Week 3 – AssignmentBUS7102

Differentiation of Ph.D. vs. Applied Degree

One of the biggest questions to answer when pursuing a doctoral degree is choosing the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or Doctor of Philosophy in business (PhD). While the degrees share several similarities, their approach and goal are fundamentally different.

Both degrees utilize a set of business courses that often overlap in several topics. Both utilize in-depth research. Both require a substantial write-up of the research in the form of a dissertation.

The PhD is a theoretical approach that seeks to fill gaps in knowledge. This is often the degree of choice for an educator. This type of research is theoretical in nature focusing on theory versus application. Common goals for the PhD dissertation focus on filling gaps in the literature, creating new theories, and advancing the field. A PhD professional might look through the literature and realize that current age-related theories of Generation X, Baby Boomers, etc., ignore millennials. They may perform research that addresses this missing information in the literature with the goal of understanding the group better. While the information might be of use to business, the goal is information instead of the application.

The DBA is a professional degree that seeks to identify practical problems in business and solve them. The DBA is a powerful degree for business professionals as it focuses specifically on diagnosing and fixing complex business problems. This is often the degree of choice for business professionals. DBA research will use theory or a conceptual framework to view the problem of interest. The research will be performed with the goal of solving the business problem. A DBA might look to address a problem a business has in retaining millennials in the workforce with the goal of providing actionable information to eliminate the problem.

A common confusion is that the PhD is a teaching degree and the DBA is a working degree. The truth is that both are teaching and working degrees. Typically, the DBA will teach DBA courses and the PhD will teach PhD courses, although either can teach most courses. In the workforce, the choice depends on the goal of the position.

Ultimately, it is not uncommon to see overlap between the two (e.g., a PhD solving a problem, a DBA creating theory which has led to some confusion as to the difference between the two). For the purpose of your doctoral program, you are required to choose an applied business problem for your DBA. You will discuss this in depth in a later week.

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Be sure to review this week’s resources carefully.  You are expected to apply the information from these resources when you prepare your assignments.

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