“The DBA is a practitioner's degree, with research focused on finding solutions to current business issues. The PhD is a great fit for academics who want to create original research to expand the field of knowledge in management studies.". – Sara Stivers, Admissions Officer

Both DBAs and PhDs involve major commitment: time and financial investment, including years of extensive study and research which eventually lead to the title of doctor. However, there are significant differences between the two, and it is important to distinguish between them to ensure you choose the right program for you.


What is a PhD?
‘PhD’ stands for Doctor of Philosophy. Simply put, it is a postgraduate doctoral degree and, in most countries, the highest level of degree a student can achieve. Typically, a PhD student will demonstrate they have made an original contribution to their area of study through conducting their own independent research. With this research, the PhD student produces a dissertation with the intention of their work being published in an academic journal.

To qualify for a PhD program, you will need to have obtained both a bachelor’s and master’s degree. The exact requirements will differ, however, depending on the institutions you apply for.

What is a DBA?
‘DBA’ stands for Doctor of Business Administration. A DBA student is usually an already experienced business professional looking to strengthen skills in leadership and their selected business profession as a whole. A DBA student conducts research with the aim of advancing practice in their field. For example, if a marketing manager wanted to know how the rise of online shopping will shape the future of consumerism, they would conduct research on this topic, use their findings to create a dissertation, and apply findings to their profession.

Requirements for a DBA program also include both a bachelor’s and master’s degree, and will differ dependent on the institution.

Benefits of a PhD
There are many benefits to obtaining a PhD:

  • A PhD is the highest possible degree you can achieve.
  • The extensive training involved to achieve a PhD prepares you to tackle challenging situations both professionally and personally.
  • As a proficient researcher, you will acquire the skills to source information efficiently and effectively.
  • You will vastly develop your analytical skills, organization abilities and confidence.
  • You will be recognized as an expert in your chosen field, in addition to being respected for making a meaningful contribution to it.
  • You will open up an array of job prospects in academia, research and other fields which require a doctorate.
  • Most importantly, you will have the opportunity to further pursue, explore and discover a field you are passionate about.

Benefits of a DBA
Achieving a DBA has similar benefits to that of a PhD, and many of its own:

  • A DBA is one of the highest possible degrees you can achieve.
  • Your expertise and contribution to business theory will be widely respected in the professional world.
  • You will become a more empowered professional, developing leadership skills in a variety of areas in business.
  • A DBA will expand your employability, allowing you to pursue many career paths in business, research, management and academia.
  • Salary potential will increase with future employers as they recognize the commitment you have made to achieve your DBA.
  • A doctorate degree in business is highly valued, giving you an advantage in a competitive job market.
  • As with a PhD, you will give yourself the opportunity to pursue your dream career while developing exceptional skills in the process.

How long does it take to get a PhD?
The time required to complete a PhD can differ dependent on the institution, and whether you choose part-time or full-time study. Full-time PhD students can complete their studies in four years, while a part-time or distance learning program can take up to six years.

How long does it take to get a DBA degree?
A DBA degree will also vary depending on the institution and whether a student decides to study on a full, part-time or distance learning basis. Similarly to a PhD, full-time DBAs may also be completed in up to four years, while a part-time DBA takes up to six years.

What can I do with a PhD?
It is often assumed that a PhD will strictly lead to a career in the educational sector. Indeed, if academia is your desired path, a PhD will give you the degree necessary to become a professor or educational researcher. However, there are many graduates who move into different professions.

Students with a PhD degree can achieve careers in fields beyond education, where there is a need for highly skilled and analytical scholars. These fields include the science and pharmaceutical industry, or financial and business industry, working as either a researcher or writer. PhD students might also pursue a career as a competitive intelligence, quantitative or market research analyst.

What can I do with a DBA degree?
As a Doctor of Business Administration, you will hold a degree which enables you to progress as a leader in your current field of business. You will have developed high-level business skills and techniques, with the capability to formulate and bring executive solutions to your practice.

Further, job opportunities for graduates who acquire a DBA, include management or market research analyst, and prospects to work as a professor or an economist.

Doctorate degrees are recognized as a prestigious accomplishment worldwide. You can find out more about the International School of Management’s PhD program here and DBA program here.

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