The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programme is an interdisciplinary programme that is typically designed for working professionals and incorporates more applied research and business practices. So what are the differences between phd and dba degree?
These degree programmes tend to be about 3 years in length, and although they are primarily offered on-campus, they may only meet on weekends and/or provide some distance learning options to accommodate working professionals. Both, the Phd programme and the DBA, are doctoral business programs and as such have similarities. Nevertheless, there are important differences that can be captured by:
1) Motivation: Career Perspective vs. Personal Challenge
A difference between the Ph.D. in Management and the DBA programme is often the motivation behind the studies. For Ph.D. students, the path to a career as an academic. Their degree qualifies them as scholars and the overall goal is to start a career as a fulltime professor at a business school. DBAs, in contrast, are driven primarily by the search for a personal challenge. They already have achieved a lot in their business career and some of them have an MBA. The DBA provides them with a new challenge that goes beyond the practical knowledge that they learned in business or the MBA. It challenges them as potential researchers.
2. Access to data: Having or not Having
The definition of the data is central to any research is the data. Data is what analyses to find support for or against your hypotheses - whether qualitative data or quantitative data. Every scholar needs to work with data over time (unless he or she only wants to publish theoretical papers) and having access to or having built up a unique database can be an important advantage when it comes to publishing in top journals.
One of the greatest advantages of many DBA students is their access to data in their businesses. This data often is unique and sometimes can only be used for their dissertation under serious confidentiality clauses. Ph.D. students, in contrast, often need to build up their database from scratch, for instance by an online survey or by collecting, coding, and processing publicly available data.
3. Ph.D. and DBA Qualification and Career Goals: Full-time vs. Part-time academic
Ph.D. in Management students aim at a career in academia. They apply for positions as full-time professors after graduating or go for a Postdoc for some years. Their key activity is doing research, publishing in academic journals or books, and teaching. And this is what Ph.D. in Management students become qualified for – at least at top schools.
In contrast, DBA graduates usually stay working professionals in their companies and want to stay in the business world even after their graduation. However, their doctoral degree qualifies them for doing research as well. They may teach as guest professors, invited or adjunct faculty occasionally and publish in practitioner or academic journals. Also, the doctor's title may open some doors for them in their company's hierarchy.
4. Knowledge Creation: Differences Among Doctoral Programmes in Management Area
Another difference may be that Ph.D. students primarily aim at developing new theories, particularly if they want to publish in top management journals. The starting point of their research often are existing theories and their knowledge gaps – those phenomena that our existing theory does not explain so far.
The core idea here is: Ph.D. in Management students work on research questions that are considered as important gaps by the academic community.
DBA students, on the other hand, are less required to extend existing theory. Instead, their great contribution is rather the combination of research with concrete business problems. Their starting point, for example, maybe a business problem from their companies and the DBA dissertation may generate a theoretical model that explains that specific problems and at the same time abstracts from it so that the model can be applied in other contexts as well. Hence, the DBA dissertation uses often a case-study approach rather than an empirical research approach.
The core idea here is: In the centre of a DBA dissertation is a practical problem from the business world that is considered as relevant from both sides, business managers and scholars.
5. Financial Security
Ph.D. in Management students, particularly at top schools, often get financial support during the studies, either by a scholarship or through a position as a research assistant. DBA students on the other hand often pay for their education even though some schools may provide scholarships for them as well.
This makes a lot of sense given that Ph.D. students do not work in business and hence depend on a solid financing plan. DBA students, in contrast, keep on earning money and may have some savings by which they can pay the tuition fees. They may also be able to tax-deduct their DBA expenses and most likely increase their salary once they have achieved their doctoral degree by gaining better positions. Some companies even fund DBA students, especially when they use data from their employers and when their research is relevant for their companies.
PhDs, on the other hand, are sponsored by their universities because the university has an interest in them. More precisely it has an interest in their future publication. If the Ph.D. student finally becomes a full-time professor at a renowned business school and publishes in top journals, the university's reputation increases. Hence, the investment pays off for the university in that case.