Doctor of Business Administration

The degree of Doctor of Business Administration (abbreviated DBA or D.B.A. and equivalent to Ph.D. in Business Administration), is a highest academic degree and a research doctorate in business administration. The D.B.A. requires advanced coursework and research beyond the master-level degree that normally results in a dissertation and possible journal publication that contributes to business practice.

Purpose and recognition

The D.B.A. is equivalent to Ph.D in Business Administration.[1] The D.B.A. tends more towards applied research rather than theoretical research, especially during the thesis writing phase. Research-oriented universities with D.B.A programs in the U.S. such as Harvard Business School tend to offer programs only on a full-time basis whereas D.B.A. programs at research-oriented universities in other countries such as Manchester Business School or Cranfield School of Management or Durham University Business School tend to offer programs on the executive part-time basis.[2] Executive programs qualify as full-time programs, but allow someone to pursue the research degree while still working.

The portion of the program that consists of advanced coursework may be comparable to that of a PhD.[3] However the larger part of the program, consisting of independent research and the writing of a thesis, is likely geared towards more applied research in D.B.A. programs, with the research making a direct contribution to business practice.[4][5] Another way to see the distinction is that PhDs aim at the creation of new theory, while D.B.A.s aim at applying theory to solving contemporary business problems.[6][7]

The Executive D.B.A. Council [8] is membership group of related programs, and holds an annual conference.


A typical D.B.A. program has a dual purpose: (1) to contribute to both theory and practice in relation to business and management; and (2) to develop professional practice and to contribute to professional knowledge of management. Both the D.B.A. and PhD in Business Administration are terminal degrees, allowing the recipient to obtain a tenure-track position.

Geographic distribution

DBA programs are offered worldwide. The majority, however, is offered in Europe (42 percent), followed by North America (28 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region (22 percent). 6 percent of the programs are offered in Africa and 2 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Most professional doctorates in management were founded in the last 10 years and more than half of them in Europe.[9]

Structure and format

Some universities ask for significant experience in a managerial or professional supervisory position involving responsibility for strategic issues. The D.B.A. normally requires a significant thesis, dissertation or final comprehensive project including a formal defense and approval by nominated examiners or an officially sanctioned and qualified doctoral review committee. The degree is conferred when all coursework, testing, and written research are completed and reviewed and approved by the awarding institution.

D.B.A. candidates may specialize in areas such as management science, technology management, organizational behavior, economics, or finance or other practical fields. Curricula may be offered on a full-time or part-time basis. According to the European higher education standards set by the Bologna Process, it is stated that the normal duration of a doctorate should correspond to 3–4 years of full-time study.

D.B.A. program

The responsibility for the overall structure of a D.B.A or other doctoral programs resides within the graduate research degrees committees or their equivalent within the university. As such, D.B.A programs must have a specific set of university regulations and must be subject to appropriate quality approval processes. Regulations should include reference to protocols for treating ethical issues in research, including those involving researchers working within the organisation that employs them and/or having access to privileged information. The implementations as above are widely used in Australian Universities, for instance a D.B.A student cannot embark into research phase before passing all his/her courseworks, research proposal and ethics, upon passing proposal stage, he/she still needs to clear ethics from Ethics Committee. Even after completing the dissertation writing, the D.B.A candidate still needs to go through numerous internal moderations of the dissertation before submitting to external examinations (at least two external examiners). For successful candidates in the external examinations stage, they usually need to revise their dissertations before final approval from the D.B.A committee of granting the degree. The research phase is always a tedious and demanding phase.

PhD versus DBA

The PhD in Business Administration is equivalent to the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).[1] Both doctorates are research doctorates representing the highest academic qualification in business in the U.S. education system. As such, both PhD and DBA programs require students to develop original research leading to a dissertation defense.[10] Furthermore, both doctorates enable holders to become faculty members at academic institutions.

In some cases, as in that of Harvard University, the distinction is solely administrative (Harvard Business School is not authorized to issue PhDs; only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences may do so).[11] In most cases, however, the distinction is one of orientation and intended outcomes. The PhD is highly focused on developing theoretical knowledge, while the DBA emphasizes applied research leading to the practical application of theoretical knowledge.[10] Upon completion, graduates of PhD programs generally migrate to academia, while those of DBA programs reemerge in industry as executives in leading organizations (often teaching part-time in undergraduate and graduate programs).

Notable persons with a D.B.A. degree

See also


  1. 1 2
  3. Harvard Business School FAQ on doctoral programs
  4. Case Western Reserve-Doctor of Management
  5. TiasNimbas: Doctor of Business Administration
  6. All Business Schools: DBA vs. PhD in Business Administration Programs
  7. Athabasca University: DBA vs PhD
  9. "Global DBA Survey 2014".
  10. 1 2 FAQs AACSB
  11. Admissions FAQs Harvard
  13. 1 2
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