PhD vs. DBA: What’s the Difference?

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Updated on March 29, 2023.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in business and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) are both doctoral degrees that allow students to engage in advanced study, examinations and research projects surrounding business administration to earn the highest credentials in business education.

Although the PhD and DBA have similarities, each doctoral degree is designed for distinctive target groups and aligned with unique career goals, resulting in varying outcomes.

Marymount University’s online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence program prepares graduates for real-world problems within their organization and teaches professionals how to lead at the highest level in data analytics.

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PhD vs. DBA At-a-Glance Comparison

What are the similarities and differences between a PhD and DBA in business? The following chart outlines what you should expect from the two business doctoral programs to help you determine which program’s outcome, format, coursework and requirements align with your profile and goals.

Learn more about the PhD vs. DBA and discover the next step in your professional journey.

How to Choose Between a PhD and a DBA

The first step to determining whether the PhD or DBA degree is right for you is to outline your career objectives. Ask yourself questions that align with the key differentiators above:

  • Program focus: Am I interested in applying research to a real-world setting or producing original research for future business models?
  • Outcomes: Do I want to work in a business, government or nonprofit setting and solve organizational problems, or do I want to teach business theory to students?
  • Student profile: Am I an experienced executive with years of job experience or a business student in the academic setting?
  • Program format: Do I prefer to learn online or on campus?
  • Coursework: What are the key skills I’m interested in learning?
  • Program length: How much time do I want to dedicate to my continued education?
  • Requirements: Do I have the necessary prerequisites?

DBA candidate interviewing for a job

PhD vs. DBA: Salary , Job Opportunities and Outlook

A business professional who has completed an advanced degree can find new and exciting job opportunities, a promising job outlook and a higher earning potential. Consider a few figures concerning the PhD vs. DBA salary range, as well as the job forecast.

Job Opportunities for PhD in Business Graduates

Several career opportunities are open to those pursuing a PhD in business. Some common career trajectories include:

  • Business professor
  • Management consultant

Job Outlook and Salaries for PhD Graduates

Job forecasts vary for different roles that PhD graduates might pursue. Positions for management consultants , for instance, are predicted to increase by 11% between 2021 and 2031 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). For postsecondary instructors such as business professors, the BLS predicts 12% growth between 2021 and 2031. While salaries also vary, the median annual salary for those with PhDs in business administration was approximately $103,000 in December 2022, according to Payscale.

Job Opportunities for DBA Graduates

DBA graduates gain access to a wide range of business roles and job opportunities. Many become management consultants working in professional, scientific and technical services, while others are self-employed. DBA graduates often work in the following roles:

  • Business intelligence analyst
  • Organizational development director
  • Human resources director

Job Outlook and Salaries for DBA Graduates

Outlook and salaries vary according to the position. The BLS predicts that positions for operations research analysts , including business intelligence analysts, will increase by 23% between 2021 and 2031. For training and development managers , including organizational development directors, the BLS predicts a 7% growth between 2021 and 2031. According to Payscale, business intelligence analysts made a median annual salary of approximately $71,900 in February 2023, while organizational development directors made about $123,000 in March 2023.

Why Pursue a DBA in Business Intelligence?

While there are many benefits to earning a PhD, a DBA specializing in business intelligence will expand your understanding of business theory in the context of a digital landscape and allow you to transform organizations for the future. 

Consider some of the main reasons to choose the DBA path:

1. Make Decisions Based on Data

Data-driven decision-making is a top priority for business leaders. An Invesp report noted that 40% of organizations aimed to increase data-driven marketing budgets and 64% of marketing leaders “strongly agree” that data-driven strategies are crucial in today’s economy.

A DBA in Business Intelligence teaches students how to use business intelligence tools to solve problems and gain groundbreaking insights . The hands-on coursework teaches DBA graduates how to:

  • Employ statistical methods to optimize business operations
  • Use microeconomic and macroeconomic approaches to solve business problems
  • Build a sophisticated platform to facilitate data-driven insights for an organization
  • Visualize data through industry software
  • Advocate for ethical data collection, privacy and transparency

2. Innovate in a Changing Economy

The business intelligence market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12% between 2023 and 2038 . The emergence of big data and the introduction of advanced analytics makes professionals with a DBA in Business Intelligence essential for the modern workforce.

Pursuing a DBA in Business Intelligence can prepare you for new challenges and opportunities in business and government by teaching you how to:

  • Develop a data-driven plan for implementing change in a government agency, business or nonprofit organization
  • Use machine learning tools to create ethically sound applications of AI in a government or business environment
  • Use traditional business models for product and service delivery via digital platforms

3. Commit to Ethical Leadership

Governance, privacy and data ethics are top-of-mind for leaders using data to drive organizational decisions. 

Leaders who operate from an ethical foundation create conscious businesses, protect consumers and gain respect and trust as a result. A DBA in Business Intelligence can prepare you to:

  • Apply ethical theories to leadership challenges
  • Develop an ethical governance strategy in the context of using tools and technologies like AI and data analysis
  • Evaluate issues of trust, privacy and transparency from a business and policy perspective
  • Research the ethical impacts and potential bias of AI applications

4. Apply Research to the Real World

The DBA in Business Intelligence is concerned with using research to address real-world issues. The final research project is specific and can be transferable in an organizational setting. DBA students completing their final project will select their topic and engage in the following:

  • Use scientific thinking to design original business intelligent research
  • Evaluate ethical considerations when conducting research and eliminate biases
  • Integrate statistics and research methodology
  • Communicate their findings verbally and visually, as well as in writing

Benefits of Studying a DBA in Business Intelligence 

Between a PhD and DBA, furthering your education in business intelligence will benefit you and the organization you work for in various areas. Enrolling in a DBA in BI empowers you to:

  • Build connections with innovators in your field through an expansive network of alumni
  • Upskill to meet the demands of organizational needs in the digital age
  • Enter a higher salary bracket, experience faster career mobility and enjoy job security in an industry with a growing job outlook 
  • Become an impactful leader in your industry or use your skills to explore new industries
  • Prioritize ethics, privacy and moral leadership to create a better future for your team and your consumers

Marymount online DBA

Advance Your Career With a DBA in Business Intelligence

If you believe a DBA is the right fit for you and your career goals, Marymount University’s online DBA in Business Intelligence program is the next step to advancing your career in a modern business landscape.

Marymount University’s online DBA in Business Intelligence program is an interdisciplinary program designed for working professionals that focuses on actionable research, agility in a changing economy and digital integration.

The program allows professionals to acquire theoretical business knowledge, learn management skills, improve their ability to make informed strategic decisions and network with thousands of like-minded professionals worldwide.

As a student, you can:

  • Complete your DBA in three years online through a part-time, 36-credit-hour program
  • Tailor your coursework to your goals and benefit from an engaged, supportive faculty
  • Stay on the pulse of policy development in the digital age and gain direct insight into how government and business interact
  • Join the Catholic educational commitment to serve others, commit to global engagement and uphold ethical, socially responsible leadership

Learn more about Marymount University’s online Doctor of Business Administration in Business Intelligence program .

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DBA vs. PhD: What’s the Difference?

dba vs phd in accounting

You’ve tackled your undergraduate business degree, and now you’re feeling ready to take your business education one step further. You might be wondering, “Where do I even begin?” If this sounds like you, you’ve come to the right place. When it comes to upper-level business degrees, there are a wide variety of options. Two popular options are the Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA, and the Doctor of Philosophy, or PhD. Both options can be an excellent fit for students who are eager to dive even deeper into the world of academia. In this article, you’ll get a better understanding of the difference between the two degrees and gain some insight as to which degree program is the best fit for you.

What Is a DBA?

A Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA degree, is considered a “terminal degree.” This designation simply means that the degree is the highest level of education one can receive in the business world. These degrees are centered around business education with a major emphasis on management. DBA programs often entail a research component that focuses on real-life business problems. Throughout their studies, DBA students learn to apply various theories in solving real issues faced by today’s businesses. This degree is primarily geared toward individuals who currently hold a master’s degree in business or another closely related subject.

What Is a PhD?

PhD programs are another excellent choice for those wishing to further their education. This is also considered a “terminal degree,” and it is the highest-level research degree that one can obtain. These programs involve rigorous research and extensive study. While you’re likely interested in a PhD degree in the business field, nearly any subject can provide this research-based degree, from science, to humanities, to everything in between. While DBA programs are typically intended for students who hold a master’s degree, PhD programs welcome students after completing a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a related discipline. They are the ideal choice for anyone who might be interested in carrying out research or teaching in an academic institution.

Coursework and Duration: Comparing the Curriculum

While both DBA programs and PhD programs give students a deep understanding of the theories that drive the world around us, they do so in different ways. In a Doctorate of Business Administration program, you’ll focus exclusively on business and management from a practical lens. Application of theory is a major focus, and coursework often provides students with opportunities to put their knowledge into practice by solving real-world business problems. Alternatively, PhD programs are offered in just about any subject one can imagine. They take a more theoretical approach with their curricula, teaching students to understand the “why” and “how” behind both business problems and their solutions.

The typical timeline of these graduate programs differs as well. Since DBA programs are intended for people who already have both a master’s degree and significant work experience, they tend to take less time to complete. Many DBA programs are offered on a part-time schedule, and students can expect to complete their Doctorate of Business Administration in about two to four years. While PhD programs don’t always require as much experience prior to enrolling, they tend to require more time to complete. These research-intense programs usually follow a full-time course schedule with an average completion time that ranges from three to five years.

Practical Experience vs. Thesis Research

The major difference between a DBA education and a PhD education can be summed up as practical vs. theoretical. Students entering into a DBA program typically come with a master’s degree in hand and multiple years of relevant work experience under their belt. As such, DBA programs are designed to expand upon their students’ wealth of prior knowledge and experience. These programs teach students to understand relevant theories and principles of business management, but more importantly, they teach students to apply those theories and principles. DBA programs equip students to bring their education and experience to the table when solving real-world problems.

