Best Online Doctorate in Business Administration Programs

Earning an online doctorate in business administration can help aspiring business leaders meet their goals. Read our guide for details about these programs.

portrait of Staff Writers
by Staff Writers

Published on December 16, 2021 · Updated on June 27, 2022

Reviewed by Krystal Covington

Our Review Network

BestColleges is committed to delivering content that is objective and accurate. We have built a network of industry professionals across healthcare and education to review our content and ensure we are providing the best information to our readers.

With their first-hand industry experience, our reviewers provide an extra step in our editing process. These experts:

  • Suggest changes to inaccurate or misleading information.
  • Provide specific, corrective feedback.
  • Identify critical information that writers may have missed.

Our growing Review Network currently consists of professionals in fields like business, nursing, social work, and other subject-specific industries; professionals in higher education areas such as college counseling and financial aid; and anti-bias reviewers.

Reviewers typically work full time in their industry profession and review content for BestColleges as a side project. Our reviewers are members of the Red Ventures Education Freelance Review Network and are paid for their contributions.

See a full list of our Review Network contributors.

Share this Article

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Doctorate in business administration (DBA) degrees develop advanced skills and specialized knowledge for current or aspiring leaders or researchers. A terminal professional degree in business, the DBA usually exceeds minimum degree requirements for competitive manager, director, and executive jobs in industry.

Management occupations paid a median annual salary of $109,760 as of May 2020, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). PayScale data from December 2021 indicates that DBA-graduate salaries average $101,000 annually. Some graduates do find work in the public sector, which may pay less. Roles such as financial manager and management analyst also enjoy above-average job growth projections for 2020-2030, according to the BLS.

The average doctoral degree in the United States costs nearly $115,000, and professional degrees in business often cost more than non-professional degrees. However, tuition varies widely by school type, location, and program. Online schools usually offer much more affordable degrees than in-person programs.

Students with transferable master's degrees in business-related fields can finish most DBA programs in three years of full-time enrollment. Read further to learn more about online business degrees, doctorate of business administration curricula, admissions requirements, and career paths.

What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?

Whereas a Ph.D. in business administration usually serves aspiring researchers or academics, the DBA is a high-level professional degree. Current or aspiring executives pursue DBA degrees for career specialization and advancement. DBA degrees typically work best for ambitious people interested in leadership roles.

About 60 credits total, the DBA curriculum includes core courses on multivariate statistics, econometrics, and research methods. DBAs often require 3-5 years of full-time enrollment to finish, although applicants with transferable master's degree credits may finish more quickly. DBA students benefit from advanced skills in analysis, problem-solving, and communication.

Most programs expect enrollees to specialize their course of study through a curriculum concentration. Common DBA curriculum specialization options include finance, management, and marketing. Some schools also offer concentrations such as information systems or supply chain management.

Online doctorate in business administration enrollees complete internships and capstone projects in their specialization area. Online learners can do their internships at approved local sites — often their current workplace. DBA capstone projects may be connected to the internship. Dissertation-based DBA programs may focus on more abstract research topics.

Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Degree Programs.

Best Online Bachelor's in Finance Programs Best Online Bachelor's in Business Management Programs Best Online Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Programs of 2021

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?

Econometrics

A common core course in DBA programs, econometrics teaches statistical methods and applications useful in understanding economic systems. This very technical mathematics course requires prior statistics coursework.

Contemporary Issues in Management

This elective course may appear as part of a DBA concentration in management. Enrollees learn management history and theory and discuss current challenges in the field. Topics include rapidly-changing technologies, multigenerational workforces, and management ethics.

Global Marketing

DBA students specializing in marketing may take this elective. Global marketing courses increase cultural awareness and teach participants how to apply marketing principles and practices to international business.

Foundations of Information Systems

Usually part of an information systems concentration, this course explores ways to use hardware and software in organizational problem-solving. Students explore topics such as systems thinking, strategic and operational business processes, and information technology outsourcing.

Research Methods

This staple core course prepares enrollees to successfully tackle coursework and capstone research projects. The course familiarizes enrollees with management-related social science research methods, including experiences, surveys, and qualitative interviews. Participants learn how to conduct empirical research and publish their work in scholarly journals.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

Scholarships for Business Majors Your Guide to College Loans Your Guide to the FAFSA

What are the Admission Requirements for an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?

Like their on-campus counterparts, online DBA programs look for applicants with accredited college degrees and good GPAs. Many programs only consider candidates with master's-level degrees and relevant professional experience. Distance learners submit the same application materials as on-campus students.

These usually include official transcripts, recommendation letters, and resumes. Many programs require competitive GMAT/GRE scores, but some programs waive this requirement. Some graduate schools require admissions interviews. Distance learners typically complete such interviews online or by phone. Learn more about common graduate admissions requirements below.

