What's a DBA's worth in an MBA obsessed world? Business education expert weighs in

What's a DBA's worth in an MBA obsessed world? Business education expert weighs in

The Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is incredibly well-known throughout the business school world and a popular choice for postgraduate business education. But did you know you could also become a Doctor in Business through a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)?

Kyle GrizzellUpdated: Tuesday, March 07, 2023, 01:10 PM IST
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(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)

Each year, many Indian students choose to study abroad, attracted by professional opportunities and world-class schools, with numbers increasing year on year. In 2021, around 440,000 studied abroad, rising to 650,000 in 2022, according to information provided in Parliament by the Union education department. 

Many choose to study business education, learning more about the business industry, and management and leadership skills applicable in a variety of sectors. 

The Masters of Business Administration (MBA) is incredibly well-known throughout the business school world and a popular choice for postgraduate business education. But did you know you could also become a Doctor in Business through a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)? 

In pursuing a doctorate, most probably imagine a Ph.D. But how does a Ph.D. differ from a DBA?

A DBA is a business-oriented professional doctorate and one of the highest postgraduate qualifications you can obtain. The DBA focuses on providing practical and innovative business management knowledge for application in a workplace, perfect for senior managers, consultants, and entrepreneurs who want to enhance their practical skills. 

DBAs can also be specialised for various sectors. For example, the UCL Global Business School for Health (GBSH) offers a DBA Health for individuals who want the skills to address health sector challenges. Nora Colton, Director of the UCL GBSH, explains, “The DBA is often confused with a Ph.D., which many professionals don’t associate with themselves. Many will get an MBA and then focus on executive education and short courses for lifelong learning rather than return for a degree such as a DBA.”

Professor Brecht Cardoen, Academic Director of the DBA at Vlerick Business School, acknowledges the DBA can be confusing, especially those with Ph.D. aspects, “Some vary between three and five years, and may not include a Ph.D. Those like the Vlerick DBA are a blended doctoral programme with a joint Ph.D. degree from Ghent University and KU Leuven.”

Kyle Grizzell

Kyle Grizzell |

So, how does a Ph.D. compare?

Whilst also a doctorate degree and similarly one of the highest postgraduate qualifications, PhDs involve undertaking original research in a narrow field. A Ph.D. from a business school provides an individual with a specialised, research-based background for a topic in business management.

For example, the Ph.D. in Business Administration at Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business (NU GSB) is designed for those who aspire to become faculty members at leading academic institutions or conduct applied research. One of NU GSB’s academic partners is Duke University Fuqua School of Business, also offering a Ph.D. in Business Administration, preparing candidates for research and teaching careers at educational institutions.

Considering the differences between DBA and Ph.D., the research scope is noticeable. A Ph.D. candidate selects a research project of theoretical value to the academic environment, whereas a DBA candidate selects a research project which has a practical application to the business environment.

Ultimately, when it comes to choosing between a Ph.D. or a DBA, it’s all down to your preference and what you want to pursue career-wise.

The author is a Business Education expert at  BlueSky Education. 

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