Are there any Doctorate Level Degrees for Business?

They may not get as much publicity as the much-hyped Master of Business Administration, but doctorate level degrees for business are a thriving part of the industry and typically a required credential for those who wish to enter into the academic world. Doctoral degrees in this field are a bit different from those offered in the liberal arts and sciences, however. In fact, the business community has split their doctoral programs into two distinct types that focus either on the theory of business or its practical applications in a real-world, executive setting. Prospective doctoral students should consider which of these approaches most aligns with their long-term professional goals.

DBA: The Doctor of Business Administration

For business professionals who wish only to further their practical management skills, often without a significant research component, the business community offers the DBA degree. The Doctor of Business Administration program is similar to an MBA, though it offers far more advanced coursework and requires a greater number of credits prior to graduation. Though the program is not research heavy, students are almost always required to write a brief dissertation or to spend a year working on a business-related simulation in a laboratory environment.

This program picks up where the typical MBA leaves off. Students take a series of classes focused on executive decision-making and professional ethics of the C-suite occupations. They learn more advanced accounting and finance skills, and are expected to have a strong quantitative foundation that will be demonstrated throughout several advanced data modeling classes. A strong focus is placed on qualitative management and driving results, with little emphasis on the theory of business management. Most graduates maintain or return to their professional management occupations after the program, while a small number switch paths and take the lead in a business classroom after they graduate.

Ph.D.: The Doctor of Philosophy in Management

For all of the DBA’s practical, application-oriented focus, the Ph.D. in Management offers a more theoretical approach to management. In this program, business professionals will typically learn a great deal about results-driven management rather than quantitative data modeling and financial analysis. Ph.D. programs focus on the “people” side of management, rather than the quantitative side, and often incorporate psychology, sociology, and the latest research into business structure and work environments. Students in these programs often have pursued a Master of Science in Management, rather than an MBA, and they will be expected to build on graduate research skills as they compose and present a doctoral dissertation.

When Ph.D. students successfully write and defend this work, they will be advanced to full degree candidacy and eligibility for graduation. Upon completing the program, the vast majority of business Ph.D. holders assume a full-time teaching and research position at a major university. Only a small handful of graduates will use their degree to advance in a more traditional, corporate career setting.

Two Great Programs with Much Different Requirements and Results

Business doctoral programs have long been split down the middle, with different degrees for academics and practitioners. Even so, these programs continue to grow in popularity and enrollment as more business professionals view a terminal degree as a requirement to advance in the workplace. After completing a graduate degree in management or a formal MBA, students who wish to further their understanding of the industry can certainly find relevant, engaging doctorate level degrees for business skills across the board.