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 Ph.D 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.
Profile 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