thinking, organizational leadership and change, research and innovation, and sustainability in the global business environment. Through a Doctorate degree in Management course plan, graduates might take away a deeper sense of how today’s manager could appraise, analyze, apply, and assess information to make data-driven decisions.
A sample DM degree course plan might accent some of the following topics.
As with the DBA and PhD, a DM program typically asks participants to produce a final research thesis. In the case of the DM, students might independently explore a topic related to strategic leadership, theory, organization development, practice, and/or evaluation. Some Doctor of Management programs are designed as 3-year programs but may give students longer to complete their requirements.
Applicants to a Doctor of Management degree program are generally required to have a graduate degree, earned at an accredited college or university with a minimum GPA set by each school.
Some grad schools also stipulate that students must have completed at least seven years of full-time, management-level, professional work, so GRE and GMAT scores may not be required. A CV, essays, references, and an interview may be required.
That stated, a DM program might appeal to professionals from a range of backgrounds. Business, education, engineering, human resources, organizational science, or an earned academic/professional degree in a domain such as but not limited to law, healthcare/medicine and design.
Busy executives and adults who want to work towards a PhD, DM or DBA credential might find there are programs in different shapes and sizes. The one that is convenient to you is a program that you could commit to, whether this means it is walkable from work or accessible on your laptop.
Refine your search for either ‘online’ or ‘campus’ based programs. There is also an option to review DBA programs by location. For instance – DBA programs in USA, another city, state or country.
If applying existing research and knowledge to solve business problems interests you, you might consider a DBA or DM degree. If contributing to the body of knowledge on business management interests you, you might consider a PhD. It may also be helpful to hash things out with an academic advisor at any of the schools on your list.