While DBA students focus on using existing knowledge to solve problems, students in PhD programs work to add new knowledge to the business world. Instead of researching the application of existing theories and principles, PhD students are expected to work on original research, unearthing and exploring new ideas. Thus, PhD programs take a much more theoretical approach rather than a practical one. To put their newly gained insights on display, PhD candidates are usually required to complete a dissertation. Through these lengthy research projects, students demonstrate their knowledge, expand upon their ideas, and showcase their experience.

Career Outcomes of a DBA vs. a PhD in Business Administration

Following completion of their degree, DBA and PhD graduates typically take two different paths when it comes to employment. Much like an MBA, a Doctor of Business Administration prepares students for jobs in both the private and public sector. DBA candidates often go on to work in senior management roles or consulting. Some even choose to open their own businesses. Their practical, hands-on approach ensures that DBA programs leave their graduates well-equipped for these roles.

On the other hand, PhD candidates typically stick to the world of academia following their graduation. They often find work with universities as professors and can even go on to be program directors. Some graduates may also opt to continue expanding upon their research while they teach, sharing their research methods with the next generation of PhD students.

However, as with any degree, the job you’ll find afterward depends on a number of different factors. Your prior work experience and unique strengths gained from both work and the classroom play a big part in determining where you’ll take your talents. Just like your interests and passions will likely guide your choice between DBA and PhD programs, they’ll also guide your job search. External factors do play a role as well. The current job market will decide what specific jobs are available at one time or another, and demand for your specific skill set can determine how well you fit the profile of those available jobs.

DBA or PhD: Which Is Right for You?

Deciding to further your education with a doctorate degree is a huge decision in and of itself. Having to choose between a Doctor of Business Administration and a Doctor of Philosophy might be an even more challenging decision. Each of these programs is considered a “terminal degree,” offering students the highest level of education possible in the field. They provide candidates with advanced training and preparation for high-ranking roles. Whether you opt for a DBA or a PhD program, you’ll be opening doors to a wide range of career opportunities.

To ensure that you make the right choice between the two degrees, you’ll want to take time to think about your career goals. Consider where you are now as well as what you want your career to look like in 5, 10, even 2o years. Do you hope to hold a title as a C-suite executive of a major corporation, calling the shots and leading the teams around you? Or do you hope to be in the classroom, teaching the next generation of business professionals about both new and existing theories in the business industry?

Be sure to spend some significant time weighing out these options, including any accreditation requirements. Once you feel confident in the goals you’ve set, look for programs that are in alignment with the things that are most important to you. Check out the academic career resources and coursework of each program you’re interested in. Give yourself the time and space to carefully consider each of these factors prior to making a decision.

Final Thoughts

Getting a doctorate degree can be an excellent way to take your career to the next level . No matter whether you opt for a DBA or a PhD, these terminal business degrees can make your application stand out among the rest and open doors to previously unattainable job opportunities. DBA programs are a perfect fit for people looking to grow their base of practical knowledge in the field. They prepare graduates to work in upper-level leadership roles within the business environment, solving real problems that companies face on a day-to-day basis. Alternatively, PhD programs are the ideal choice for anyone with an interest in the principles and theories that guide business decisions and outcomes. These programs equip graduates to take on roles in the world of academia, such as research and teaching.

However, before you take the jump into your DBA or PhD, be sure to take time to thoughtfully consider your decision. Use your career goals as a guide, and take the time to research your options thoroughly. Seek out advice from peers in the field, and learn from the stories of others making an impact in the business world, like one Crummer Executive MBA student who has a strong passion for both business and academia.

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dba vs phd in accounting

What is the Difference Between a PhD and DBA Accounting Degree Program?

Many people have questions about what the specific differences are between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) accounting degree program. Though the two doctorates may have some occasional overlap, there are differences between a Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Business Administration that should be taken into account. The following are some of the most important things to keep in mind about what distinguishes the two degrees.

Understanding the Doctor of Business Administration

Compared to a Doctor of Philosophy, a Doctor of Business Administration is a relatively newer degree that many people don’t have a full scope of knowledge about. In the simplest terms, Doctor of Business Administration accounting degree program is based on the accomplishment of extended study in research in business administration. Though it is not identical to a Doctor of Philosophy degree program, it is considered equivalent to the former in terms business administration.

With a Doctor of Business Administration, the degree holder is recognized as having the highest academic recognition available in business administration. Gaining the degree is the requirement for being employed as a tenure-eligible postdoctoral researcher or professor in a full-time field position.

While it is common for Doctor Philosophy candidates to start their doctorate after graduating from a university, DBA candidates oftentimes begin their path towards the degree after being successful in business for a number of years.

The well-beaten Doctor of Philosophy path

Candidates for a PhD’s common aim to have a career that is rooted in the social sciences. With the completion of the Doctor of Philosophy program, it is common for the doctorate holder to go on to become a full-time professor in a business program.

Generally speaking, those who hold PhD’s are focused and having their body of work center around theoretical research. The common path is for a PhD candidate to begin their candidacy in an undergraduate program at a university before moving on to work toward their Doctor of Philosophy immediately upon graduating.

Resource:  Top 10 Online Accounting Degree Programs

Theoretical versus applied research

Though the Doctor of Philosophy and Doctor of Business Administration are considered equivalent, there may occasionally be some distinctions based on the intended orientation of outcome from acquiring one or the other. One of the main distinctions between the degree is the fact that the Doctor of Business Administration is oftentimes applied for more directly applied research while a Doctor of Philosophy is more commonly geared toward developing theoretical knowledge.

Because the Doctor of Business Administration is often focused on more applied research rather than theoretical work, those who graduate from its programs commonly move on to occupy positions as either executives or applied researchers; meanwhile, while those who graduate from Doctor of Philosophy programs are more commonly seen moving into positions in academia.

Thesis statements and professor candidacy

In order to acquire either degree, candidates have to submit either a dissertation or thesis statement that is acknowledged as being worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. In addition to submitting the thesis statement or dissertation, candidates have to successfully present their thesis/dissertation in front of a panel of credentialed examiners.

Aside from the differences in orientation in the typical outcome of either theoretical or applied research positions, both holders of Doctor of Business Administration degrees and Doctor of Philosophy Degrees are commonly seen occupying adjunct professor positions in both graduate-degree and undergraduate programs.

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dba vs phd in accounting

  • DBA vs PhD – Differences Explained
  • Types of Doctorates

Is a DBA and PhD Equivalent?

A  Doctor of Business Administration  (DBA) is equivalent to a  Doctor of Philosophy (PhD); however, there are fundamental differences between these two doctoral degrees. These differences are nearly always at the centre of DBA vs PhD discussions, and they stem from the intended career path of the student following their degree.

A PhD focuses on the ‘ theory ’ underpinning business management, whereas a DBA focuses on the ‘ practical ’ concepts. Those who complete a PhD in business management usually do so as they wish to pursue a career in research or academia. Those who complete a DBA do so as they want to pursue a more advanced role in the business industry or within their organisation.

What Is a PhD?

A PhD is a doctorate degree and is the highest postgraduate qualification awarded by universities. It involves undertaking original research in a narrow subject field and typically takes 4 years to complete.

A PhD in Business Administration provides an individual with a specialised and research-based background for a topic in the business management field. This is one of the key reasons it’s sought after by those who wish to work in business-related academia or research.

What Is a DBA?

A  Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a business-orientated professional doctorate. Like a PhD, it is the highest-level postgraduate qualification which you can obtain from a university.

The degree programme focuses on providing practical and innovative business management knowledge which can apply to any workplace. DBAs are designed for experienced practitioners such as senior managers, consultants and entrepreneurs who want to further their practical abilities.

This form of doctorate was first introduced as a way of allowing a distinction to be made between experienced practitioners and expert practitioners. The doctorate is an equal alternative to a traditional PhD and is an advanced follow-up for a  Master’s in Business Administration  ( MBA ).

Research Scope

A noticeable difference between a PhD and a DBA is the research topic. A PhD candidate selects a research project of theoretical value to the academic environment. A DBA candidate selects a research project which has a practical application to the business environment.

This means that while the research topic for a PhD will centre around a gap in knowledge of existing theories, the topic for a DBA will usually focus on developing a new theory or innovatively improving an existing one.

DBA students typically choose research topics based on real-life scenarios they are facing or have faced. This is contrary to a PhD student where their research topic usually centres around a topic they don’t have first-hand experience in.

Programme Structure

PhD Vs DBA Salary

A PhD usually takes 4 years to complete while a DBA degree takes between 4 – 7 years to complete, with most students requiring 6 years.

Due to DBA students being working professionals, nearly all DBA degree programmes are part-time courses carried out under a ‘distant learning’ arrangement. This is opposite to PhD programmes where most are offered as full-time projects which require extensive amounts of physical presence on the university’s campus.

Another difference in the programme between PhDs and DBAs is that PhDs have no taught components, while DBAs have a significant number of taught components .

Due to these taught components, DBA programmes are split into two sections . The first section is 2 years long and covers the taught elements of the degree and involves completing coursework. A wide range of specialist business management topics are covered, such as market theory , resource partitioning , and organisational development . These first two years provide you with advanced business knowledge and develop your research and analytical skills to prepare for your individual research project. The remaining 2 to 5 years is for you to undertake your individual research project; this is the second section.

As part of your research project, you will have to produce a thesis . The thesis will outline your methods and results and include a discussion of your research findings. Although the word count will vary for each university, most use an upper word count of around 60,000 words. Besides this, you will also need to defend your work during an oral examination known as a ‘ viva voce ’.

During your degree, you’ll likely have several opportunities to present your research at conferences, universities and related organisations.

Tuition Fees

To fairly represent the two sections of DBA programmes, universities usually adopt two sets of annual tuition fees. These fees vary widely between universities:

  • The first set covers the first two years of the programme and is typically between £13,000 – £30,000 per year.
  • The second set of annual tuition fee covers the remaining years and generally is between £4,000 – £9,000 per year.

The reason for this difference in fee is that the first two years will heavily utilise the university’s resources and a professor’s time to deliver the taught modules.

In contrast, the average cost of a full-time PhD is fixed throughout its full duration and is typically around £4,700 per annum. Given this difference in tuition fee and programme duration, a DBA is approximately two to three times more expensive than undertaking a PhD.

