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Doctorates in Business: How to Find The Best Program For You

The MBA has long been considered the standard for business professionals at the management or executive level. But as more and more leaders hold MBAs, they aren’t the differentiator they used to be. As business challenges grow more complex, technology rapidly advances and consumer behaviors change, a doctorate in business is an investment many business leaders are making to elevate their skills.

If you have C-suite aspirations, want to increase your salary, and gain research skills that can deliver a competitive advantage for your organization, a doctorate degree in business can help you achieve your goals.
But how do you find the right business doctorate program for you? First, you need to understand there are two major types of doctoral programs in business—academic, theoretical Ph.D. programs and professional, applied doctorate programs. And, to make it more complex, there are multiple degrees for business professionals within each category. That’s why we want to make your options clear.
Let’s explore in more detail so you can confidently make a decision on which doctorate in business program is right for you.

Should You Earn A Theoretical Doctorate or Professional Doctorate?

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The answer to this question really lies in your professional aspirations. In short, it boils down to a simple question: Do you want to spend your career teaching business leaders or leading businesses to grow?
Why Earn a Theoretical Doctorate In Business?
Theoretical doctorates are Ph.D.’s. If you want to spend your career as a business professor, or in a research capacity to support businesses, a Ph.D. in business is likely the best choice. Ph.D programs focus heavily on academic research.


Earning a doctorate is challenging and rewarding, but do you know what to really expect? Download this free guide for tips and insights to help you prepare for success.


Why Earn a Professional Doctorate In Business?
These are sometimes called an Applied Doctorate. This type of business doctorate focuses on applying research and business theory to solve real-world business challenges. If you want to spend your career leading a business, or consulting businesses, this is likely the direction for you.  
It should be noted that both programs are very research-intensive. After all, a doctorate is the highest level of educational achievement you can receive. The difference is the focus of that research.
“A doctorate is not like another master’s degree,” comments Dr. Tim Reymann, Program Chair, Doctor of Business Administration at Franklin University, “It requires even more reading, writing and research than any other degree you’ve earned. Make sure you do a significant amount of reflection on what you need to be successful. I tell students to look for a degree you’re passionate about, knowledgeable and engaged faculty and an institution that builds a support system for it’s doctoral students.”

Which Doctoral Degree Path Should You Choose?

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Here are many doctoral programs aimed at helping business leaders succeed. Here are three of the leading choices—and who is the ideal fit for each.
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
This is a professional doctorate designed to help leaders create transformational change through advanced research, analytical, and leadership skills.
“DBA degrees are geared toward working professionals who want to practically apply their degree,” says Dr. Reymann, “They usually work in the corporate sector and want to advance in management at their organization, or want to teach applied business theory at a university.”
Through earning a DBA, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of key business dynamics like global economics, government regulation, technological advancements and an increasingly dynamic workforce. With these research skills and new knowledge, you will be able to recognize business opportunities, generate innovative solutions, and confidently lead a team or organization, or pursue a role as a faculty member teaching these subjects.
Ph.D. in Business Administration

This is a theoretical degree designed to prepare individuals to provide unique research to the business field or teach within an academic setting.
“Most individuals looking to get a Ph.D. are looking for a faculty position at a tier-one or tier-two university where they can teach on a full-time basis and perform original research,” says Dr. Reymann.
Rapid advancement of technology and evolution of business environments presents many opportunities for the rigorous research that a Ph.D. in Business Administration can provide.
Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D)
An Ed.D. is an applied doctorate designed to prepare individuals for administration and management within the education field.
“Ed.D. programs apply management principles to the education field,” says Dr. Reymann. “These programs are a great fit for individuals who want to hold a management or leadership position in education—like principals, superintendents, and university administrators.”
Through earning an Ed.D., you’ll learn how to apply cutting-edge educational theories and apply them to the challenges within an educational system to create real change—whether improving schools or increasing access to educational opportunities.

5 Questions To Determine Which Doctoral Degree Is Right For You

Choosing the right type of degree is a highly personal and significantly important decision. It will have an impact on your education experience and your career opportunities. As you research degrees and institutions, make sure you are choosing the right degree to empower your future.
Here are five key questions to help you find the program that works best for you:

  • What is my desired career?
  • What type of research am I most interested in conducting?
  • What type of organization do I want to work for?
  • What value do I want to contribute to an organization or the world?
  • What’s my ideal type of work setting?

3 Key Questions To Ask When Deciding Where You’ll Earn Your Doctoral Degree

So, you’ve chosen a degree. Great! Earning that doctoral degree will be an intensive process. When choosing a doctoral business program, you should find a student-centered program that will offer you support through the entire process. Here’s what to ask to find a program that works best for you:
What type of educational experience am I looking for?

There are three instruction methods in doctoral programs: in-person, online and hybrid, which is a combination of in-person and online. When choosing the right one for you, flexibility is usually the determining factor. Most in-person programs are full-time, which limits your ability to keep your job while getting your degree. Online programs allow you to complete a degree on your schedule, so you don’t have to put your career on pause. Hybrid programs, on the other hand, may be right for professionals who choose an online program with a local campus.
What type of support will I need to be successful?

Some doctoral programs can feel like solitary experiences, especially if they’re completed online. But if you’re looking for high-levels of support, the right online program will deliver. From faculty advisors to personal librarians and collaborative learning experiences, a supportive program will put you in touch with the right people and resources at every step of your doctoral degree.
How much flexibility will I need to balance my personal, professional, and educational pursuits?

Make sure you choose a program that offers the right balance of flexibility and structured learning. You want flexibility in the number of courses you take, when you complete coursework and how you conduct research. Structure should come in how courses are taught and a step-by-step dissertation process that removes roadblocks and sets you up for success.
“At Franklin University, every doctoral student receives a faculty advisor,” comments Dr. Reymann. “They check in with students at least once a month to talk about their progress, answer questions, and help clear roadblocks. Even with an online program, we believe in being highly engaged and creating one-on-one relationships with students.”

Get Started On Your Doctoral Degree Path

Only 2% of professionals complete a doctoral degree, so pursuing a terminal degree is inherently challenging and extremely rewarding. Explore Franklin University's Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership (Ed.D.) to see how our flexible, student-centered programs can help you successfully achieve a doctoral business degree that gives you the skills you need to lead.

Free Guide:
How to Complete Your Doctoral Journey
Discover common pitfalls and the 5 key metrics that will help you finish your doctorate degree.