Program Information

DBA Programs vs. PhD Programs

DBA vs. PhD DBA vs. PhD Video (10 min.)

Paper on Business Professional Doctorates

Typically, business PhD programs are focused on students who seek to become full time (tenure earning) academics. The best of these programs are full-time, take four or five years, and are focused on building the research skills necessary for publication in journals. DBA and other executive doctoral programs are generally designed for working professionals, take about three years to complete and are designed to help working professionals acquire research skills that can be applied directly to business.

Similarities to our PhD program

The USF Doctor of Business Administration was designed as a variation on our existing academic PhD program. As such, it builds upon the common core of these programs, including:

  • Research Emphasis: A focus on building and demonstrating rigorous research skills
  • Core Requirements: Requiring the same core of research methods courses that constitute the common thread of all our PhD concentrations
  • Faculty: Faculty members who are all active researchers themselves
  • Credit Hours: Credit hour requirements consistent with USF standards for doctoral programs (72 credit hours)
  • Dissertation: The student's dissertation activities (see below) are supervised by the same type of major professor and four-person committee, just like existing PhD candidates.

Differences from our PhD program

To meet the needs of students, all practicing executives, the USF Doctor of Business Administration program also differs from  existing academic PhD programs in some important ways:

  • Outside Employment Policy: Unlike a PhD program, which limits outside activities of students, the Doctor of Business Administration generally expects students to pursue the degree while working in an executive capacity
  • Distance Learning: The Doctor of Business Administration reduces residency time requirements by making extensive use of distance learning capabilities, with participating faculty receiving specialized training in the use of these tools
  • Cohort Based: The Doctor of Business Administration is pursued as a cohort, so students cannot individually choose electives. As an alternative, the cohort as a whole is given considerable voice in selecting those course topics to be covered in the final year of the program.
  • Interdisciplinary Focus: Whereas the existing PhD program requires students to choose a disciplinary concentration—such as marketing, finance, accounting or MIS—the Doctor of Business Administration is effectively a concentration built around interdisciplinary offerings such as business analytics, business strategy, and creativity and innovation.
  • Flexibility in Dissertation Form: While the existing PhD program requires a traditional dissertation or collection of related publications, the Doctor of Business Administration allows candidates to pursue alternative project options that might not lead to journal publications—provided the candidate can convince his committee that the proposed projects are grounded in rigorous research.