What is the difference between a Doctorate in Business Administration and a PhD in Management?

At first glance, a PhD in Management and a top Doctorate in Business Management may seem so similar it may be difficult to decide which route to take. In fact, some business schools offer a Doctorate in Business Administration as a type of PhD degree one can pursue. As both degrees often maintain identical core courses and are research-driven, understanding the differences between these two educational directions begins with a simple definition of each. Dr. Sherrie Lewis of Saint Leo University distinguishes the two degrees this way, "a PhD is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a career in academia and conduct research that contributes to business knowledge or theory. A DBA is a professional doctorate with a focus on theoretical knowledge and its use in business practice. Essentially, a PhD candidate is focused on making a contribution to scholarship and a DBA candidate is focused on making a contribution to the practice of management and a difference in the industry. The DBA is a professional doctorate that can be used to indicate a practitioner's level of expertise in their chosen fields." Saint Leo University has recently added a hybrid Doctor of Business Administartion to its degree list at the Donald R. Tapia School of Business. Most of the coursework for this 57-credit hour program is completed online while students are expected to meet on campus three times over the course of the degree for week-long residencies. This program's total tuition rate is $51,300.

Another highly-accredited business school is Muma College of Business at the University of South Florida which offers a 72-credit hour DBA designed to be completed in three years and featuring a total tuition rate of $65,741. USF offers both a DBA and a PhD and lists several similarities between the two programs: both are designed to train students in rigorous research abilities, core courses are the same for both programs, faculty members of both programs have extensive experience as researchers, both are 72-hours in length, and both require dissertations to be overseen by a professor and committee. As for the differences between the two programs, unlike a PhD, a DBA student is expected to be pursuing her degree while maintaining a career in an executive capacity, a DBA has considerably less residency requirements, and a DBA student cannot individually choose electives as he will use a cohort model. The other major difference between the PhD track and DBA at the university deals with the flexibility of the dissertation, "while the existing PhD program requires a traditional dissertation or collection of related publications, the Doctor of Business Administration allows candidates to pursue alternative project options that might not lead to journal publications—provided the candidate can convince his committee that the proposed projects are grounded in rigorous research."

Generally, a PhD student will immerse herself into the program as a full-time student for four to five years and focus much of her efforts on developing the researching abilities needed to get published in academic journals. A Doctorate in Business Administration is better suited for a working executive desiring to research business solutions that can be applied to real-world marketplace issues and would like a completion time closer to three years. The University of Dallas' Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business compares the two degrees by stating a DBA's "research is interdisciplinary and focuses on linking theory to current business problems, [focusing] on addressing contemporary business and management issues" while a PhD's "research is highly specialized, usually by a single, specific discipline. Less attention on connections to business practice."