DBA programs are the highest degrees in business administration you can earn. They are the next step up from an MBA, however their purpose, curriculum and structure are quite different. Getting a DBA is more similar to how to get a PhD or other doctoral degree. Earning your DBA makes you an expert in the field of business and can lead to many career benefits and a nice return on investment. In this blog, learn what DBA programs are, how they are structured, what the DBA admission requirements are and how to get into these programs.

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List of DBA Programs in the US List of DBA Programs in Canada What are DBA Programs? How to Get Into DBA programs Are DBA Programs Worth it? FAQs

List of DBA Programs in the US

There are over 150 DBA programs in the US, many of them offered, of course, by the same institutions that house the best MBA programs in the US. Note that this is not an exhaustive list, but you can find more colleges that offer DBA Programs on the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) website here.

  1. Arizona State University
  2. Auburn University
  3. Baylor University
  4. Bentley University
  5. Boston College
  6. Boston University
  7. Brandeis University
  8. Carnegie Mellon University
  9. Case Western Reserve University
  10. Cleveland State University
  11. Columbia University
  12. Cornell University
  13. DePaul University
  14. Drexel University
  15. Duke University
  16. Florida Atlantic University
  17. Florida State University
  18. Fordham University
  19. George Washington University
  20. Georgia Institute of Technology
  21. Georgia State University
  22. Harvard Business School
  23. Illinois Institute of Technology
  24. Indiana University
  25. Iowa State University
  26. Lehigh University
  27. Louisiana State University
  28. Marshall University
  29. Michigan State University
  30. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
  31. Ohio State University
  32. Pace University
  33. Pennsylvania State University
  34. Purdue University
  35. Rice University
  36. Rutgers University
  37. Stanford Graduate School of Business
  38. Stern School of Business, New York University
  39. Texas Tech University
  40. University of Chicago
  41. University of Michigan
  42. University of North Carolina
  43. University of Texas (all campuses)
  44. University of California (all campuses)
  45. University of Miami
  46. University of Pittsburgh
  47. University of Wisconsin-Madison
  48. Washington University in St. Louis
  49. Wayne State University
  50. Yale University

List of DBA Programs in Canada

The best MBA programs in Canada are also the home of the top DBA programs in Canada, offering students of business the opportunity to advance their studies.

  1. Athabasca University
  2. Carleton University
  3. Concordia University
  4. Université Laval
  5. HEC Montreal
  6. McMaster University
  7. Memorial University of Newfoundland
  8. Queen’s University
  9. Saint Mary’s University
  10. Simon Fraser University
  11. Toronto Metropolitan University
  12. University of Alberta
  13. University of British Columbia
  14. University of Calgary
  15. University of Guelph
  16. University of Manitoba
  17. University of Ottawa
  18. University of Victoria
  19. Wilfrid Laurier University

What are DBA Programs?

DBA programs, or Doctor of Business Administration, are the next step up from an MBA (Master of Business Administration). While MBA programs are more general, designed to provide students with foundational business knowledge and skills that are applicable across industries, DBA programs are more advanced.

DBA programs focus on applied research and practical business knowledge. Think of them as a PhD in business, designed for working professionals who seek to enhance their skills and specialized business knowledge. Unlike an MBA, however, a DBA program is not as broad, and it does include some research and academic aspects, similar to a PhD program. An MBA will give you a mastery of foundational business concepts, tools and skills. A DBA will make you a business subject matter expert.

DBA programs are more about the big picture of business. Essentially, MBA students are prepared to become leaders and managers, no matter their field of business. DBA graduates seek to innovate and explore better business practices, find better tools to make better business decisions and contribute new ideas to the field of business.

DBAs are professional doctorate degrees, so while they are the equivalent of a PhD, they are less research focused and more about practical skill. For instance, there are PhDs in Business Administration, which are focused on theoretical knowledge in business and research, and Doctor of Management (DM) degrees, which are more akin to the Executive MBA program in that they prepare managers to become high-level executives and effective leaders.

DBA programs are specifically designed for mid-level and upper-level managers and executives who already have extensive work experience or degrees in business and related fields. Like MBA programs, they are tools for career development and skill enhancement.

