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.
Updated November 10, 2022
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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.
www.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.
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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.
What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Business Administration Programs
Is a doctorate in business administration worth it?
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?
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?
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.
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