A doctorate in business equips a graduate to understand complex business issues and theories. This type of degree promotes critical thinking and innovation that shapes the economic and business landscape in the United States and internationally.


A doctorate in business prepares graduates for scholarly research or academic teaching careers. Coursework centers on developing or exploring theories in economics, management and other business-related areas.


DBA or, doctorate of business administration, focuses on applying new business theory in the current business environment. DBA graduates are prepared to work in managerial settings as well as academic or government careers.

PhD or, doctorate of philosophy in business, focuses on developing new theories in the business environment through specialized research. PhD graduates traditionally lead careers as senior research analysts in private or government sectors.

PhD and DBA distinctions are considered equivalent and both require an intense schedule of coursework, written work and teaching and research background.

Time Frame

Doctorate of business degrees require four years of full-time study and an average of 90 to 120 semester credits, which translates to approximately 30 to 40 courses. If a student has a master's degree, the time frame can be about three years if the doctorate is in the same area of study as the master's degree.

Depending on the college or university, requirements may differ as to basic courses required to enter a doctorate of business program. Most institutions require a written and oral dissertation be completed as the final steps in receiving a doctorate.


Areas of study within a doctoral of business administration program can include emphasis on accounting, organizational behavior, operations management, economics, marketing and finance.

A sample of a common curriculum required for a DBA is listed below. This overview is featured on the Washington University's Olin School of Business doctoral program website:

Core foundation • A strong foundation in microeconomics, probability and statistics, and quantitative methods. • Exposure to an area of specialization and the required research tools. • Successful completion of the core exam. Specialization • Coursework in one or more areas of study. • In-depth knowledge in chosen field. • Active association with the research process through faculty mentoring. • Completion of the field exam. Research • Participation with faculty in research activities. • Research paper presentation. • Individual research pursuing a specialized topic of interest. • Preparation and defense of a dissertation.


Doctorate degrees are the highest level of education obtainable but not necessary for most positions or for advancement in a career. Certain fields within the government or positions that are governed by state licensing may require a doctorate. Tenured faculty status at most colleges and university require a doctorate degree.

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