Doctorate in Business Administration Similarities: DBA vs PhD
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Doctorate in Business Administration Similarities: DBA vs PhD

dba vs phd similarities

DBA means Doctor of Business Administration  – PhD stands for Doctor of Philosophy. Two doctors but does that mean that the DBA programme and PhD in Business Administration are the same? Well, they are not the same but they have some important characteristics in common:


DBA vs PhD in Business Administration: Stages of learning

Both program types require a period of coursework, followed by an exam, and finally a research period when DBA and PhD students develop their dissertation. At least this is often the case. The coursework usually is the same for both DBA in Business Administration and PhD students. On top of that, both programme types often require not only the successful accomplishment of each course but also a comprehensive exam at the end of the course period. Once you have passed this exam you are no longer a doctoral student but a doctoral candidate. A typical DBA or PhD structure, for example, is this one:

  • Coursework 
  • Development of research project: for instance, development of a research idea and collection of data
  • Defense of research proposal
  • Writing the dissertation
  • Final defense

Doctorate in Business Administration Curriculum

DBA in Management and PhD students have similar or even the same courses to accomplish. Even though they may not have classes together, the content is the same. A common practice is that DBA  in Management and PhD students need to accomplish methodology courses on the one hand and management theory courses on the other.

  • Methodology courses  are courses in statistics, quantitative research, qualitative research, or specific methods courses such as experimental design or survey studies. The goal here is that you develop skills that you need as a competent researcher. For instance, you need to know how to identify relevant research questions and how to approach these questions with the right methodological tool.
  • Management theory courses, on the other hand, are about management disciplines such as strategy, marketing, organizational theory or human resources management. The idea here is that you gain an overview of many relevant management fields or even specialize in your preferred area from the perspective of social sciences. In contrast to MBA programs, hence, this coursework is not about applying management nuts and bolts in practice. Instead, it is about the theoretical and empirical foundations of management knowledge. This coursework will tackle questions such as: What do we know about why some firms make profits and others not? What do we know today about group performance and leadership behaviors? What do we know about international diversification in theory and to what degree is this theory supported empirically? In a DBA program you research papers and try to explain phenomena rather than solving practical problems from the perspective of managers.

DBA: Admission requirements

Both, DBA and PhD programs require an academic qualification on the master level. There may be exceptions, depending on the University's admission guideline. The rule of thumb, however, is: DBA and PhD applicants need an academic degree on the master's level. Furthermore, both DBA and PhD programs may require proof of language skills – for example by the TOEFL or the IELTS – and your analytical capabilities by the GMAT or GRE.

Degree acceptance

Both, the DBA and PhD are doctoral degrees. Whether the degree is officially accepted and whether the title can be officially held in a specific country, however, depends on the country's regulations. In Germany, for instance, a degree - no matter if a bachelor, master, or a doctoral degree - is only accepted officially if the institution (where the degree was obtained) is officially accepted in its country. This official acceptance of a doctoral degree counts for both DBA and PhD. In reality, however, many schools may care less about whether the degree is officially accepted or not but rather in the institution's reputation where you gained that degree.


Both degrees, DBA and PhD, qualify for research and teaching. There are differences in the qualification, however, that need to be pointed out. Please read our article on differences between the DBA in Business Administration and the PhD

Mantissa College is offering the Doctor of Business Administration programme in collaboration with the IPE-Paris

Still pondering? Why not join us for the DBA Trial Class on the 22nd July 2017. Admission is Free 

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