It is a common perception that those who earn a college degree in a discipline that leads to a clear career path are often more successful than those who earn their degree in an area of study simply because they are passionate about the subject. It is not hard to find evidence of some truth in this perception: lawyers become lawyers, doctors become doctors, egyptologists become museum curators or researchers, etc. There is nothing wrong with pursuing an education out of passion; however, it just may not pay very well over the long term or open the multitude of doors we may envision. Moreover, as higher education evolves to meet the needs of society, degrees, career paths, and open doors come and go.
The Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) degree is a relative newcomer in higher education. As expected from a newcomer, the quality and focus of these degree programs vary from literally buying a diploma to studying for an MBA program on steroids to a rigorous, research-intensive terminal degree program. Assuming you are pursuing the DBA degree to provide a clear advancement path and an increase in open doors of opportunity and choosing a research-focused program from a top-quality institution of higher learning, the question that presents itself is, "Where do I go now?"
The beauty of a high-quality Doctorate in Business Administration degree is that it does not limit the graduate to a monolithic career path. The versatility of the DBA degree opens that multitude of doors that we all hope for in life.
Nevertheless, first, we need to understand why.
Unlike a PhD graduate who is trained to conduct theoretical research in a specific discipline, the DBA graduate is an expert in their chosen professional field and an expert in conducting interdisciplinary research into complex business problems. In other words, an expert who can bring expertise to just about any business domain imaginable. DBA graduates are trained to be practitioner-scholars who bring evidence-based decision-making to complex business problem areas.
So, back to the question. Where do I go from here?
One clear career path for a DBA graduate is the C-suite in their field of expertise. An MBA may be a good start in this direction, but a DBA provides the rigorous preparation necessary to be a successful corporate executive. Most professional organizations are jam-packed with MBAs suggesting more than a bit of market saturation. Earning an MBA is still beneficial to a career, but the bar to cross for the C-suite professional has been significantly raised in the last several years. The DBA graduate has demonstrated a commitment to going the distance to prepare for the big chair. Setting oneself apart from the masses is the generally best way to be noticed.
Given the vast increase in the need for data and, more importantly, the need to analyze and learn from that data, the DBA graduate becomes the prime choice for consultancies, economic policy-making, and anything position that requires complex, data-driven planning and oversight.
The training received in a top-quality DBA program focuses on taking a scientific approach to getting it right and using the data to drive the decision at hand. When viewed from this perspective, a DBA graduate becomes a great candidate for just about any mission-critical position in the business world.
The career path many wish to pursue after achieving a doctoral degree is academics. No matter what changes take place in higher education, qualified educators will always be necessary to pass along the skills and knowledge needed by the next generation of business leaders. Whether a DBA graduate wishes to pursue a teaching path, a research path, or both, the advanced training in a quality DBA program lays the perfect foundation for a career in academics.
We cannot forget the government, either. If there ever is a sector that needs evidence-based decision-making, it is the government. A DBA degree positions you to positively contribute to your government's primary role of being in the business to do business. You do not have to be a politician to stand out in most governmental areas of focus, including transportation, commerce, treasury and many more.
The beauty of a quality DBA degree is that it sets the stage for advancement in your current career or a change toward a different career path. It is the highest level of education one can achieve in their field, representing the state-of-the-art in a business professional. When you complete your DBA studies, the question of where to go next will be easy to answer – wherever you want!
If you already hold a master's degree and have extensive real-world business experience, you could qualify for FIU's Doctorate in Business Administration program. Please visit the DBA program page to learn about this ultimate degree in business.