Graduates of a doctoral business administration (DBA) program qualify for top executive positions in corporate management, finance, and marketing. A doctorate in business administration sharpens leadership and strategic management skills, providing a pathway to career advancement for aspiring CEOs, project managers, and executive directors.
A doctorate in business administration sets job-seekers apart from competitors, demonstrating expertise beyond even an MBA. Graduates also enjoy positive projected job growth between 2019 and 2029 and median annual wages in excess of $100,000 for many advanced management positions, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
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The following guide highlights the academic and professional benefits of earning an in-person or online doctorate in business administration.
Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Business Administration Programs
How long does it take to get a doctorate in business administration?
Earning a doctorate in business administration takes roughly three years depending on each student's internship, fellowship, and dissertation requirements. However, many online degrees offer accelerated paths to graduation.
How much does it cost to get a doctorate in business administration?
While tuition varies significantly by program, the National Center for Education Statistics calculates the average cost of graduate tuition at nearly $19,000, with top nonprofit institutions charging nearly $44,000. Many online doctorates in business administration offer affordable set or in-state tuition rates.
Can a DBA be called a doctor?
Graduates with a doctorate in business administration earn the title of "doctor" in degree name only. DBAs do not hold the same qualifications or title as a medical doctor.
Is a DBA better than a Ph.D.?
DBAs and Ph.D.s are considered equivalent terminal degrees, each offering a distinctive curriculum in their respective field of study. Both demonstrate the highest level of scholarly achievement, but neither award the title of medical "doctor."
Do you need an MBA to get a DBA?
Most doctorates in business administration require applicants to have a master's degree and years of professional experience. However, not all schools require a prior major in business administration. Some programs enable students to take a placement exam to bypass academic entrance requirements.
Popular Online Doctorate's in Business Programs
Best Online Doctorate in Business Administration Programs (DBA)
Founded in 1965, Baker serves students online and from its main campus in Owosso. The school offers a doctorate in business administration that can be completed entirely online. The program uses a combination of seminars, research papers, classes, and a final dissertation. In the final dissertation, students apply business theories learned in their courses, applying knowledge to real business environments.
Students complete 60 credits over the course of this 3.5-year program. After completing their degree, individuals may work as business consultants, analysts, or business operation managers. Alternatively, some graduates opt to pursue a career teaching business administration.
Baker is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.Learn More
Founded in 1966 and located in easern Nebraska, Bellevue offers a doctorate in business administration that features entirely online coursework. Students learn how to manage technological and sustainable changes in an organization, preparing to solve modern industry problems.
The degree does not include a written dissertation. Students instead engage in an applied research-based project. This project should solve a problem or business challenge that the student is passionate about. Coursework covers advanced communication, advanced scholarly thinking, business research, societal problems, and more. Interested applicants need an accredited master of business administration in order to apply.
BU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.Learn More
California Baptist University
A Christian institution founded in 1950 in Riverside, CBU enrolls over 11,000 students annually. The school's online doctorate in business administration degree provides students with the skills necessary to develop high-level change in private, public, and nonprofit organizations. Coursework focuses on training in professional management, human resources, marketing, professional leadership, and more
Students take one online class each eight-week session. The program also requires a written dissertation. Interested applicants need to hold a master of business administration from an accredited university. They should also submit a personal statement and a resume.
CBU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission. Its business school holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.Learn More
City University of Seattle
Founded in 1973, CityU offers over 60 degree programs, many of which can be completed online. The online doctor of business administration offered by CityU focuses on providing guidance on interventional thinking, leadership, specialized business knowledge, and more.
Online classes feature live teaching sessions. Courses include developing effective business strategies, evaluating complex organizations, utilizing project-oriented approaches, and analyzing the state of an organization. Students can transfer up to 12 applicable credits into this program. Students need a master of business administration from an accredited university to apply.
CityU is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.Learn More
River Forest, IL
Located in Chicago, Illinois, CUC enrolls over 11,000 students every year. The university's doctorate in business administration teaches online students advanced management and leadership skills. Coursework offers learners the opportunity to foster global relationships due to the university's global presence.
The dissertation process begins right when students begin coursework. Participants choose a preliminary topic at the beginning of their studies. The program includes residencies, mentorships, and two concentration options (i.e., healthcare management and strategic leadership and innovation).
Students need an accredited master's degree in business administration to apply. CUC is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its business school holds accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.Learn More
Founded in 1967, Felician University teaches students online and at its main campus in Lodi, New Jersey. The university's fully online doctorate in business administration program focuses primarily on business evaluation, research, and quantitative techniques in improving organizational function.
Coursework is divided into four phases. The first phase focuses on advanced academic writing, statistics, and research methods. The second phase consists of a project in management, quantitative decision-making, and marketing. The third phase looks at certification courses and specialization requirements, and the last phase focuses on a dissertation and a brief residency requirement.
Interested applicants need a master of business administration degree from an accredited institution. They must also submit a resume, official transcripts, and a personal statement with their application packet.
