How do I register a DBA title

DBA programs: When managers get their doctorate after work

Full-time, Oliver Hoffmann heads the Marketing and Product Management department at the RWE subsidiary Rheinenergie in Cologne. He also has a teaching position in the master’s course in Innovation and Information Management at the University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg - and he really enjoys it. “I would like to deepen that, maybe even with a professorship,” says the 36-year-old. But for that he first needs a doctorate. In doing so, Hoffmann opted for an unusual approach. He is doing a part-time DBA - a Doctor of Business Administration - at the British Bradford School of Management.

The degree is aimed at experienced managers and differs from the PhD that is usual in the Anglo-Saxon region primarily through its stronger practical orientation. "My doctorate should be strongly oriented towards management practice," says Hoffmann, who, after studying communication sciences and a few years of professional experience, has already completed an extra-occupational MBA at the HHL Leipzig School of Management.

"While a research question is mostly dealt with theoretically in the PhD, the DBA focuses on practical applicability and the data is often collected in-house," says Thomas Graf from the information portal DBA Compass.

Accordingly, the DBA students also differ significantly from the younger PhD students, who usually have little or no professional experience. You are significantly older, have many years of management experience and can afford an expensive DBA degree. Because the tuition fees are sometimes well over 50,000 euros, with the Bradford DBA it is 39,000 pounds (around 49,300 euros) for the four-year course. However, there is also a structured program with extensive and intensive support.

Boom in DBA programs

The part-time doctorate for managers is currently on the rise worldwide. This was the result of the recently published “Global DBA Study”, which examined 46 programs in 15 countries. After that, four out of five program managers see increasing demand. "There seems to be a real trend towards DBA programs," says Graf, who conducted the study. Most courses, for example, only emerged in the past ten years - more than half of them in Europe.

The DBA is hardly known in Germany and German universities do not offer it either. However, some - like ESB Reutlingen or the Fachhochschule des Mittelstands in Bielefeld - cooperate with British universities, which then award the DBA. The Bradford School of Management is the only British school to have its own DBA program in Bonn.

There are currently a total of 160 participants in the program. In June a new group started with 20 participants from 14 nations. The age range is between 31 and 68 years, the average age is 45 years. “Younger participants often do the DBA because of the title and the associated image,” observes Eva Niemann, director of the Bradford DBA program. Older people, on the other hand, are often concerned with dealing with a problem from their company using scientific methods.

"If you only want a doctorate, you are wrong with us"