Should You Study an MBA or DBA?

Both the MBA and the DBA can provide enormous value to entrepreneurs, but there is a great deal of confusion as to what the exact differences between these two degree options are. Below we have covered the basics of each degree, what connects them, and what separates them.

What Are the Differences?

Both the MBA and the DBA can be very valuable degrees for an entrepreneur to hold. However, while there is quite a lot of overlap between the two, they are also very different degrees and are best suited to different students and long-term goals. Despite what some people seem to think, neither the DBA or the MBA is inherently better or more valuable than the other. The true value of each degree will depend entirely upon what the graduate intends to do with it. 


  • MBA: The Masters of Business Administration is designed to prepare students for working as business leaders and owners. Over the course of their studies, students will learn a variety of skills that are useful or essential to running a business. These aren’t all managerial skills; for example, MBA students will also learn about how to keep accounts for smaller businesses and oversee the work of other departments such as marketing and human resources. 
  • DBA: While the MBA course is largely focused on preparing students for the practical demands of leading a business, the DBA degree is instead focused on giving them the skills they need to devise and undertake research that enables them to better understand individual businesses and markets. DBA students will still learn many of the same lessons as MBA students, but they will focus much more on creating new knowledge in their field, rather than just applying existing knowledge. 


Who is Each Degree for?

Whether you should pursue an MBA or a DBA will depend entirely on your individual circumstances and goals – no one else can tell you which is the right degree for you. As long as you know what you want to do in the long-term, choosing between studying a DBA and MBA should be relatively straightforward. There is a lot of overlap between the two degrees, and regardless of whether you pursue an MBA or a DBA, you will receive a well-rounded grounding in concepts that are important to managing and leading a business.


  • Refine your management skills: For entrepreneurs who are hoping to one day run their own business, studying for an MBA can be an incredibly worthwhile process. In order to enrol on most MBA courses, you will need to already be working in a managerial role, or have experience in doing so. If you want to go from working as a manager within someone else’s business to running and operating your own enterprise, the MBA is one of the best courses out there. Students will have ample opportunities to build upon the skills and knowledge that they have already acquired from experience working as a manager. 
  • Networking opportunities: Networking is an important part of being an entrepreneur. Your business network will be comprised of the people and organisations that you have come across in your professional work. You never know when someone you meet might be able to help you in the future, so maintaining a healthy network can ultimately be the difference between success and failure for a business.


  • Distinguish yourself: A DBA will mark candidates out from other applicants – notably those who hold MBA degrees. Just as the MBA is considered to be a clear indicator that graduates are competent business managers, the DBA is a solid indicator that candidates understand important business and research principles.
  • Learn how to conduct research: The DBA degree is largely focused on equipping students with the skills and understanding that they need to undertake valuable business-related research and implement the lessons they are able to learn from it. These are valuable skills that the MBA course is not so well suited to providing.

Choosing Between Them

Neither the MBA nor the DBA is inherently better than the other; the best one for any given individual will depend entirely upon their current circumstances and their hopes for the future. However, as a crude and rough guide – if you want to learn mostly practical business management skills, you should go for the MBA. On the other hand, if you want to gain a better understanding of the theory that underpins those practical lessons, the DBA is the way to go. You can opt to study either course online if you prefer, and this is a great choice for anyone who wants the option of completing their studies on a part-time basis. For example, Aston University Online offers a part-time DBA course through Aston University Online.

Both the MBA and DBA can provide enormous value to graduates, enabling them to enhance their earning potential as well as their abilities. If you want to better understand the day to day practicalities of running a business, then the MBA is a good choice. However, for those who want a deeper understanding of the theory that underpins those lessons, the DBA is a better option.

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