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 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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There are over 150 DBA programs in the US, many of them offered, of course, by the same institutions that house the . 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 .
- Arizona State University
- Auburn University
- Baylor University
- Bentley University
- Boston College
- Boston University
- Brandeis University
- Carnegie Mellon University
- Case Western Reserve University
- Cleveland State University
- Columbia University
- Cornell University
- DePaul University
- Drexel University
- Duke University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Florida State University
- Fordham University
- George Washington University
- Georgia Institute of Technology
- Georgia State University
- Illinois Institute of Technology
- Indiana University
- Iowa State University
- Lehigh University
- Louisiana State University
- Marshall University
- Michigan State University
- Northwestern University
- Ohio State University
- Pace University
- Pennsylvania State University
- Purdue University
- Rice University
- Rutgers University
- , New York University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Chicago
- University of Michigan
- University of North Carolina
- University of Texas (all campuses)
- University of California (all campuses)
- University of Miami
- University of Pittsburgh
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
- Washington University in St. Louis
- Wayne State University
- Yale University
- Concordia University
- Université Laval
- HEC Montreal
- Memorial University of Newfoundland
- Saint Mary’s University
- Simon Fraser University
- Toronto Metropolitan University
- University of British Columbia
- University of Guelph
- University of Manitoba
- University of Ottawa
- University of Victoria
- Wilfrid Laurier University
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 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 , 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 and even teaching responsibilities.
Here are some common components of a DBA curriculum:
How long are DBA programs?
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 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 , 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.
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?
Getting into DBA programs, as you might expect, can be fairly competitive. While admission to DBA programs is not on par with and , 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 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
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 ()
- 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 . 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 or 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 or hire a GMAT tutor for expert help.
3. Spruce up your resume
Before applying to a DBA program, get out your 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 and an . 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.
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 “?” 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 . 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 . 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
are tough, and DBA programs may have a familiar interview experience to this. Preparing for a DBA program interview will be similar to , so be sure to refresh your memory and prepare for common questions.
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 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 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 , and financial aid. However, the return on investment from a DBA may be worth the cost. Just as MBAs are among the , 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.