Saturday, August 15, 2009

To DBA or PhD in Business Administration

One of the frequently asked questions I receive from graduate students is regarding the differences between the degrees of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in business administration. Inevitably, these discussions lead to the matter of theory and its role in business research. What a good topic!

Learners should realize that theories (or concepts) provide the essential framework for all business research, including research conducted in fulfillment of requirements for both the DBA and PhD. All successful doctoral dissertations are grounded in good theory and evidence. The PhD is not a “theoretical” degree devoid of empirical evidence, and the DBA is not a “practical” degree devoid of theory. Rather, both degrees are grounded in the management literature and evidentiary support. You do not get out of theory or the rules of evidence simply by choosing one or the other academic degree.

The essential difference between the DBA and PhD in business administration is that the former focuses on the application of theory rather than on the development of new theory. Because business administrators are in constant search for better concepts and methods for conducting enterprise, PhD candidates can always find new topics for basic research. Likewise, while it is true that a general theory of management has yet to emerge, it does not mean that candidate theories are not out there. Thus, DBA learners can always find research problems where the application of existing concepts and methods might prevail to solve business problems.

Both, the DBA and PhD in business administration are about good theory and evidence – in other words, scholarship.


Centennial College said...

Very Clearly define the comparison between two, but i mean both enhance your professional abilities so that you can meet the dynamic needs of modern businesses.

Nice Post William!!

business administration

James said...

Thanks for the comparison/contrast article. You've added to my knowledge base of DBA vesus PhD. I'm leaning towards pursuing a DBA versus a PhD because I see the value added towards my career.

Dr William J McKibbin said...

Hi James, glad to hear I helped with your decision -- good luck!

Anvit said...

Bill, thanks for posting a very nice comparison article between DBA and PhD. It would help me learning towards choosing a right career path decision.

Indeed a good thought!

Patrick said...

Bill, excellent description of the difference between the two 'bits of paper'. Just about says it all

Anonymous said...

If you are interested in enhancing your career in Business and Management, go for the Doctor of Business Administration rather than a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration. Look at it this way, a graduate with a Master of Business Administration is in better career prospect than a graduate with Master of Philosophy in Business Administration. PERIOD

Anonymous said...

This is one of the best comparisons I have seen. Many people are usually confused on the differences and/ or similarities of DBA and PhD. I think the above piece is a very good one.

Anonymous said...


But at the end of both programs, if your thesis is published, you get to be a doctor right?

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