Earning an MBA is a great way to enhance your business credentials, but maybe you’d like to really stand out in your organization or industry. Earning a doctor of business administration could be the key to gaining true expertise in your subject area and lead to many different paths for advancement, including:
- Executive or C-level positions at a corporation
- Teaching positions at a college or university
- Consulting opportunities or high-level contract positions
A doctorate in business, or DBA degree, can make you more competitive in markets where master’s degrees may be more common. While an MBA equips you to take on more challenging leadership roles, a DBA helps you apply advanced, doctoral-level theories to today’s most complex business issues – and become a leading expert in your field.
What is a doctor of business administration?
What is business administration? A doctor of business administration is a doctoral degree that focuses on applying theories and knowledge to solve real-world business problems. Business administration is a broad term that covers all functional areas of business, including:
- Project Management
- Human Resources
Most people who choose to pursue a DBA degree have already earned a master’s degree in business, typically an MBA, or Master’s in Business Administration. A doctorate of business administration will build on the principles of an MBA to teach students how to apply critical thinking, strategic analysis, and organizational theory to actual business problems in their field or industry. Courses usually emphasize research and require a dissertation, where students have to provide a solution to a business problem and then defend their strategy in front of faculty and their peers.
The curriculum will vary by institution, and some programs will focus on certain specialties, such as accounting or technology. If you’re interested in learning more about program options, take a look at the 25 best DBA programs that we’ve ranked for you below!
Is a Doctor of Business Administration worth it?
Earning a doctorate in business can be a long and rigorous process, and you need to determine if you can justify the cost after earning your master’s degree. However, a doctoral-level degree could open the door to some unique careers – or even increase your salary potential. Careers you could pursue with a DBA degree include:
- Postsecondary teacher: $79,540 (2019 median pay according to the BLS)
- Top executive: $104,690 (2019 median pay according to the BLS)
- Market research analysts: $63,790 (2019 median pay according to the BLS)
What is the difference between Ph.D. and DBA?
A Ph.D. in business administration is for students who want to pursue careers in higher education as teachers and instructors and focus on conducting research that builds on business theory. A DBA is a professional degree that applies business theory to actual real-life practice. Both programs are academically rigorous, and there can be some overlap in curriculum and career outcomes, but the main differences are:
- Students in Ph.D. programs research, test, and execute business theories
- Students in DBA programs apply those theories to actual problems in their organizations, fields, or industries
|1||University of Wisconsin (46 points)||Whitewater, Wisconsin|
|2||Wilmington University (41 points)||New Castle, Delaware|
|3||University of Missouri (40 points)||St. Louis, Missouri|
|4||Florida International University (32 points)||Miami, Florida|
|5||Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (31 points)||Winona, Minnesota|
How long does it take to get a Doctor of Business Administration?
Programs vary by institution, but it typically takes two to three years to earn a doctorate in business administration. Some programs make it easier to earn a degree on an accelerated schedule with online or hybrid formats. Most programs realize that working professionals need to balance their careers with their educations, and many schools are creating more flexible programs that require fewer on-campus requirements, including weekend residencies.
Now that you know more about a doctorate of business administration degree, you may be interested in exploring your school options. We’ve ranked the of the best DBA programs based on two factors: tuition cost per credit (lowest is best) and graduate enrollment (highest is best). Take a look at our list of DBA programs below!
University of Wisconsin (46 points)
The College of Business and Economics at University of Wisconsin – Whitewater offers a DBA for business professionals who want to enhance their current careers or pursue different paths in teaching or consulting. This DBA program is focused on providing solutions to real-world business problems. The curriculum includes how to solve advanced problems in marketing, information technology, finance, management, and accounting.
Wilmington University (41 points)
Wilmington University offers a DBA program specifically created for educators, leaders, managers, and consultants who want to make significant advancements within their organizations and fields. The curriculum focuses on ethics, communication skills, critical thinking, leadership management, and integrating theory with practice. Students can choose between a 100% online or on-campus delivery method to fit their lifestyle.
University of Missouri (40 points)
The University of Missouri-St. Louis offers a DBA program that lets working professionals advance their business careers without disrupting their lives. Students boost their analytical and methodological skills so they can solve complex problems within their own industry or field. The program is offered in a flexible format and can be earned in three years with only three-weekend trips per semester to campus.
