3 Key Differences Between the DBA and PhD Programmes

3 Key Differences Between the DBA and PhD Programmes


One of the frequently asked questions of prospective research candidates is whether they should pursue the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA). Both are similar in challenge and status, so it can be difficult to decide which is the most appropriate for you. While they both have a research focus, there are some key differences between the two programmes that should be understood. If you’re curious about what makes the DBA and PhD so unique, see below.

1. Career path

Both the DBA and PhD assist in progressing a career, allowing for knowledge to be learnt and applied directly into a workplace. Where they differ is their relevance to particular career paths – the DBA is more aligned for practicing professionals, whereas the PhD is best for those pursuing a career in academia or seeking deeper theoretical knowledge. The DBA is designed for experienced managers and offers the opportunity to take your business and management knowledge to a higher level. Like the PhD it is a doctoral qualification, however it is directly linked to the world of work. The PhD on the other hand offers the opportunity to undertake in-depth research to contribute to the advancement of knowledge.

2. Primary goals

As touched on above, one of the main goals of the PhD programme is to advance knowledge. The programme prepares candidates to carry out scholarly research relevant to management practice in order to make a contribution of knowledge in their chosen field. It is particularly relevant for those who wish to make a significant leadership contribution to their own organisations or who are considering a career in academia. The primary goal of the DBA is to advance professional practice, preparing candidates to carry out research and to make a direct contribution to professional practice and/or policy in a workplace or wider industry context.

3. Nature of final exercise

As both programmes are research-based, the final exercises are similar in nature. For the PhD, candidates must submit a thesis of between 60,000 and 80,000 words to be assessed by external examiners. The DBA differs in that there is also a coursework component consisting of 4 subjects before the submission of a thesis between 50,000 and 80,000 words – again assessed by external examiners.

Interested in finding out more?

2017 applications for the AIB DBA and PhD programmes are now open and will close on May 1, 2017. If you have any questions about either programme, please don’t hesitate to visit our website or email your enquiry to our Research Team – rhd@aib.edu.au

This article was written by Laura Hutton on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. 

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