Application

Online DBA programs require submission of an online application that asks candidates to outline their educational, professional, and extracurricular histories. Graduate school application systems specify how to submit official test scores, recommendation letters, and official transcripts. Applications may include short-answer questions about applicants' interests and goals.

Test Scores

Many colleges require submission of entrance exam scores. Graduate schools in business often require GMAT scores and may even specify that candidates meet requisite GMAT scores of 730 or higher for admission.

Some programs allow submission of GRE scores instead, and some programs waive standardized test score requirements for applicants with relevant master's degrees, high GPAs, or impressive professional records.

Letters of Recommendation

DBA programs require applicants to submit recommendation letters written by professional supervisors or professors. Recommenders typically receive a link by email that connects them to an online recommendation form that asks about the applicants' performance. Most schools accommodate people who prefer to submit hard copies.

Resume and Work Experience

Usually accomplished professionals, online DBA applicants submit resumes detailing their relevant work histories and extracurricular activities. DBA programs often select current or aspiring executives who can benefit from this advanced, specialized professional degree. Some programs may require enrollees to demonstrate minimum professional work experience of 2-5 years.

Essays

Most graduate programs require an application essay that details the applicants' career goals and academic interests. Schools use the grad school essay to assess the applicants' writing abilities and fitness for the program. Some programs require additional writing samples.

Official Transcripts

Graduate school applicants must submit official transcripts from all prior colleges attended. Many DBA programs prefer candidates with master's degrees in business-related fields.

Applicants with prior, relevant graduate courses or degrees from accredited schools may transfer some of their credits to meet DBA course requirements or prerequisites. Admissions counselors review official transcripts and let applicants know whether their credits transfer.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Degree?

Career Outlook

Online DBAs meet or exceed degree requirements for various high-paying and rapidly-growing careers in industry, government, and nonprofit sectors. The advanced research and analytical skills of DBA graduates prove useful in jobs such as economist, management analyst, and market research analyst. These careers enjoy above-average job growth projections of 13%, 14%, and 22%, respectively.

Economists earn very high median annual salaries of $108,350, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Financial managers top the salary scale with median annual salaries over $134,000. The BLS projects 17% growth in financial manager jobs during 2020-2030.

Learn more about the many business administration, business management, and business intelligence careers available to online DBA graduates.

Career Paths

Market Research Analyst

Like economists, market research analysts often use statistical techniques and software to analyze market conditions. These professionals help businesses determine the best products or services to sell, at what price, to which audience. Market research analysts gather and examine consumer data and forecast trends. Some analysts hold the Certified Market Research Analyst credential.

Median Annual Salary: $65,810


Management Analyst

Sometimes referred to as management consultants, these analysts examine organizations' functioning and make recommendations for increasing revenues and/or reducing costs. Some management analysts specialize in particular fields or industries. Possible professional certifications include Chartered Human Resources Analyst or Certified in Planning and Inventory Management.

Median Annual Salary: $87,660


Top Executive

Experienced professionals can use their DBA degrees to enhance their candidacy for top executive positions. These high-level administrators establish organizational goals and create major strategies and policies that support those goals. Top executives collaborate with other administrators in making important decisions.

Median Annual Salary: $107,680


Economist

These research-oriented professionals gather data and perform high-order analysis of economic phenomena. Economists may conduct this analysis to evaluate economic issues, understand and predict market trends, and make recommendations to executives. Some Ph.D.-level economists research and teach at universities.

Median Annual Salary: $108,350


Financial Managers

These managers oversee organizational finances, collaborating with other managers to create and achieve long-term financial goals. These professionals often produce and present financial statements and reports. Other duties include supervising financial staff, ensuring legal compliance, and advising top executives.

Median Annual Salary: $134,180


Business Administration Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Business Intelligence Careers Finance Careers Business Management Careers

Continuing Education

This doctoral-level degree typically serves as a culminating or terminal degree. Most continuing education for DBA graduates takes place through mentorship and guidance from other professionals while on the job.

Some employers look for candidates with certification in particular industries or skill areas, so some DBA graduates may wish to earn professional certifications. Possible certifications include Senior Professional in Human Resources and Project Management Professional.

How Do I Choose an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?

Cost

The total cost of a doctoral degree averages $114,300 in the United States. Online degrees often cost less than on-campus equivalents. Private university tuition typically costs nearly three times more than public in-state tuition.

To calculate the true cost of an online program, learners also must consider living expenses and non-tuition educational expenses. Distance learners typically save money on living expenses but do pay for books and graduation fees.

Program Format

Many online programs allow asynchronous attendance to accommodate working students. Asynchronous online programs allow participants to watch recorded sessions and contribute to discussion at any time of day.

Online doctorate in business administration programs also may offer self-pacing options that allow learners to accelerate their degree or complete it on a more part-time basis. This flexibility makes a difference for busy students.

