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What is the difference between DBA and a Ph.D. in Business Administration?

Most prospective research students find it confusing when it comes to choosing between studying for a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.). Both of the programs are similar in status and offer a research challenge, so what’s the difference between the two? If you’re asking yourself a similar question, read below to understand the key differences between the DBA and Ph.D. programmes and what makes them so unique.  

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

A DBA program is best suited to working professionals and requires more research and business knowledge. This three-year interdisciplinary program tends to last a duration of three years.  The program is usually offered on-campus but some universities offer distance learning options as well.  

Ph.D. in Business Administration

The Ph.D. program is designed for younger students, teachers or fresher’s who have minimal to zero experience and plan to work in academia. This program offers more theoretical and specialized research-based education. The courses are usually offered on campus and are for a duration of four to five years.    

Key Differences between a Ph.D. in Business Administration and a DBA

1. Scope of research

For Ph.D. students, the main aim is to get a thesis published and for that to happen, either the students have to create a new theory or add a new and original approach towards an existing one. The main purpose of pursuing a Ph.D. program is to discover the gaps or any other missing components in existing theories. 

Alternatively, DBA students have to design a research-based solution for real-world business problems. The problems can be any including those which occur regularly at their workplace. Students pursuing DBA in Germany generally choose a familiar business problem and offer a case-study approach in their work.       

2. Career orientation

A DBA program in Germany is particularly suitable for working professionals, typically ones in senior management roles or those who are planning to advance to this level. Some universities also offer DBA candidates an opportunity to deliver guest lectures and get their work published in academic journals. 

The Ph.D. students are more dedicated to research and plan to pursue their career as academics. Ph.D. graduates can work as researchers, professors and offer their contribution to developing theories as well as knowledge in their preferred field.

3. Time engagement- full-time vs part-time

Both of these programs can be studied full time. Whilst the DBA program can be studied part-time, there are very few institutes that offer distance learning in Ph.D. programs.    

As the DBA courses are designed for working professionals, it is necessary to blend the course with a mix of distance and e-learning. A DBAallows the students to communicate with their professors as well as their peer group, online. The students are only called into their institution for a few weeks or on weekends. DBA programs offer the much-needed flexibility to the students so they can tackle their office life alongside their study programmes. 

Both the degrees, DBA and Ph.D. in Business Management offer a ‘Doctor’ title which is equal in status and international recognition. Neither of them is higher than the other, it’s just that they are designed to cater to the needs of a different audience and targeted towards different goals.   

Entrance requirements

Both Ph.D. and DBA programs are designed for students who already have a post-graduate degree (Masters). In addition, DBA programs require applicants to have 10-12 years of work experience. DBA programs are of a shorter duration – typically three years – and are for working professionals, while the Ph.D. programs are for a longer duration and are better suited to the students interested in academia. 

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