woman explaining to group

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


Pursuing higher education is a great way to enter the world of business, but oftentimes, a master’s degree or doctoral program is necessary 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 then consider the purpose of each degree:

  • PhD – A research-oriented PhD program that focuses on development of new business theories, and leads to careers in academia, like contributing to research and publishing journals, or teaching at a university level.
  • 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

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.

Benefits of a DBA Degree

Even if you’ve decided that a DBA 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 DBA.

Varied Coursework and Opportunities

DBA programs in the United States have only become mainstream in the last decade, but it’s quickly become a highly sought after and impressive degree, combining 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 means you’ll be able to network with professors and other students, forming mutually beneficial relationships for the future. It also leaves open a lot of career paths within the realm of hands-on 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.’”

Higher Salary

According to the salary comparison researchers at PayScale, the average salary for someone with an MBA is $88,000, and while that is a substantial salary, it’s significantly less than what someone with a DBA makes. Study offers a breakdown of salaries based on a terminal degree, PhD, or DBA. On average, PhD holders make the same amount of money as those with an MBA, but people with a DBA have a higher average salary, ranging from $123,460 to $196,050.

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 to consider:

  • 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 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 the 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 in the form of loans, work study, military aid, and grants, including a $25,000 Impact Grant for the online DBA program

As the next generation of global business, having your DBA has never been more important, 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.



What will your impact be?

Return to Top