Doctorate in Business Administration Program Guide

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September 28, 2021

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Graduates of a doctoral business administration program qualify for top executive positions in corporate management, finance, and marketing. A doctorate in business administration (DBA) 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).

The following guide highlights the academic and professional benefits of earning an in-person or online doctorate in business administration.

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.

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Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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.

Concentrations

Management
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.
Accounting
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.
Finance
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.
Marketing
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.

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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.

Find the top online doctorate in business administration programs.

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.

Read Our Guide to Graduate Admissions.

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Business Administration Programs

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

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? true

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? true

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.

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