Difference between DBA program and a PhD in Business Administration

PhD in Business Administration focuses on preparing candidates for academic careers. The program is designed to provide knowledge and skills to conduct highly advanced scholarly research, both in theory and application. PhD in Business Administration also aims to contribute new theoretical and conceptual knowledge in the area of business management and other related areas. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs, on the other hand, focuses on the application of theoretical knowledge in the practical field rather than development of new ideas. While possibilities to join academics are also open after a DBA degree, the primary focus however is to enable one to apply theoretical understanding in practical work environment. Thus, is it the experienced professionals who opt for this program to enhance their profiles.

Detailed below are the differences between DBA and PhD in Business Administration.

Target groups

The target groups addressed in PhD in Business Administration and DBA programs are different. Generally, a PhD program is pursued by those who want to build a career in academics and teaching. They are often fresh graduates in their early 20s with the aim of doing rigorous research.

DBA, on the other hand, is pursued by experienced professionals who want to gain advanced knowledge with the aim of career advancement. Most of these people often have an MBA degree and want to gain an advantage over their peers by doing a doctoral degree. They are in search of in-depth knowledge of business management that can be practically applied to the work environment. The topics of dissertation of DBA candidates also most of the times focus on such work related and practically facing issues.


The difference in motivation also distinguishes a DBA from PhD. PhD students are driven by a passion to gather new and exciting knowledge on the subject. Their research and dissertation will establish them as scholars in the field and prepare them for a career in academics.

Those in pursuit of a DBA degree are however driven by personal challenge. These are mostly people who have achieved a certain status in the professional filed and are on look for newer challenges and knowledge. They pursue the program with the aim to enhance their existing skills and stand out in the professional world. Thus, online DBA programs are often preferred over full time programs.

Access to data and information

The basis for all research is data and information. Access to enough data and information helps in formulating the research problem as well as hypothesis. Data is also immensely important to support hypothesis and arrive at conclusion after analysis. Also, publishing in top journals become easier when the paper is backed by enough data.

Access to data and information is an advantage that DBA candidates have as most are working professionals with years of experience. They usually form their research problem around an issue faced in the working environment. Thus, they have access to all the data and information required to analyze to arrive at a scientific conclusion.

This, advantage is limited for PhD candidates as most are fresh graduates with little or no work experience. Further, they are also full-time scholars that limit their immediate data access to university library and resources.

Career aims

There is a marked difference in the career aims of PhD and DBA students.  While those pursuing PhD are passionate about research and looks for a career in academia, those pursuing DBA are motivated by advancement in their job profiles. PhD researchers also need to actively conduct research and publish in academic journals or books. A DBA candidate looks to apply his learned skills in the professional environment. While active research and publication is not the immediate aim for a DBA candidate, they apply research based learning to solve various practical and professional issues. Although a DBA degree opens the door for entry into academics as well, it is mostly an advance up the professional hierarchy that the degree holder looks for.

Mode of teaching

PhD is generally pursued full-time. There are also some Universities and departments that provide part-time PhD. In case of DBA, it is most of the time a part-time program. However, some may also choose to pursue it full-time.

This difference can be mostly attributed to the fact that DBA is mostly pursued by working professionals who do not wish to take a break from their job. There are options for DBA candidates to pursue it online as well. Online DBA programs also facilitate the candidates with e-resources, recorded lectures and live interaction with faculty members. A DBA program is also a lot flexible while interacting with professors, completing courses and submitting dissertation.  PhD, being mostly pursed by those passionate about academics and research is generally full-time and requires development of a dissertation based on rigorous research. 


PhD in Business Administration is a worldwide recognized academic degree. A researcher earns it through rigorous research and is accepted globally. Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), on the other hand, is a relatively new qualification and not many know about it.

Further, the reputation of a DBA degree also depends on the reputation of the University or Institute where it is pursued from. The more established and renowned the Institution is, the more the degree will be valued. Thus, it is necessary that you learn about all the best Institutes and Universities offering DBA programs and settle for the one that seems to meet your requirements.