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The Doctor of Business Administration (abbreviated DBA, D.B.A., DrBA, or Dr.B.A.) is a research doctorate awarded on the basis of advanced study and research in the field of business administration. Along with research skills the doctorate focuses on business intelligence and original theoretical study. The D.B.A. is a terminal degree in business administration, and is equivalent to the Ph.D in Business Administration. Along with the Ph.D, it represents the highest academic qualification in business administration. Successful completion of a D.B.A. or Ph.D in Business Administration is required to gain employment as a full-time, tenure-track university professor or postdoctoral researcher in the field. As with other earned research doctorates, individuals with the degree are awarded the academic title doctor, which is often represented via the English honorific "Dr." or the post-nominal letters "D.B.A.", "DBA", "Dr.B.A.", or "DrBA".
D.B.A. candidates submit a significant project, typically referred to as a thesis or dissertation, consisting of a body of original academic research that is in principle worthy of publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Candidates must defend this work before a panel of expert examiners called a thesis, dissertation, or doctoral committee.
Doctor of Business Administration programs have a dual purpose: contribute to business theory and further develop the professional practice (e.g. contribute to professional knowledge in business). Universities generally require candidates to have significant experience in business, particularly in roles with leadership or other strategic responsibilities. D.B.A. candidates specialize in areas such as management science, information technology management, organizational behaviour, economics, finance and the like. As with other doctorate programs, curricula may be offered on a full-time or part-time basis. According to the European higher education standards set by the Bologna Process, the normal duration of doctorate programs like the D.B.A. and Ph.D is 4 years of full-time study.
The responsibility for the structure of doctoral programs resides within the graduate research committees or their equivalent within the university. As such, D.B.A programs have a specific set of university regulations and are subject to quality approval processes. Regulations include references to protocols for treating ethical issues in research. These regulations are widely used in Australian Universities. For instance, a D.B.A student cannot embark on the research phase before passing all his or her coursework. Furthermore, upon passing the proposal stage, he or she must clear ethics-related issues with an Ethics Committee. The D.B.A candidate must go through numerous internal moderations of the dissertation before submitting to external examinations (usually at least two). Successful candidates usually revise their dissertations numerous times before final approval is granted from the doctoral committee.
The Doctor of Business Administration and the Ph.D in Business Administration are equivalent degrees. Both doctorates are research doctorates representing the highest academic qualification in business in the United States. As such, both D.B.A. and Ph.D programs require students to develop original research leading to a dissertation defense. Furthermore, both doctorates enable holders to become faculty members at academic institutions. The D.B.A. and Ph.D in Business Administration are terminal degrees, allowing the recipient to obtain a tenure-track position.
In some cases, as in that of Harvard University, the distinction is solely administrative (Harvard Business School is not authorized to issue Ph.Ds; only the Faculty of Arts and Sciences may do so). In other cases,the distinction is one of orientation and intended outcomes. The Ph.D is highly focused on developing theoretical knowledge, while the D.B.A. emphasizes applied research. Upon completion, graduates of Ph.D programs generally migrate to full-time faculty positions in academia, while those of D.B.A. programs re-emerge in industry as applied researchers or executives. If working full-time in industry, graduates of D.B.A. and Ph.D programs often become adjunct professors in top undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
D.B.A. programs are offered worldwide. The majority, however, are offered in Europe (42 percent), followed by North America (28 percent) and the Asia-Pacific region (22 percent). 6 percent of the programs are offered in Africa and 2 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean.