DBA – The doctoral degree for practitioners

The practice-oriented promotion

In Europe so far little known, but already on the rise worldwide: the part-time promotion for managers or the DBA (Doctor of Business Administration). He is often attached to the MBA (Master of Business Administration) and is often referred to as the culmination of management education – higher than the MBA, but much more hands-on than a traditional doctoral degree.

Doctor or MBA? Many German junior managers are increasingly asking themselves this question, even if an MBA has nothing in common with a doctorate. The MBA is a generalist management study and provides general theoretical and practical skills for leadership tasks. On the other hand, the DBA is about profiling in a specific subject area in the context of a more in-depth scientific examination of a particular issue, similar to a classical doctoral thesis.

The DBA degree differs from the usual PhD in Anglo-Saxon countries, but above all by its stronger practical orientation. DBA students are therefore usually older than PhD students and often have many years of management experience. So they can be called practitioners.

One has to be able to afford a DBA study course, the tuition fees are well over 50,000 euros, while the Bradford DBA earns 39,000 pounds (about 49,300 euros) for the four-year study. In addition to the financial resources, the students must also bring a degree of stamina, the drop-out rates are high (sometimes over 40%). In order to be admitted to a DBA program, one usually needs a master’s degree in economics and several years of management experience.

The DBA is still poorly known in Germany

In Germany, the DBA is so far little known and German universities do not offer it. However, some cooperate – such as the ESB Reutlingen or the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands in Bielefeld – with British universities, which then confer the DBA title. As the only British school, the Bradford School of Management is represented in Bonn with its DBA program.

It was only in 2016 that the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs (KMK) decided that the degree “Doctor of Business Administration” should be equated with the full doctoral degree. The recognition platform Anabin therefore assigns the completion of the equivalence class D1, which corresponds to the regular doctoral degree. The title can either be in the original abbreviation “DBA” or in the form “Dr.”.

The admission requirements are specified in the doctoral regulations of the universities. This gender equality has been controversial for a long time, since for a DBA no comparable research must be realized. It is therefore also undisputed that the contents of the DBA study are less theory-oriented than in a regular doctorate, but this higher management-related practical orientation is also sought, but less an academic career at a university.

While the Anglo-Saxon PhD requires specialization in a narrow discipline, the DBA is more likely to aim for generalist and cross-divisional management training. The DBA represents the academic degree in the Anglo-Saxon university executive development. A very good master’s degree (Master of Business Administration, MBA, or Master of Science, MSc), multi-year management practice and own economic publications are considered prerequisites for the DBA.

In the first 12-18 months of the DBA, the future DBA graduates are (again) learning to work scientifically, because for many, university time has often been a long time ago. Therefore, the teaching of scientific methodological work (analysis and evaluation of scientific work, quantitative and qualitative research and methodology) is on the program to make the students “artisanal” fit.

Which topics are suitable for the Doctor of Business Administration?

The topic for the DBA thesis, that is, the doctoral thesis, will be defined during the course of study. This should be closely related to one’s own management practice and at the same time scientifically relevant. In this respect, DBA programs are also research-oriented. Similar to an MBA, topics often refer to corporate governance, organizational development, management practice, and putting theory into practice.

While for many DBA students, the smaller written work such as exams, project work, etc. can often be handled without major problems, the DBA work is sometimes a real hurdle to write an extensive consistent scientific text along a focused problem and methodology and method It is undoubtedly a challenge to pursue this consistently over a long, often years-long period.

It is not always easy to combine work and study. The support from the employer should be given anyway, e.g. in the form of a reduced working time.

To successfully overcome this challenge, we offer our help in the form of ghostwriting or coaching, with pinpoint accuracy, discretion and needs. Ask us.

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