Representing the highest level of academic achievement when it comes to collegiate business education, the Doctor of Business Administration degree program helps prepare students in gaining advanced knowledge integral to the management of complex organizations.
They will also acquire skills that will allow them to find innovative business solutions for real-world problems with the use of applied research in all areas of business.
Some business administration programs require students to obtain ten years of significant work experience and a relevant graduate degree, such as a master’s in business administration. They are also expected to have a comprehensive understanding of the different functional areas of business.
This includes marketing, human resource management, accounting and finance, corporate and competitive strategy, and operations management, among others.
In the United States, the majority of higher learning institutions offer a doctor of business administration program. Many of these business administration programs are designed with working professionals in mind, allowing them to pursue a doctoral degree, all the while continuing their blossoming careers in the business field.
An online Doctor of Business Administration is a terminal degree program designed for those who hold senior-level positions and wish to pursue a doctorate and advance their careers. Online DBA holders gain the versatility and qualifications for access to career opportunities in today’s global economy.
The Online DBA schools and programs on this list stand out because of these features:
- Delivered in a hybrid format, giving working professionals a convenient way to complete their coursework in a full- or part-time format without compromising their career,
- Thru blended DBA learning, students study their courses online while completing residency requirements,
- Emphasizes the doctorate-level academic skills that the field of Business Administration requires, preparing students for research-intensive roles and leadership positions and refines their problem-solving, critical thinking, and communication skills,
- Hosted on top-tier Learning Management Systems that feature video conferencing, live online lecture sessions, and other distance learning tools,
- Similar to their traditional counterpart, online DBA programs are taught by the same seasoned faculty and teaching staff who themselves are terminal degree holders and authorities in the DBA field,
- Appropriate regional or national accreditation.
Please visit our Methodology page for the ranking process we employ to come up with the list.
The Best Doctor of Business Administration Degree Programs Online (DBA)
Hult International Business School
Hult International Business School traces its early roots in 1964 in the city of Cambridge, as the Arthur D. Little School of Management. It was reorganized into the Hult International Business School in 2003, and through the years has established campuses in New York City and San Francisco, as well as international locations in London, Shanghai, and Dubai.
In keeping with its groundbreaking and pioneering spirit, it offers a DBA program that features a unique, challenge-focused curriculum design, that anchors the student’s academic journey with an emphasis on relevance coupled with rigorous research.
Its Doctorate Degree in Business Administration is delivered in a hybrid format. Being a part-time-only program, it can be completed in 30 months (2.5) years. Live online sessions are delivered fortnightly, and students are required to meet in person three times a year, spending a long weekend on one of Hult’s campuses.
As said earlier, the Hult DBA program is challenge-focused; that is, students consciously start their doctoral journey by identifying a problem or business challenge that is directly relevant to them and their industry. As doctoral programs are expected to result in original research, these problems should be not addressed by contemporary theories.
The Hult DBA curriculum integrates the dissertation development process into its entirety. It consists of a structured sequence of 3-month periods with each period centered on a key step in the development of a student’s original work. The first three months consist of problem identification and formulation, where a student identifies a key business practice problem, along with a systematic review of existing literature on top of instruction on business theories.
A series of major steps follow to refine the student’s final work, such as instruction on Predictive Analysis, followed by Data Collection, Non-Traditional Analysis, Academic Writing, and Data Interpretation.
Finally, the student’s third year (6 months) consists of constructing and defending their Dissertation. By then, students will have been able to create original work relevant to their experiences in their respective industries, and have developed unique tools to address their core identified problems.
By then they will also have conducted the required two workshop practicums given to their industry and company peers, and have written three publishable papers.
Temple University in Philadelphia, through its Fox School of Business, offers a Doctorate in Business Administration that is delivered in a hybrid format. This DBA degree program is designed as an executive-level program and is designed for working professionals that have extensive experience in managerial settings, which is usually around 10-15 years.
This doctoral degree program aims to equip its students with theories and tools of applied research that would enable them to stay on top of the constantly evolving industry and for them to continue to advance as professionals in their respective fields and companies.
As such, the curriculum design emphasizes the use of applied theory together with extensive data-driven research to enable students to solve any challenges or problems that they face in their professional practice. Likewise, students can access the personalized mentorship program to help them navigate the various academic, research, and professional processes.
Temple University is in a part-time-only format and nominally lasts 3 years. In addition to online coursework, key parts of the program are delivered through 6 on-site weekend residencies every year for the first 2 years. This ensures that students not only get introduced to the skills they need via the coursework, but also get introduced to hands-on industry experience, and crucially, to networking opportunities with their peers that will last well beyond their completion of the degree.
