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Difference between Doctorate or MBA

"I am about to graduate and have the opportunity to do my doctorate afterwards. Alternatively, I could start my career at a medium-sized company. In this case, I would possibly do an MBA after a few years. What do you advise me to do? "The MBA? Or first the doctorate, then the MBA? Are there any clues as to which degree is better for your career?"

It mainly depends on your first degree and your later field of activity. The doctorate usually allows a better career start and faster career advancement, the MBA trains management skills and soft skills in the course of a career and is highly regarded by non-German companies.

Doctorate is typically German, MBA is more international

DoctorateIn Germany, 25,000 university graduates graduate each year. Especially in mathematics and the natural sciences, almost every second (43%), in engineering every fifth (20%). So if you have studied in these departments, you should definitely consider a doctorate so as not to lose to your fellow students.

Sörge Drosten, partner at the management consultancy Kienbaum, says in an interview with the newspaper Welt:

The title is still a plus on the job market: many employers value doctoral candidates because of their profound knowledge and ability to work scientifically on their own. For engineers and scientists, the doctorate is often the ticket to senior positions, in research and development.

This statement is also confirmed by a study: Eight years after completing the doctorate, 36% of the doctoral candidates hold a leading position. It is over 45% of those who have pursued a purely scientific career.

At the higher career levels, it is no longer just the well-founded theoretical know-how that counts, but also management competence and commercial knowledge. You don't learn that in a doctorate and here the MBA has an advantage. The MBA can also provide more career benefits for those who want to pursue a career abroad or with an international, possibly American-based company.

Doctorate or MBA? Best of both

There are numerous professionals who have both degrees. Most of them are typically graduates of science or engineering courses. The classic career path is the entry after the doctorate, the rise in management positions and then the part-time MBA to strengthen the business knowledge.

For graduates in economics, the doctorate will have a more positive impact on their careers than the MBA, because they already learned the business administration know-how during their first degree.

MBA or PhD? Testimonials from those who have both

MBAWe asked randomly selected people via Xing who have both the Dr. title and an MBA. We received the following opinions:

HR consultant Dr. Dorian Hartmuth

My tip: Only do the MBA at universities, not at universities of applied sciences. In my opinion, the dissertation is less important than the MBA. The doctoral thesis is particularly important if you want to be in top management in Germany. The MBA also benefits you earlier.

Daniel (Dr. & MBA)

I did my doctorate because I wanted to deepen my professional work. Not at the university though, as I have never pursued a university career. However, careers in industry played a role, since in large companies the title often opens the way to management positions faster.

I then joined the MBA because a few years later I was no longer so convinced that the development - rather the professional work - is my future. I wanted to develop myself into an all-rounder, and also tend to focus on management positions. Interestingly, I now work as an all-rounder at the interface between development and production, which on the one hand challenges me a lot and on the other hand I am very satisfied. I also see it as the next step on the ladder, because I am currently building up a network in a complete company branch and gathering know-how about the processes and helping to shape them. But neither a doctorate nor an MBA alone would have put me in this position.
In retrospect, I believe that the promotion would help me move forward if I switched to one of my former customers at the right moment. I never did that at the time because the vacancies didn't appeal to me personally because they were mostly exclusively anchored in development. However, I believe that people with a different personality structure can be just as successful or more successful with the MBA. An MBA from the right university enjoys a lot of attention today, so these are also ideal starting opportunities.
I am rather satisfied when I can complete a project or two up to 100%, more like a topic in a doctorate. In the MBA at the ESB, I learned many different subject areas, but mostly only between 30 and 70%. Rather always scratched the surface. This is how I feel for some of my colleagues who are successfully on the road with a saddled MBA in marketing or controlling. And that just doesn't suit me.

Nicolas (Dr. & MBA)

I thought very carefully about whether the doctorate or the MBA brought me more. There is honestly no clear answer for me. Without a doctorate, I would not have been able to start my career so easily. The MBA (maybe also because of a second, rather foreign subject) has probably opened more doors for me professionally.

Tip: In university management education, there is the possibility to complete a Doctor of Business Administration after the Master of Business Administration. You can use this to pursue a doctorate part-time and thus your Dr. Attain title.


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