What’s the Difference Between a DBA and Ph.D. Degree?

The career you develop may result from your degree choice

While doctor of business administration (DBA) and Ph.D. in management degrees can be similar in the information they cover and the research training they give, there are significant differences between the two degrees that can impact the trajectory of your business career.

Academic vs. Practical

One difference between the two degrees is that a Ph.D. degree prepares you for academic or scholarly work in the field, while a DBA puts you on the front lines of business, such as working in a C-suite position or for an organization that supports businesses, like a task force or non-profit. If you want to teach in higher education, publish papers and books, or conduct research on a full-time basis, a Ph.D. may be the better degree. But if you want to help run a business, improve it, or support it, a DBA degree is probably the better choice.

That doesn’t mean research, teaching, and publishing are not still part of what a DBA graduate does: they very well may be. But it won’t be the extent of what a DBA graduate is qualified to do. Career options with a Doctor of Business Administration degree usually involve direct access to work inside a business or organization and will be seen as preparation for a practical career rather than a scholarly one.

Full-Time Student vs. Working

Many Ph.D. in management students devote themselves full-time to their studies, but most DBA students will be working in a business environment while earning their degree, possibly on a part-time basis. The two degrees are equivalent and require the same amount of credits and work, even if the way the degrees are earned and their emphasis are different.

Difference between a DBA and a PhD
Consulting with businesses or being hired for a C-suite position are natural results of pursuing a DBA degree.

Dissertation Differences

Another difference between a DBA degree and a Ph.D. in management is the thesis completed at the end of the degree. A Ph.D. has a traditional dissertation with original research focused on bringing out new information in the field. A DBA degree has an ending project that involves original research but tends to be focused on a practical solution to a business problem.


There may be differences in how specialized your studies become while pursuing a Ph.D. or DBA degree. As they progress, Ph.D. studies may become highly specialized to one specific area of business or one small area of research that you will study very closely in order to have a deep knowledge of that area and conduct specialized research related to it.

On the other hand, DBA students may specialize in a specific area that relates to your current job or the job you want to pursue, or you may focus more on getting a foundation in cutting-edge business practices that will ignite your passion for helping one or more businesses maximize their effectiveness or move forward into the future.

Florida Tech offers a doctor of business administration degree for those students who want to contribute to a business or support businesses in their efforts to grow and improve. Learn more about our DBA program and the benefits of having this terminal degree when seeing a leadership position in business.


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