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DBA Degree Vs. PhD: What's The Difference?

Degree Programs

Posted by Mary Beth Erskine on Sep 3, 2013 7:22:00 AM

If you’re trying to decide between a doctor of business administration degree – a DBA – or a PhD in business, here’s the bottom line on the difference between the two.

Comparing DBA and PhDBy Dr. Sherrie Lewis, assistant professor of management

The strong response we have been receiving to Saint Leo University’s new Doctor of Business Administration degree program (DBA) has generated some commonly asked questions.

While the answers to many program-specific questions can be found on our program overview (available at the bottom of this post) and the previous blog post, "Taking a Closer Look at Saint Leo's DBA Degree Program," I’d like to address one issue, in particular: the difference between a DBA and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in business administration.

Here are answers to some of the questions we have received concerning the two degrees.


Q: I am interested in pursuing a doctorate in business and noticed that your university offers a DBA. Is it similar to a PhD?

A PhD is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a career in academia and conduct research that contributes to business knowledge or theory. A DBA is a professional doctorate with a focus on theoretical knowledge and its use in business practice.

Essentially, a PhD candidate is focused on making a contribution to scholarship and a DBA candidate is focused on making a contribution to the practice of management and a difference in the industry. The DBA is a professional doctorate that can be used to indicate a practitioner’s level of expertise in their chosen fields.


Q: What kinds of careers can I expect as a DBA?

The DBA can lead to a variety of careers.  Options include:

  • Consultants
  • Managers
  • Educators
  • Administrators
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Writers/Authors

The DBA prepares graduates for experience in these fields through coursework in management topics and related research.


Q: I’ve heard that the PhD and DBA are different. How do I choose?

PhD programs are generally full-time. Consider your goals, the time and resources required to complete the degree. If you can devote your time to building theory in a specific discipline, the PhD may be your best choice.  If you prefer to apply the theories or have a full-time job or other responsibilities, the DBA may suit your lifestyle.

The program structure may differ as well. DBA and PhD students take coursework during the first two years. The remainder of the program consists of an extensive research project. Check each program from requirements; they may differ by institution.


Q: How long does it take to earn a DBA?

It depends on the student. The DBA and PhD take three to five years or more to complete. Consider the course work and time you have to devote to coursework, research and other responsibilities.

What other questions do you have about DBA programs?

Sherrie Lewis.Saint Leo University“An education is one of the biggest investments you can make in your future,” says Sherrie Lewis, assistant professor of management. As an educator, public speaker and career coach, Sherrie advises students and job seekers on career selection and transition.  She teaches classes both online and at Saint Leo’s Education Center in Fort Eustis, Va. She can be reached at sherrie.lewis@saintleo.edu.

 

Image Credit: TheBusyBrain on Flickr/Creative Commons

Other posts you may be interested in reading:

Taking a Closer Look at Saint Leo's DBA Degree Program

Why a DBA Degree? Part 1

What a DBA Degree? Part 2

Saint Leo Launches First DBA Degree Program Cohort

DBA Brochure download

Topics: DBA

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