Besides having a greater reliance on a university’s resources, another reason DBA programmes cost more than a PhD is because of the differences in the students undertaking them. A PhD student is usually a young individual who has just completed a Master’s degree and has little to no working experience. On the opposite side of the spectrum, a DBA student will be an older individual with up to 10 years of professional working experience, and will likely still be working alongside their studies. As a result, universities can set a higher tuition fee due to DBA students being financially stronger.

Funding Opportunities

Compared to PhD programmes, DBAs don’t have as much access to funding opportunities.

DBA students can apply for Doctoral Loans or try to secure funding from external sources. The most accessible source of these external sources will always be their employer. While their employer may not cover the full tuition fees, they may subsidise part of it and help supply you with data and other resources you may need.

Entry Requirements


As DBAs are intended for experienced practitioners, you will be expected to have significant experience in your field. Although the entry requirements will differ between universities, most business schools will require you to have at least ten years of professional work experience with at least five years in a senior management or leadership position.

Most universities will also require you to have a Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) or an equivalent Master’s degree in a business management subject. Depending on the strength of your bachelor’s degree and the significance of your professional working experience, you could still be enrolled into a DBA programme without a relevant Master’s degree; however, you will need to demonstrate why you are a strong DBA candidate.

As part of your application, most universities will also require you to prepare and submit a short research proposal. A research proposal outlines the ‘what, why and how’ of your intended research project.

Similar to PhD programs, you will need to meet English language requirements should English not be your first language. These requirements are usually:

  • a minimum overall IELTS score of 7.0, with no less than 6.5 in each component,
  • a minimum overall Pearson Test of English (PTE) of 70, with no less than 62 in each component.

PhD vs DBA Salaries

Typically, DBA graduates earn more than business management PhD graduates. This is because a DBA focuses on the practical applications of business management, and as such, what students learn can be applied in professional practice in their industry.

Due to this practical aspect, a DBA graduate becomes well suited for top leadership positions such as Operation Managers , Managing Directors and CEOs .

On the other hand, a PhD provides graduates with applied research skills and the ability to theorise, understand and develop business management concepts. This makes them better suited for a research or academic career. These positions attract less pay compared to leadership roles in large organisations.

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Doctor of business administration, dba programs vs. phd programs.

Paper on Business Professional Doctorates

Typically, business PhD programs are focused on students who seek to become full time (tenure earning) academics. The best of these programs are full-time, take four or five years, and are focused on building the research skills necessary for publication in journals. DBA and other executive doctoral programs are generally designed for working professionals, take about three years to complete and are designed to help working professionals acquire research skills that can be applied directly to business.

Similarities to our PhD program

The USF Doctor of Business Administration was designed as a variation on our existing academic PhD program. As such, it builds upon the common core of these programs, including:

  • Research Emphasis: A focus on building and demonstrating rigorous research skills
  • Core Requirements: Requiring the same core of research methods courses that constitute the common thread of all our PhD concentrations
  • Faculty: Faculty members who are all active researchers themselves
  • Credit Hours: Credit hour requirements consistent with USF standards for doctoral programs (72 credit hours)
  • Dissertation: The student's dissertation activities (see below) are supervised by the same type of major professor and four-person committee, just like existing PhD candidates.

Differences from our PhD program

To meet the needs of students, all practicing executives, the USF Doctor of Business Administration program also differs from  existing academic PhD programs in some important ways:

  • Outside Employment Policy: Unlike a PhD program, which limits outside activities of students, the Doctor of Business Administration generally expects students to pursue the degree while working in an executive capacity
  • Distance Learning: The Doctor of Business Administration reduces residency time requirements by making extensive use of distance learning capabilities, with participating faculty receiving specialized training in the use of these tools
  • Cohort Based: The Doctor of Business Administration is pursued as a cohort, so students cannot individually choose electives. As an alternative, the cohort as a whole is given considerable voice in selecting those course topics to be covered in the final year of the program.
  • Interdisciplinary Focus: Whereas the existing PhD program requires students to choose a disciplinary concentration—such as marketing, finance, accounting or MIS—the Doctor of Business Administration is effectively a concentration built around interdisciplinary offerings such as business analytics, business strategy, and creativity and innovation.
  • Flexibility in Dissertation Form: While the existing PhD program requires a traditional dissertation or collection of related publications, the Doctor of Business Administration allows candidates to pursue alternative project options that might not lead to journal publications—provided the candidate can convince his committee that the proposed projects are grounded in rigorous research.
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Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) – Accounting

Transfer credits, next start date, earn your doctor of business administration (dba) in accounting online from liberty university.

Our 100% online Doctor of Business Administration in Accounting degree can help equip you with the skills you need for success in the corporate world. In our accounting DBA program, you will study theoretical aspects of accounting as well as accounting ethics and best practices. This coursework can help make shape you into a well-rounded executive.

For information about becoming licensed as a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), please see the CPA Licensure Requirements for your state.

When you earn an accounting DBA degree from Liberty, you can graduate ready to lead with professionalism and integrity.

Is a DBA the same as a PhD?

A DBA and a PhD are both doctoral programs that can help provide you with expert knowledge and a terminal degree in your field. However, a DBA will focus specifically on business principles. If you want your career to focus on research and academia, then a PhD may be for you. While a DBA can also prepare you for academia, this may be a better option for students interested in the practical application of business concepts.

Can I get my accounting degree online?

If you are a working professional wanting to pursue your doctorate, then you may be looking at online PhD or DBA in Accounting schools. The good news is that you can complete your doctorate in accounting 100% online at Liberty University. We understand that you have responsibilities to your work, family, and community. Our degree can be completed whenever and wherever is most convenient for you.

How much does it cost to get a PhD in accounting?

If you’re considering a DBA or PhD degree in accounting, then you need to know how much you’ll be putting into it. That includes time, effort, and cost. 

Here are some of the ways we strive to keep costs low at Liberty University:

  • 100% online courses
  • Tuition freeze
  • Transfer credit opportunities
  • Discounts for military and First Responders

If you’re a full-time student taking at least 6 credits per semester,  your cost per credit at Liberty will be $595.* According to Beyond PhD Coaching, the average total cost of a PhD program is $240,000.** But with our DBA in Accounting, the total cost of tuition is just $35,700* — only a fraction of the average cost. If you are a military student, First Responder, or transfer student, your total cost can only decrease.

*This number is based on the cost of tuition for the 2020-2021 academic school year and is subject to change. **, at How Much Does a PhD Cost? (viewed online August 24, 2020).

What kind of jobs can you get with a business administration degree?

The types of jobs you could qualify for with a business administration degree are practically infinite. Every industry requires business professionals who can help a company’s operations run smoothly and efficiently.

With a DBA or PhD in accounting online, you could qualify for leadership positions and pay increases. Here are some of the potential job opportunities for graduates of this program:

  • Accounting executive
  • Budget supervisor
  • Chief financial officer (CFO)
  • Public policy researcher

Do you need a PhD to be an accounting professor?

You may need a doctorate to be an accounting professor. This will depend on both the degree level you would like to teach as well as the school where you will be teaching. 

In order to teach at the bachelor’s level, you will at least need a master’s degree. If you plan to teach master’s or doctoral courses, a doctorate is required in nearly all cases. Some schools require that all professors have a doctorate regardless of the degree level they plan to teach.

Why Choose Liberty University’s Accounting Doctoral Program?

At Liberty, our mission is to Train Champions for Christ . Our online DBA program is designed to prepare you to further your career and integrate biblical principles into your professional life. Our professors use their professional experience in the business and accounting field to teach you important practical skills from a Christian perspective.

Our accounting specialized business administration doctoral degree focuses on real-world applications in addition to theory. This means that a DBA from Liberty can help you advance professionally and stay true to biblical values.

Military Tuition Discount Lead your field with the doctoral degree you want — at a price you’ve earned. As a thank-you for your military service, Liberty University offers current and former service members like you or your spouse multiple pathways to earn a doctoral degree for only $300/credit hour . Find out how you can take advantage of this unique opportunity and reach the pinnacle of your profession — for less.

Among only 3% of business schools worldwide to receive ACBSP accreditation

What Will You Learn in Our Online DBA in Accounting Program?

Our DBA in Accounting degree focuses on practical applications of theoretical principles. This degree can help you think ethically about accounting procedures and discover best practices that ensure integrity and efficiency.

Throughout our online doctoral degree in accounting, you will study topics like tax research methods and auditing in preparation for your major research project. This degree can also help you develop the tools you need to find creative and effective solutions to your company’s accounting challenges.

We’ve designed our online doctoral degree programs to give you flexibility and networking opportunities. Our Doctor of Business Administration in Accounting degree program offers you multiple opportunities to connect with your classmates and professors. Networking is available through online class meetings and optional intensive courses. 

Intensives give you an excellent opportunity to connect in person, but if and when you take intensive classes is entirely up to you. You can choose the path that best meets your career needs.

Featured Courses

  • ACCT 612 – Tax Research and Jurisprudence
  • ACCT 622 – Advanced Auditing
  • ACCT 642 – Accounting Ethics
  • BUSI 601 – Accounting for Decision Making

Our Online Doctoral Program in Accounting Degree Information

  • This program falls under the School of Business .
  • View the Doctor of Business Administration Handbook for additional program information.
  • Download and review the Degree Completion Plan .
  • View the Graduate Business Course Guides   (login required) .

The Applied Doctoral Research Project (ADRP) in the DBA program relates to a business problem in your specialization.

Apply Now     Request Info

Potential Careers with a DBA in Accounting from Liberty University

  • Certified management accountant
  • Certified public accountant

Admission Requirements for Our Online DBA in Accounting Degree Program

A regionally or nationally accredited master’s degree in accounting with a 3.0 or above GPA is required for admission in good standing. Please visit our admission requirements page for more detailed admissions-related information.

All applicants must submit the following:

  • Admission application
  • Application fee*
  • Official college transcripts
  • Proof of English proficiency

*There is no upfront application fee; however, a deferred $50 application fee will be assessed during Financial Check-In. This fee is waived for qualifying service members, veterans, and military spouses – documentation verifying military status is required.

