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What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

DBA vs. PhD. Business professor Dr. Kip Pirkle compares these two doctoral degrees and their utility for business professionals.

by Dr. Kip Pirkle on January 26, 2021

DBA students come from a variety of backgrounds, but primarily from the business and professional worlds. This illustrates the main distinction between a DBA and a PhD in Business.

While some PhD students have business experience, it is not unusual for traditional PhD programs to enroll students straight out of an MBA program, or even an undergraduate program. These students have distinguished themselves with research and writing skills. Over the years, I have worked with any number of colleagues who had little to no hands on business experience. They may be fine researchers and teachers, but their ability to enhance their performance with actual business experience is limited.

The Doctor of Business Administration was developed as an alternative to a research-oriented, academic career path. The DBA emphasizes applied research, while the PhD is focused on developing original academic knowledge. For instance, a DBA candidate typically writes a dissertation based on information collected from an organization, perhaps the one they work for. The goal of the research and resulting dissertation is to study a real business problem and propose practical solutions for the business enterprise. Most businesses welcome a sophisticated study of their business processes, and they get it for free! Graduates of PhD programs generally pursue full-time faculty positions in academia, while DBAs return to professional jobs as applied researchers or executives. Some DBAs and PhDs become adjunct professors in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

A DBA program will first provide expertise in a solid management core. This aspect alone will prepare them for advanced executive positions, think tanks, government agencies, and independent consulting.

In addition, the program will provide:

  • advancement preparation for administrators and business educators in colleges, universities, community colleges, technical colleges, and corporate trainers
  • essential qualifications for business professionals, executives and retired executives desiring to teach either part-time or full-time.

Most DBA candidates already have an MBA or similar degree but have not received instruction in pedagogy or adult education. The DBA program at SWU’s Benson School of Business contains a cognate in instruction that provides students with expertise in the theory and methods of instruction, including online higher education. Our program offers a unique perspective on business education for lifelong learners.

Click here to learn more about the Doctor of Business Administration for Management and Instruction at SWU.

Tags: phd, doctorate, dba