Location

Many online graduate programs require periodic visits to campus, often at the beginning or end of each semester or the program as a whole. Consider these requirements carefully when you decide where to apply, since this kind of travel gets expensive.

Some online doctorate in business administration students choose schools in their state or area so that they can take advantage of local networking and internship opportunities.

Accreditation

Good universities maintain institutional accreditation through regional accrediting agencies approved by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation matters, since regionally accredited schools do not accept transfer of credits from nationally accredited schools. Furthermore, only students at regionally accredited schools qualify for federal financial aid.

High-quality online doctorate in business administration programs usually also boast programmatic accreditation by organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

Student Support

Most online doctorate in business administration schools provide student support such as academic advising, career services, and networking opportunities. Some programs even offer mentorship programs. Compare online student service offerings as you choose prospective schools.

2021 Best Accredited Online Doctorate in Business Administration Programs

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you can make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering transparent, inclusive, and relevant school rankings.

Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

Is your school on this list? Get the BestColleges ranking seal.

Best Online Doctorate in Business Administration Programs

  • Liberty University
    Location

    Lynchburg, VA

    LU offers a doctor of business administration program from one of the nation's top Christian colleges. Students complete the fully online degree in three years on average. This DBA allows students to specialize their skills by choosing an emphasis.

    Core DBA topics include strategy formulation and strategic thinking, supply chain management, and strategic allocation of financial resources. The 17 specializations include traditional subjects such as accounting, finance, and international business.

    All participants complete a culminating applied research project. Admission requires a master's in business or a related major, as well as a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $595
    • Program Length: 3 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    BU developed a doctor of business administration focused on the real-life application of advanced business skills. The fully online curriculum consists of 55 credits. Students receive an additional 36 credits for their accredited MBA.

    The DBA curriculum explores topics such as human capital development, finance for business leaders, and sustainable business development. A research project beginning in the first year helps establish the participant as a thought leader. This DBA program requires no dissertation.

    Two-week breaks between courses help participants manage their schedules. Admission to the online doctorate in business administration requires an MBA or equivalent master's. Applicants do not need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $780
    • Program Length: 3+ years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 91 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • City University of Seattle
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    CityU develops business programs specifically for working professionals. The doctor of business administration offers a customizable curriculum that students complete online in 3-4 years. The DBA examines topics such as financial decision-making, organizational identity and culture, and industry analysis and market innovation.

    All students complete several research courses in preparation for the dissertation. Participants use 12 credits to design a concentration. The DBA format blends asynchronous learning and live bi-weekly sessions with peers and the professor.

    Students can transfer up to 12 credits into this doctorate in business administration. Admission requires a master's degree (business major preferred) and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $742
    • Program Length: 3-4 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 91 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous and Synchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Baker College
    Location

    Owosso, MI

    Baker College's doctor of business administration develops scholar-practitioners. Students complete the degree entirely online in 3.5 years on average. The 60-credit curriculum develops proficiencies in areas such as quality improvement, knowledge management and information systems, and research methods and design.

    Students use nine credits to focus on a specialty area. They culminate the doctorate in business administration with a dissertation. Eight-week terms help students finish the DBA faster.

    All students pay the same affordable tuition rate regardless of residency. Admission requires a master's degree in business and optional GMAT or GRE scores.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $915
    • Program Length: 3.5
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Franklin University
    Location

    Columbus, OH

    Franklin's doctor of business administration offers working professionals the best of both worlds. Students can complete the degree entirely online or in hybrid format at regional centers located throughout Ohio. The degree requires at least a three-year commitment.

    The 58-credit curriculum explores topics such as organizational leadership and strategic thinking and decision-making. Students use elective credits to pursue a focus area such as accounting or HR management. The degree requires a comprehensive exam and dissertation.

    Students can transfer up to 24 credits into the online doctorate in business administration Admission requires an accredited master's and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $748
    • Program Length: 3 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 58 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • Concordia University-Chicago
    Location

    River Forest, IL

    CUC's doctor of business administration enrolls seasoned business professionals. The program blends online learning, three face-to-face residencies, and extensive mentorship. Enrollees learn how to apply business research to their management practice.

    The curriculum explores topics such as strategic marketing, global business operations, and business analytics. Participants choose one of two specializations: innovation in healthcare management or strategic leadership and innovation.

    All enrollees complete research methods coursework. Students pair with business mentors in the second term. Participants culminate the doctorate in business administration with a dissertation. Admission requires a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants are also encouraged to have at least five years of professional experience.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: N/A
    • Program Length: 3 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 60 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous and Synchronous
    • Format: Online with residencies
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
    • School Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission
  • George Fox University
    Location

    Newberg, OR

    Located in Oregon, George Fox offers a doctor of business administration that blends online learning and two residencies on campus in Newberg. Students take three years of coursework and spend one year on the dissertation.

