How to Decide Which Type of Business Doctoral Degree to Pursue

PhD degrees are for people who are primarily interested in working in academia or as researchers. They aim to produce graduates who are ready to teach college-level courses in the field or conduct independent research.

Some students who enter a PhD program will have experience working in business and a master’s degree. Some PhD programs will admit students who only have a bachelor’s degree, and let them earn a master’s degree along the way—admissions requirements will vary by school.

PhD students will focus on business theory during their studies. In preparation for their dissertation—an original piece of research-based scholarship—they will conduct research that aims to offer new insight into how business is done, but not necessarily how to solve business problems.

PhD students typically spend five years completing their degree, and graduate ready to teach a college-level course in the field or to conduct research. Some PhD graduates may take on side work—for example, as a business consultant—but their main career roles will likely involve working at a college or university.

What Is a PhD, and Who Can Benefit?

PhD degrees are for people who are primarily interested in working in academia or as researchers. They aim to produce graduates who are ready to teach college-level courses in the field or conduct independent research.

Some students who enter a PhD program will have experience working in business and a master’s degree. Some PhD programs will admit students who only have a bachelor’s degree, and let them earn a master’s degree along the way—admissions requirements will vary by school.

PhD students will focus on business theory during their studies. In preparation for their dissertation—an original piece of research-based scholarship—they will conduct research that aims to offer new insight into how business is done, but not necessarily how to solve business problems.

PhD students typically spend five years completing their degree, and graduate ready to teach a college-level course in the field or to conduct research. Some PhD graduates may take on side work—for example, as a business consultant—but their main career roles will likely involve working at a college or university.

What Is a DBA, and Who Can Benefit?

A DBA degree focuses on producing highly qualified practical leaders with enhanced academic research skills. Graduates will leave their DBA program ready to continue their careers in business at an advanced level of leadership.

Because of the emphasis on practical application, most DBA students will enter their program after gaining several years of leadership experience in

business. Many of them will already hold a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or another business-related master’s degree, such as finance or accounting. Since many DBA students enter the program with a master’s, the time to completion is often shorter than a business PhD program. At University of the Potomac, for example, students can complete their DBA online in as few as three years.

 

Like PhD students, DBA students will conduct original research and produce a dissertation to earn their degrees. However, the focus of that research is very different: DBA students aim to solve specific problems that can be used in the real world immediately. Some DBA graduates may conduct research or teach as a side role, but their main career focus will involve direct work in business or consulting at the executive level.

To put it another way, the main difference between a PhD and a DBA is that PhD students want to describe how business is done, while DBA students want to change how business is done.

Are DBA Graduates in Demand?

DBA graduates are less common than MBA graduates, but the number of DBA graduates in the field is rising. The United States Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reports that there were 202,334 master’s degrees in business awarded in 2020-21, making it the most popular field of study for all master’s degree students. In 2000-01, there were just 115,602 MBA graduates—a 175% increase since the start of the century.

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By contrast, the NCES reports that there were just 3,711 doctoral business degrees awarded in 2021-22. However, there were just 1,180 doctorates in business awarded in 2000-01, which means that the annual number of graduates has risen by 315% since the start of the century.

While DBA programs are less common than master’s degrees, they are beginning to be seen as a mark of dedication and a proven level of high problem-solving skills. Earning a DBA degree can demonstrate your commitment to your field and your ability to analyze and solve complex problems by applying theory in practice.

What Makes the UOTP DBA Program Stand Out?

Potomac’s DBA program offers experienced business professionals the opportunity to obtain a practical doctorate degree in a flexible, accelerated

format. Students can study online or on campus with us, benefiting from small classes led by industry-experienced faculty members.

As a proudly diverse institution, we also offer students a multicultural experience that can enhance their ability to collaborate across cultures—a key “soft skill” in today’s globalized business environment. We also provide our DBA students with the support they need for success, matching them with a faculty advisor who works with them at every stage of the dissertation completion process.

As a UOTP graduate, you’ll be ready to offer enhanced problem-solving and leadership skills to existing businesses, or be better prepared to launch your own venture—whatever option you pursue, you’ll have hands-on skills and research abilities few people in the job market can match.

Find Out More About Earning a DBA Today

Learn more about the Potomac DBA program—and how to apply—by visiting our DBA program page. You can also contact our admissions department to learn more