3 Key Differences Between an MBA and a DBA

Business meeting

The Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) appear very similar at first glance, but they are actually different degrees that aim at different things. Understanding the differences between an MBA and a DAB helps people decide the distance and directions they are willing to travel in their academic and professional lives.

Key Differences

1. Purpose

The differences between the MBA and DBA start with the goals and foundations of each degree. Graduates of an MBA program will gain a working knowledge of business. The MBA at GCU’s Colangelo College of Business offers enhanced skills in transformational leadership, effective communication, ethical decision-making, critical thinking and productive networking.

The DBA from GCU’s College of Doctoral Studies focuses on enhancing these skills, but Doctorate programs are research degrees and graduated come out with a thorough knowledge of the theories and frameworks that govern the business world.

Learners are researchers, interacting with the academic material students in an MBA program read for practical application. The DBA gives learners the opportunity to innovate in their industry by navigating between the academic and professional world.

2. Careers

The careers that an MBA and DBA graduates qualify for are widely different, though degree holders from both have important roles in the same industries. The following lists reveal these differences.

1. Job Opportunities With an MBA

  • Director of Marketing
  • Vice President of Operations
  • Director of Operations
  • Client Executive

2. Job Opportunities With a DBA

  • Chief Executive Officer
  • Chief Innovation Officer
  • Chief Digital Officer
  • Senior Management Consultant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Operations Leadership

Specific opportunities will vary based on degree. Different emphases offered in each degree will develop different areas of expertise. It is clear that DBA graduates have broad opportunities in c-level organization leadership roles like the Chief Innovation Officer (CIO). Other learners in a DBA program lean toward the academic focus of their degree, and this can lead to administrative careers in research and education.

Graduates of an MBA will be qualified for high-level careers, but opportunities are less varied. MBA graduates working in companies with high upward mobility could potentially fill in some of the same roles a DBA graduate could, but DBA graduates are specifically trained for high-level leadership.

3. Experience

The amount of experience varies between the type of degree and the opportunities that individual learners pursue. Because many DBA graduates already have an MBA, it follows that most MBA graduates are younger and with limited professional experience.

DBA graduates are typically well established in their industry and desire to broaden their knowledge and innovate or lead change. The different range of experience helps reveal the focus of each degree. MBA learners are unfamiliar with the content that DBA learners are interact with closely.

MBA graduates will find themselves qualified to launch into a career as a business administrator, but those who want to expand their expertise will find great opportunities as a Doctor in Business Administration.

Are you interested in gaining the skills required to become an industry leader? At Grand Canyon University, the College of Doctoral Studies offers DBAs in data analytics, management and marketing. To learn more about these and other programs, visit our website or click on the Request More Information button on this page.

Written by Samuel Sprague, a public policy major at Grand Canyon University.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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