Highlights of Our Online Doctorate in Accounting

  • We are recognized by multiple institutions for our academic quality, affordability, and accessibility . Our commitment to excellence also helped us rank in the top 10% of’s best online schools in America . Earning your doctorate in accounting online degree from a nonprofit university with this kind of recognition can help set you apart from others in your field.
  • Liberty University’s Doctor of Business Administration is accredited by ACBSP , the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Our School of Business is among only 3% of business schools worldwide to earn ACBSP accreditation.
  • Your success is our success, which is why we are committed to providing quality academics at an affordable tuition rate. While other colleges are increasing their tuition, we have frozen tuition rates for our online undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs for the past 9 years — and counting.
  • You will be granted access to a wide variety of online resources through Liberty University’s library portal while you pursue a doctorate degree in business accounting.
  • You can complete your DBA degree online in as little as 3 years.

*Some restrictions may occur for this promotion to apply. This promotion also excludes active faculty and staff, military, Non-Degree Seeking, DGIA, Continuing Education, WSB, and Certificates.

Apply FREE This Week*

Other programs you may be interested in

Doctor of Strategic Leadership (DSL)

Doctor of Strategic Leadership

Next Start Date: Jan 15, 2024

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Cost Per Credit Hour Per Semester for 7 to 15 Credits* Per Semester for 9 to 15 Credits* i Visit the Tuition and Financing page for more information.

Additional program fees may apply. See program page for details.

Disclaimer: This calculator is a tool that provides a rough estimate of the total cost of tuition, and should not be relied upon to determine overall costs, as pricing may vary by program and tuition/fees are subject to change. Estimates are not final or binding, and do not include potential financial aid eligibility.

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DBA vs. PhD in Business

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Among doctoral degrees in business , prospective students can take two different paths: a PhD in business, or a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA). To shed some light on just how common each degree is among AACSB-accredited  institutions, out of 251 accredited respondents to our 2014–15 Business School Questionnaire that reported doctoral business programs, 214 schools reported offering only PhDs, while 15 offer only DBAs, and 22 offer at least one of each. That further works out to a total of 883 distinct PhD programs and 54 DBA programs among the participating accredited schools. Clearly the PhD is the dominant doctoral degree type in this case, at about 94 percent.

What’s the Difference?

To gain a bit more perspective on what distinguishes these two degrees, I spoke with Praveen Parboteeah, who holds a PhD and is director of the DBA program at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater’s College of Business and Economics . He says, “The market still sees PhDs as superior, as the level of in-depth specialization is necessary for more research-oriented institutions. However, DBAs are satisfying a critical niche whereby strong practitioners are trained in the rigors of scientific method and bring both practice and scholarly research to the university.” He believes that “DBAs will get more popular as programs gain more credibility.”

So if you’re among the ambitious souls seeking to go to the next level but aren’t sure which type of program to pursue, Parboteeah helps to provide an overarching distinction between the degrees by noting that DBAs “tend to typically be more practice oriented,” while PhDs are often more research oriented. Another notable difference, he says, is in the doctoral admissions process, where applicants to a DBA program “are expected to have a minimum number of years of high-level work experience.” At Wisconsin-Whitewater, applicants are required to have at least six years of professional experience, but Parboteeah has found that the average number of years of experience among applicants is actually much higher, at 19 years.

“The market still sees PhDs as superior, as the level of in-depth specialization is necessary for more research-oriented institutions. However, DBAs are satisfying a critical niche.”

This further means that applicants to the DBA have typically been out of school for a while, although some may have earned master’s degrees later in life after some career experience and then transitioned directly into the doctoral program. Those who earn PhDs in business tend to have more of a straight degree path, from bachelor’s to master’s to doctoral (or just bachelor’s to doctoral if a master’s isn’t required), without the professional experience, as their goal is often to teach and produce academic research.

As for the curriculum in each program, Parboteeah says, “Based on my experience with our program and the one at Kennesaw State University,” where he is on faculty as a senior global scholar, “I would say that DBAs are much more varied in nature compared to PhDs. Most PhDs offer a standardized curriculum where students are expected to become a specialist in one of the functional areas such as management, marketing, etc. However, DBAs can have a practical curriculum with the executive in mind.”

Doctoral Research: For What Purpose?

While both degree programs generally require a dissertation at the end of the degree, the research completed for each program can differ in nature. Parboteeah provides a couple examples of student research in his DBA program: “For instance, we have an individual whose expertise is on detection and prevention of money laundering. He is finding that there is a lot that has been done in economics that could be extremely useful for his work. We have another individual who is in healthcare administration and who is validating the patient satisfaction measure widely used in hospitals. These two examples show what DBA students bring to the table.” PhD research, on the other hand, is often more theoretical or conceptual in nature. The ideas that result from this work are studied by other professors and doctoral students.

End Goal: The Teaching Connection

What happens after doctoral students graduate from each degree? Because the PhD specifically prepares students for a career in academia, graduates of those programs often seek tenure-track faculty positions at colleges and universities, but other options include researchers or business consultants. DBA graduates have similar aspirations. According to Parboteeah, many of the practitioner-graduates from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater program “want to have some connection with universities.” That may mean teaching one class per semester, while remaining in the workforce. Parboteeah says that “practitioners see it as a way to give back to their communities.” However, he notes of DBAs, “we also have others who have extensive work experience but want to transition to academia.” He even says that the majority of students in his program want to make that transition.

PhD vs. DBA: Takeaways

  • At the completion of both degrees, you get to put that coveted “Dr.” prefix before your name
  • PhDs are typically research oriented, while DBAs are practice oriented
  • Admission to a DBA program often requires years of professional experience
  • Both degrees generally require a dissertation, though the type of research you do may vary greatly
  • Both degrees can earn you a faculty position

As always, when searching for a business school program, prospective students should seek as much information as possible—especially from the program itself—in order to make the best-informed decision.

What a DBA Degree Is and Why You Might Want One

Students in a Doctor of Business Administration program usually conduct practical research, experts say.

What to Know About a DBA Degree

Back view of large group of business people having a training class in a board room.

"A DBA is about learning the theory of business and applying it to solve real world business problems." (Getty Images)

Business professionals who earned an MBA degree , or a Master of Business Administration, occasionally decide to pursue further education in their field through a DBA degree. A Doctor of Business Administration program allows them to gain greater expertise in business.

Cindy Young, who has a DBA degree and previously served as an officer in the U.S. military, says she pursued the degree in order to make herself more marketable.

"I'm in a competitive industry, and most people that come out of the military at the rank I did and doing the job I did come out with master's degrees, so I had to do something to set myself apart after I retired" from the military, says Young, a curriculum developer and instructor with Leidos, a defense contractor.

What's Taught in a DBA Program

DBA faculty and administrators say the programs are designed to build upon the knowledge gained via a master's degree in business.

DBA programs typically enroll "accomplished executives" who have master's degrees "and transform them into better problem-solvers and business leaders," Louis J. Grabowski, director of the executive doctorate in business program at Georgia State University's J. Mack Robinson College of Business , wrote in an email.

"This is accomplished through coursework teaching rigorous qualitative and quantitative research methods and current business theory in areas such as leadership, global change, and decision-making," he says.

Another way that a strong DBA program can help its students, Grabowski suggests, is by allowing them to "combine scientific research methods, theory, and professional experience to write and successfully defend a dissertation that casts new insights and solutions on practical problems."

Susan Davis, program director of the DBA program at Walden University , an online academic institution, describes the DBA as a "terminal degree." Davis, who has an MBA and a Ph.D., notes that DBA students often conduct research that has clear business applications.

"Traditionally, a PhD leads to an academic career and is seen as adding to the body of knowledge while a DBA is more focused for working professionals who have practical experience in their field and wish to apply existing theories and knowledge to current business problems," she wrote in an email.

How to Choose a DBA Program

Grabowski, who has an executive business doctorate from Georgia State, cautions that DBA programs vary widely in quality, so it's important to thoroughly research programs before choosing one.

"Currently there are no rankings of DBA programs by credible organizations as there are with MBA programs," he warns. "The rankings that appear on the Internet are usually self-serving or not rigorous in their methods."

Grabowski advises prospective students to investigate whether DBA programs are accredited by one or more of the following accreditation organizations: the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, or AACSB International; the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or ACBSP; or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education, also known as IACBE.

It is also prudent to find out if the academic institution is a member of the Executive Doctorate in Business Administration Council, or EDBAC, he adds.

DBA hopefuls who have a strong preference about how much in-person interaction is required for a program should ask about that factor, since B-schools sometimes require differing amounts of face time vs. online time, Grabowski says. "If networking with other executives is an important criterion or conversely if traveling is out of the question, check to see the number of face-to-face residencies required each year."

Webinars and informational sessions can be valuable, and so can conversations with students and alumni, Grabowski says. "In short, pursuing a DBA is very beneficial, but candidates need to research very closely the various programs offered because they vary considerably in cost, structure, reputation, and rigor and unfortunately there are some very weak programs in the marketplace today."

DBA Degrees vs. Ph.D. and MBA Degrees

Young says she chose to pursue a DBA rather than a Ph.D. in business because a practice doctorate aligned better with her career goals than a research doctorate.

"I did choose a DBA over a Ph.D., because I do not want to go into academia," she says, noting that although she has taught night courses as a part-time adjunct, she would prefer to do the bulk of her work in the private sector. She says she hoped that a DBA would equip her with the skills necessary to solve difficult business problems that were facing her employers.

"A DBA is about learning the theory of business and applying it to solve real world business problems," Young wrote in an email. "Students of a DBA program most likely already work in industry and do not want to teach full-time in academia, although they may teach as adjunct professors."

In contrast, Young says, "A Ph.D. in business is about identifying and closing the gaps in the theoretical literature and the associated research." Ph.D. students typically hope to become university professors, she says.

DBA programs are intended to be more rigorous than MBA programs, experts say.