Temple University’s Fox School of Business enhances the DBA experience through its array of research centers and institutes. These institutes specialize in specific dimensions of the otherwise complex nature of a business problem and together help inform the student in developing, refining, and eventually answering the core problem at the heart of the dissertations that they are developing.
These institutes include the Advanta Center for Research in Financial Institutions, the Center for Applied Research in Decision Making, the Temple Data Science Institute, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, and many more.
In addition to the aforementioned research institutes, students in the DBA program, the Office of Research, Doctoral Programs, and Strategic Initiatives also provide a number of research services to students, faculty, and staff, that aid in the creation and dissemination of academic research.
Some of the services include copy editing, securing funding, proposal preparation, support for grant writing, and research dissemination.
Thomas Edison State University
Based in the City of Trenton, New Jersey, Thomas Edison State University offers its Doctor of Business Administration in a fully online format. The TESU DBA program is designed to help business students advance their careers in executive leadership roles, as well as potentially move into educator and academic careers, or practice as independent industry consultants.
Applicants must hold a minimum of 3 years of professional experience in organizational leadership, management roles, or an equivalent.
The Thomas Edison State University DBA curriculum features three core Areas of Study, namely:
- Organizational Leadership
- Human Resource Management
- General Management
The DBA program consists of a total of 48 credit hours and has a maximum completion time of seven years after enrollment. 39 of these credit hours are dedicated to the following program domains: Inquiry Systems and Models (6 credits), the program’s Integrated Business Curriculum (18 credits), the unique Area of Study (9 credits), and the Teaching and Consultative Professional Practice (6 credits). The final 3 courses (9 credits), meanwhile, go to the final Scholar-Practitioner Field Project.
Among the many highlights of the TESU Online DBA degree program, students get access to one-on-one mentorship throughout. TESU also strives to improve student access to course material and references. Students in the program get access to a curated portfolio of academic and applied course resources, which include Open Educational Resources, articles, and e-books.
Likewise, students in the program are given access to the State Library of New Jersey, which features its own electronic resources and exclusive collections. Students get complimentary processing and dissemination of library cards and barcodes.
Students of the Thomas Edison State University online DBA program also get access to the Academic Writing and Qualitative Research Series, which features live and recorded seminars that help in transitioning into academic writing from technical business writing. This is greatly helpful for the Scholar-Practitioner Field Project.
As mentioned earlier, the doctoral degree program’s culmination is a field project, selected by students themselves and guided by their mentors. The field project serves as the venue for the student to apply the coursework’s featured concepts and is expected to result in published work or a conference-level presentation.
George Fox University
The George Fox University, which is based in the city of Newberg, Oregon, offers a hybrid DBA program that features a unique focus, integrating faith and ethics into teaching and practice. The George Fox DBA Program is designed for business leaders who want to transition into academic/professorial roles or as industry consultants, or business leaders who seek to expand their leadership skillset, look for new leadership opportunities, and gain enrichment and knowledge.
Aside from the hybrid delivery format, the program is offered as a cohort model, which maximizes peer-to-peer learning and interaction. A majority of the program’s coursework is online, however, students are required to meet for 2 on-campus residencies each year to meet with their professors and cohorts.
The program consists of a total of 56 credit hours and can be completed in four years, with the first three years dedicated to coursework and the fourth year dedicated to dissertation work. The program’s curriculum features two possible concentration areas, both having three courses each, or nine credit hours total, which is the Management Concentration, or the Business Analytics concentration.
The Management Concentration introduces students to relevant leadership and organizational theories that they can then apply to their professional practice in leadership roles within their respective organizations. This is the recommended track for business leaders wanting to transition into academic/teaching roles or consulting careers.
The Business Analytics Concentration, meanwhile, focuses on the use of data in building predictive or mathematical models for business decisions and consumer behavior. This is recommended for seasoned professionals who may want to influence their respective industries through the use of analytics, or those who want to teach analytics at the collegiate level.
George Fox University’s commitment to quality education for its students is embodied in what they call the Be Known promise. Essentially, it is a guarantee of maximizing student-professor interaction, which includes both live and virtual interaction throughout the course of the program, and even after they graduate.
As part of their promise, students can also join Writing Circles, peer groups consisting of cohorts and their professors, which serve as their venue for feedback exchange as they work to develop their dissertations.