Felician University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.Learn More
Located in Columbus, Ohio, Franklin was founded in 1902. The coursework in Franklin's online doctorate in business administration program focuses on changes in accessibility, consumer expectations, and technology. Students look at initiating corporate-wide agendas to improve profitability.
The program also includes microdentials. These are small, stand-alone courses that demonstrate a student's competency in a distinct area. Completion of these programs is usually demonstrated by sharing digital badges.
Interested applicants need a master of business administration from an accredited institution. Some students may be asked to take an entrance exam. Learners can transfer in up to 24 qualifying credits to expedite graduation.
Franklin is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.Learn More
Located in Newberg, Oregon, this Christian university offers over 60 degree programs. George Fox's doctorate in business administration program follows a hybrid format. Students take most of their coursework online, but must complete two in-person sessions in Newberg, Oregon, each year.
Students complete a research core, business core, education core, and dissertation. The education core includes a consulting practicum or teaching practicum. Interested applicants need a master's from an accredited institution to apply.
George Fox is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. Its business school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.Learn More
Johnson & Wales University-Online
Located in Providence, Rhode Island, JWU provides students with over 80 different major options. The university's online doctorate in business administration degree focuses on high-level business management topics in healthcare, higher education, and more. Coursework covers ethics in business challenges and ways to solve problems creatively.
The program prepares students to become policymakers, leaders, and consultants at the executive level. No residencies are required for degree completion. Each course lasts eight weeks. Individuals need a master of business administration degree in order to apply.
JWU is regionally accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.Learn More
Located in Lynchburg, Virginia, Liberty enrolls over 100,000 students online and in person. The school's online doctorate in business administration prepares students for executive management roles.
The program offers a wide variety of concentrations to further specialize the degree. Specializations include marketing, international business, nonprofit leadership and management, real estate, tourism, and more. All theoretical research may be applied in a real-world setting. Liberty is an evangelical institution, and all of its coursework is instilled with Christian values. Interested applicants need a master of business administration degree earned with a minimum 3.0 GPA.
Liberty is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its business school is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.Learn More
St. Thomas University
Miami Gardens, FL
The online doctor of business administration in management at STU trains students about the management of people, products, and policies in business. The degree also prepares students to pursue teaching roles in higher education.
Up to 30 credits from a student's master's degree will be put towards the doctorate's 90-credit requirement. Depending on how many credits are transferred from the student's master's degree, the program can take just 1-2 years to complete.
Coursework can be taken online, in person, or through a hybrid format. Students can choose between a traditional dissertation, article dissertation, and action research project. Applicants need a master of business administration from an accredited institution.
STU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.Learn More
Trevecca Nazarene University
The doctorate in business management offered by Trevecca can be completed entirely online. Students choose one of three different concentrations: higher education, consulting and coaching, or leading and managing.
The higher education track prepares students for teaching business administration or for working as a college administrator. The consulting and coaching track focuses on preparing students to be internal and external executive consultants. The leading and managing track develops high-level leaders for various entrepreneurial settings.
The program can be completed in three years. Graduation requires an applied doctoral research project. Interested applicants do not need a master of business administration to apply; the program accepts applicants with a wide variety of master's degrees.
Trevecca is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.Learn More
University of the Cumberlands
The online doctorate in business administration at Cumberlands focuses on helping students develop advanced management competencies. Coursework covers a mixture of theoretical and applied topics.
Full-time students can complete the program in three years, with part-time students taking up to five years. Coursework is offered entirely online. Interested applicants need an accredited master's degree in business administration in order to apply.
Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Business programs at Cumberlands are accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.Learn More
The doctor of business administration offered by WilmU teaches online students to apply theoretical research in an organizational setting. The degree can be completed entirely online, in a hybrid format, or in person.
Coursework focuses on leadership management, communication skills, critical thinking, and ethics. The program format follows a cohort model, in which students work in tandem to complete projects and coursework.
During their dissertation project, students partner with an industry expert. The program consists of 54 total credits and takes roughly three years to complete. All applicants need a master's degree in business administration to apply.
WilmU is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and its business school holds accreditation from the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.Learn More
Should I Get a Doctorate in Business Administration?
Doctoral candidates typically pursue this terminal degree after earning a master's degree in business administration or a related major and gaining years of professional experience. Students in these programs develop advanced leadership and management skills.
Doctoral candidates typically pursue this terminal degree after earning a master's degree in business administration or a related major and gaining years of professional experience.
The best doctoral programs in business administration offer foundational courses in essential business strategy, financial decision-making, organizational theory and behavior, and market analysis. These programs also incorporate independent learning and research skills through a capstone or dissertation requirement.
Most students can complete a doctorate in business administration in roughly three years; however, completion times vary depending on each student's prior experience and program requirements. Graduates with a doctorate in business administration exceed most requirements for professional certifications, such as project management professional and professional in human resources.
What Can I Expect from a Doctorate in Business Administration Program?
