What Is the Difference Between an MBA and a DBA?

Your career in accounting starts with earning a college degree. While a bachelor’s degree or a fifth year of undergraduate study may be sufficient for you to accomplish your short-term goals of finding an entry-level accounting position or becoming a Certified Public Accountant (CPA), you may be looking even farther into the future. Your plans for advancement may include an advanced degree, but before you plan out your academic path, you should decide what degree program will best help you achieve your goals. Graduate work in business administration with a concentration in accounting is a popular choice, but you may wonder whether a master’s degree or doctoral degree makes more sense for the career objectives you want to accomplish.

Master of Business Administration

A Master of Business Administration, or MBA, degree is a master’s-level business degree. MBA degree programs aren’t directly focused on accounting. Rather, they provide graduate-level training in a variety of business disciplines, such as finance, human resources, operations management and marketing. Students with an accounting background or an interest in pursuing accounting in the future may have the opportunity to concentrate in accounting. MBA programs focus on preparing students for the application of business principles and strategy rather than learning simply theoretical or academic concepts of business.

In recent years, MBA degrees have become more common and, as a result, are no longer considered as prized by potential employers as they once were, according to U.S. News & World Report. As a result, students are increasingly considering doctoral-level degrees to regain a competitive edge.

Doctor of Business Administration

A doctoral degree program, like the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and the Ph.D. in Accounting, is the highest level of study in accounting . Traditionally, both DBA and Ph.D. degrees have been research-focused, with more emphasis on the concepts of business administration and accounting than on practical applications of those concepts. The point of these programs has historically been to prepare academic researchers and educators at the college level rather than actual business leaders or accountants.

Some DBA programs are altering this research and academic basis, according to U.S. News & World Report. However, experts still caution students to think about their personal career goals and investigate the curricula of DBA programs if they are looking to practice business administration rather than teach or research it. Some employers may view DBA graduates as hands-off academics rather than business and accounting team leaders and be less inclined to offer them a desired position or salary.

Both MBA and DBA programs require a major commitment of time, work and tuition expense, but whether that investment will be worthwhile depends on your career goals. Among the most striking differences between the MBA and the DBA is the emphasis of the degree programs. MBA curricula are largely practical. DBA curricula are research-based. There is no single answer as to which degree program is “best,” only which program best fits an individual student’s needs.

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