DBA vs PhD – Differences Explained



Whether you want to pursue a career in academia or industry, getting a PhD is an excellent way to boost your resume. However, many students wonder whether they should get a PhD or go for a more applied route such as a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration).


There are many differences between a PhD and a DBA, from the type of research conducted to the career paths available after graduation. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between these two degrees so that you can make an informed decision about which is right for you.

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What is a PhD?

A PhD is a doctoral degree, the highest level of academic degree that can be awarded in most countries. It is earned by completing an extended program of original research, culminating in a dissertation or thesis, and defended in front of a committee of experts.

A PhD is an academic degree that qualifies its holder to teach at the university level and conduct research in their field of expertise. The majority of PhD holders go on to pursue careers in academia, but many also find employment in industry, government, or nonprofit sectors.

What is a DBA?

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional doctorate in business administration. Previously, DBA programs typically concluding with a research-based dissertation, now most programs culminate in a scholarly project or presentations. 

The DBA is a terminal degree in business administration, providing opportunities for advanced study and research leading to careers in academia, executive leadership, and consulting. The majority of programs require three to five years of enrolment, although some institutions allow flexible part-time schedules. 

A DBA prepares graduates for careers as scholars and researchers in their chosen field of business practice. Through this advanced study, students develop expertise in conducting original research that makes significant contributions to the body of knowledge in business administration. Additionally, a DBA provides essential training for those seeking careers in executive leadership and management consulting.

Key differences between PhD & DBA

The main differences between a PhD and DBA are:




It stands for Doctor of PhilosophyIt stands for Doctor of Business Administration
A PhD is an academic degree that qualifies its holder to teach at the university level and conduct research in their field of expertise. A DBA is a professional doctorate in business administration.
The majority of PhD holders go on to pursue careers in academia, but many also find employment in industry, government, or nonprofit sectors.The majority of DBA graduates pursue careers as scholars and researchers in their chosen field of business practice.
A PhD program typically takes six to eight years to complete.A DBA program takes three to five years.
A PhD is earned by completing an extended program of original research, culminating in a dissertation or thesis. A DBA is earned by completing a program of advanced study and research leading to a scholarly project or presentation.


What is the scope of research in DBA & PhD

DBA programs that emphasize applied research that is designed to solve real-world problems in business and management, while PhD programs focus on original research that contributes new knowledge to the field?

It implies that,  if you want to pursue a research-oriented career in academia or if you’re interested in conducting original research in business, then a PhD is the right choice for you. On the other hand, if you want to apply your research skills to solve problems in the business world, then a DBA might be a better fit.

The difference between a PhD and a DBA can be seen as the scope of the study for each degree. Though both degrees focus on existing theories, those who pursue an advanced standing in academia likely have their eyes set on developing new ideas or improving upon what already exists – this would make up part of one’s research topic

A person who is interested only in application-oriented work might choose instead to go into a business school where they will learn more hands-on skills such as marketing strategy planning versus just getting straight A grades all day long without having any real-life applied knowledge whatsoever.

What is the Programme Structure of  DBA & PhD?

DBA programmes typically comprise of core modules, electives and a research project. PhD programmes, on the other hand, are composed of coursework, comprehensive exams and a dissertation.

DBA programmes are shorter in duration than PhD programmes as they typically last for three to five years while PhD programmes can go on for four to six years.

The difference between a DBA and PhD is like night and day. A typical student who carries out their studies under the ‘distant learning’ arrangement for an undergraduate degree will have to spend more time away from home, while those enrolled in full-time projects are required at least some amount of physical presence on campus throughout frying duration.

This is because DBA students are required to have a certain level of professional experience before being accepted into the programme, while PhD programmes do not have any such requirement.

DBA programmes are also more flexible in terms of curriculum as they allow students to choose from a range of electives that cater to their interests and needs. PhD programmes, on the other hand, have a more rigid curriculum as most of the coursework is dedicated to research methods and statistics.

What is the average cost for pursuing a DBA & PhD?

To properly represent the two parts of DBA programs, institutions generally charge two sets of yearly tuition fees:

  1. The first set, which comprises the first two years of the course, costs around £10,000 to £15,000 per year.
  2. The second annual tuition fee covers the rest of your education and usually ranges from £3,000 to £6,000 per year.

The difference in cost is due to the fact that the first two years will extensively utilize university resources and a professor’s time to offer the taught courses.

The average cost of a full-time PhD is £4,400 per annum. In contrast, the fixed tuition fee and program duration make DBA two to three times more expensive than undertaking an equivalent degree without research credits

In UK universities there have been huge changes in recent years with increasing fees for European students coming from abroad or international scholarship shortages because so many countries have cutbacks on their budgets due to financial crises. That means it’s not just British citizens who will miss out but also those living outside Europe too! The good news though seems to be that the number of PhD places is on the rise in England.

DBA v/s PhD: Which one is better?

This is a difficult question to answer as it depends on your specific situation and what you are looking for in a degree. A DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) is more focused on business and management, while a PhD (Doctor of Philosophy) is more research-oriented.

If you are interested in working in upper-level management or becoming a professor, then a PhD may be the better choice. However, if you want to work as a consultant or in a business-related field, then a DBA could be a better option.

Some people might prefer the DBA because it provides more practical training, while others might prefer the PhD because it allows for more in-depth research into a particular topic. Ultimately, the best degree for you depends on your individual goals and interests.

What are the entry requirements for DBA v/s PhD?

Well, first of all, it depends on the country and university you’re interested in. Generally speaking, a DBA or PhD in business administration requires a master’s degree in business or a related field. However, some schools may require that you have completed a certain number of years of work experience before enrolling in their doctoral program.

In terms of coursework, most DBA programs require between 60-90 semester credits beyond the bachelor’s degree, while PhD programs typically require 90-120 credits. While there may be some overlap in terms of coursework (e.g., courses in research methods and statistics), Sheppard says DBAs often place more emphasis on practical applications whereas physician programs emphasize theory.

The biggest difference between the two types of doctoral programs is the dissertation. A DBA dissertation is typically shorter (40,000-80,000 words) and more focused on solving a practical problem within an organization. A PhD dissertation, on the other hand, is longer (100,000 words or more) and focuses on making an original contribution to knowledge in your field.

What is the average salary for DBA & PhD holders?

According to a survey, the median annual salary for a DBA holder is $96,000, while the median annual salary for a PhD holder is $102,000. However, it should be noted that these are median figures, which means that half of all DBA holders earn less than $96,000 per year and a half earn more. The same is true for PhD holders, with half earning less than $102,000 per year and a half earning more.

It is also worth noting that salaries can vary depending on factors such as industry, location, and experience. For example, someone working in the oil and gas industry in Houston, Texas is likely to earn a higher salary than someone working in the education sector in rural Ohio.


So, which is right for you – a PhD or DBA? The answer depends on your career goals. If you want to pursue a career in academia or research, then a PhD is the best option. However, if you’re interested in working in industry or business administration, then a DBA could be a better fit. Ultimately, the decision comes down to what you want to do with your degree and which field you want to work in.

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