Doctor of Business Administration

Wondering if returning to school to invest in a Doctor of Business Administration – DBA degree is the path for you?

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You already have a Master’s of Business Administration (or a related graduate degree) and have been a working professional in the business-management world for a number of years. You are interested in playing a more active role in decision making, practical research and knowledge distribution, perhaps as a CEO or founder of a company, a consultant or even a professor. You are already successful, but you want to continuously strive to reach your full potential. Does this sound familiar? If so, a Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) may just be the next step in advancing your career.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

  • Earn Your Degree on Your Time
    Typically Doctor of Business Administration programs are designed for professionals currently in the workforce. Coursework is generally part time and/or online, allowing students to continue employment while pursuing their degree.
  • Increased Earning Power
    A D.B.A. can open many doors which equates to increased earning power, whether it be rising the ranks to more executive positions, founding/running a thriving business or simultaneously filling several successful roles (for example, working as a consultant, professor and applied researcher at the same time).
  • Real World Skills
    Unlike a Ph.D. (which may be more theoretical and typically emphasizes the discovery of new knowledge), a D.B.A emphasizes practical research and enhancing knowledge that can directly be applied to one’s career and the real world of business.

Doctor of Business Administration Prerequisites

Admission requirements for DBA programs vary by university. Generally speaking, potential students must:

  • Have completed a Master’s of Business Administration degree, or a related Master’s program (i.e. a Master’s degree coupled with the completion of specified business courses).
  • Have completed a specified number of years working in a related field. (Some universities will require this, while others will simply show preference to applicants with professional experience).
  • Send in all university transcripts and possibly GMAT (Graduate Management Admittance Test) or GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores. Universities often specify a minimum GPA and GMAT/GRE score standards.
  • As part of the application process, prospective students may also need to send in letters of recommendations and a statement of purpose or an application essay, complete an interview with the selection committee, etc.

Why Pursue a Doctor of Business Administration?

Professional Practitioner: According to the Executive DBA Council (EDBAC), a Doctorate in Business Administration or DBA is an Executive Doctoral Degree. “Executive doctoral degrees are terminal, doctoral degrees that are designed for working professionals,” states the EDBAC. “The research approach for an executive doctoral program is the ‘engaged scholarship’ model that focuses on topics at the intersection of theory and contemporary business issues.”

The EDBAC adds that unlike a Ph.D. (where students seek to become “academic researchers”), the objectives of a Doctor of Business Administration program is to develop “practitioner researchers” that “apply quantitative or qualitative research methods to contemporary business problems.”

Dr. Xavier V. Bruce (D.B.A.) (an MBA professor and an iPEC certified professional coach who founded UP2LIFT Academic and Life Coaching) agrees. “DBA graduates are considered scholar-practitioners, which means they leverage the knowledge gained in their doctoral research to develop effective and efficient business practices,” wrote Dr. Bruce (in his article “Got an MBA? 3 Reasons to Pursue a DBA”). “While other doctoral programs are designed to add to the body of knowledge regarding their field of study, the DBA program is intended to provide graduates with the skill set to effectively solve business problems.”

You Can Keep on Working: D.B.A. programs—generally three to four years in length, and sometimes less when M.B.A. credits are transferred—are designed to accommodate those who want to continue to work in their existing careers, as students typically complete coursework part time and/or online.

You Can Specialize: Additionally students are able to specialize through taking concentration or elective coursework and through their dissertation (their very own research project on a timely topic relevant to their career). Whatever your specialty of choice, D.B.A. programs facilitate critical thinking, decision-making and interdisciplinary learning and research that can be directly applied to one’s evolving profession.

What Kind of Courses Will I Be Taking?

Generally speaking a Doctor of Business Administration program consists of core/foundation courses and elective/concentration courses. Note that some schools teach some courses as part of periodic residencies (particularly if the majority of the coursework is being completed online).

Core/Foundation Course Examples

  • Corporate Finance
  • Doctoral Research (Qualitative and Quantitative) and Writing
  • Managerial Economics
  • Organizational Behavior and Management
  • Leaderships Communications
  • Project Management
  • Management Technology/Information Systems
  • Marketing Management
  • Business Decision-Making/Strategizing
  • Managerial Accounting

Concentration Examples

  • Financial Investments
  • Technological Entrepreneurship
  • Global Supply Chain Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Executive Leadership
  • International Business Sustainability
  • Marketing
  • Strategic Management
  • Accounting
  • Public Administration

** A D.B.A. program also typically requires completion of a doctoral dissertation, where students develop a research proposal, conducts quantitative and/or qualitative research, analyzes findings, writes an in-depth report and presents (defends) it in front of a committee. Often programs will pair students up with a mentor or research supervisor. Students select a unique research topic—preferably one that is related to his or her professional aspirations and interests.

What Kind of Careers Can I Pursue with a D.B.A?

Those who graduate with a Doctor of Business Administration go on to advance their career in numerous ways. Some of these positions include:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
  • Entrepreneur/Founder of a Company
  • Consultant
  • Director of Business Research
  • University Professor, Administrator, Dean…
  • Controller/Chief Accounting Officer
  • Chief Economist
  • Director of International Marketing
  • Author
  • And More!