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What is the difference between a doctorate (PhD) and a DBA?

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20th Apr, 2022
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What is the difference between a doctorate (PhD) and a DBA?

You might already have several years of work experience and a postgraduate degree. Perhaps even an MBA.

How do you then stand out from the crowd in a rapidly changing world and prove to employers that you are the right one to hire?

You can show your extensive work history or your track record. You could ask your network for recommendations. You could gain skills and certifications or a degree that’s even more prestigious than an MBA.

If you choose the latter, you could go down the route of a PhD, spend some years doing research and come up with your own unique theory and framework.

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Or, you could do a DBA.

What is the difference between a PhD and a DBA?

A Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD), is a type of a doctorate degree, and perhaps the most common doctorate awarded.

It can be awarded in almost any subject and is achieved after three to four years of full-time research or five to seven years of part time research culminating in the presentation of a new theory or idea in the field. 

A Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), on the other hand, is a specialised doctorate in Business. It requires the student to undertake research to present solutions to problems, often ones that they’ve experienced within their own businesses or places of employment.

While a PhD is most suited to academics, a DBA keeps working professionals in mind, even though there can be some crossover between both.

Both of the degrees award a Doctorate upon completion and are equal in rank, title and prestige. 

Should I do a DBA or a PhD?

A PhD can be in any field. It is purely research based, and extensive time will be spent developing a new idea or framework where there is a gap in existing knowledge. It is especially suited towards academics or aspiring academics.

A DBA on the other hand is tailored towards business professionals with some work experience who want to move up within an organisation and break into management positions. 

Coursework is a combination of taught components and research. A student will combine scientific research, theory and professional experience to work on a business problem in an area such as leadership, decision-making, global change etc.

What qualifications do I need for a DBA or a PhD?

A PhD often requires a Master’s degree or an M.Phil, particularly if it’s a PhD in an arts or humanities field. Admissions criteria are different depending on the institution, but a key part of the PhD admissions process is finding a supervisor with expertise in or doing research in the area that you’d like to study.

A DBA, surprisingly, depending on the institution, can be done straight after a Bachelor’s with some work experience. You could potentially skip the time and cost of an MBA or a Master’s degree entirely!

How will a DBA or a PhD affect my career progression?

A PhD, being a more academic degree, is better suited to someone who would like to develop process and policy, or even teach, particularly in a research or academic institution. Read more about the career opportunities after PhD in India.

A DBA with its practical, problem-solving nature, often attracts management or aspiring candidates hoping to break into top level management positions within the field of business. 

Due to this, it’s likely that a DBA holder will trend towards higher paid upper-level management jobs within businesses and corporations.

Deciding between a DBA or a PhD depends hugely on your individual circumstances and what you want to achieve in your future career.

As a working professional, if you are looking at adding a Doctor title to your name, we would recommend DBA over PhD. A DBA program allows you to do the same and has a flexible industry-oriented approach rather than an academic approach taken by PhD. However, DBA won’t help you to earn a professor title at a UGC-approved institution since that will require a PhD.

Here’s why we think the SSBM DBA degree powered by upGrad is a great choice for driven executives.

It is the most effective way to continue scaling the corporate ladder without sacrificing continuity in career or time.

  • Made for busy executives: you will get your DBA within 3 years without having to leave your job and spend 5 years getting a doctorate on campus
  • Outcome-driven: you can focus on any of our 13 specializations and build your expertise where it’ll make the highest impact to you 
  • Highly engaging and intellectually stimulating: you will learn from excellent professors and have 1:1 support on your thesis
  • Enormous ROI: thanks to upGrad’s technology and approach to democratize higher education you pay only a fraction of an old school doctorate and reap the rewards nonetheless

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Vikramaditya Kapur, Columbia Graduate and interested in education, healthcare, and startups.
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