Those seeking a terminal degree in business administration have two potential choices. They can pursue the D.B.A., or doctorate in business administration, or a business administration PhD. The degrees are similar, but the former is more suited to those who wish to work as business administrators, while the D.B.A. is a better choice for those interested in careers in academia. It’s important that students identify if one of the degrees is better than the other based on their specific career goals.
The first steps on this path include decision-making about the type of doctorate, but should also encompass some significant review of appropriate schools. In many regions, accreditation or membership in certain organizations is of great importance to a student’s later career. For example, in the US, students are advised to seek schools that are part of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB). Many employers look most for students to have attended an AACSB school, and the association’s website does have a searchable index, so that students interested in the business administration PhD can create a list of the most appropriate schools.
Each D.B.A. or business administration PhD program may have its own requirements for admission. Many colleges only admit students who have already completed a master’s degree in a closely related business field. Moreover, many universities look with favor on those candidates who have work experience. Schools often ask for two or three letters of recommendation accompanying an application, and students who provide both professional and academic references have stronger applications.
Other requirements for admission to a business administration PhD school or a D.B.A. program typically concern proof of successful scholarship in the past through high grades. Each college sets the bar at a particular level, and minimum grade point average (GPA) in most schools is a 3.0. It’s higher in schools that have competitive programs, or the minimum set may be well below the GPA of the average applicant. Identifying program requirements and how those match with individual skills is the best way of determining a student's odds of being accepted into a program. Applying to three or four schools further increases their chances of being admitted to at least one program.
After a student has gained admission to a D.B.A. or business administration PhD program, he can expect steady study and work for about four to six years. Students first complete two to three years of coursework, often combining this with requirements to work as teachers or teaching assistants. Many schools give a comprehensive examination after the second or third year, which students must pass before they can begin work on a dissertation. This last requirement involves significant writing and extensive original research.
A faculty committee approves the dissertation after it is presented and defended by the student. Sometimes, students do not get approval the first time and must rework parts of it before resubmitting. Once the committee accepts this scholarly work, students earn their D.B.A. or business administration PhD.