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What is a DBA Degree and How Do I Get One?

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Alliant International University
Published 06/20/2020
5 minutes read
The content of this page is only for informational purposes and is not intended, expressly or by implication, as a guarantee of employment or salary, which vary based on many factors including but not limited to education, credentials, and experience. Alliant International University explicitly makes no representations or guarantees about the accuracy of the information provided by any prospective employer or any other website. Salary information available on the internet may not reflect the typical experience of Alliant graduates. Alliant does not guarantee that any graduate will be placed with a particular employer or in any specific employment position.

Pursuing higher education after a bachelor's degree can be a great way to enter the world of business, but oftentimes, a master’s degree or doctoral program can help you to stand out from the crowd. There are different kinds of business master’s degrees, the most popular being a Masters of Business Administration (MBA), but there are only two options for a terminal degree: a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and a Doctorate in Business Administration (PhD).

So, what is a DBA degree? And how is it different from a PhD?

DBA vs PhD Program in Business Administration

On the surface, a DBA and a PhD in Business Administration seem like the same degree because of their titles. While they are both academically rigorous terminal degrees, they set you up for completely different careers. Think about your professional goals and if you plan to be a doctoral student, and then consider the purpose and career opportunity of each degree:

  • PhD – A research-oriented PhD program that focuses on development of new business theories, research methods, and leads to careers in academia, like contributing to research and publishing journals, or teaching at a university level under a  business administration program or related subjects.
  • DBA – A degree focused on the real-world application of theories rather than the development of new ones. Educational career paths are more varied, like practicing business and business management in private sectors, nonprofit organizations, and government. You can still teach as an adjunct professor but likely would not have the research experience to teach full-time. Wondering if a DBA is right for you? Click here to learn more about the DBA program

Advance your career

To put it simply, if you’re interested in advancing as a business professional and enjoy working in the industry, a DBA program is right for you.1

Benefits of a DBA Degree

Even if you’ve decided that a doctorate degree suits you, you may still be unsure whether or not it’s worth pursuing a terminal degree, especially if you already have a master’s degree in business like an MBA. However, there are unique benefits that come from pursuing and obtaining a doctoral degree in Business Administration.2

Varied Coursework and Opportunities

DBA programs in the United States have only become mainstream in the last decade. They combine an MBA’s managerial education with elements of a PhD’s research focus, while adding an independent thinking and problem-solving component, something the MBA and PhD don’t do.

Having this kind of variety in your education as a DBA student means you'll have the opportunity to network with professors and other students, with the ability to form mutually beneficial relationships for the future. It also can better prepare you for a variety open career paths within the realm of hands-on business and even international business.

Developing Leadership Skills

Business professors believe that a DBA establishes your ability as an individual, as opposed to the group-work focus of MBA.

When speaking to US News, Michelle Mielly, the academic director of the DBA program at the Grenoble Ecole de Management, explained the distinction as follows: “an MBA is where one learns the ‘recipes’ for management, whereas the DBA is where one ‘writes the recipes.’”

How to Choose a Program

With so many business schools to choose from, there are some deciding factors that will help you narrow down where you want to get your DBA. Here are the major things we recommend you consider if you would like to be a DBA student:

  • Accreditation – Make sure the program you choose is accredited, meaning it upholds a certain level of educational standards.
  • Program length – Typical programs take four or five years, but some can be completed in as little as three years.
  • Student to faculty ratio – Having a smaller class size means you’ll be able to work more closely with a faculty mentor, which is an important part of developing a successful dissertation.
  • In-person or online – Decide whether on- or off-campus is a better fit for your lifestyle.
  • Financial aid – Education can be expensive, so if finances are a concern, look for schools that offer scholarships or grants.

DBA Degree at Alliant International University

Alliant International University has a DBA degree program offered by its California School of Management and Leadership (CSML), with three degree concentrations: Information and Data Science, Management, and Marketing. Here’s how the deciding factors look at Alliant:

  • Accredited DBA by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)
  • Can be completed in as little as three years
  • Small class sizes and a faculty mentor to guide you through your entire dissertation
  • Offered online or on-campus in San Diego, California
  • Financial aid support in the form of loans, work study, military aid, and grants

As a working professional in the next generation of global business, having your DBA can be a great way to prepare yourself, and a flexible degree program is the easiest way to get there. Reach out to Alliant International University today to learn more about starting your journey to a better career in business.



  1. Erskine, Mary Beth. “DBA Degree (Doctor of Business Administration) vs. Phd in Business.” DBA Degree (Doctor of Business Administration) Vs. PhD in Business. Accessed November 23, 2021.…;
  2. “What a DBA Degree Is and Why You Might Want One | Top ...” Accessed November 23, 2021.…;
  3. “Master of Business Administration (MBA) Degree.” PayScale. Accessed November 23, 2021.…;
  4. Accessed November 23, 2021. 

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