How are DBA programs structured?

Similar to most PhD programs, DBA programs include both MBA coursework, research and the presentation of a final project—this might be a capstone project, dissertation or thesis, depending on the program. DBA programs may also include an MBA internship and even teaching responsibilities.

Here are some common components of a DBA curriculum:

How long are DBA programs?

Earning your DBA takes longer than how long it takes to get an MBA, but slightly less time than how long to get a PhD. On average, DBA programs are between 3-5 years.

If you’re planning to get your MBA and your DBA after that, you’re looking at anywhere from 5-8 years of schooling to get both degrees. Again, this will depend on the individual programs, the format and the curriculum. For instance, you might enroll in an online MBA program or an accelerated program such as a 1-year MBA program.

What can I do with a DBA?

Graduating with a DBA means you are eligible for many of the same top MBA jobs, but you will have the potential for a higher salary and higher-level positions, since you will now be considered a business expert and have more specialized skills in your chosen area of business.

Finding a postdoc position after your DBA might mean using your expanded professional network to secure a job in the field or company you want. Or you can pursue a position in academia if that’s where your interest lies. Still other DBA graduates become high-level consultants in their chosen business specialty.

Need some writing tips for your MBA resume?

How to Get Into DBA programs

Getting into DBA programs, as you might expect, can be fairly competitive. While admission to DBA programs is not on par with MBA acceptance rates in the US and MBA acceptance rates in Canada, which are notoriously competitive, they are not the easiest to get into, either.

MBAs are among the most popular degree programs for business professionals, and the top programs, such as the M7 MBA programs, are tough to get into. DBA programs, on the other hand, see far fewer applicants and only a fraction of the graduates of MBA programs. Nonetheless, they are a high-level graduate program, and the admission standards are high.

For your best chance of getting into these business administration programs, review the requirements we’ve listed below and some of the tips you can use to boost your application.

DBA program admission requirements

The admission requirements for a DBA program are generally in line with most MBA requirements and graduate program requirements, specifically PhD programs.

Here’s a quick checklist of DBA program requirements to guide you:

  • A master’s degree in business (MBA or related field)
  • Work experience (average 5-10 years at management level)
  • Resume or CV
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose or admissions essays
  • Standardized test scores (GMAT or GRE)
  • Admissions interview
  • Research proposal

1. Maintain a strong GPA

Like any graduate program, DBA programs have high academic standards. Admission officers want to see that you can handle the workload of a DBA program and have the academic skills needed to succeed and graduate. This might include research experience, writing and communication skill and a solid understanding of business (usually demonstrated through the MBA credentials). Depending on the program, there may even be a minimum GPA you need to meet to be accepted.

For the best chance of getting into a DBA program, particularly one offered at a top business school, maintain your undergraduate and MBA GPA as much as possible.

2. Take the GMAT (or GRE)

MBA programs usually require applicants to take the GMAT or Graduate Management Admissions Test. Other programs may accept the GRE in lieu of the GMAT, too.

If you’ve been admitted to an MBA program or are applying for one, you’re likely already familiar with GMAT prep. However, many MBA programs are now test-optional, so if you haven’t taken the GMAT to get your MBA, keep in mind it may be required for a DBA program.

Just like your GPA, admissions committees use your GMAT scores or GRE scores to determine your readiness for a graduate-level business program. Score as high as you can on whichever test you choose, and look into a GMAT prep course or hire a GMAT tutor for expert help.

3. Spruce up your resume

Before applying to a DBA program, get out your MBA resume and give it a polish. DBA programs are targeted towards working professionals who already have plenty of management and leadership experience, an average of 5-10 years, though this can vary from program to program.

Your resume or CV should highlight your leadership experience in particular, demonstrating that you have the base qualifications to become an expert in business administration and can build upon those skills.

4. Prepare your essays

DBAs may ask for admission essays or a personal statement, similar to MBA admission essays and an MBA statement of purpose. You’ll need to convey your reasons for pursuing a DBA clearly and concisely and explain in detail why a DBA will help you to reach your professional goals. Aside from earning the highest possible education in business, that is.

