Global study forecasts growth and hybrid delivery mode for DBA market

DBA market

In the rapidly evolving landscape of higher education and business management, doctoral programmes are continuously adapting to meet the demands of the ever-changing corporate world.

Among these programmes, the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) has emerged as a significant candidate, poised to reshape the future of business education.

A new report, “The Future of DBA Market: Perceptions of Business Schools”, sheds light on the perceptions of business schools worldwide regarding the trajectory of the DBA market.

The study, the result of an extensive online survey conducted by EFMD Global in collaboration with EDBAC and Le Sphinx Software Solutions, offers insights into the potential growth, challenges, and expectations associated with the DBA market.


An Upward Trend

The report reveals that the DBA market is on a growth trajectory, with nearly one-third (29%) of respondents predicting significant growth and a majority (57%) anticipating moderate growth in the coming years.

This optimism aligns with the increasing demand for qualified managers and a growing need to bridge the gap between academic research and practical managerial expertise.

As the traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) market matures, business schools seek innovative models to cater to diverse professionals, contributing to the DBA’s upward trajectory.

Motivations for Pursuing a DBA

The DBA’s growth is driven by several key motivations. A substantial portion of respondents (81%) view the DBA as a transformative tool for careers, while 76% are driven by the ambition to attain the title of Doctor.

Additionally, 71% emphasise the importance of research with tangible managerial impact. These motivations underscore the DBA’s potential to elevate both individual careers and the overall management landscape.

Obstacles to Overcome

While the DBA market holds promise, it is not without its challenges. Respondents identified several obstacles impeding the DBA’s rise.

The most prominent challenges include the ambiguity between the DBA and PhD programmes (75%), the pressures of professional life (72%), companies’ lack of awareness about the DBA (67%), and the varying quality of DBA programmes (67%).

Addressing these challenges is crucial for establishing the DBA as a distinct and valuable educational pathway.

Distinguishing DBA from PhD

The study indicates that there is a strong consensus (87%) among respondents that the DBA and PhD degrees are distinct from each other. This distinction is crucial for clarifying the purpose and benefits of the DBA, ensuring that its unique value proposition is well-understood.

A Hybrid Future

The future delivery mode of the DBA is anticipated to be blended, with 67% of respondents expressing this belief. Advancements in technology and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic have blurred the lines between in-person and distance-based learning.

As a result, the future of the DBA is expected to integrate both modalities, offering a flexible and dynamic learning experience.

Snapshot: Key Findings and Implications

The report’s conclusion outlines several principal takeaways and insights into the future of the DBA market, including:

  • Growth Factors: The DBA’s growth is driven by increasing demand for qualified managers, the need to bridge the gap between research and management practice, and the strategic response of business schools to the evolving educational landscape.
  • Clear Distinction: The distinction between the DBA and PhD is well-defined within business schools, aligning with the EQUAL Guidelines on Doctoral Programmes. This clarity is essential for avoiding confusion among prospective students and employers.
  • Marketing Considerations: The term “Executive PhD” may introduce ambiguity and confusion. Clear communication about programme objectives is vital to ensure that stakeholders understand the unique value of the DBA.
  • Quality Assurance: The diverse landscape of DBA programmes in terms of duration, content, and quality highlights the need for a regulatory process supported by international accreditation or reliable rankings.
  • Faculty Collaboration: The DBA’s success hinges on qualified faculty members enthusiastic about collaborating with and supervising executives, facilitating impactful research.
  • Blended Approach: Advancements in IT and the influence of the pandemic have driven a convergence between in-person and distance-based formats. A hybrid approach to programme provision is expected to emerge as the future standard in the DBA market.
  • Effective Communication: Business schools must effectively communicate the unique objectives of the DBA and distinguish it from PhD programmes to ensure clarity.


As business education evolves to meet the demands of the corporate world, the DBA stands as a promising avenue for career transformation, research impact, and bridging the gap between academia and practice.

While challenges exist, the study’s findings highlight the potential for growth, innovation, and collaboration within the realm of doctoral business education.

Contributors & Additional Information

The report’s insights are based on an online survey administered to over 900 business schools and 70 institutional members of EDBAC. A total of 105 respondents participated, representing a diverse range of roles within academia and higher education institutions.

The DBA market study is derived from a collaboration between EFMD Global, Michel KalikaEDBAC, and Le Sphinx Software Solutions, along with the contributions of a diverse group of professionals from various institutions.

You can download the complete report for a more in-depth exploration of the study’s findings.

For other valuable insights, particulars and trends about the DBA market, follow the conversation here.

1 Comment

  1. Georges Blanc on September 12, 2023 at 11:53

    The block DBA-applied research-innovation -Life long learning – must now equilibrate within our business schools thé traditional block MBA -Research
    A huge growth of Exécutive éducation linkado with action research can ne anticipated for thé next 20-30 years