DBA vs PhD

A PhD is a research based doctoral programme which usually involves little or no taught element and is academic in nature. A professional doctorate, like the DBA, produces a qualification which, whilst being equivalent in status and challenge to a PhD, is more appropriate for those pursuing professional rather than academic careers. As such, the aim of a PhD is to advance knowledge, whereas the primary goal of a DBA is to advance professional practice.

The table below also highlights these differences.

Doctor of Business Administration PhD Management Science
Primary purpose Prepare students to carry out research-based
professional practice
Prepare students to carry out scholarly research relevant to management practice
Foundational preparation
  • Research theory and methods
  • Discipline content
  • Change leadership, management and ethics
  • Research theory and methods
  • Discipline content
  • Scholarly ethics, culture and communication
Nature of final exercise Doctoral study addressing a practical problem, usually in the student's workplace, acknowledged as significant by scholarly and practical stakeholders Research dissertation addressing a research problem acknowledged as significant by the scholarly peer community
Qualification for entry to final exercise

Doctoral study proposal describing;

  • Current situation
  • Desired outcome and its significance
  • Key stakeholders
  • Background research
  • Research plan and methods
  • Implementation plan and methods
  • Assessment measures and criteria for success
  • Project evaluation committee including scholarly and practical stakeholders
  • Research problem and its importance
  • Expected significance of the work
  • Background research
  • Research plan and methods
  • Measures and criteria for success
  • Dissertation committee including external scholars
Evaluation criteria for final exercise
  • Intellectual and methodological soundness
  • Success of and learning from project
  • Quality of project assessment
  • Adherence to intellectual and ethical norms
  • Intellectual and methodological soundness
  • Novelty and significance of research contribution
  • Adherence to scholarly peer community norms
Most (to least) common forms of documentation
  1. Doctoral study report
  2. Internal and external stakeholder reports
  3. Professional conference papers
  4. Popular articles
  5. Books or book chapters
  6. Academic publications
  1. Dissertation document
  2. Academic conference papers
  3. Academic journal articles
  4. Books or book chapters
  5. Popular articles