"It's very different in one simple way: an MBA is where one learns 'recipes' for management, whereas the DBA is where one 'writes the recipes,'" Michelle Mielly, academic director of the DBA program and an associate professor at the Grenoble Ecole de Management, a French graduate business school, wrote in an email. "It requires a thesis and original research, so there is a lot more intense independent study in a DBA in comparison to an MBA focused often on groupwork and the case method of teaching and learning."

Searching for a business school? Get our complete rankings of Best Business Schools.

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NEW YORK, Jan. 1, 2020 -- Students walk out of Stern School of Business at New York University in New York, the United States, on Dec. 19, 2019. An increasing number of Chinese students have put U.S. visa obstacles, along with social instability and climbing tuition fees, into perspective, and moved on to other global destinations for higher education as well as institutions at home, as industry professionals have observed while looking back at 2019.

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What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

Home : SWU Blog : What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

DBA vs. PhD. Business professor Dr. Kip Pirkle compares these two doctoral degrees and their utility for business professionals.

by Dr. Kip Pirkle on January 26, 2021

DBA students come from a variety of backgrounds, but primarily from the business and professional worlds. This illustrates the main distinction between a DBA and a PhD in Business.

While some PhD students have business experience, it is not unusual for traditional PhD programs to enroll students straight out of an MBA program, or even an undergraduate program. These students have distinguished themselves with research and writing skills. Over the years, I have worked with any number of colleagues who had little to no hands on business experience. They may be fine researchers and teachers, but their ability to enhance their performance with actual business experience is limited.

The Doctor of Business Administration was developed as an alternative to a research-oriented, academic career path. The DBA emphasizes applied research, while the PhD is focused on developing original academic knowledge. For instance, a DBA candidate typically writes a dissertation based on information collected from an organization, perhaps the one they work for. The goal of the research and resulting dissertation is to study a real business problem and propose practical solutions for the business enterprise. Most businesses welcome a sophisticated study of their business processes, and they get it for free! Graduates of PhD programs generally pursue full-time faculty positions in academia, while DBAs return to professional jobs as applied researchers or executives. Some DBAs and PhDs become adjunct professors in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

A DBA program will first provide expertise in a solid management core. This aspect alone will prepare them for advanced executive positions, think tanks, government agencies, and independent consulting.

In addition, the program will provide:

  • advancement preparation for administrators and business educators in colleges, universities, community colleges, technical colleges, and corporate trainers
  • essential qualifications for business professionals, executives and retired executives desiring to teach either part-time or full-time.

Most DBA candidates already have an MBA or similar degree but have not received instruction in pedagogy or adult education. The DBA program at SWU’s Benson School of Business contains a cognate in instruction that provides students with expertise in the theory and methods of instruction, including online higher education. Our program offers a unique perspective on business education for lifelong learners.

Click here to learn more about the Doctor of Business Administration for Management and Instruction at SWU.

Tags: phd , doctorate , dba

dba vs phd in accounting

About the Author.

Dr. kip pirkle.

Dr. Pirkle worked as a staff accountant for a CPA firm and then purchased an accounting practice. He has been the managing partner in two real estate partnerships.

While at Clemson University, he was a Consultant with the Small Business Development Center, assisting entrepreneurs with business plans and day-to-day operations. He has spent the last 25 years in academics, while maintaining an active consulting practice, primarily in the management of quality, financial forecasting, and valuation. He has taught and conducted business seminars in several foreign countries, and has spent significant time studying and visiting Europe, Asia, and South America. His passion is the study of globalization, and its impact on culture and business.

– Accounting, University of Georgia

– MBA, University of Georgia

– Ph.D. in Management, Clemson University

View Dr. Pirkle's Vitae

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  • January 31, 2022

DBA vs. Ph.D. in Business Administration: Which One to Choose?

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So you’re interested in pursuing an advanced degree in business administration but still, keep wondering what the difference between a DBA and a Ph.D. is? While they’re very similar, they both have distinguishing features that may fit you better than the other, depending on what your goals are with your future or current career.

That said, let’s dive into the first section, where we’ll go over what exactly a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) entails.

What Is a Doctor of Business Administration?

A DBA prepares college students for managerial roles in non-profit organizations, government agencies, or a senior-level occupation, such as CEO. In addition, upon graduation, students can pursue being a development director or specialize in specific areas of the business, like accounting, HR, or project management.

A DBA is versatile, and this door opens to many career paths after years of hands-on training and gathering knowledge in a variety of areas. People who have a DBA might be considering running a business, furthering their profession, or instructing the next generation. With a DBA, you’re presented with a wide range of possibilities.

Here are some general facts about the DBA program:

  • Online and part-time options are available
  • A typical DBA program includes the course requirements, electives, a research component, and a final project
  • A Master’s degree is required before you apply

Candidate profile

In the program, the student would read and study theories about, for example, employee motivation and engagement. They would then identify resources from articles or literature and create a program that addresses the issue they studied. If it wasn’t solved, they would make changes, provide additional research, and try again.

They would need to have good research skills when addressing issues in the workplace. Furthermore, they’d have to communicate clearly while asking questions, apply what they’ve learned, and use research to help solve real-world problems.

The cost is dependent on what state you reside in and technology fees (especially for the online program). You can expect to pay between $27,000 to $60,000 in total.

Career outcomes

dba vs phd in accounting

Once you have a DBA, the median annual salary is about $100,000, and you can choose from various job opportunities, ranging in interest and rigor:

  • Corporate executive – CEO
  • Consultant – helps businesses solve problems and maximize profits
  • Economist – collaborates with policy-makers and business leaders; helps them understand through research evidence
  • Logician – informs the company of the lifecycle of their product; sells and campaigns
  • Professor, entrepreneur, HR director, and more.

DBA benefits

You learn more about finance, leadership, economics, international business, decision-making, contemporary issues, and business ethics. In addition, the program teaches you about international companies, data mining, predictive analysis, generating capital, and managing innovation for a well-rounded educational experience in business administration.

How long does it take to earn a DBA?

The online DBA programs typically require between 54 and 60 credits , meaning that it takes 3-5 years to complete.

What Is a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration?

So, what is a Ph.D . in business? This program revolves more around research and academia. These degrees are tailored for those who want to get extensive research experience and then teach at universities or colleges.

They research their area of expertise and pass their knowledge to equally enthusiastic students who want to learn more about business concepts that interest them. Having a Ph.D. is beneficial when applying yourself in the workplace and starting a company, but a DBA would suit you better if those are your specific goals.

Graduates with a Ph.D. in business learn a lot about customer behavior, how businesses operate regularly, and how certain business practices work in the real world. A Ph.D. in business administration is ideal if you’re looking to help managers or executives make good decisions that positively impact their company.

dba vs phd in accounting

Students have solid skills in economics and math to assist governments or corporations. They analyze the information they’re presented with and come up with their theories. Candidates pursuing a Ph.D. apply what they’ve learned to situations they encounter and help identify problems, making changes to ensure more profit and efficiency.

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Ph.D. costs

The average cost for a doctorate of philosophy is about $112,000, but that price range depends on what type of school you intend, whether it’s public or private, and where it’s located. Additionally, the type of doctorate alongside the length of the program can make it costly. Regardless, financial assistance is available.

Having a Ph.D. is just as versatile as its cousin, the DBA, and many career opportunities open up once you graduate. Here are a few examples of some areas of interest:

  • Management analysts
  • Top executives
  • Budget analysts
  • Postsecondary business teachers
  • Financial managers

Ph.D. benefits

With a Ph.D., you’re able to collect data and rank highly in a business, making a direct impact on future operations. Developing new goals, procedures, and policies becomes easier, thus lowering costs overall. You’re able to explore a wide variety of jobs and collaborate with ease.

Your research skills help uncover new ways to solve problems within the business world, and you can teach the same skills to future generations. Overall, a Ph.D. helps you and your company become more effective while analyzing trends and profits.

How long does it take to earn a Ph.D.?

A Ph.D. takes 4-5 years total , in addition to obtaining a Bachelor’s degree. The first two years include core courses, such as organizational theory and microeconomics. Then, the remainder of your education includes finance, marketing, strategic management, and more. Your final year includes a teaching assignment or dissertation to present to your professors and fellow students.

What Is the Difference Between DBA and Ph.D.?

There are subtle differences between DBA and Ph.D.

The easiest way to think about this would be to remember that a DBA is more application-oriented while a Ph.D. is more research-oriented. For example, a Ph.D. would have students develop a theory that answers questions in a larger picture. In contrast, a DBA would have you solve practical problems in a company currently. A Ph.D. develops the theories, and a DBA applies them.

You’re given the title of doctor no matter what program fits you better, and that conveys an advanced understanding of the business field that would undoubtedly impress any employer or customer.

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Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) Overview

A doctorate in business administration is tailor-made for busy business professionals. Learn more about this degree and whether it might support your career goals.

[Featured image] A Doctorate of Business Administration student stands on the steps of a university building while using his cell phone. He's wearing a jacket and scarf.

Earning a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) offers a path toward personal and professional advancement in business. This relatively new degree, first offered at Harvard Business School in the early 1950s, is an option for professionals who want to deepen their understanding of business practices and pursue education beyond the Master of Business Administration (MBA) level.

While typically less well-known than the related MBA and PhD degrees, a DBA may be worth your time, especially if you're interested in practical, hands-on learning and an academic environment where you can explore research-based solutions to challenges you're facing in the business world.

What exactly is a Doctorate of Business Administration?

A Doctorate of Business Administration is a professional degree designed for individuals who want to expand or develop their business skills. Those who pursue this degree typically have experience owning, managing, or operating a business. This allows them to experiment with the theories they study in a real-world situation and seek solutions to problems they may encounter in the course of business operations.

Although the degree focuses on business theory and practice, it differs from an MBA or a PhD in Business Administration. The coursework in an MBA program tends to cover topics relevant to general business management, while a DBA program typically allows for more individual study in a specific area. A PhD program may be more beneficial to you if you want to do academic research or teach at a university.

Typical concentrations in DBA programs

Depending on your school, you may have to select a concentration within your DBA program. Others allow you to incorporate the areas you want to study into your research, creating a built-in concentration to meet your individual needs. Some common concentrations you may find in DBA programs include:

Accounting: Explore investments, taxes, and other topics for a career as an analyst, manager, or chief financial officer.