    Coursework explores topics such as leading in organizations and international business. Another course focuses on effective teaching in higher education. Students customize the doctorate in business administration with one of three concentrations: accounting, management, or data analytics.

    Admission requires a master's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and five years of professional experience or a full-time faculty appointment.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $964
    • Program Length: 4 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 56 credits
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs
    • School Accreditation: Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
  • Johnson & Wales University
    Location

    Providence, RI

    Founded as a business school, Johnson & Wales offers a fully online doctor of business administration with no residency requirement. The cohort-based program creates business leaders able to optimize business performance in various sectors. Students complete the 54-credit degree in about three years.

    All enrollees complete a mandatory online orientation. Core courses examine topics such as organizational strategy and design, innovation and change, and business analytics and intelligence. Participants culminate the DBA with a dissertation.

    Enrollees in the doctorate in business administration pay the same tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires a master's degree, business coursework, and five years of related experience.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $964
    • Program Length: 3 years
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 54 credits
    • Instruction Style: N/A
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: N/A
    • School Accreditation: New England Commission of Higher Education
  • Felician University
    Location

    Lodi, NJ

    A private college located in New Jersey, Felician University offers a self-paced doctor of business administration. Students learn from faculty with extensive C-level experience. The online curriculum blends an advanced business core, projects in knowledge areas, and personalized mentorship. Students must attend a brief residency in the beginning of the program.

    The doctorate in business administration covers topics such as management theory, applied marketing, and statistical and quantitative analysis. Students conduct research in areas of their choosing.

    Participants receive online guidance as they complete their dissertation. The innovation lab and industry experts provide invaluable resources. Admission requires an MBA and optional GMAT or GRE scores.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $965
    • Program Length: N/A
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 70 credits
    • Instruction Style: Asynchronous
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: International Accreditation Council for Business Education
    • School Accreditation: Middle States Commission on Higher Education
  • California Baptist University
    Location

    Riverside, CA

    CBU prepares business leaders equipped for the business environment's rapid pace of change. The doctor of business administration uses a cohort model for coursework and the dissertation process.

    The curriculum explores topics such as economic theory, strategic marketing, and international business in global markets. The program also incorporates ethics as part of CBU's Christian heritage.

    Students typically finish the degree in 36 months. Eight-week sessions accelerate degree completion. All participants pay the same affordable tuition regardless of residency. Admission requires an accredited MBA or MBA equivalency exam.

    Program Snapshot

    • Program URL: Visit Program
    • Cost per Credit: $795
    • Program Length: 36 months
    • Total Credits Required to Graduate: 56 units
    • Format: Online
    • School Status: Private
    • Program Accreditation: N/A
    • School Accreditation: Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Business Administration Programs

Is a doctorate in business administration worth it? true

Attending graduate school in business typically proves worthwhile. DBA graduates often qualify for high-paying management or executive positions. High-paying management careers include human resources manager and advertising or marketing manager. These jobs pay median annual salaries of $121,220 and $141,490 respectively, according to the BLS. While these roles do not require a doctorate degree, achieving this level of education can help a candidate become more competitive in certain industries. Knowing your career goals and having a defined trajectory will help you make the decision on whether or not this particular degree is of value for your individual situation.

What can I do with a doctorate in business administration? true

Many DBA-holders seek high-level analyst, consultant, or manager careers. This degree far exceeds minimum degree requirements for most specialized business and financial occupations such as budget analyst and management analyst. Consultant roles also engage advanced DBA skills. DBA graduates often have a very competitive edge over other candidates for these roles.

How long does it take to get a doctorate in business administration online? true

DBA programs usually consist of about 60 credits and last 3-5 years. Part-time programs often serve working students and may take 5-7 years. Applicants with relevant graduate degrees from accredited schools can transfer credits and reduce their time-to-degree. Accelerated programs may take less than three years for enrollees with related master's degrees.

How much money can I make with a doctorate in business administration?

Graduate-level education in business tends to pay off. Doctoral graduates in business often pursue management or executive roles and average $101,000 annually. The top-paid 10% of top executives earn over $200,000 annually. When combined with experience and performance, a DBA degree increases executives' likelihood of receiving this high-end pay.

What are the highest paying jobs with a doctorate in business administration?

Many DBAs pursue executive positions that pay median annual salaries of $107,680, according to the BLS. Human resources managers earn $121,220 median annual salaries. The top 10% of HR managers make over $208,000 annually. Financial managers do even better financially, earning a median annual salary of $134,180. Marketing managers make an ample annual median wage of $141,490.

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Compare your school options.

View the most relevant school for your interests and compare them by tuition, programs, acceptance rate, and other factors important to find your college home.