Grand Canyon University
Grand Canyon University has perhaps one of the more diverse collections of DBA Programs currently available. Aside from the DBA in Data Analytics, CGU also offers a DBA in Management and a DBA in Marketing. All three DBA Programs likewise in turn have either a Quantitative or Qualitative Research version.
In Quantitative programs, students mainly focus on numerical data interpretation with the use of various statistical tools, while students in Qualitative programs mainly focus on event examination, with the goal of getting a better understanding of observed phenomena.
All these program tracks/versions have a total of around 60 credit hours and follow a scaffolded curriculum design that contains embedded research skills that help support students’ progression through the degree program.
The program is available online, however, students are expected to participate in two or three five-day residencies at GCU’s Phoenix campus. Through these residencies, students get the opportunity to not only experience intensive mentorship and interchange of feedback between peers but crucially, also get an important venue for networking opportunities.
Before moving on to examining the various theoretical bases of the curriculum, they start their academic journey with a look into the principal elements of research and scholarly writing. The curriculum meanwhile examines timely issues that business leaders and administrators typically face, which include corporate finance, capital structure, and mergers and acquisitions.
Some of the core competencies that are taken up in the program include the following:
- Developing a research question & conducting a systematic literature review
- Application of microeconomic principles in solving business problems
- Understanding organizational sustainability through the lens of competitive advantage
- Conceptual and practical aspects of data collection, management, and analysis
While they share some similarities, the DBA in Management is primarily a program that blends transformative business practice with theories in strategic leadership and management and has the end goal of empowering business leaders and executives with the skills to apply sound business principles throughout a range of settings and sectors.
The DBA in Marketing, meanwhile, focuses on helping executives and business leaders advance their respective companies’ competitive edge in the marketplace.
The online DBA program offered by Stanford University aims to enrich students with knowledge that can impact and drive innovation in their organization. This program leverages the faculty and curriculum designed by the Stanford Graduate School of Business to provide the tools and techniques that are instrumental for effective change-makers and organizational leaders.
The online, flexible format means students can work on their program requirements without having to be physically present on campus. It is an ideal choice for busy professionals aiming to learn creative strategies and practices that will advance their organizations at the forefront of innovation.
They will be able to develop their management skills and learn the best approaches when it comes to optimizing team performance. Enterprising professionals will also find this DBA valuable as they will be able to expand their network through plenty of collaboration opportunities with individuals with diverse perspectives
The program requires the completion of 9 courses within one year. This translates to 5 to 10 hours of commitment every week. Prospective students interested in this program need to complete the online application process along with three requirements: essay, video interview recording, and professional recommendation.
University of Maryland Global Campus
The University of Maryland Global DBA program is fully available online. It is designed to cater to executive-level business professionals who want to gain sophisticated knowledge integral to executive-level management.
This online DBA program emphasizes a variety of business disciplines, including strategic thinking, organizational leadership, management theory, business research, sustainability, and the global business environment. Doctoral students conduct research and analyze real-world management issues.
The cohort program structure means one will have opportunities to interact and form partnerships with fellow online DBA graduates and even the faculty.
To successfully earn the degree, students need to fulfill the completion of 48-credit courses, one of which is a prerequisite course called Foundations of Doctoral Studies. Other courses in the program include Research as a Tool for Management Decision Making, Evidence-based Research Methods, Data Analytics in Practice, Project Management, and Designing Evidence-Based Management Solutions, among others.
Students must also take up dissertation courses equivalent to 12 credits.
Accredited by the AACSB – Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, an accreditation council in the field of business, Marshall University’s Doctor of Business Administration degree program is considered the first and only such doctoral program in West Virginia.
The program follows a hybrid learning format, wherein students have the option to complete most of the courses online and some selected face-to-face sessions on campus. Relatively new, this online DBA program is for busy professionals and academics who are looking for a convenient way of earning a doctorate degree and advancing their careers in the business world.
Making use of a practice-based research model, this program helps students develop their ability to identify and find solutions to actual problems. Students learn from the best as the faculty from Brad D. Smith Graduate School of Business leading the way are distinguished and experienced in the field.
An innovative approach to learning is presented, which means the gap between theory and practice is bridged, assuring business education quality.
The program is composed of 66 credit hours and can be completed by full-time students within 3 years. The first two years in this DBA program are devoted to the successful completion of the required coursework. The third and final year is allocated for completing the dissertation.
Students have three options for the program concentration: Accounting, Healthcare Management, and Management/Entrepreneurship.