Florida International University (32 points)
The Chapman School of Business at Florida International University offers a DBA program as a track under the Ph.D. degree and allows working adults to balance their careers with the rigors of a doctoral-level education. The format is a combination of online and in-person and equips students to become leaders of change so they can impact their organizations and fields of business. The program is 75 credit hours and can be completed within three years.
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (31 points)
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers a DBA where students can pick a core faculty member to chair their dissertation development. This program encourages interaction with instructors and peers inside and out of the classroom in a highly collaborative environment. Students can choose from one of two concentration tracks: Business Economics and Finance or Management and Strategy.
City University of Seattle (31 points)
City University of Seattle offers a DBA program that helps business professionals advance their knowledge and leadership skills in their field or area of their choice. Students take courses in leadership, critical thinking, agile business practices, and organization interventional thinking. Options include either online or on-campus learning formats and the program can be completed in three to four years.
Concordia University Chicago (30 points)
Concordia University Chicago offers a DBA program that lets managers and leaders take their knowledge and skills beyond the MBA and to a global level. This program offers students the unique chance to start their dissertation process right away by choosing a topic to study at the start of the program. Four specializations are offered: Marketing Innovations, Innovations in Human Resources, Strategic Leadership, and Innovation, and Innovation in Health Care Management.
Rutgers University (30 points)
Rutgers University, through their Business School in Newark and New Brunswick, offers a DBA that students can complete in as little as two years. With classes on weekends and evenings, students can balance work and school while enhancing their management and leadership skills. In this 60-credit program, classes focus on applying theory to real-world business problems.
Louisiana Tech University (29 points)
Louisiana Tech University offers a DBA that is a full-time, in-residence program with concentrations in Management, Computer Information Systems, Marketing, Finance, and Accounting. The program features small cohorts of only 3-4 students each so students can build camaraderie and support each other while earning their DBAs. Focus is on preparing students for careers as educators in colleges and schools of business.
University of Florida (29 points)
The University of Florida offers a 60 credit-hour DBA program (as a track under its PhD. degree program) through its Warrington College of Business. This 3-year program focuses on helping students use their methodological and analytical skills to apply business theory to real-world problems. With only two-weekend residencies required per semester, students can balance career and school while working with experienced management professionals from all walks of business.
Westcliff University (28 points)
Westcliff University, located in Irvine, California, offers a DBA with the goal to help students learn creative and innovative ways to solve complex business problems. This program is one of the few in Southern California that enables students to take a doctoral program in a synchronous online or hybrid format. Areas of concentration include Strategic Leadership in the 21st Century, Business Intelligence and Data Analytics, Information Technology Management, and Applied Computer Science.
Indiana Wesleyan University (27 points)
Indiana Wesleyan University offers a Doctor of Business Administration with specializations in Accounting, Management, Healthcare Administration, and Information Systems. Students learn how to apply ethics to complex business situations and practically apply research in education, consulting, and leadership in real-world scenarios. The program can also be completed in about 3 years.
California Southern University (27 points)
California Southern University offers a Doctor of Business Administration that turns business executives into competitive leaders who can expertly navigate the evolving global marketplace. This program focuses on advancing business leaders in several areas, including human resources, healthcare, and senior leadership roles like C-suite positions and government agency heads. Students can speed up their time to degree completion by taking several courses simultaneously in a term and through credit transfers.
Temple University – Executive DBA (24 points)
Fox School of Business at Temple University offers an Executive DBA that builds students’ decision-making abilities and transforms them from business leaders into thought leaders. Students benefit from individualized mentorships with faculty members and create a unique, tailored research agenda that helps them directly impact their organization or field. Classes combine on-campus and online learning methods and include six weekend-long residencies during each of the first two years.
Drexel University – Executive DBA (23 points)
The Executive Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) degree program is a part-time executive doctoral program designed to equip executives and senior managers with methods to address complex industry and organizational challenges. The program integrates and leverages Drexel’s 120+ year history of experiential learning to provide a broad theoretical perspective of current business issues as well as a strong foundation in applied research and analysis to enrich critical knowledge, skills and abilities.