Business management: Study methods for implementing change and managing people and projects for roles as a consultant, department or division manager, or executive.

Finance: Dive into tools for financial modeling, analysis, and decision making used by financial analysts, CEOs, CFOs, and consultants.

Health care leadership or management: Examine laws, regulations, and systems specific to the health care industry to prepare for positions like hospital administrator, facility director, or executive.

Is a doctorate in business administration worth it?

People have many different reasons for getting a DBA, including learning more about the latest research and theories that apply to their business, qualifying for a new position, or positioning themselves as experts in the field. Some want to transition into a role as an instructor and mentor for the upcoming generation of business leaders. Others see the coursework as an opportunity to explore problems affecting their industry and identify possible solutions.

No matter why you decide to work on this advanced degree, you're likely to enjoy the challenge of the work and find plenty of practical applications for it. Along the way, you may be able to expand your business management skills and distinguish yourself from other business leaders who work in similar roles. 

Specifically, you can refine your ability to identify and frame problems, seek solutions for them, and share your findings with your team. This competitive advantage may be helpful when you're up for a promotion or applying for a position with another company.

Earning a DBA can also increase your earnings potential and job security. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that people with a doctorate tend to have lower rates of unemployment and higher wages than those with a master's or bachelor's degree. In 2021, the unemployment rate for individuals with a doctorate in the United States was 2 percent lower than for those with a bachelor's degree [ 1 ]. Here's how the median weekly wages of the different degrees compare:

Doctorate degree: $1,909 

Professional degree: $1,924

Master's degree: $1,574

Bachelor's degree: $1,334

What can you do with a doctorate in business administration?

The knowledge and skills you develop as you earn a DBA apply to many different areas in business. You can use your degree in various careers, including business administration, executive positions, market research, and more. After graduation, you may find that your newly enhanced skills boost your performance at work, and this may put you in line for a promotion and higher salary — that may or may not be with your current company.

With your doctorate, you may find work in private and non-profit sectors. You may decide to strike out on your own and start your own company. Whether you stay with your current employer or look elsewhere, here are some of the roles you may consider:

Analyst: $93,000

C-suite executive: $98,980

Economist: $105,630

Information systems manager: $159,010

Human resources director: $126,230 

Professor: $76,640

Organizational manager: $105,310

*All data represents median annual salaries in the United States according to the BLS (May 2021)

Read more: 10 In-Demand Jobs You Can Get with a Business Degree

What will you learn in a DBA program?

In a DBA program, you study current research and theories about business practices, including topics like leadership and decision making, as well as how to conduct research at the graduate level. These courses typically build on content taught in MBA programs and help prepare you to work on your dissertation and residency. You can divide the content you may encounter into three broad categories: theory, research, and problem-solving.

Business and management theory

Business and management theory classes address topics like how to lead organizations in the current environment, set up and manage teams of people, and identify strengths and areas of concern in personnel, as well as corporate governance and ethics. These courses help establish the foundation of knowledge you use as you progress through the curriculum. You may apply one or more of the theories you study in your daily work life to deepen your understanding of the merits and deficits of the thinking. This also can inform your research. Examples of these courses include:

Entrepreneurial Behavior in Organizations

Influences and Limitations on Executive Decision Making

Leadership to Create Human Value

Leading 21st Century Organizations

Quality Improvement and Organizational Change

Research principles, philosophies, methods, and design

For many DBA students, researching questions and finding solutions to problems is one of the more exciting parts of a DBA program. The curriculum typically includes introductory courses in research methods and experimental design, as well as how to read and analyze articles from scholarly journals. Sample courses include:

Advanced Statistics and Applications

Archival Research Methods

Creating and Disseminating Research Knowledge

Defining the Dissertation Research Problem and Research Question

Qualitative Research

Contemporary issues and concerns

DBA programs usually include opportunities for students to learn more about contemporary issues that today's business leaders may need to address in their work. These courses can cover topics like global warming, scarce resource management, and cultural responsiveness in the workplace. Depending on the specific curriculum at the school, you may take classes that specifically address these topics or find them embedded in the theory and research courses you take.

How to choose a DBA program

When choosing a DBA program, consider how the program's design and curriculum fit into your schedule and align with your personal and professional goals. You may prefer a fully online program if you're already working full time and have personal obligations. Alternatively, you may prefer attending classes in person because it gives you a chance to give your full attention to the work without distraction. Some schools offer a hybrid course schedule with online classes and weekly or monthly face-to-face sessions.

The good news is that most schools design their DBA programs for working professionals. Not only does this let you keep your day job while you work on the degree, but it also means the professors may be more understanding when an emergency arises. They also try to arrange students in cohorts, so you have an opportunity to develop relationships with other students, share your knowledge, and support each other.

How to get a Doctorate of Business Administration

To get a Doctorate in Business Administration, you have to apply to, be accepted by, and complete a program at a school that offers the degree. Each school sets its own admission requirements, and these may include an MBA or relevant master's degree, professional experience, and evidence of a promising research project. The school may also ask you to explain why you want to earn the degree and whether you have time to commit to the program.

The DBA application process

The DBA application process usually starts when you complete the school's application and pay the application fee. You'll include details like your contact information, education, work experience, and why you're interested in the program. Some schools also ask for professional references and proof of English language proficiency at this stage.

If you make it through the first stage in the process, you may be invited to interview. During the interview, you have an opportunity to demonstrate your critical thinking and communication skills and share what motivates you to complete the degree program. The school wants to see evidence that you will complete the program.

The school you choose may also have additional steps in the application process. This can include an on-site campus visit where you can talk face-to-face with staff. Others may ask you to submit GRE scores or academic references. They will use all the information they collect to evaluate your candidacy.

For many, the first step toward a DBA is earning an MBA. Check out programs like the Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, available on Coursera. You can earn this degree in as little as two years from anywhere with an internet connection.

If you already have an MBA, you may prefer expanding your business knowledge and building skills by earning a Professional Certificate such as the Google Digital Marketing & E-commerce Professional Certificate . Learn the basics of digital marketing, including how to set up and market an online store and measure its performance. This can help you choose an area of focus when you're ready to start your DBA courses.

Frequently asked questions (FAQ)

Is a dba the same as an mba ‎.

The DBA is not the same as an MBA, but the two degrees share some similarities. Both degrees can be considered terminal degrees for business management professionals. However, fewer people have completed a DBA program, which can help you stand out when you apply for a new job or are up for a promotion. ‎

What is the difference between a DBA and a PhD in business administration? ‎

The most significant difference between a DBA and a PhD in business administration is the focus of the research. A DBA program typically emphasizes applied research and inquiry, while a PhD program tends to encourage theoretical research and the relationship between business theories and their effects on people. DBA graduates are often more likely to pursue careers in the business world, and PhD graduates tend to go into academia. ‎

Is getting a DBA worth it? ‎

Getting a DBA may be worth it if it helps you meet your personal or professional goals, like a new position or enhanced leadership skills. If your goal is to land a specific job, find out the requirements for the position and whether the DBA will help you meet them. Even if you don't have specific career goals, you will likely discover that a DBA program gives you a place to examine problems, explore ideas, and develop strategies that you can use in your personal and professional lives.

Ultimately, the answer to this question is a personal one. Collaboration, personal development, and knowledge building can be more beneficial than a salary for some people. ‎

How much does a DBA cost? ‎

The cost of a DBA depends on the school you choose, but tuition typically ranges between $500 and $1500 per credit hour. This does not include course, application, and registration fees or charges for reading the dissertation and graduation. Overall, you can expect to pay between $34,000 and $125,000 or more for the degree. ‎

Related articles

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Why Get an MBA? 6 Reasons to Consider an Advanced Business Degree

Article sources

1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics. " Education Pays, 2021 ,"" Accessed June 20, 2022.

This content has been made available for informational purposes only. Learners are advised to conduct additional research to ensure that courses and other credentials pursued meet their personal, professional, and financial goals.

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  • DBA vs PhD Differences: Doctorate of Business Administration

DBA vs PhD Differences: Doctor of Business Administration

Published: 3 january 2020 | by thomas graf.

Both, the PhD in Management and the DBA, are doctoral degrees and as such have similarities. Nevertheless there are important differences that can be captured by:

  • Target groups
  • Access to data
  • Qualification and career goals
  • Knowledge creation
  • Teaching mode
  • Recognition

1. Doctorate of Business Administration target groups: young graduates vs. senior professionals

PhD in Management and DBA programs address different target groups. Although there may be exceptions, the general rule is: People study a PhD program when they aim at a career in social sciences and eventually want to become a fulltime professor at a business school. Their goal is to become an academic and do research. These people often come directly from the university and start the PhD after graduating. Accordingly, they often are still in their 20s and do not have much work experience.

In contrast, people do a DBA when they are already successful in business for many years and look for a new intellectual challenge. These people often have an MBA already and want to further distinguish themselves from others by doing a doctoral degree. At the same time, they are interested in management research and may have a practical research question in mind - a specific problem from their work environment for instance - that they can approach in their dissertation and that provides benefits to their companies at the same time.

Hence, these people usually are older than PhD students, some of them in their 30s, some in their 40s, some even older. They have many years of work experience, good positions, a decent salary, and tons of ambition and motivation.

2. Motivation: career perspective vs. personal challenge

A difference between PhD in Management and DBA program is often the motivation behind the studies. For PhD students the PhD is the path to a career as an academic. Their degree qualifies them as scholars and the overall goal is to start a career as a fulltime professor at a business school.

DBAs in contrast are driven primarily by the search for a personal challenge. They already have achieved a lot in their business career and some of them have an MBA. The DBA provides them with a new challenge that goes beyond the practical knowledge that they learnt in business or in the MBA. It challenges them as potential researchers.

3. Access to data: having or not having

Central for any research is the data. Data is what analyze to find support for or against your hypotheses - whether qualitative data or quantitative data. Every scholar needs to work with data over time (unless he or she only wants to publish theoretical papers) and having access to or having built up a unique database can be an important advantage when it comes to publishing in top journals.

