|Duration||3 to 6 years|
|Prerequisites / eligibility criteria||Master's degree|
5 to 20 years Work Experience
(varied by country and institution)
The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) or (DrBA) is a terminal degree in business administration. The DBA is classified as a research doctorate or professional doctorate depending on the granting university and country where the degree was awarded. Academically, the DBA is awarded based on advanced study, examinations, project work, and advanced research in the field of business administration.
DBA candidates are required to submit a significant project, commonly referred to as a thesis, capstone project, or dissertation. This project consists of an extensive body of original academic research that possesses the potential for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Candidates must defend their work before a panel of expert examiners, known as a thesis, dissertation, or doctoral committee. In addition, most DBA programs have coursework requirements.
In conjunction with the PhD or DPhil, the DBA represents the highest academic qualification in the field of business administration. It is typically a prerequisite for securing employment as a full-time, tenure-track university professor or postdoctoral researcher in this domain. Both the United States Department of Education and the National Science Foundation recognize the DBA as equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree.
Structure and Format
Doctor of Business Administration programs have a dual purpose: contribute to business theory and further develop the professional practice (e.g. contribute to professional knowledge in business). Universities generally require candidates to have significant experience in business, particularly in roles with leadership or other strategic responsibilities. DBA candidates specialize in areas such as management science, information technology management, organizational behavior, economics, finance, and the like. As with other doctorate programs, curricula may be offered on a full-time or part-time basis. According to the European higher education standards set by the Bologna Process, the normal duration of research doctorate programs like the DBA and PhD is usually 3–4 years of full-time study.
The responsibility for the structure of doctoral programs resides within the graduate research committees or their equivalent within the university. As such, DBA programs have a specific set of university regulations and are subject to quality approval processes. Regulations include references to protocols for treating ethical issues in research. These regulations are widely used in Australian universities. For instance, a DBA student cannot embark on the research phase before passing the coursework phase. Furthermore, upon passing the proposal stage, he or she must clear ethics-related issues with an ethics committee. DBA candidates then go through numerous internal moderations of the dissertation before submitting to external examinations (usually at least two). Finally, candidates usually revise their dissertations numerous times before final approval is granted from the doctoral committee.
History and Development
The origins of the Doctor of Business Administration can be traced back to the early 20th century when business education began to gain recognition as a distinct discipline. The increasing demand for advanced business education, coupled with the growing importance of research in the field, led to the establishment of doctoral programs focused on business administration. One of the earliest instances of a doctorate in business can be found at the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration (now known as Harvard Business School), which introduced the Doctor of Commercial Science (DCS) degree in 1920, and then the DBA thereafter. The DCS program aimed to produce scholars who could contribute to both business theory and practice through original research.
Following the establishment of the DCS program at Harvard, other leading business schools in the United States started developing their doctoral programs in business administration. The University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business introduced its Doctor of Business degree in 1920, focusing on the application of economic principles to business problems. The University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business also launched its doctoral program in 1952, offering a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. During the mid-20th century, the DBA degree gained recognition as a professional doctorate that emphasized the practical application of knowledge in the business context. Many universities and business schools around the world began offering DBA programs to cater to the needs of senior executives and experienced professionals seeking to enhance their skills and contribute to the advancement of business knowledge.
In recent years, the DBA has experienced significant growth and evolution. Business schools worldwide have recognized the demand for doctoral programs that combine rigorous academic research with practical relevance to address complex business challenges. Contemporary DBA programs often integrate coursework, research, and professional development components. The coursework provides a strong theoretical foundation, while the research component requires students to undertake original research that contributes to the advancement of knowledge in a specific area of business administration. DBA programs typically attract professionals from a wide range of industries, including business, government, and nonprofit sectors. The diversity of backgrounds and experiences among DBA candidates enhances the learning environment and promotes interdisciplinary collaboration.
The DBA has gained recognition and accreditation from reputable academic and professional bodies. Accreditation ensures that DBA programs meet specific standards of quality and rigor, and graduates of accredited programs are conferred with a reputable academic qualification. Accrediting bodies such as the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and the European Quality Improvement System (EQUIS) provide accreditation to business schools and their programs, including the DBA. These accreditations assure prospective students and employers of the quality and relevance of the DBA degree.
