Skip to Content
Resource Articles //

Understanding the Differences Between an EdD and DBA With a Leadership Specialization

Find out how to choose between these two online doctoral degrees.

The ultimate leadership training is a doctorate with a specialization in leadership. If you’re looking for an education that will prepare you to lead organizations, a doctorate is the most advanced degree you can achieve. A leadership specialization allows you to focus your studies on the skills you will need to solve problems and drive change in any field.

“Whether you’re pursuing a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or a Doctor of Education (EdD), a leadership focus can be an essential element in helping organizations and individuals forge new pathways to sustainability and find new resources for innovation and resilience in a post-pandemic environment,” says Dr. Jan Garfield, a core faculty member with Walden University’s College of Management and Technology.

Choosing which degree to pursue can be challenging. Walden University offers two great online degree programs with a focus on leadership: a Doctor of Education (EdD) with a specialization in Organizational Leadership and Development and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) with a specialization in Leadership. Choosing to earn an EdD with a specialization in Organizational Leadership and Development will allow you to hone your expertise in organizational needs assessment, program evaluation, leadership practice, and continuous improvement. You will learn how to explore innovative solutions to drive systemic change within organizations.

“Another real strength of the specialization is in the mix of leadership and assessment coursework, empowering students with the knowledge and skills to make data-driven leadership decisions,” says Dr. Mark Clauburg, an academic program director in The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University. “There is a broad application to the Organizational Leadership and Development specialization. Its focus goes beyond P–12 or higher education and while there is an educational focus, a prospective student could come from various workplace sectors.”

Should you choose to pursue a DBA with a specialization in Leadership, you will have the opportunity to develop and use writing and critical thinking skills while exploring new frameworks and perspectives to help you lead and manage change effectively. In this online DBA program, you will learn to formulate effective solutions to complex, real-world problems that affect businesses and management practices.

While these two online doctoral degrees have similarities, there are also important differences between them. Understanding these differences will help you decide which doctoral degree to pursue.

Consider accreditation.

Walden is an accredited university, and several degree programs have specialized or professional accreditation. Walden’s DBA is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), signifying the program’s alignment with recognized business standards of quality. The EdD program does not have a specialized accreditation.

Explore capstones.

A capstone is a significant research project you must complete in order to earn a doctorate. Walden’s Organizational Leadership and Development EdD specialization requires a traditional dissertation or doctoral study for the capstone, with the goal of addressing a gap in practice and contributing to the educational field of study.

Walden’s DBA with a specialization in Leadership offers three capstone pathways: a traditional doctoral study pathway, a portfolio pathway, and consulting pathway. The portfolio option requires students to complete an empirical research study and create either a program evaluation portfolio or a quantitative secondary data analysis portfolio. The consulting capstone allows students to immediately put their education into practice as a consultant and coach for a small business or nonprofit organization.

“Regardless of which capstone pathway students choose for their specialization in Leadership, the knowledge and skills acquired throughout their DBA journey will help to ensure their ability to lead organizations in a variety of sectors, including government, nonprofit, business, education, and healthcare, says Dr. Garfield. “They will also be equipped to bring about positive social change by promoting agility, resilience, and innovation.”

Graduates of Walden’s DBA program have gone on to do amazing work. These alumni include recipients of the Dr. Curt Reimann Baldrige Scholarship, higher education administrators, healthcare executives, and founders and leaders of nonprofit organizations. Others have gone on to become consultants, members of the boards of nonprofit organizations and small businesses, entrepreneurs, government contractors, and more.

Review residency requirements.

Walden’s EdD requires one residency, which can be completed virtually or in person. EdD students also have the option of an additional advanced residency.

Walden’s DBA requires two residencies, which can be completed virtually or in person. Like EdD students, DBA students can choose to complete an additional advanced residency.

Calculate credits.

To earn an EdD with a specialization in Organizational Leadership and Development, you must complete 79 quarter credits. You can transfer up to 39 quarter credits. Students can take one or two courses at a time.

To earn a DBA with a specialization in Leadership, you are required to complete 49 semester credits. You may transfer up to 17 semester credits. Students are enrolled in one 8-week course at a time. Students selected for the consulting capstone who have experience serving as Baldrige examiners may earn up to 15 credits by documenting their experiential learning outcomes.

A DBA or an EdD with a leadership specialization will identify you as an expert in your field and will help you gain the expertise to solve complex organizational problems and make a positive impact at any nonprofit, institution, or business. Whichever online doctoral degree you choose, Walden is an excellent choice. Walden offers more than 20 doctoral degree programs online, including PhD, DBA, and EdD programs. In fact, Walden is the No. 1 granter of doctoral research degrees.1

Gain the knowledge and credentials to lead with a degree from an online doctoral program. Learn more about Walden’s doctoral programs today.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online Doctor of Education (EdD) program as well as an online Doctor of Business Administration program to help you meet your personal and professional goals. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a flexible, convenient format that fits your busy life.

1Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Database (IPEDS). Retrieved March 2020; includes 2017–18 provisional data and all classifications of instructional programs (CIP) codes. A doctoral research degree is a PhD or other doctoral degree that requires advanced work beyond the master’s level, including the preparation and defense of a dissertation based on original research or the planning and execution of an original project demonstrating substantial artistic or scholarly achievement. Some examples of this type of degree may include EdD, DMA, DBA, DSc, DA, DM, or others, as designated by the awarding institution.

Walden’s BS in Business Administration, Master of Business Administration (MBA), Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), and PhD in Management programs are accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). The MS in Accounting and BS in Accounting programs are also accredited by the ACBSP and have earned the organization’s separate accounting accreditation.

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

Submitting...