FAQs and Resources

Executive DBA vs. PhD

The Executive DBA and PhD are fundamentally different degrees, and they are intended for different audiences. The Executive DBA is designed for professionals with extensive managerial experience who are looking to transform business practice, while the PhD in Business Administration is targeted towards those who want to pursue research-focused careers in academia.

The two programs also differ in terms of their research focus. Executive DBA students investigate applied research problems, such as how customers react to new pricing policy or the effectiveness of a company’s social media strategy. Often their dissertations address issues in their own organizations. PhD students tend to explore broader issues that are more theoretical in nature, such as how financial markets respond under certain conditions or how the characteristics of a project’s team members can affect their performance.

The table below compares the two programs:

The Executive DBA

The PhD in Business Administration

Program length and structure

3 years, part-time: Three on-site residencies per semester with an online component between residencies.

4-5 years, full-time: Immersion as a full-time student.


Senior managers who want to advance in their careers by learning to solve business problems through advanced critical reasoning.

Individuals who want to prepare themselves for a research career in an academic institution.

Post-graduation path

Graduates advance within their organizations to senior executive positions. Some graduates may also teach in a university setting.

Graduates will have careers in a university setting as full-time faculty members. Research and teaching will be their primary focus.

Previous work experience

At least 12 years of management experience, with at least 7 at the executive level.

Relevant work experience varies; preferred but not required.

Previous education

Should have an MBA or equivalent business-focused Master’s.

May have a graduate degree, but not required.

Curricular emphasis

General business focus, leveraging Fox strengths such as globalization, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Core skills in business research such as quantitative and qualitative research methods and the application of theory to new problems and issues.

Students specialize in an area of study, such as accounting, marketing, or management information systems. Focus on new theory development with a much heavier emphasis on a variety of research methodologies.

Degree Awarded

Doctor of Business Administration

Doctor of Philosopy in Business Administration


Choosing the Fox Doctorate in Business Administration

Powerful business solutions are driven by knowledge across industries. Fox DBA program recognizes the changing business environment and prepares executives to be leaders in the global marketplace.

What is the Fox Executive DBA?

Focused on experiential learning through cutting-edge applied research, Executive DBA is for experienced professionals, like you. Whether it is tackling everyday business problems or overcoming complex industry challenges, the program adds immense value to your career.

Mentorship at the Fox School

Powered by world-class faculty, engaged in the highest-quality academic research, Fox DBA prepares you for success like none other. The Fox DBA faculty will take you through a rigorous and prestigious curriculum and help you learn tools and techniques to gain a valuable understanding of both research concepts and practical implementations.

Cohort Collaboration

Arguably one of the biggest resources of the program, Fox DBA program connects you with experienced professionals across industries, enriching your learning experience. With new perspectives from different viewpoints, collaborating with accomplished peers allows you to approach everyday business problems with innovative solutions.


What is the Executive DBA?

The Executive DBA is a three-year, part-time doctoral program that prepares senior managers and executives to rigorously discover, describe, study, and solve the practical problems they face every day in their careers. The program gives participants the skills they need to break down complex issues and discover new knowledge through analytical reasoning and inquiry.

Who should consider the Executive DBA?

The Executive DBA is designed for working professionals in senior leadership positions in their organizations. Candidates should have at least 12 years of management experience, 7 of which should be at the senior management or executive level.

What level of previous education should I have?

Candidates should hold an MBA or relevant business-focused Master’s degree. Exceptional candidates with a Bachelor’s degree but with substantial managerial experience will also be considered.

How much does the program cost?

The three year cost of the program, which includes tuition, lodging,  and most meals is $124,200 for the Fall 2017 cohort. In addition, students are responsible for travel to and from the required on-campus residences as well as additional University fees. University fees are based on a variety of factors; for more information on the breakdown please visit: Bursar’s Website.

How much does it cost to apply?

The application fee is $100. The fee is non-refundable.

What do I need to include in my application?

You should include academic transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, admission essays and the $100 application fee. You may also submit GMAT or GRE test scores.

Is the GMAT or GRE required?

No, GMAT and/or GRE scores are not a required part of the Executive DBA application, but test scores can be sent at your own discretion.

Do I need to travel to Philadelphia to participate?

Yes. During the first two years, the program will be delivered through a series of six on-campus residencies per academic year that will take place over three day weekends. During these weekend residencies (Friday through Sunday), there will be face-to-face classroom instruction, seminars and networking events. In-between residencies there will be online class sessions and collaboration.

How long is the program?

The Executive DBA program is a three year, part-time program.

Can I complete the program at my own pace?

No. This is a three-year cohorted program.

Is the Fox School AACSB-accredited?

Yes, the Fox School is accredited by the American Association of Collegiate Schools of Business.

Do you accept applications from non-US citizens?

Yes, there are currently multiple non-US citizens enrolled in the program.

What degree will I be awarded?

Upon completion of the degree requirements you will be awarded a Doctor of Business Administration.

Is the Fox School part of the Executive DBA Council?

Yes, the Fox School is a member of the Executive DBA Council (EDBAC), which is a global council focused on DBA degree programs. Their mission is to foster excellence and innovation in executive doctoral degree programs worldwide.