Schools may offer a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in business administration or a DBA degree. Depending on individual admission requirements and prerequisite coursework, programs typically require 60 credits and offer a choice of full- or part-time study. An online doctorate in business administration may include especially flexible enrollment options.
Most programs focus on sharpening skills in data analysis and strategic decision-making. Coursework also covers market analysis, trend-tracking, and corporate and nonprofit management techniques. Graduates can choose to pursue professional certification in a broad or specialized area of expertise.
- This concentration emphasizes strong leadership and communication skills. Students build on years of prior study in organizational theory, human resources development, and strategic management for public and private business sectors.
- A concentration in accounting offers an in-depth examination of accounting ethics, applications, and compliance. Doctoral-level study also explores accounting tools and theory and conservative and skeptical behavior as related to best practices in accounting.
- This concentration prepares students for advanced roles in finance management, such as chief financial officer and private consultant. Students in this concentration explore managing investments, assets, liabilities, and long-term financial planning.
- A doctorate in business administration with a concentration in marketing suits aspiring senior-level marketing, advertising, and promotions executives. Coursework in this concentration emphasizes advanced leadership skills and sales and advertising strategies.
- Human Resources
- This concentration trains students to develop and implement advanced human resources policies. The curriculum explores organizational behavior and common challenges and successful models in human resources.
Still Looking for the Right Fit? Discover Similar Programs
How to Choose a Business Administration Doctoral Program
Students face several key considerations in their search for the best doctorate in business administration, including admission requirements, curriculum, format, and cost. Many students consider an online doctorate in business administration that offers accelerated paths to graduation and set or in-state tuition rates for distance learners. Others prioritize programs offering unique concentrations, career services, and networking opportunities.
Programmatic Accreditation for Doctorate in Business Administration Programs
Any legitimate school offering a doctorate in business administration is accredited through the Department of Education and through a national or regional accrediting agency. Regional accreditation demonstrates that a school meets the highest standards in postsecondary education.
Many business administration programs boast additional specialized accreditation, most commonly through organizations, such as AACSB International, Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, or International Accreditation Council for Business Education. Programmatic accreditation ensures that a business administration degree meets academic and professional requirements for business and management fields.
How to Get Into a Business Administration Doctoral Program
Admission into a doctorate in business administration typically requires a master's degree in business or a related major and 1-3 years of professional experience. Though uncommon, some programs accept extensive work experience instead of a master's degree.
Though not always required, GMAT or GRE scores are especially critical for admission into DBA programs that accept students who do not hold a master's degree. Applicants should also prepare to submit a resume, official transcripts, a personal statement, and letters of recommendation.
What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Business Administration?
While not all companies require a doctorate in business administration for high-level executive positions, professionals with a terminal degree hold a distinct advantage in their chosen field. DBA graduates qualify for senior roles in corporate and nonprofit management within public and private sectors. They can use their advanced leadership skills and extensive experience to earn a top salary and launch a long career.
Graduates of DBA programs can pursue top executive positions like CEO, CFO, and CTO. Professionals who earn a terminal degree may also go on to become business or management consultants, economists, financial managers, or postsecondary educators in business subjects. Others may carve out their own path in entrepreneurship or business development.
Popular Career Paths
Related DBA Programs That Might Interest You
Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.
How Much Money Can I Make With a Doctorate in Business Administration?
A doctorate in business administration can lead to senior executive management positions. Graduates of a doctoral business program can command salaries well above the national average as CEOs, CFOs, finance specialists, HR directors, and consultants.
Doctoral candidates may also parlay their advanced business expertise into a postsecondary teaching career in a subject like management or leadership. Postsecondary educators earn a median annual wage of $80,790, while top executives, HR managers, and financial managers can earn between $100,000-$135,000 per year.
Certifications and Licenses a Doctorate in Business Administration Prepares For
- Project Management Professional:
Graduates with a doctorate in business administration often pursue PMP certification to demonstrate versatile project management skills in general business or a specialized field.
Candidates must have field experience and/or previous professional certification to sit for the PMP exam.
- Professional in Human Resources:
Graduates with a doctorate in business administration who aspire to senior roles in HR management may pursue PHR certification. Applicants with a master's degree or higher need at least one year of experience in a professional-level HR position to qualify for the exam.
- Senior Professional in Human Resources:
A step up from PHR certification, the SPHR credential denotes many years of senior-level experience in HR management. Candidates with a master's degree or higher must have a minimum of four years of professional experience to sit for the certifying exam.
- Salesforce Software Certification:
Salesforce is the most widely used e-commerce and customer-interfacing platform. This certification suits both sales professionals and network administrators seeking specialized skills. Students can take an exam to pursue more than 30 certification options, including salesforce administrator and salesforce certified advanced administrator.
- Certified Public Accountant:
While many CPAs hold a degree in accounting, others may pursue CPA licensure to advance their careers in financial management after earning a doctorate in business administration. Becoming a CPA requires students to complete a post-baccalaureate or master's program and roughly two years of work experience (varies by state) and pass the CPA exam.