Doctorate: Is DBA or PhD better?

Close-up of a hand handing over a diploma as a roll of paper.

Now that we answered the question as to what is the difference between a PhD and DBA, it’s time to tackle the next one: “which one should I get?” and “is DBA or PhD better”? Perhaps the first important point to remember is that it is not about choosing a program that has a higher value, it’s about something completely different.

DBA or PhD – not a question of value, but of personal career status

PhD is probably the most commonly known type of research degree, offered by thousands of institutions around the world. For many years, it was the golden standard for research degrees and became almost synonymous with doctoral studies. PhD is therefore generic and can be completed in areas as broad as business, life sciences, linguistics or engineering. DBA on the other hand, is a business focused degree and due to this specialization, it’s not as common.

If you are working in business management, you can of course choose either one and their value is equal. DBA also grants a doctor title and for example in the program run by Munich Business School in collaboration with Sheffield Hallam University, your doctor title does not require to specify whether you have completed a PhD or a DBA.

Therefore, the question of “Is DBA or PhD better?” cannot be answered in relation to the value of the program or the perception about it. PhD degrees are often more suited for students who have only just finished their master’s studies, whereas DBA is a solution for those who have already acquired a number of years with work experience. This means that as a product, the DBA is targeted at a completely different customer segment and should not be confused with a PhD. Your choice will most likely depend on where you currently are in terms of your career.

DBA – The ideal doctoral opportunity for working professionals

So then “Is DBA or PhD better?” becomes a redundant question, unless, you are about to graduate from your master’s studies and can chose between going straight into a PhD or entering professional career and then going on to complete your doctoral studies. If you are already on the job market, chances are that the DBA is the best way to gain a doctor title. This is because most programs are offered part-time and therefore offer flexibility to continue full-time work. Businesses face problems and the DBA is an opportunity to come up with “products” that solve issues and have wider impact. At PhD, you are often assigned a topic but the goal is to produce a more theoretical solution, contributing or filling gaps within the literature.

Summarizing, your decision to study for a doctoral degree is more dependent on your professional situation and where you are rather than “is DBA or PhD better?”. In both cases, although the methods differ, outcome is similar, in that both PhD and DBA candidates earn a doctoral degree that’s of equal value. What matters more is where you currently are, as this may determine the degree that is more suitable to your own circumstances.

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Maciej Kapron
About Maciej Kapron 26 Articles
Maciej Kapron has been a Study Advisor as well as Program Manager for the MBA programs at Munich Business School since June 2023. Previously, he was also responsible for the DBA program. He holds a BA in Diplomacy with Law and an MSc in International Management from Loughborough University and completed part of his degree at Universidade Catolica Portuguesa in Lisbon. During his MSc degree, he focused on marketing, specifically within the area of brand management and services marketing however, in his thesis he evaluated entry strategies to new markets of a global automotive manufacturer.