Why Business Students Should Choose a DBA Instead of a PhD

If you currently hold a master’s degree in business or management, you might be interested in taking the next step and studying further. This journey begins with an important decision, which is whether to enrol in a DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) or PhD in Business Administration program.

At first glance, the two options can seem nearly identical. They have similar expectations and outcomes, both rewarding graduates with the esteemed ‘Doctor’ title. However, there are some key differences that arguably make one degree more valuable than the other, and it’s vital that you understand them moving forward.

Read on to find out what makes the DBA a better choice than the PhD for aspiring business leaders.

DBA Basics

To be an eligible candidate for the Doctor of Business Administration degree, you need to have demonstrable experience working in a professional setting, along with relevant bachelor’s and master’s degrees.

While specifics can vary between courses and institutes, the primary aim of a DBA qualification typically has to do with advancing your knowledge in a chosen sector of business, be it finance, management or marketing. It centres around a research project that is assessed by the submission of an extensive dissertation where your findings are substantiated.

PhD Basics

The PhD or ‘Doctor of Philosophy’ program has similar qualifications to the DBA, including relevant undergraduate and postgraduate degrees. On the other hand, work experience is not always necessary.

In order to obtain your PhD in Business Administration, you will need to perform independent research and present a dissertation containing new and original information within the selected field of study. After this comes a spoken exam called a viva, where students must defend their case before a panel of experts.

DBA and PhD Differences

There are several similarities between the DBA and PhD degrees in question. For example, both demand that you:

  • Have appropriate bachelor’s and master’s degrees
  • Perform independent research on a topic of your choice
  • Present a dissertation that advances knowledge in your field

You can also expect similar rewards upon graduation. Both the DBA and PhD degrees provide benefits such as:

  • Ability to use the ‘Doctor’ title
  • Superior job prospects and higher salary
  • Valuable research skills to take with you into the work world

So, where do things change? It’s when you look at career directions and future positions that the differences between the two qualifications in question start to show. What you study will determine where you can go after leaving school.

As you may be aware, a PhD is less business-oriented and more focussed on the theory side. This is why it lends more to a career in academia than one in business. Your main goal with a PhD is to publish your dissertation, be it in a journal or as part of a book. Either way, it’s a step along the path towards jobs such as lecturing or research.

With a DBA degree, the emphasis is very different. The doctorate you’re awarded serves as recognition of knowledge and skills that are meant to be applied in the workplace. In other words, it’s a more practical course of study.

Despite that, the DBA is still something you can learn in an entirely theoretical manner. You won’t need to head out for any physical hands-on work as part of your course. In fact, the course can even be taken online via distance learning. You can check out the page for the doctor of business administration degree at Aston University to learn more.

Why Choose the DBA

Unless your goal is to stay in a university and become a teacher or researcher, a Doctorate in Business Administration is the way to go. It’s the preferred choice for aspiring professionals and leaders who want to advance their career and target senior, executive or even directorate positions in major companies.

The DBA degree is also suitable for those who are interested in discovering high-level information that improves their understanding of the area of business they specialise in.

Aside from educational benefits, there is also the work history factor. Many professionals eventually end up with a CV of experience that stands above their academic qualifications. In these cases, acquiring a DBA in a relevant field will put your educational credits on par with your work experience, making you a more attractive candidate.

On a similar note, a DBA will set you apart from other applicants on the job market, as well as candidates for raises within your current work environment if you choose to stay there. You’ll have far more opportunities in the business world with a DBA than you would even with a PhD.

It should also be noted that the skills you learn on your way to becoming a Doctor of Business Administration are different to those you learn when studying for a PhD degree. The former option prioritises practical business skills such as innovation, problem-solving, and lateral thinking.

DBA vs PhD Career Paths

With the key differences and advantages established, let’s end with an overview of the career paths that graduates of each degree type are most likely to take. This can give you a better idea of which program best suits your goals when it comes to the position you want to work in after graduating.

DBA Careers

  • Consultant
  • Corporate policymaker
  • Organisational leader
  • Entrepreneur/business owner
  • University teacher

PhD Careers

  • Consultant
  • Policy advocate
  • Public policymaker
  • Professional researcher
  • University teacher

As you can see, there are some overlaps such as both degrees being suitable options if you want to become a teacher. However, the general theme is that the DBA is more focussed on practical, corporate careers while the PhD is for those who prefer academia and theory.

So, what will you be studying for? If you want to move up in the business world, the DBA degree is certainly worth your consideration. Remember that now is an ideal time to pursue these types of degrees, as online study options are more affordable and accessible than ever before. Good luck!