One of the greatest advantages of many DBA students is their access to data in their own businesses. This data often is unique and sometimes can only be used for their dissertation under serious confidentiality clauses. PhD students, in contrast, often need to build up their database from the scratch, for instance by an online survey or by collecting, coding, and processing publicly available data.

4. PhD and DBA qualification and career Goals: fulltime vs. part-time academic

PhD in Management students aim at a career in academia. They apply for positions as fulltime professors after graduating or go for a Postdoc for some years. Their key activity is doing research, publishing in academic journals or books, and teaching. And this is what PhD in Management students become qualified for – at least at top schools.

In contrast, DBA graduates usually stay working professionals in their companies and want to stay in the business world even after their graduation. However, their doctoral degree qualifies them for doing research as well. They may teach as guest professors, invited or adjunct faculty occasionally and publish in practitioner or academic journals. Also, the doctor title may open some doors for them in their company's hierarchy.

5. Knowledge creation: Differences among doctoral programs in management

Another difference may be that PhD students primarily aim at developing new theory, particularly if they want to publish in top management journals. The starting point of their research often are existing theories and their knowledge gaps – those phenomena that our existing theory does not explain so far.

  • The core idea here is: PhD in Management students work on research questions that are considered as important gaps by the academic community.

DBA students, on the other hand, are less required to extend existing theory. Instead, their great contribution is rather the combination of research with concrete business problems. Their starting point, for example, may be a business problem from their companies and the DBA dissertation may generate a theoretical model that explains that specific problem and at the same time abstracts from it so that the model can be applied in other contexts as well. Hence, the DBA dissertation uses often a case-study approach rather than an empirical research approach.

  • The core idea here is: In the center of a DBA dissertation is a practical problem from the business world that is considered as relevant from both sides, business managers and scholars.

6. Teaching mode: fulltime vs. part-time

Although some business schools offer PhD programs also on a part-time base and although some DBA programs can be studied fulltime, the general rule is: PhD programs are fulltime programs and DBA programs can be studied part-time.

Since DBA students do not want to give up their work during the program, doctorate of business administration (DBA) programs are often organized as so-called blended programs and mix distance or online learning with residential periods. By this, the students can communicate online with professors and their peer group and only have to come together for some weeks per year. In general, DBA programs offer their students a lot of flexibility and once the coursework is over it is up to the advisor how often the DBA student needs to show up physically.

7. Financing your Doctorate in Business Administration

PhD in Management students, particularly at top schools, often get financial support during the studies, either by a scholarship or through a position as research assistant. DBA students on the other hand often pay for their education even though some schools may provide scholarships for them as well.

This makes a lot of sense given that PhD students do not work in business and hence depend on a solid financing plan. DBA students, in contrast, keep on earning money and may have some savings by which they can pay the tuition fees. They may also be able to tax-deduct their DBA expenses and most likely increase their salary once they have achieved their doctoral degree by gaining better positions. Some companies even fund DBA students, especially when they use data from their employers and when their research is relevant for their companies.

PhDs on the other hand are sponsored by their universities because the university has an interest in them. More precisely it has an interest in their future publication. If the PhD student finally becomes a fulltime professor at a renowned business school and publishes in top journals, the university's reputation increases. Hence, the investment pays off for the university in that case.

8. Recognition: established degree vs. gaining recognition

Clearly, the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is a worldwide recognized academic degree. It is the traditional qualification for a researcher and it is accepted internationally. In contrast, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a relatively young degree and may not be, yet, as much known and recognized as the PhD.

It is very likely though that the value of the degree depends on the reputation of the institution where it has been achieved. If the DBA comes from an established and renowned institution also the DBA degree itself may gain acceptance and the respective person may profit from a higher recognition than if the degree was obtained from a no-name school. In general, the DBA seems to gain recognition and DBA programs can be considered as an emerging market for business schools.

Further links and information on professional doctorates in management

  • Please read our article Similarities between the PhD and the DBA
  • Read the Wikipedia DBA article that also lists "notable persons" with a doctoral degree in business administration (DBA)

By Thomas Graf

  • DBA Coaching: How you find the right DBA for you!
  • Doctorate of Business Administration Similarities: DBA vs PhD
  • DBA degree and the MBA: Differences
  • Online DBA: online programs or blended mode
  • Executive Doctorate: Executive PhD vs. Online PhD Programs
  • Accreditations for Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs
  • Faculty: Assess the Doctorate in Business Administration quality
  • DBA Programs: Assess the reputation and teaching experience
  • TBS Education, Toulouse Cedex 7, France
  • Grenoble Ecole de Management, Grenoble, France
  • Florida International University, Miami, USA
  • Durham University Business School, Durham, UK
  • Georgia State University, Robinson, Atlanta, USA
  • ISM - International School of Management, Paris, France
  • Pepperdine Graziadio Business School, Malibu, California, USA
  • Audencia Business School, Nantes, France
  • Business Science Institute (BSI), Château de Wiltz, Luxembourg

Executive Doctorates in Management

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dba vs phd in accounting

A doctorate of business administration vs PhD in business administration target students with different goals. Generally, a DBA career path differs from a PhD program as those who get a PhD program generally study social sciences and hope to become full-time professors. The PhD vs DBA salary differs as well. DBAs who work in business tend to make more than PhD’s working in academia. PhD students are often still in their 20s and have little work experience, which varies in contrast to seasoned professionals looking to upgrade to DBA careers. We will look at careers as a DBA or PhD below.

A career as a DBA opens up doors to those who have many years of experience but want to get their DBA to satisfy an intellectual challenge. DBA careers often include advancement at the same job in a manager or executive position. Most people who go for their DBA already have an MBA and want to set themselves apart in the industry. The DBA career path offers students interested in management research to use their background as business professionals to further their academic goals.

dba degree salary

PhD vs DBA salary differs greatly, partially due to the ages of these two populations. PhD students are typically in their 20s or early 30s, whereas DBA students have many years of experience and maybe in their late 30s or early 40s. Whether a student pursues a DBA vs PhD in business administration depends largely on their goals. Those who want good positions with higher salaries may opt to remain in the private sector. Younger candidates with less work experience may want a teaching career.

Featured Programs

School/program accreditation.

AACSB accredited DBA programs online are recognized by businesses and universities for its commitment to academic rigor. AACSB accredited DBA online programs may also have other certifications or accreditations. In addition, AACSB accredited online DBA programs often have to go through the certification process every several years.

Accredited DBA online programs May have the following international accreditations:

  • Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB)
  • European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS)
  • Association of MBAs (AMBA)

AMBA accredited online DBA programs have undergone individual program evaluations for a doctor of business administration degree. On the other hand, EQUIS and AACSB accredited DBA programs online refer to certifications for institutions. AACSB accredited DBA online programs have already undergone a review by the approprate agency.

Regional Accreditation

AACSB accredited online DBA programs can also earn regional accreditation. Regional accreditation organizations include the following:

  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission
  • New England Commission of Higher Education

Accredited DBA online programs may also hold special certifications specific to their region. Well-known accredited online DBA programs should have at least one national or international and one regional accreditation. Additionally, accredited DBA programs online make it possible for motivated students to attain their highest degree level, possibly while juggling work at home life.  

Types of Business Doctoral Degrees

Online business PhD programs confer a Doctor of Business Administration and PhD to successful graduates. An online business PhD is the highest academic degree you can achieve in this area. A business PhD online allows you to study at home or anywhere on your own schedule. Students enrolling in a PhD in business online may also conduct field research, and an online PhD in business also prepares candidates to teach.

dba vs phd in accounting

With accelerated online DBA programs, you can achieve your degree faster. Some of the best executive DBA programs include the University of Charleston and Baker College , according to Accredited Online Schools. The best part time DBA programs include online business PhD such as Southern New Hampshire University and Purdue . These programs are among the best DBA programs in the world and offer students flexible programs of study. The best doctorate of business administration programs are located at the University of Charleston, according to many online ranking organizations.

When looking for the best business doctorate programs keep in mind that it can be a difficult decision. Make sure programs you consider figure in study schedule and career expectations. The first thing you should look for is proper accreditation. The best doctorate in business administration programs have national and regional accreditation.

Considerations for the best schools for a doctorate in business administration for you include the concentrations offered and the location of the school. The reputation of the faculty in the program are also important for your future job or teaching prospects.

A business PhD online must be affordable and eligible for financial aid if you cannot pay out of pocket. Paying for a PhD in business online is a major consideration since advanced degrees can be expensive. Students choose an online PhD in business when they want to continue working or care for their family while achieving their degree. However, accelerated online DBA programs often require full-time commitments.

The best executive DBA programs prepare you for consulting or teaching careers. These programs often have some classroom requirements and some online options. The best part-time DBA programs, such as online schools, let you study at your own pace and absorb the material as you see fit.

The best business doctorate programs for students who wish to become teachers are nationally and internationally recognized schools. However, if you are attending in person, a local college might be your choice for the best doctorate in business administration programs.

Among the best DBA programs in the world you find, consider the concentration offered. This is particularly important if you want the best doctorate of business administration programs that may lead to nonprofit, government of corporate work. The best schools for a doctorate in business administration are often available online in today’s digital learning environment.

Graduate schools for business are often some of the most selective programs in education. At the same time, business schools are expanding their doctoral tracks, offering courses online, and giving students an opportunity to get hands-on experience through internships and postgraduate fellowships.

With the number of specializations available in business, it can be a dizzy experience to choose the track that you will pursue. From entrepreneurship to accounting to human resources, the list goes on and on. Whether you choose to deepen your knowledge in areas that you’re already familiar with or choose a new track that can lead to a new career, getting a PhD in business can be a fulfilling experience.

It also validates your skills and knowledge and moves your resume to the head of the pack when you apply for corporate jobs. Many students want to become professors and conduct research to find solutions that impact the world of business.

In the next section, we will look at the careers that you can pursue with a business doctorate. First, it’s important to decide whether you want to stay in the same area that you work in or pursue a completely new industry. If you pursue your PhD immediately after getting your master’s degree, you may want to get some work experience. You can do this by applying for a part-time program that lets you work while earning a degree.

