DBA stands for Doctor of Business Administration and PhD for Doctor of Philosophy
Are both the same? No, they aren’t.
Main differences (extracted from Thomas Graf articles)
1. Target groups: young graduates (PhD) vs. senior professionals (DBA).
In general, people study a PhD program when their goal is a career in academia and eventually want to become a fulltime professor at a business school (or other disciplines). Their objective is to become academics and do research. These people often come directly from the university and start the PhD after graduating.
People do a DBA when they already have a long career in business and are looking for a new intellectual challenge. These people often have an MBA already and want to further distinguish themselves from others by doing a doctoral degree. At the same time, they are interested in management research and may have a practical research question in mind - a specific problem from their work environment for instance - that they can approach in their dissertation and that provides benefits to their companies, or their industry, at the same time.
2. Motivation: career perspective vs. personal challenge
For PhD students the PhD is the path to a career as an academic. Their degree qualifies them as scholars and their overall goal is to start a career as a fulltime professor.
DBAs in contrast are driven primarily by the search for a personal challenge.
3. Access to data
One of the greatest advantages of many DBA students is their access to data in their own businesses. This data often is unique and sometimes can only be used for their dissertation under serious confidentiality clauses. PhD 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.
4. PhD and DBA qualification and career Goals: fulltime vs. part-time academic
PhD students aim at a career in academia. They apply for positions as fulltime 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.
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.
5. Knowledge creation: Differences among doctoral programs in management
PhD in Management students work on research questions that are considered as important gaps by the academic community.
In the center of a DBA dissertation is a practical problem from the business world that is considered as relevant from both sides, business managers and scholars.
Other differences are: Full-time studies (PhD) vs part-time studies (DBA). DBA students do not give up their work during the program. The length of the studies also differs: PhD studies usually last for 4-5 years, DBA studies last for 3 years.
6. Recognition: established degree vs. gaining recognition
Clearly, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a worldwide recognized academic degree. It is the traditional qualification for a researcher and it is accepted internationally. In contrast, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a relatively young degree and may not be, yet, as much known and recognized as the PhD.
It is very likely though that the value of the degree depends on the reputation of the institution where it has been achieved. If the DBA comes from an established and renowned institution also the DBA degree itself may gain acceptance and the respective person may profit from a higher recognition than if the degree was obtained from a no-name school. In general, the DBA seems to gain recognition and DBA programs can be considered as an emerging market for business schools.
Strong similarities between both programs.
Both program types require a period of coursework, followed by an exam, and finally a research period when PhD and DBA students develop their dissertation.
A typical DBA or PhD structure, for example, is:
- Development of research project: for instance, development of a research idea and collection of data
- Defense of research proposal
- Writing the dissertation
- Final defense
Both, PhD and DBA programs require an academic qualification on the master level. There may be exceptions, however. For instance, in Spain admission to a PhD requires an Official Master’s Degree, however admissions to a DBA program may be granted even in the absence of a master’s degree provided that the applicant shows a lot of work experience in managerial functions and responsibilities.
Both, the PhD and the DBA are doctoral degrees. Whether the degree is officially accepted and whether the title can be officially held in a specific country, however, depends on the country's regulations. In Germany, for instance, a degree - no matter if a bachelor, master, or a doctoral degree - is only accepted officially if the institution (where the degree was obtained) is officially accepted in its country. This official acceptance of a doctoral degree counts for both PhD and DBA.
However, many schools may care less about whether the degree is officially accepted or not but rather in the institution's reputation where you gained that degree. In Spain, the PhD Degree is ruled and regulated based on the bylaws of the Ministerio de Educacion. The DBA in Management and Innovation, on the other side, is not an Official Degree, it is not regulated by the Ministry, and its acceptance depends on the ICADE-ICAI prestige.
Please, find more info in:
DBA vs PhD Differences: Doctor of Business Administration (COMPASS)
DBA vs PhD in Business Administration (Drexell University)
About the Executive DBA Degree (EDBAC)