Your career goals can help you choose which business doctorate to earn.

What is the difference between a DBA and a PhD?In one year, the world can generate a gross global product of more than $73 trillion dollars.* That’s a lot of business. It also means there’s a lot of value in having an in-depth understanding of business administration and management. The question is, if you want to acquire in-depth knowledge, which degree would be most beneficial: a PhD in Management or a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)? The answer depends on your interests and your career goals.

The Core Difference

When deciding between a PhD in Management and a DBA degree, the first question you should ask yourself is whether you prefer working from a more academic point of view or a more professional point of view. If you enjoy conducting original research, analyzing data, and evaluating theories, you will likely prefer the more academically oriented PhD in Management. If you enjoy applying research to practical problems, formulating solutions to complex issues, and designing effective business practices, the more professional orientation of the Doctor of Business Administration may be the best fit for you.

Learning Differences

A PhD in Management can help you learn how to:

  • Articulate the evolution of the field of business management and its relationship to human and societal development.
  • Analyze various theories, concepts, and tools that seek to explain and provide the basis for management decision-making.
  • Evaluate management and systems-thinking principles at the core of the design and evolution of organizational and social systems.
  • Appraise the relevance of seminal, current, and emerging management theories and practices from an interdisciplinary and social-change perspective.
  • Assess identified gaps in the current research literature in the field of business management and in their chosen areas of specialization.
  • Design efficacious and ethical research that addresses identified gaps in the body of knowledge in management and related sub-fields.
  • Advance the body of knowledge through original research in the field of business management and chosen areas of specialization via the application of a variety of appropriate methodology, design, and analysis methods.
  • Communicate effectively to academic and general stakeholders the results of original research that advance the field of knowledge in business management and chosen specializations and contribute to positive social change.

A DBA degree can help you learn how to:

  • Evaluate the relevance of current and emerging business theory and practice from an interdisciplinary perspective.
  • Formulate effective solutions to complex, real-world problems common to the practice of business and management.
  • Apply current research and literature to practical problems found in business and management.
  • Evaluate scholarly research in business and management.
  • Design rigorous research that contributes not only to the professional body of knowledge of business and management, but to positive social change on an organizational or even global level.
  • Apply professional business ethics appropriately.

Program Differences

Both the PhD in Management and the DBA degree will require you to take advanced business courses and spend time on in-depth study. However, there’s a difference in how you earn each degree. For the PhD in Management, you will typically complete a dissertation in which you conduct scholarly and original research with the goal of bringing new information to light and making an original contribution to the field of business management. For the DBA, you will typically complete a doctoral study in which you conduct scholarly and original research focused on developing a practical solution to a business problem.

Professional Differences

While both a PhD in Management and a DBA degree can help you become a leader in your field, those who earn these degrees usually take slightly different career paths.

Common PhD in Management Careers

  • Collegiate teaching
  • Consulting
  • Leadership
  • Upper-level public policy or corporate policymaking
  • Organizational innovation and change

Common DBA Careers

  • Private and nonprofit sectors: Consultant, Contributor, Management
  • Entrepreneur/business owner: Education, Administration, Faculty
  • Government: Contributor, Management

How You Can Earn Your Doctorate Degree

One of the best ways to earn either a PhD in Management or a DBA is to enroll in an online business degree program. Online universities are geared for working professionals who are seeking to advance their education. As such, they offer the flexibility you need to earn your degree while continuing to work full time. Earning a PhD in Management online or earning a DBA online can allow you to move toward your goals without pausing your career.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online PhD in Management degree and an online Doctor of Business Administration degree. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.


*The World Bank, Gross Domestic Product 2015, on the Internet at http://databank.worlDBAnk.org/data/download/GDP.pdf.

†Career options may require additional experience, training, or other factors beyond the successful completion of this degree program.

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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