Northcentral University offers a Ph.D. in Business Administration that can be fully earned online. It focuses on research-based leadership strategies to come up with solutions for the biggest challenges in the global economy. Students interested in this program must complete a dissertation on a subject unique to their experience and expertise.
They will not only be able to refine their knowledge and explore emerging technologies but also gain hands-on experience through the guidance of mentoring professors.
The program requires the completion of at least 60 credit hours that are composed of 20 courses. Most students complete the program within 38 months. Accredited by ACBS, the program offers 16 specializations. This includes Financial Management, Global Business Management, Information Technology, Advanced Accounting, Health Services, Project Management, Strategic Marketing, and many more.
This program often leads to remarkable careers in director-level positions in the field of management and financial management. Students can take advantage of available financial aid in the form of scholarships like the Role Model Scholarship. This gives five master’s and doctoral graduates the chance to benefit from the five full-tuition scholarships.
University of North Carolina Greensboro
The University of North Carolina Greensboro’s 100% online Ph.D. in Business Administration degree program is hosted by the Bryan School of Business & Economics. The latter has dual accreditation in business and accounting from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
While mostly online, the coursework may require campus visits. This includes orientation, proposal defense, and dissertation defense.
The program gives a broad overview of all areas of business but with options for specialization. Students will need to comply with the program requirements, including completing the coursework equivalent to 60 semester hours. This already factors into the dissertation. One can choose among three specializations: Strategy, Organizational Behavior, and International Business.
The courses include Doctoral Research Methods, Seminar in Academic Writing and Publishing, Seminar on Organization Behavior, Advance Topics in Management, Seminar on International Business Theory, and more.
To be eligible for admission, applicants should hold a master’s degree in business or a related field. They will also need to prepare their official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, GRE/GMAT scores, and resumes.
International students have a different set of requirements, which they need to check with the Graduate School page.
Common Courses in a DBA Program
Different universities design their curriculums based on a number of factors, such as their strength/specialty as an institution, their stated goals, and even their institutional philosophy or overarching ethos. Their academic calendars can also determine their curriculum designs, and courses tend to have their own names/titles.
That being said, typical courses can be grouped into a number of general categories based on their content. Here are a few examples:
Fundamentals of Management & Leadership/Theoretical Bases
DBA degree programs, like any other degree program, feature one or more fundamentals courses that allow students to revisit their pre-existing skillsets or introduce them to the basics of advanced topics.
Specialized topics such as Finance, Marketing & Consumer Behavior, Psychology, etc.
Business involves sub-disciplines or other fields that themselves warrant their own close-up look or dedicated discussion. These may include Finance, Economics, or novel concepts in Marketing and the latest in consumer behavior, and even the psychological aspects of consumer behavior and in the various decision-making and management processes in business.
Emerging trends, real-world case studies, latest research
Business is an ever-changing and constantly evolving field. As such, DBA programs may have some form of integrating a discussion on the state of the art, observations and emerging global and local trends that can impact business, the latest in relevant research that can tie into students’ own dissertations, as well as real-world case studies on relevant topics.
Data-informed and data-driven business, Business Tools, and Analytics
Business is largely data-driven. As such, DBA programs would feature dedicated courses that deal with tools and analytics, as well as the right skills on their use and continuing development for specialists, or skills and strategies surrounding their usage for those in leadership roles.
Research methods & related topics
DBA graduates can potentially take on roles in academia, and as such, DBA degree programs would have significant course content that deals with research in this regard, which includes methods and data-gathering tools, and would include courses that deal with designing and conducting research and managing teams in collaboration with the Human Resources department.
Essential Skills for Successful DBA Students
Every educational pursuit requires commitment, determination, and skills. Earning a Doctor of Business Administration is no exception. To succeed in this endeavor, one must possess and employ important skills that will help students complete rigorous coursework that often involves a dissertation.
This skill is valuable in any field, and even more so in the pursuit of advanced education. Students who are curious tend to be original in their way of thinking. Curiosity allows students to dive into complex ideas and come up with innovative solutions. It is crucial when one seeks to complete a doctoral research project or thesis dissertation.
Learning often involves different important matters vying for one’s attention. This requires one to be able to concentrate fully on their pressing tasks. They will have to be focused on the tasks at hand for significant periods of time.
Most online DBA programs can take three or more years to complete. Without commitment or dedication, most students may not follow through and successfully complete the degree. This is true for professionals pursuing a doctorate while preoccupied with work-related responsibilities.
