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What is the Difference Between a PhD, DBA and Doctorate in Management

How does a PhD differ from a DBA and DM?

Embarking on a journey of advanced education and research often involves choosing a doctoral degree that aligns with your career aspirations and academic interests. In the realm of doctoral studies, several options are available, each designed to foster expertise and scholarship in specific domains. The Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Business Administration, and Doctorate in Management stand out as prominent pathways among the choices. 

However, comprehending the nuances and distinctions among these degrees is crucial for individuals considering a doctoral pursuit. This blog will delve into the intricate differences between a PhD, DBA, and DM, helping you decide which path best suits your academic and professional goals. 

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree is typically recognised as an advanced research-oriented academic credential, where individuals often engage in original research endeavours to expand upon or contribute to existing knowledge. A PhD is primarily viewed as a form of training for a career in higher education, which may encompass teaching, ongoing research pursuits, and scholarly publications.

Upon obtaining a PhD, individuals often aspire to become university professors with a strong focus on research activities. As part of their preparation, PhD students are frequently mentored by experienced, tenured faculty members. The primary objective for PhD students is to advance the research objectives of their university’s specific field of study, faculty, or academic institution. To demonstrate their expertise, PhD candidates must pass competency examinations and complete a dissertation that is subject to approval by a committee of current PhD holders within the same area of specialisation.

Traditional PhD programs typically revolve around a specific research area, such as Management, and are oriented towards disseminating this research for the benefit of future scholars. In many cases, a PhD candidate is a subject matter expert dedicated to exploring a particular and often narrow gap in scholarly knowledge over the course of several years.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

A DBA, which stands for Doctor of Business Administration, represents an advanced doctoral degree concentration in the field of business and management. Geared towards individuals already engaged in professional careers, the DBA program is tailor-made for those seeking to elevate their professional trajectory. This program combines a blend of academic coursework, research components, and hands-on practical experience, all aimed at equipping students for leadership roles within various businesses and organisations.

The DBA curriculum covers a wide array of subjects, encompassing areas such as strategic management, organisational behaviour, global business dynamics, and finance. Participants enrolled in this program develop proficiencies in research methodologies, problem-solving techniques, and the art of decision-making, especially within complex and intricate business environments. Typically, the completion of a DBA degree spans a period of three to five years.

Doctorate in Management (DM)

The Doctorate in Management (DM) is commonly recognised as a degree program that emphasises applied research in the field of management. Its primary objective is to explore the practical application of management theories and teach students how to utilise practical research methods to identify and address real-world industry challenges.

A DM program is structured to assist individuals in developing strategic thinking abilities and enhancing their capacity to make meaningful contributions to management practices within their chosen career paths. The knowledge gained through a Doctorate in Management degree program is intended to equip students with advanced research skills and tools, enabling them to tackle complex issues prevalent in their respective industries effectively.

DBA vs. DM vs. PhD in Business Degrees

Acquiring a terminal degree demands significant investments in terms of both finances and time, underscoring the importance of selecting a program that aligns perfectly with one’s objectives. Initially, individuals considering their options may find it challenging to differentiate between DBAs, DBMs, and PhDs in the field of business. The table below provides a comparative analysis of these degrees to facilitate a clearer understanding.

Comparing DBA, DM, and PhD Programs

ProgramsDoctor of Business AdministrationDoctorate in ManagementPhD in Business Management
Program Focus

A professional degree that translates theoretical concepts into practical applications for careers in business.A scholar-practitioner program that integrates research, theoretical knowledge, and practical application in the field of business careers.An academic research-oriented degree concentrated on addressing scholarly inquiries and advancing original research.
OutcomesDesigned for business professionals planning to continue working in their respective fields.It is designed for professionals who wish to work in the business or education sectors.A program designed to prepare graduates for academic careers as well as scholarly pursuits like journal publication.
Student Demographics



Brings in professionals with many years of experience at the middle and senior levelsDraws the interest of professionals at the mid to senior career stages, possessing extensive years of work experienceAppeals to mid-tier professionals and recent graduates with limited work experience, frequently transitioning directly from their graduate studies
Program FormatOnline and on-campus options availableOnline and on-campus options availableOnline and on-campus options available
Program LengthApproximately 3 years of studyApproximately 3 years of studyApproximately 5-6 years of study
Culminating Requirements
Requires to complete a research project, or dissertationMust finalise either a research project dissertationRequires a thesis 

Career Opportunities after DBA and DM

Earning a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree or Doctorate in Management opens up a multitude of career avenues. These degrees offer versatility and practical training across various aspects of business management, allowing you to explore diverse career opportunities. Here are several rewarding career paths accessible to individuals with a DBA or Doctorate in Management.

1. C-suite (CEO, CFO, COO) 

2. Executive VP

3. Consultant

4. Economist

5. Logistician

6. Professor

7. Entrepreneur

8. Director of Human Resources

9. Government Employee

Career Opportunities after PhD

Pursuing a PhD imparts a wide range of skills to students. It enhances your capacity for critical subject analysis, demonstrates intellectual maturity, fosters deep expertise in a particular field, and enables the publication of a substantiated thesis.

1. Academics

  • Faculty Position
  • Post Doctorate
  • Adjunct Position
  • Teaching

2. Government Jobs

3. Entrepreneur

4. Consultancy

5. Digital Media Company

6. Research Associate

7. Product Manager

How to Decide Between a PhD, DBA, and DM Program

If you’re embarking on your career journey in management and have a passion for research, the ideal choice would be enrolling in a PhD program. This option is well-suited if you aspire to transition into an academic career.

Conversely, if you aim to ascend the ranks within the managerial hierarchy, you may prefer to pursue a DBA or DM program.

It’s important to note that PhD, DBA, and DM programs all enjoy equal status, recognition, and international acclaim. They are tailored to different objectives. Opt for a PhD in Business Management if you wish to advance the industry through research or educate future business leaders. On the other hand, if your goal is to make a tangible impact on the business world by applying your expertise and skills, a DBA or DM is the route to consider.

If you’re exploring DBA or DM programs, Exeed College offers compelling options in partnership with renowned universities. These online doctorate programs are designed to empower professionals like you to excel in your careers, contribute to management research, and innovate within your organisations. Ultimately, your choice should align with your career aspirations and the impact you want to make in the world of business and management.

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PhD, DBA and Doctorate in Management

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