A student recently emailed asking about the difference between a DBA and PHD. The variances between a DBA/Ph.D. include:
A DBA doctoral study is a practioner degree much like a medical doctor is a practioner of medicine and a dentist is a practioner of dental work. DBA students are practioners of business. Students of DBA programs research, write, and focus their studies to improve the practice of business.
A PHD student is more theoretical based and write to close “gaps in the literature” on any specific topic. For example our PHD in management students must identify a gap in the literature and then research, write, and focus developing new knowledge to close the gap of knowledge in the field of management.
The doctoral study is formatted into 3 sections. The PHD has 5 chapters. Both types of studies contain the exact same components and same rigor. APA applies to both.
In the United States, the first practioner degree (issued to a medical doctor by Columbia University in 1776) is 100 years older than the PHD degree. The first PHD was issued by Yale in 1861.
There are 60+ practioner degrees and all doctoral degrees are equal – they just specialize in different disciplines. To name a few practioner degrees:
- Doctor of Medicine (MD)
- Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
- Doctor of Education (EDD)
- Doctor of Optometry (OD)
- Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm D)
- Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM)
- Juris Doctor (JD)
There are several famous people who hold a DBA degree. One that comes to mind is Clayton Christensen who is currently a professor at Harvard University. He authored the Innovator’s Dilemma and best known for the theory of disruptive innovation. PHDs have contributed to many occupational fields with Condoleezza Rice representing the PHD community.
Section 2 of the DBA study is the same as chapter 3 of the dissertation. All the components in both documents are the same. They are simply located in different places. Section 1 of the DBA study is an introduction of the forth coming work. Section 2 is a deep description of how the DBA student will collect, store, analyze data. Students must justify all components in section 2 from the perspective of 3 scholars.
The rigor of the DBA program and the work is the exact same as a PHD student. The advantages of the DBA is the research focuses on improving the practice of business, time to degree for a DBA student is quicker to degree, while still the highest form of scholarship, is more cost effective if a student stays on track. The PHD students typically have more time to complete their program of study.
Per the Department of Education, there is no hierarchy in terminal degrees. All terminal degrees carry equal weight. That means the DBA is no more or less important than say a dentist or medical doctor. The focus is simply different terminal degree focusing on the highest form of scholarship in that discipline.