Good communication skills are integral in businesses, whether it is in writing or oral. Running organizations will require one to communicate company goals from the top down, so this skill is quite valuable, especially when one needs to conduct negotiations or strategize with their teams.
Earning a doctor of administration degree often requires one to adapt easily to changing situations, schedules, and priorities. Having adaptable skills will allow one to change their focus to fit the needs of the DBA.
Considered important in various fields, having critical thinking skills in the business field is indispensable. This means one will be able to solve problems efficiently, minimize costly errors, and ensure that resources are being used wisely. A good critical thinker can easily connect ideas, identify errors, and make sound decisions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can students expect in a Doctor of Business Administration program?
Commonly referred to as DBA, a Doctor of Business Administration degree focuses on providing prospective knowledge on business that can be directly applied in the workplace. One can expect to gain valuable knowledge and training, encompassing theoretical knowledge with practical uses in the fields of business and business management.
This degree can provide busy professionals with real-world business-oriented skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving.
While a great part of the curriculum will be about completing core courses to earn the degree, a thesis or research is often part of the program requirements. Some business schools allow students to prepare a specific problem they want to explore when they enter, but more often than not, they will identify areas of interest when they have already started with their courses.
The latter gives them the opportunity to work with their instructors and supervisor to flesh out their research topic.
What characterizes a typical Online Doctor of Business Administration coursework?
Being an academic terminal degree, a competitive DBA Program is expected to be rewarding but highly challenging. A DBA can be a doctoral student’s door to entering a career in academia and industry consultancy or furthering one’s career as an industry and organizational leader.
The online DBA curriculum consists of an introduction or revisits:
- the fundamentals of leadership and management,
- state-of-the-art in data-driven decision-making tools and workflows,
- strategies and principles to judiciously and efficiently function as industry leaders.
On the academic side, students in DBA Programs can expect to be taught the skills necessary to apply business leadership skills to potential careers in academia, with courses that deal with topics that range from research methods, designing and implementing research, even down to academic writing courses.
Lastly, most DBA programs are selective and prefer or require applicants to have a certain number of years of relevant professional experience. As such, it’s expected that one has the wisdom gained from their experience that they can relate to and enhance their understanding of the academic theories and coursework that they will be taught.
At the end of the program, DBA students are expected to craft tangible and creative solutions for complex problems. They can go on to become leaders in the organizational development efforts of their companies.
Are there specializations in DBA Online programs?
Different universities have their own unique course and curriculum designs, but most DBA degree programs can feature specializations that students can opt to/are required to undertake. These specializations can vary in content and title, but here are some broad specialization categories:
- Management/Leadership concentrations – these may feature coursework that prepares students to take leadership roles or enhance the quality of any leadership position that they may already be occupying as business professionals. This will include health care management, human resource management, and more.
- Analytics/Data-driven concentrations – Business decisions are driven by data and information. Some concentrations dwell on the use and implementation, or sometimes the development of various tools that help drive decision-making processes.
- Some concentrations may also dwell on a few other specialized disciplines that are themselves key features of business decisions, such as Marketing, Qualitative Research, Marketing Management, Global Supply Chain Management, or Finance.
One’s program specialization choice may depend on their interest and professional goals. Before making a decision, prospective students must first keep in mind that their aspirations and career plans align with the specialization they have in mind.
What are some requirements to enter an online Doctor of Business Administration program?
A DBA Program is a terminal degree. Prospective students in these programs are expected to already hold a Master’s degree, preferably from an accredited institution. More importantly, most business schools design their DBA programs to cater to seasoned business leaders and/or executives. As such, they often require students already to have a significant amount of relevant professional experience in such leadership/executive roles, typically at least 2 to 3 years.
How long is an online DBA program?
Most DBA programs are designed to be completed within three years, although there are cases where it can stretch up to six years, especially when a capstone project or dissertation is involved. Many universities put all of the coursework in the first two years, with the remaining year devoted to dissertations.
The duration can still vary from student to student, however, as some may choose to earn the degree part-time. The dissertation research process can also require them to extend until they complete it.
- Navigating the business world requires intensive training and advanced education in the field, from strategic leadership and quality improvement to business development and financial management.
- This requires busy professionals to come up with evidence-based management solutions when faced with challenges in various global markets.
- An online doctor of business administration degree will give them the foundation they need to be successful business leaders.
- A Business Administration online program allows room for flexibility, letting busy graduate students work their way around their schedules and attend their classes at their own pace, anywhere in the world.