Tuition is all-inclusive and covers hotel stays and meals during residencies, books and other instructional materials, on-campus parking throughout the year, and one-on-one dissertation advisement with an active research professor. Drexel has staff that automatically registers students for class, purchases and provides instructional materials, makes hotel and meal reservations, and handles billing issues for them. They are fully AACSB-accredited. Over 90% of their 68 students were awarded partial scholarships.
Alliant International University (22 points)
The California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) at Alliant International University offers a DBA with a unique focus on technology and quantitative analysis. The program is available in both an online format and in-person at their San Diego campus. Students who take the online format may be eligible for a $25,000 impact grant (contact the school directly for eligibility information and more details).
Creighton University – Doctorate in Business Administration (21 points)
Creighton University’s Heider College of Business offers a DBA program that helps students build the analytical and critical thinking skills they need to navigate challenges throughout their business careers. Taught with a Jesuit perspective, students can choose to focus on economics, business information systems and analytics, finance, accounting, marketing, and organizational behavior and strategy. The program is a three-year hybrid DBA that lets working professionals manage their careers and education simultaneously.
George Fox University (21 points)
George Fox University, located in Newberg, Oregon, offers a Doctor of Business Administration in both an Online Hybrid format and Cohort program model. The program is ideal for advanced business professionals who want to increase their knowledge and strengthen their leadership, or transition into careers as professors or consultants. Students can choose from one of three concentrations: marketing, accounting, or management.
Thomas Edison State University (20 points)
This online, 48-credit DBA program from Thomas Edison State University offers concentrations in General Management, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Leadership. Students can choose the track that’s best for their career path and helps them advance as executives, instructors, and consultants in the business world. This program offers a portfolio of uniquely low-cost learning resources, including articles, e-books, and Open Educational Resources.
Scranton University – Program (19 points)
Scranton University offers a DBA specifically geared towards experienced accounting professionals. In this program, students are prepared to make significant contributions to the academic and business worlds in the areas of advanced research, teaching skills, and communication. Students also benefit from the foundation of a Jesuit education, which is aimed at developing the whole person so they can be successful in all areas of life.
University of the Potomac (19 points)
University of the Potomac offers a DBA that equips students to navigate the always-changing business landscape and become stronger leaders in an evolving global economy. This small university, located in Washington D.C., has a 60-credit program that includes classes like Principles of Research and Writing, International Marketing in Business, and Conflict Resolution and Negotiations.
Anderson University (18 points)
Anderson University offers a rigorous DBA program that integrates Christian values and faith with a traditional business curriculum. This program provides students with a strong foundation of business fundamentals while increasing the participation of Christian business scholars in higher learning. Approximately eight to twelve students are accepted each year to the program.
Metropolitan State University – Business Administration DBA (16 points)
Metropolitan State University, located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, offers a Doctorate of Business Administration that prepares business leaders and senior managers for more challenging roles as executives, post-secondary instructors, or consultants. Available on a part-time basis, classes blend on-campus and online methods so students can manage the demands of work, family, and class. The course requires 52 credits beyond an MBA.
University of Dallas (13 points)
The University of Dallas offers a DBA from its Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business. This 61-credit hour degree program is for business academics and managers with advanced experience who want to expand their knowledge further than an MBA. This DBA program is designed to help students solve existing organizational and managerial problems in the workplace. Students get to collaborate with senior-level business executives while learning on a schedule that accommodates their current working responsibilities.
Northwood University (12 points)
DeVos Graduate School at Northwood University offers a DBA program that prepares business professionals to pursue more advanced roles like chief executive or financial offer, or other leadership and consulting roles. The curriculum focuses on real-world business problems so students can apply theory to actual challenges within their own organizations or fields. This 3-year program allows students to start their dissertation during their first year.
Want to see more Doctor of Business Administration programs? Select Business & Management then Business Administration in the degree finder tool and we’ll help you find the school that’s right for you.
Our Ranking Methodology
In order to come up with our rankings, we used a formula based on per-credit tuition rates (in-state where applicable) and gradate enrollment rates for each school. After sorting first by the per-credit tuition rates and then by graduate enrollment rates, we assigned points to each school and added these points to get a final ranking score.
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