Institutions Offering the DBA
In the United States, there are several AACSB accredited business schools offering the DBA and many are at educational institutions holding Carnegie "R1: Doctoral Universities – Very high research activity” status. As of June 2023, 17 R1 institutions in the United States offer a research-based accredited DBA program. Internationally, there are several educational institutions offering the DBA and many are members in The Executive DBA Council.
|DBA Granting Institution||AACSB||R1||AAU||2023-24 USNWR Business Program Ranking||CEO Magazine Premier Program|
|Baruch College (CUNY)||Yes||Yes||No||49||Yes|
|Case Western Reserve University||Yes||Yes||Yes||68||Yes|
|Drexel University (LeBow)||Yes||Yes||No||102||Yes|
|Florida International University||Yes||Yes||No||NR||Yes|
|Georgia State University||Yes||Yes||No||NR||Yes|
|Golden Gate University||No||Yes||Yes||NR||No|
(Transitioned to PhD in 2019)
|Old Dominion University
(Transitioned to PhD in 1995)
|Pennsylvania State University||Yes||Yes||Yes||37||No|
|Royal Roads University||No||No||No||NR||No|
|St. Ambrose University||Yes||No||No||NR||Yes|
|University of Calgary||Yes||Yes||No||NR||No|
|University of Florida||Yes||Yes||Yes||40||Yes|
|University of Maryland||Yes||Yes||Yes||42||Yes|
|University of Michigan - Flint||Yes||Yes||No||NR||No|
|University of North Texas||Yes||Yes||No||95||No|
|University of Pittsburgh||Yes||Yes||Yes||86||Yes|
|University of South Florida||Yes||Yes||Yes||73||Yes|
|University of Texas - Dallas||Yes||Yes||No||27||No|
|Washington University in St. Louis||Yes||Yes||Yes||37||Yes|
|West Virginia University||Yes||Yes||No||112||No|
Recognition in Canada
In Canada, the DBA is recognized as a terminal degree in business administration or management. While DBA programs in Canada incorporate aspects of professional practice in addition to a full dissertation, they still qualify as full academic doctorates. Similar to the United Kingdom, the DBA in Canada can only be granted by Universities Canada - accredited institutions and holds equal standing with a PhD (management). The dissertation required for a DBA program differs primarily in focus but maintains the same breadth of study and academic rigor. DBA programs in Canadian institutions necessitate an original contribution to knowledge, overseen by an accomplished researcher as the chair, and defended orally (viva) before internal and external examiners.
Relationship between DBA and PhD
In the United States, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in business administration are equivalent degrees. Also, both doctorates are viewed as research doctorates representing the highest academic qualification in business. As such, both DBA and PhD programs require students to develop original research leading to a dissertation defense. Furthermore, both doctorates enable holders to become faculty members at academic institutions. The DBA and PhD in business administration are terminal degrees, allowing the recipient to obtain a tenure-track position in the United States; other countries' requirements may differ.
In some cases, the distinction is solely administrative (Harvard Business School was not authorized to issue a PhD until 2018) In other cases, the distinction is one of orientation and intended outcomes. The PhD is highly focused on developing original academic knowledge, while the DBA emphasizes applied research. Upon completion, graduates of PhD programs generally migrate to full-time faculty positions in academia, while those of DBA programs re-emerge in industry as applied researchers or executives. If working full-time in industry, graduates of DBA and PhD programs often become adjunct professors in top undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Notable persons with a DBA degree
- Alfred Sant – Former Prime Minister of the Republic of Malta and former leader of the Maltese Labour Party
- Hugh T. Broomall – Major General, USAF, Special Assistant to the Director, Air National Guard
- Robert F. Bruner – Dean Charles C. Abbott Professor of Business Administration and Distinguished Professor of Business Administration at the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration, University of Virginia
- Clayton M. Christensen – Robert and Jane Cizik Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
- Scott Cowen – president of Tulane University of Louisiana
- Nigel Healey – vice chancellor of Fiji National University
- Yoko Ishikura - Chief Digital Officer, Japanese Cabinet
- Shrikant Jichkar - Indian civil servant and politician
- Omobola Johnson - Nigerian technocrat
- Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries – Raoul de Vitry d'Avaucourt Professor of Leadership Development at INSEAD and director of the INSEAD Global Leadership Centre
- CK Prahalad – Paul and Ruth McCracken Distinguished University Professor of Corporate Strategy at University of Michigan, Ross School of Business
- John Quelch – Dean, Vice President and Distinguished Professor of International Management at CEIBS, previously Senior Associate Dean and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
- Michael E. Raynor – Canadian management expert and consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP, the Distinguished Fellow with Deloitte Research
- Lenos Trigeorgis – Real options pioneer; Professor of finance, University of Cyprus
- Birger Wernerfelt – J. C. Penney Professor of Management and Chair of PhD Committee, MIT Sloan School of Management
- Robert B. Wilson – Adams Distinguished Professor of Management, Emeritus, Graduate School of Business, and Professor of Economics (by courtesy), School of Humanities and Sciences, Stanford University
- Dave Yeske – Co-Founder, Managing Director, Yeske Buie; National President (2003), Financial Planning Association (FPA); Distinguished Adjunct Professor, Ageno School of Business, Golden Gate University
- Business Education
- Doctor of Management
- Executive DBA Council
- List of fields of doctoral studies in the United States § Business management/administration
- Management § Training and education
- PhD in Management
- Master of Business Administration (MBA)
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