I Have My MBA. Is an Online DBA Next?

I Have My MBA. Is an Online DBA Next?
I Have My MBA. Is an Online DBA Next?

I Have My MBA. Is an Online DBA Next?

What’s the natural next step after successfully completing a Master of Business Administration (MBA)? Many MBA graduates immediately enter the workforce and begin applying their skills in relevant jobs, such as:

  • consultants
  • marketing managers
  • business development managers

However, some graduates wish to further their education to land lucrative leadership roles and prepare for C-suite positions. These aspiring leaders are well suited to complete their Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and build advanced knowledge in their field.

Read on to learn more about the core difference between an MBA and a DBA, salary expectations for online DBA graduates, job opportunities and more.

What’s the Difference Between an MBA and a DBA?

What’s the Difference Between an MBA and a DBA?

The MBA programme offers students basic business administration skills through lectures, case studies and group projects. Courses teach analytical, functional and ethical skills.

In every MBA programme, students acquire a combination of soft skills and hard skills. The soft skills include:

  • leadership training
  • negotiation
  • networking
  • basic business communication

The hard skills include more hands-on knowledge such as:

  • building spreadsheets
  • quantitative analysis
  • financial management
  • corporate governance

A student seeking a DBA enters the programme with all the soft and hard skills from their MBA. The DBA is geared toward professionals interested in advancing in their field and becoming more specialised.

A DBA is the best next step for students seeking to do the following:

1. Land a lucrative leadership role

Unlike MBA students, online DBA students are already professionals in their field, seeking tools to step into senior leadership positions after their graduation. They aspire to become influential leaders in their industry.

Online DBA graduates should have the skills to seek positions that allow them to:

  • make strategic business decisions
  • be mindful of corporate social responsibility
  • exercise authority to make real change within an organisation

Many online DBA graduates already occupy senior leadership roles but have a desire to enhance their specialisation through intensive research projects and by learning the latest trends in business administration.

2. Earn professional distinction

The online DBA degree is globally recognised and gives professionals an added advantage when competing for C-suite positions: 85% of surveyed professional doctorate graduates stated their degree facilitated a promotion or career change (source).

Senior professionals who already occupy C-suite positions can earn their online DBA to refresh their knowledge in their field and learn about contemporary business strategies, modern tools and cutting-edge research. This new knowledge can provide inspiration for innovative ways to improve their businesses and manage their employees.

3. Conduct an actionable research project

Research is at the core of the DBA programme. The online DBA is an independent research experience that translates theory into practice. The majority of the programme focuses on applied, research-based learning.

For example, Aston’s executive online DBA offers the following courses:

  • Applied Research Methods
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods
  • Professional Development and Research Impact
  • Final Research Proposal and Qualifying Report

The online DBA coursework is reflective of the research-based approach of the overall programme. DBA graduates gain more experience interpreting data and combing through information to develop valuable business insights.

The final research proposal is designed to be actionable, meaning professional students can research a relevant issue at their current place of work and apply changes in real-time.

What’s the Difference Between a PhD and a DBA?

What’s the Difference Between a PhD and a DBA?

Doctoral business degrees and PhDs both offer students advanced knowledge and professional distinction in their fields, but they are fundamentally different pursuits.

Both DBA and PhD programmes require each student to hold undergraduate and master’s degrees. However, a PhD degree is heavily focussed on academia, whereas a DBA or online DBA is specifically built for working professionals and future executives.

The DBA offers hands-on skills that allow professionals to translate what they’ve learned into the workplace. DBA graduates can use their applied research projects to inform the operations and decision-making within their existing business.

Business professionals completing their online DBA are often full-time employees and require flexibility and convenience. This is why so many students take their DBA online. An online DBA programme is an efficient path to increasing one’s knowledge, salary and job opportunities.

The average PhD candidate can take approximately 5.8 years to complete their work and degree, whereas a DBA student may take as few as four years (source).

What Jobs Can Online DBA Graduates Land?

Most online DBA graduates are working professionals, and as a result, they are able to use their newfound credentials to expedite promotional opportunities within their current companies and increase their salaries.

Some DBA holders go on to become academic professors, while others occupy C-suite positions as CEOs and COOs, using their newly gained abilities to solve complex business problems. The following are some of the top careers for DBA graduates:

  • Entrepreneur
  • C-suite jobs (CEO, COO)
  • Business consultant
  • Economist
  • Logistics manager
  • Professor
  • Director of HR
  • Civil servant
What Salaries Should DBA Graduates Expect?

What Salaries Should DBA Graduates Expect?

Students that complete their DBA degree may be more likely to move into higher-level roles, and with those roles come better salaries. These are the average base salaries for the top careers for online DBA graduates:


Salary range: £29k to £125k (source)
Average salary: £61k (source)

Chief Executive Officer (CEO)

Salary range: £67,135 to £100,326 (source)
Average salary: £86,862 (source)

Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Salary range: £67,298 to £99,016 (source)
Average salary: £83,863 (source)

Business Consultant

Salary range: £35,604 to £52,801 (source)
Average salary: £38,929 (source)

Corporate Economist

Salary range: £33,354 to £53,513 (source)
Average salary: £36,955 (source)

Logistics Manager

Salary range: £29,551 to £37,649 (source)
Average salary: £32,488 (source)


Salary range: £60,823 to £69,466 (source)
Average salary: £67,155 (source)

Director of HR

Salary range: £59,847 to £76,270 (source)
Average salary: £70,035 (source)

Civil Servant

Salary range: £22k to £66k (source)
Average salary: £30k (source)

Does an Online DBA Have a Good ROI?

Completing a doctorate degree requires an investment of time and money. How can DBA students know if they can expect a good return on their investment of education?

It’s easier than ever to complete a DBA without compromising an existing career and reap all the benefits. The online DBA is now offered as a part-time distance learning course that can be completed in 4-6 years.

This means that professionals who pursue an online DBA are able to work full time, earn annual salaries and balance their educations with the flexibility and convenience that distance learning provides.

In addition to earning high salaries, 79% of doctoral graduates report finding a strong sense of meaning in their work (source). DBA graduates are able to complete their degrees on their own terms and walk away with a steady return of potential benefits, including:

  • stronger career outlook with more options
  • increased salary
  • internal promotion
  • professional distinction
  • development as a professional researcher
  • ability to positively impact employees and organisation
How Do DBA Graduates Impact an Organisation and the World?

How Do DBA Graduates Impact an Organisation and the World?

The world needs more socially responsible leaders who are able to approach complex business issues with holistic and integrated problem-solving methods.

Effective leaders are more than their sum of hard skills. The world needs leaders with self-awareness, personal integrity, empathy and the desire to contribute to a larger community.

A DBA degree goes beyond foundational skill-building and teaches the world’s future leaders to make responsible business decisions.

Today’s world is full of uncertainty, and leaders must be able to anticipate change and steer their organisation toward sustainable practices that foster growth long-term.

If you’re interested in furthering your education, earning professional distinction and making a tangible impact on your organisation, learn more about how you can complete the Aston Online DBA.