The difference between a DBA degree and PhD in Business Management

August 22, 2019

The business world can offer an ever-changing and ever-challenging work environment.

Evolving technology, government oversight, legal developments, and pressure from competitors are just a few of the challenges that business executives must navigate. Earning a doctoral degree can help provide you with the education and insight you need to effectively lead organizations at the highest level.

But should you pursue a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management (PhD) or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)? What’s the difference between the two? While there is some overlap between the programs, there are significant differences as well, especially in terms of career outcomes.

PhD in Business Management

If contributing to the body of knowledge on business management interests you, consider a PhD.

This degree is focused on thought leadership and expanding or building on existing management theories. You’ll conduct original research on topics that have not been previously explored or examine new aspects of existing research. The PhD program includes the development of a traditional dissertation, which encompasses the original research that contributes to the body of knowledge.

With a PhD, you could find yourself teaching at a university, consulting, or conducting research for corporations, nonprofits, or the government.

PhD in Business Management coursework includes:

  • Business Principles and Practices
  • Business Ethics
  • Research Processes, Theories and Practices
  • Management Theory
  • Quantitative Research Techniques
  • Qualitative Research Techniques

Related job titles to explore*:

  • Adjunct or part-time business faculty
  • Full-time business faculty
  • Dean or associate dean of a business program
  • Director
  • President
  • Vice president
  • Business consultant
  • Chief officer (executive, operations, learning, technology)

Doctor of Business Administration

If applying existing research and knowledge to solve business problems interests you, consider a DBA.

A DBA is a practitioner-based degree. Instead of developing new research or exploring theories, you will use the existing body of literature to develop hands-on, practical solutions to problems in the workplace. This degree does not require a dissertation. Instead, students will develop solutions for business or industry with a capstone project.

With a DBA, you may be able to move into leadership roles at corporations, nonprofits, consulting firms, government agencies, colleges, or in private practice.

DBA coursework includes:

  • Guiding the Implementation of Change in Organizations
  • Consumer Marketing in a Global Environment
  • Strategic Thinking and Innovation
  • Attracting and Retaining Talent
  • Advanced Concepts of Project Management Methodologies

Related job titles to explore*:

  • Consultant
  • Vice president/director of leadership development
  • Executive-level management
  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
  • Vice president/director of talent management
  • Administrator/director
  • Adjunct or part-time business faculty**
  • Full-time business faculty**

Capella offers PhD in Business Management and Doctor of Business Administration programs, with several specializations in each. Learn more about Capella’s  online doctoral business programs.

*These are examples intended to serve as a general guide. Some positions may prefer or even require previous experience, licensure, certifications, and/or other designations along with a degree. Because many factors determine what position an individual may attain, Capella cannot guarantee that a graduate will secure any specific job title, a promotion, salary increase, or other career outcome. We encourage you to research requirements for your job target and career goals.

**Educational and professional requirements for faculty positions vary widely by employer. Understanding your target employers’ particular requirements is key in deciding on a doctoral program.

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