The DBA (Doctor of Business Administration) is the highest level of business degree possible in the current educational system. It is different from the MBA in many ways.
In terms of content, the MBA is a general management degree with a strong practical approach. In an MBA program, you build up your knowledge through books, case studies, lectures, or interaction with professors, classmates or businesses. In contrast, the DBA is a research program where you read academic journals. The aim is not for you to solve managerial problems but to become a researcher who publishes in academic journals. You learn methodological tools to generate knowledge as an academic, and read about the theories behind what is taught in the MBA. After the DBA you become a researcher.
People who choose to do an MBA are business professionals who want to develop their career in business. They may be looking to increase their career options, qualify for a leadership position, get more managerial knowledge following a promotion or build a network for developing their own business. They are younger and have less work experience than professional business doctorate students. Executive MBAs are closer in age and work experience than typical DBA students but their career goals are very different.
DBA students already have a successful business career and may have done an MBA. The DBA is not a career booster for them. They are looking to broaden their knowledge, become qualified researchers and be able to move between the business and the academic world.
The MBA and DBA answer different needs. By obtaining a DBA, professionals learn how to do research whereas in the MBA they learn to become better managers.
Far fewer people compete for the DBA as it targets senior executives and demands four years of part-time study.
In terms of tuition fees, the DBA is much cheaper. The Executive MBAs from the most renowned institutions (like INSEAD) cost EUR 100,000 and more. In comparison, a doctorate in business administration for professionals at a renowned institution takes about EUR 67,000 (Cranfield School of Management).
Only schools that have an AMBA accredited MBA are eligible for DBA accreditation. Currently only nine schools offer AMBA accredited DBA programs.