What’s the difference between a PhD and a doctorate?


Global DBA

25 Aug 2022


In this post, we’ll explore the definitions, differences and similarities of PhDs and doctorates, as well as what a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) entails. 

After completing a master’s degree and spending time building a career, many professionals consider continuing their education and pursuing a higher level of academic achievement.

Two of the most common options are a PhD or a doctorate, but what is the difference between the two?

Defining a PhD and a doctorate 

A PhD, or Doctor of Philosophy, is a specific type of doctorate degree that focuses on research in a particular field. It is highly theoretical and involves extensive research to generate new knowledge.

On the other hand, a doctorate degree is an umbrella term for any doctoral-level degree. It can be further categorised into two types: academic and professional.

Academic doctorates, such as a PhD, are focused on research, while professional doctorates, like the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), focus on practical application in professional settings. 

Want to know more about the benefits of a DBA? Explore our guide:

Show me DBA benefits 

Differences between a PhD and a doctorate 

While both a PhD and a doctorate are doctoral-level degrees, there are some key differences between the two. One of the main differences is that a PhD is typically an academic degree, while a doctorate can be either academic or professional. Additionally, a PhD is highly theoretical and research-focused, while a professional doctorate is practical and geared toward applying research to specific professional settings. 

Similarities between a PhD and a doctorate 

Despite their differences, there are also some similarities between a PhD and a doctorate. Both degrees require significant research, critical thinking, and independent study. They are both highly respected and recognised as top-level degrees in their respective fields, and both confer the title of “Doctor” upon completion. 

Weighing up your options? Read our guide to the benefits and drawbacks:

PhDs and doctorates: Pros and cons 

Examples of professional doctorates 

Examples of professional doctorates include the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA), Doctorate of Education (EdD), Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP), and Doctorate of Psychology (PsyD), among others. These degrees are typically designed for individuals who want to apply research to specific professional settings. 

What is a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA)? 

A DBA is a professional doctorate degree that is focused on applying research to real-world business problems. It is typically designed for individuals who are in senior-level or executive positions in private or public sector organisations. A DBA is often seen as a practical alternative to a PhD in business, as it allows professionals to apply research directly to their work. 

Benefits of pursuing a Global DBA 

Portsmouth Online offers a Global DBA that is online and part-time, making it accessible from anywhere in the world. This course is specifically designed for senior-level professionals who want to become more qualified in the field of business.

The structured modules will help you develop your ability to challenge current thinking and provide authoritative solutions to practical and research problems. Additionally, the applied research in the DBA thesis will allow you to conduct research on a topic that is directly relevant to your organisation. 

Choosing between a PhD and a doctorate 

Choosing between a PhD and a doctorate depends on your goals and aspirations. If you are interested in academic research and generating new knowledge, a PhD may be the right path for you.

However, if you want to apply research to specific professional settings, a professional doctorate like a DBA may be a better fit. Ultimately, it is important to choose the degree that aligns with your career goals and interests. 

Get more guidance on whether a PhD or a doctorate is right for you:

PhD or doctorate: How to choose 

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