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July 16, 2022

PhD vs DBA – Which Option is the Best for Me?

If you’ve never looked at doctoral programs in-depth, you may assume that they’re all the same. And on the surface, it may look like they are. But there are major differences between something like a PhD in business administration and a DBA. If you are considering going for one of the two, you must know what differentiates these programs so you can make the right decision. In this article, we’re going to look at what separates the PhD from the DBA, and a few questions you should ask yourself before you pick on one of the two.

What Makes a PhD and a DBA so Different?

At the core, the main difference between a PhD and a DBA is that a PhD is more targeted toward academia while a doctor in business administration is more like a continuation of the MBA and prepares candidates to face real-life challenges. So, while a PhD might be a good option for people who want to get into research, it may not necessarily help someone who wants to move up the corporate ladder. 

At the end of the day, PhDs are rarely called to solve real problems, but still play a very important role in business. They are the ones who help shape the way businesses will be managed in the future. They had a lot of work during the recent times of disruption and will continue to do so as new technology and methods keep getting introduced. Not to mention all the supply chain challenges that we’re going to have to face in the next few years.

What are the Differences Between the Curriculum?

Well, there are lots of differences in curriculum between a DBA and a PhD. In a PhD program, you can expect to look at the evolution of business management practices over time and their impact on society as a whole. A DBA, on the other hand, will have you go more in-depth into these management systems and teach you how to use them and maximise them in a business setting.

You should know, however, that you will also be involved in research during a DBA. Most DBAs come out with advanced research skills and all DBAs need to have the research skills necessary to conduct literature reviews. The only difference is that they’ll have the chance to use what they got for these reviews and apply it directly to business.

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If this sounds like something that would interest you, we suggest you check out Aston University’s doctor of business administration online. A program like this will give you all the tools needed to understand business literature and research better and become a much better leader as a result.

Are You More into Theory or Practice?

One of the first things you have to ask yourself when choosing between a PhD and a DBA is whether you want to be involved in theory or if you want to get down to the nitty-gritty. If you’ve spent a lot of time as an executive and would like to move to something less stressful, then going for a PhD might be a great option. But if you need to be close to the action and affect businesses directly, then you should get a DBA.

Would You Like the Same Kind of Role as Now or Something Completely Different?

You should also look at your motives for getting higher credentials right now. Some people may want to work in a whole other role while others may simply want to become better at what they’re doing. If you’re an executive and you want to become a better executive, then getting a DBA is the best option. But, if you’d like to devise theories on how business will be done years from now or how it should be done, the PhD is the best option.

What’s Your Favourite Work Setting?

If your goal is to work on research teams, become a speaker or general business analyst, or work in academia, then you could get a PhD. You should know, however, that DBA graduates are also able to qualify for some of those positions. It’s entirely possible to get a job as a professor with a DBA degree, for instance. It’s true that the PhD is more valued by faculties and that most PhDs will have an edge over a DBA, but this is not always the case.

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As we mentioned, DBAs are also involved in research, just not to the same extent as PHDs. And when institutions look at potential teachers, they don’t only look at their credentials. Work experience can make a great difference and could benefit a candidate. The amount of research that a DBA has produced as well as their publications will also be in the balance. So, know that getting a DBA won’t block you from working in academia.

Who is the PhD for?

The PhD is for people who have an analytical mind and want to solve both theoretical and real-life problems in a controlled environment. The PhD is also a prestigious title to have, so if your goal is to work with an organisation for whom prestige is important, then getting a PhD is a good way to go. Having a PhD will give you a better chance at working with national news organisations, for instance, or working in public office.

Who is the DBA for?

The DBA is the best option for people who want to find solutions to real-world complex business and management problems. It is a great choice for anyone who wants to get deeper into management methodologies and perfect them. 

DBAs can also contribute to research that will not only benefit professionals but directly change the way business is done on the ground. The DBA focuses more on human interaction and the development of soft skills as well. It is the perfect choice for those who’d like to understand the psychology of leadership so they can spot and appoint better leaders while becoming better leaders themselves.

As you can see, there are significant differences between a PhD and a DBA, and you must know what these are before you go in any direction. If you still have doubts, don’t hesitate to speak with a counsellor or people who attended each program so you can get their impressions.

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