No matter what your level of education, the experience is important to hiring employers. So, you wish to consider an internship, externship or research fellowship to beef up your resume.

dba vs phd in accounting

Careers with a Business Doctorate

Available doctor of business administration jobs depend on the program taken and the student’s specialization. In general, students who take rigorous programs that offer hands-on training emerge qualified for a number of different doctorate in business administration jobs. For example, those looking for doctorate of business administration jobs in teaching can take on roles as teaching assistants for professors while they pursue their degree.

On the other hand, students looking for jobs for doctorate in business administration in a corporate environment may want to consider a part-time or online program that lets them gain valuable business experience as they continue their studies.

Business PhD jobs typically incorporate your experience prior to getting your doctorate with the deeper knowledge that you obtained during your studies. For example, if you have a background in corporate finance and get your PhD in business administration with a concentration in treasury, you may find yourself applying for executive PhD in business jobs that involve corporate taxation or Treasury. On the other hand, PhD in business administration jobs for those who concentrate in economics may involve positions at a government agency.

Whatever career you pursue, doctorate of business administration job opportunities can open the door to new academic end remunerative opportunities.

What Jobs Can You Get with a Doctorate in Business Administration?

Doctorate in business jobs are only limited by your interest and qualifications. If you want to research PhD in business administration job opportunities, you can go to Indeed or monster to search for terms such as PhD in business management jobs. many of the job opportunities will be higher level management positions or jobs in government and private sector spaces.

These jobs may include:

  • Executive VP

DBA programs yield even more doctor of business administration job opportunities when you choose one with hands-on train in the concentration you choose. Jobs requiring doctor of business administration do exist outside of colleges and universities. Some jobs after doctor of business administration include becoming a C-level executive or economist. What jobs can you get with a PhD in business administration? See below.

Doctorate in business administration jobs include becoming a management analyst. Management analysts for consultants advise managers how they can reduce costs and increase their profits.

Some of the most coveted doctor of business administration jobs, C-level executive positions, involve directing business operations for a private or public corporation. In this job, candidates can design policies to help keep the company on track for its major objectives.

Market research analysts have business PhD jobs that involve examining what products and services people are attracted to and how much they are willing to pay for them. These PhD in business jobs, like others on this list, can command six-figure salaries.

What jobs can you get with a doctorate in business administration? If you want to pursue a job teaching at an institution of higher learning, you will need a doctor degree to do so. As a professor, you can look for PhD in business administration jobs at colleges and universities. Some private schools also hire instructors to teach business administration. Private schools often offer competitive salaries and the opportunity to influence the next generation. Doctorate of business administration job opportunities vary greatly. However, many people who obtain their PhD do so with the hopes that they will be able to teach and give back after having successful careers.

Many doctorate in business jobs for graduates with an economics concentration include looking at micro and macro trends in the economy. Economists research and monitor trends and inform the public through media or act as commentators on radio and television. Many economists also write books about their area of expertise.

PhD in business administration job opportunities are very diverse. This allows you to tailor your concentration to give you the best opportunity to snag the best PhD in business management jobs. Some people who obtain this degree find themselves with a significant career boost. This may include being promoted within the same company, receiving job offers at other companies, and career advancement in terms of higher wages.

What jobs can you get with a PhD in business administration? As discussed, many factors go into the answer of this question. If possible, have an idea of what doctorate of business administration jobs you would like to pursue prior to choosing your concentration.

When you compete for jobs for doctorate in business administration, you may face candidates with greater work experience than you. However, very few people achieve a PhD in business administration. This achievement can help you obtain doctor of business administration job opportunities that more seasoned professionals have applied for.

Jobs requiring doctor of business administration are more difficult to find the normal jobs because few people have this qualification and only a select number of companies and agencies understand the full value of the degree.

Job Offer Categories for DBA Holders

Once you have your DBA, many career opportunities will open up to you. To give you an idea of the broad categories that you can choose from, we have put together the information below. Basically, there are five main career types for those seeking PHDs in business.

1. Careers in the Academic Community

You aren’t the only one seeking an advanced degree in business. Business schools are always hiring candidates with a background in business education. With your PhD, you could easily qualify for an associate professor or other entry level position and work your way up to getting tenure.

With a PhD, you can become a vice president or chancellor at a local university or college. You could one day become the dean of the department of economics or accounting if either of those were your specialty.

2. Becoming an Executive Officer

Those with a passion for business and a head for numbers often seek positions as managers directors and senior executive officers at corporations. In the business world a doctoral degree stands out on your resume and signifies your expertise in your field. If you want to become an officer at a corporation, a DBA or PhD in business can definitely help you move ahead. Your doctorate tells companies that you have accomplished many things in your career and that you’ve taken the time to hone your skills and knowledge.

3. Research and Think Tanks

If research is your passion, there are plenty of avenues for you to explore that as your career. After you complete your PhD, you can move into academic research or enter the private sector to meet the needs of policy and research institutes. There’s also a place for those with PHD’s in business within government intelligence and economic agencies.

Think Tanks gather together some of the finest minds in America. These influential organizations number in the thousands and focus on numerous topics. Graduates can choose from think tanks that ask questions about the arts and humanities or question policies that impact the environment.

From national security to foreign relations, think tanks have a big impact on local and national policies. Whether you’re libertarian, conservative, progressive or anywhere in between, there’s probably a think tank for that. Choose from nonprofit or industry organizations.

Jobs related to thinktanks include the following:

  • Research Analyst
  • Strategic Planner
  • Project Manager
  • Research Associate
  • Executive Administrator

4. Government Agencies

Founded on the ideas of capitalism, America itself is in the business of doing business. With your DBA, you may be able to find a job in the US government or maybe you will decide to run for office. If you’re not a politician at heart, you can still use your DBA to shine in the following government departments:

  • Agriculture
  • Housing and Urban Development
  • Transportation

5. U.S. Patent Office

If you consider all the innovations required to invent products, it makes sense that someone with a PhD in business would be welcome at the US Patent and Trademark Office.

Government offices are places where research and analysis skills are a prerequisite. Problem-solving and management skills learned in your doctorate program will serve you well in a government position. Government jobs may not pay as well as corporate positions, but many experts remain in their positions for decades, continuing to contribute to running the nation.

Some federal and state positions do not go through the regular hiring process. Rather, many roles are set by appointment. So, if you have connections, you may be able to get an important position with your newly minted DBA. Like any other executive positions, those in business require a knowledge of the mechanics of the field. During your PhD in business, you will study finance, markets and numerous other subjects including your specialty.

Business Doctorate Salary compiled salary information from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics to show the average salary of positions candidates can get with a DBA or PhD in business. DBA salaries and PhD in business salary vary mainly based on the type of position, the type of employer and the experience of the candidate.

dba vs phd in accounting

A doctor of business administration salary or average salary of a DBA typically applies to graduates who land jobs in the private sector. Although academic positions tend to pay lower, a PhD in business salary can match the salary of a DBA.

Generally, a DBA salary in business or private company is higher than a doctor of business administration salary for a teaching or research position.

A chief executive officer with a DBA averaged more than $193,000 in 2019. However, the career outlook projects a 5% downturn in the need for this position through 2028. This DBA salary is much lower than an operations research analyst with a PhD, who might expect to make just over $90,000 and enjoy a 26% increase in demand for their skills through 2028.

The salary of a DBA who gets a job as a marketing manager would average $149,000 according to article.  Other top executives might average $105,000 for the salary of a DBA and enjoy a job growth projection of 6%.

Some graduates can look forward to acclaim, even with lower salaries, such as authors with PhD’s who average $74,000 in doctor of business administration salaries. A business PhD salary for management analytics could earn graduates $96,000 per year for a PhD in business administration salary.

DBA salaries for general managers total over $123,000 and have a growth rate of 7%. A business administration PhD salary for a marketing specialist could average $72,000 or go much higher with a little experience. For those who aim to be deans and university administrators, the PhD in business management salary is around $112,000. That’s much less that some DBA salaries, such as CEOs making nearly $200,000 a year.

As you can see, doctor of business administration salaries versus the average salary of a DBA vary widely. An individual’s [kl1]   business PhD salary follows their career trajectory up or down. It also depends on who you ask. A survey of 32 people showed an average PhD in business administration salary of $102,000, for example.

What can you expect for a business administration PhD salary, that depends on whether you obtain a PhD in business management salary or a less lucrative career in government or education? Your choices start with the degree and specialty you choose — so choose wisely!

Carrie Morris Author

Warren Dahl Editor-in-Chief

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DBA vs. PhD in Business Administration Programs


The DBA vs. PhD in Business Administration are very similar in most respects:

  • They are “academically equivalent”
  • Both entail rigorous courses of study with a heavy emphasis on research
  • Students must write and defend a doctoral dissertation, in addition to taking a comprehensive exam

The DBA and PhD are generally designed to prepare students for academic careers, either in teaching or research or both. There is no hard and fast rule about which degree you need in order to be hired by a university, but you should make sure your graduate program has been accredited  when doing your due diligence and researching schools.

PhD in Business of Administration

PhD programs in business focus intensively on preparing candidates for academic careers and to conduct highly specialized scholarly research, both in theory and application.

They focus on the development of new theory in management, public administration, consulting, economics and several other related business fields.

Most PhD in  Business Administration  graduates lead careers as university researchers and professors or as senior researchers in business or government.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programs focus on the application of theory rather than on the development of new theory, which is geared more to the PhD program. While also intended to prepare graduates for academic careers, the Doctor of Business Administration, by virtue of its focus on application of theory, has more practical application in managerial settings than the PhD.

As such, the DBA is designed to provide business professionals and executives with advanced research skills and tools.


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  2. DBA Vs PhD

    dba vs phd in accounting

  3. DBA Versus PhD

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  12. What a DBA Degree Is and Why You Might Want One

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  13. What is a DBA? How is it different from a PhD in business?

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  14. What Is A Doctor Of Business Administration?

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  25. DBA vs. PhD in Business Administration Programs

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