A DBA is one of the most distinguished academic awards in the world, but what does it actually take to be able to call yourself a Doctor of Business Administration? How much work is really involved? Is a DBA progromme as tough as everyone says?
And most importantly, how long does it take to obtain one and will it all be worth it in the end? With all those questions in mind, here's everything you need to know about studying a DBA.
Why should I do a DBA?
People are inspired to complete a doctorate for many different reasons. For some, it is the biggest step towards a long and successful career in academia. For others, a DBA is an excellent way to deepen their research into a specific field, which may lead to some very innovative and lucrative commercial solutions. While for a others, a DBA certificate can help them get promoted to higher positions within the company that they are working for. For a few, a DBA certificate can support them in migrating overseas. A number of students simply enjoy the scholarly life and enrol for the sheer pleasure of learning. These naturally curious people might not have any specific career goals in mind, but a DBA is the best way to satisfy their thirst for knowledge.
What are the benefits of studying a DBA?
First of all, you get to call yourself a ‘doctor’, which is pretty cool (although it might be worth keeping it quiet if you run into some kind of medical emergency). Having this title means you can change your title at the bank, with the credit card company and on your passport. And if anyone asks why you can call yourself a ‘Dr.’ without knowing one end of a scalpel from the other, tell them that doctor comes from the Latin word which means 'distinguished teacher.' It became a common medical term after physicians were required to complete a doctorate before becoming licensed medical practitioners.
But aside from the prestige and a few opportunities to show off, being an academic ‘Dr.’ has several practical benefits. To start with, it is a prerequisite for anyone who wants to build an academic career. Even if you decide against a career in the academy, having a DBA on your curriculum vitae will impress nearly all potential employers.
Finally, a DBA is lots of fun! Obviously, it involves years of hard work but you will also be spending time with people who share your interests and passions. Also, there are plenty of travel opportunities for many DBA students. You could find yourself at a prestigious conference surrounded by the leading experts in your subject, or working on a research project in some of the world's most exotic locations.
How long does it take to complete a DBA?
This depends on where or what you study, as The Guardian explains but you would need to dedicate at least three to five years towards earning a doctorate. Most DBA students in Malaysia take three to five years to complete a DBA. It will also depend on which university awards the doctorate. The timescales also vary quite dramatically from country to country, so international students should always conduct plenty of research before applying to study a DBA abroad.
Is there any way that I can qualify sooner? A select group of students can complete their DBA in two years. It is hard to overstate how rare and impressive this is but it is always a possibility. The key to a fast track DBA is building up a strong academic curriculum vitae before you even start. Getting your work published in journals as a master's student is one of the best ways of alerting professors to your academic qualities.
If you manage to become a 'Dr.' in two years, you will find yourself in some very illustrious company. Professor Stephen Wolfram graduated with a degree in particle physics from the California Institute of Technology after spending less than a year on campus. He was only 20 years old at the time and had previously dropped out of Oxford University at the age of 17 years old because the lectures were not challenging enough! His subsequent achievements proved that this was not just down to youthful arrogance. He went on to create a whole new computing programming language as well as revolutionary theories in algebra and artificial intelligence.
Can I study part-time? Given the huge commitment involved in studying a DBA, many students opt for part time study. The majority of part time students studying a DBA are working in industries such as education, medicine, social studies and veterinary sciences. They usually take around three to five years to finish, but there are plenty of benefits in taking the long road to obtaining a doctorate.
Part time students dedicate between 20 to 30 hours a week on their studies, which leaves plenty of time for work or raising a young family. It is also the best option if you are studying for pleasure rather than with a specific career goal in mind. Studying a DBA on a full time basis can be a stressful experience given the tight deadlines and demanding supervisors might suck away some of the fun for individuals who enjoy a more relaxed approach to learning.
As an international student, what happens when I complete the DBA programme? Many institutions have extension schemes in place designed to help international students remain in the country after their final thesis has been approved. These extensions help recent graduates find work or continue their academic careers. For example, Mantissa College does assist international students by providing a list of companies that are looking to recruit students to work in the particular companies in the student portal and on the notice boards around the college. A campus recruitment programme is also held on a yearly basis and is organised by the Embassy of France in Malaysia where companies are invited by the Embassy of France in Malaysia to recruit the individuals who have graduated from Mantissa College. However, the international student would need to perform during the job interview to secure the job and obtain an employment pass in order to continue remaining in Malaysia.
I am not sure if I want to study a DBA, should I just do one anyway?
Every major decision that we make requires careful consideration. This approach will naturally give rise to certain doubts, fears and insecurities. We can usually overcome them with a little bit of forward thinking or at least reassure ourselves that we are ready for whatever challenges that may come our way. A DBA is a serious commitment that requires dedication, commitment, a lot of brainpower and most of all as the London School of Economics explains, passion. Studying a doctorate requires real labour of love and should never be approached half-heartedly. If none of that scares you off, then you are probably the perfect DBA candidate!
Studying a DBA takes time, effort and an enormous amount of hard work. However, studying a DBA is also one of the most rewarding things you can do especially if you are interested in the world of academia. So get ready for more than a few tough moments but remember that you will come out of the other side as a highly qualified specialist (indeed a ‘doctor’!) in the specific subject that you are most passionate about!