Additionally, a program might ask applicants to submit a DBA motivation letter. To craft one, take a look at some MBA motivation letter samples and PhD motivation letter samples to get an understanding of the structure and intent of this document.

5. Choose a research topic

DBA programs will ask you to submit a research proposal, so give some thought to a potential research topic before you apply. Crafting a strong research proposal takes some time, and you’ll need to define your topic beyond the initial brainstorming stage.

Think about why you want to do a DBA program, similar to answering the question “why do you want to do a PhD?” Consider the areas of business that interest you most or that you feel are underdeveloped and unexplored. What can you contribute to these subjects? What from your professional experience can you bring to a DBA program?

6. Showcase your accomplishments

DBA programs may ask to see your academic, professional and personal accomplishments. You can demonstrate this through your extracurriculars, as you would for your MBA extracurriculars. Or you might include a list of your publications, presentations, research experience, professional development, awards, scholarships and so on.

Another way to demonstrate your accomplishments is through securing strong MBA recommendation letters. Most of the time, these will be written by your employer, past or present. For a DBA program, you may even include a letter from your MBA program’s faculty, as they can speak more to your academic abilities and strengths.

7. Get ready for interviews

MBA interview questions are tough, and DBA programs may have a familiar interview experience to this. Preparing for a DBA program interview will be similar to how to prepare for an MBA interview, so be sure to refresh your memory and prepare for common questions.

Are DBA Programs Worth it?

Are DBA programs worth applying to? Do you need to get a DBA after getting your MBA to remain a competitive professional in today’s world?

DBA programs are not necessarily better than MBAs, and stats show that most MBA-holders do not choose to pursue further higher education after graduation. Most MBA graduates experience career growth and have no issue finding opportunities, without a DBA.

However, if you’re interested in enhancing your business acumen, or you want to pursue a more intellectual side of business, a DBA might be of interest to you. DBA graduates have different opportunities than MBA grads, such as the opportunity to find positions in academia, research or education. You can also become a business expert with specialized, intensive knowledge. You can also earn significantly more than an MBA graduate and seek highly specialized positions within your industry.

If you’re looking to choose the right MBA program for you, think about what your long-term career goals are and whether the focus and intent of a DBA program appeals to you. You can also speak with a grad school admissions consultant about what your options are and what program might suit your goals.


1. What are DBA programs?

DBA programs, or Doctor of Business Administration, are the highest degree you can earn in business administration. They are the next step up after an MBA.

2. Are DBA programs worth it?

DBA programs are not the right choice for everyone, and a majority of MBA-holders do not apply for a DBA. However, depending on your long-term career goals, earning your DBA may be worth getting to pursue your goals.

3. Is DBA equivalent to a PhD?

Yes, a DBA is a doctorate degree and is equivalent to a PhD. It is the highest level of education you can earn in business administration.

4. How do I get into a DBA program?

To get into a DBA program, you’ll need to earn your MBA first, or a related master’s degree. You should also maintain a high GPA and plenty of work experience. 

5. What are the requirements for a DBA?

To get into a DBA program, you will need an MBA (or related master’s degree) and a significant level of past work experience. Some programs may also ask you to submit recommendation letters, admissions essays, a resume and GMAT or GRE scores. 

6. How much do DBA programs cost?

DBA programs can cost upwards of $50,000-$100,000 including tuition, fees and cost. Fortunately, you can cover the cost of your education with MBA scholarships, graduate school scholarships and financial aid. However, the return on investment from a DBA may be worth the cost. Just as MBAs are among the highest paying master’s degrees, a DBA is a high-paying doctoral degree once you’ve graduated.

7. What jobs can you get with a DBA?

With a DBA, you are eligible for many of the same top jobs MBA graduates are, but you may have a higher earning potential or be able to pursue higher-level positions. 

8. Is a DBA better than an MBA?

A DBA is not necessarily “better” than an MBA, it just has a different purpose than an MBA. Both degrees can be an advantage for business professionals who want to advance their career, change industries or enhance their skills, but MBAs and DBAs have different curriculums and have different outcomes for applicants.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting 

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