The multidisciplinary field of business administration prepares students for managerial roles in corporations, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Online doctoral programs in business can lead to senior-level occupations like chief executive officer and organizational development director.
Online DBA programs often allow students to specialize in niche areas of business, such as accounting, human resources and project management. Many online DBA programs culminate in a dissertation, which requires students to complete a comprehensive research project related to their field of study.
The DBA differs from a Ph.D. in business in that Ph.D. graduates are expected to go on to positions in academia or research, while DBA graduates use their degrees in corporate or other organizational positions.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, occupations in management are expected to grow by 9 percent between 2016 and 2026, resulting in roughly 878,300 new jobs. The median annual salary for these occupations is $100,790.
An online business administration doctorate program offers flexibility for students who are also working professionals. Web-based programs typically follow the same rigorous curricula as brick-and-mortar options, leading to similar advancement opportunities for graduates. The online format is also ideal for students who must tackle additional commitments – such as child or family care – on top of their work and class schedules.
How long does it take to earn a DBA online?
Online DBA programs typically require 54 to 60 credits. Full-time students can complete their DBA online within three to five years.
How much does a doctorate in business administration cost?
The cost of an online business administration doctorate degree depends on several factors. State residency is an important consideration, since many colleges and universities charge higher tuition for out-of-state students. However, some schools charge flat tuition for online students regardless of residency. Technology fees are another key factor; these fees often apply to online students but not their brick-and-mortar counterparts.
Per-credit costs for an online business administration doctorate degree typically range from $500 to $1,000. Students should expect to pay between $27,000 and $60,000 in total tuition.
Online doctorate in business administration admissions requirements
A master’s degree is required for most Doctor of Business Administration online programs. Some admit only students who have earned a master’s in business administration or a related field of study.
Choosing an accredited online business administration doctorate degree program
Accreditation status is one of the most important considerations for prospective students. Colleges and universities in the U.S. receive accreditation from agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education; the accreditation process involves an extensive review of a school’s educational programs and student services.
A school’s accreditation impacts course credit transferability, as well as student eligibility for federal financial aid, so students should ensure the school offering the program has earned national or regional accreditation.
Online DBA programs often include coursework in business research, including quantitative and qualitative methods. These courses are designed to prepare students for their dissertation projects. Additionally, students may be required to complete multiple courses as part of their dissertation project. Two to three onsite residencies may be required as well.
Core courses tackle subjects like finance, leadership, statistics and economics. Another common component is international business. These courses compare operations, corporate culture and management strategies in different parts of the world. Additional core courses may explore topics like decision-making, contemporary issues in business and marketing, as well as business ethics.
DBA degree specializations
Many doctoral business programs online allow students to specialize in areas of business administration. Specializations typically entail three to five courses that must be taken in addition to core coursework.
Specializations like international business and global supply chain management prepare students to work for international companies. Another specialization option is business intelligence, which focuses on topics like data mining and predictive analytics. Other specializations focus on niche fields within business administration, such as human resources, marketing, finance, accounting and project management.
In addition, some specializations emphasize leadership and administration duties within certain industries. These include health care management, nonprofit leadership and management, homeland security, engineering and technology management, and criminal justice.
Some DBA online programs also offer entrepreneurship specializations that explore topics associated with new businesses and startups, such as generating capital and managing innovation.
Dissertation or research project
Most online DBA programs culminate in a dissertation project that often includes multiple courses. First, students must draft a dissertation proposal and receive faculty approval. After completing their research and writing the paper, the students must then present their findings and provide an oral defense. In most cases, the dissertation is completed during the later stages of the online DBA program.
Professional Associations in Business Administration
Professional associations provide a wide range of valuable resources for students in online DBA programs, as well as recent graduates. Benefits of membership include access to online journals and trade publications, professional development opportunities, job listings and in-person networking events. Three associations for DBA-holding business professionals are outlined below.
- American Society of Association Executives: ASAE represents nearly 40,000 members belonging to roughly 7,400 organizations. ASAE offers the certified association executive credential, as well as multiple executive leadership education opportunities.
- National Association of Professional Women: NAPW represents more than 850,000 women across 200 chapters in the U.S. Benefits for members include access to industry-specific groups, training courses in fields like HR and time management, and live video seminars and webinars. Students may also receive up to $2,000 in scholarships toward their degree.
- International Institute of Business Analysis: Established in 2003, IIBA offers professional business analysis certification at four different training levels. The institute also offers an online career center where job seekers can post resumes and browse open positions.
- Advanced business research methods
- Financial decision-making
- Leadership, ethics and corporate governance
- Contemporary issues impacting organizational success
- Global management methods
Job Outlook and Salaries for Graduates
According to the BLS, the median annual salary for top executives is $103,950, and this occupation is projected to grow by 8 percent between 2016 and 2026. Meanwhile, management consultant employment is projected to grow by 12 percent during the same time.
What can you do with a doctorate in business administration?
An online DBA prepares students for leadership roles within a wide range of industries. The BLS says that 23 percent of chief executives are self-employed, and popular industries for chief executives include professional, scientific and technical services; government; manufacturing; and health care and social assistance.
Roughly 30 percent of management consultants work in professional, scientific and technical services, while another 17 percent are self-employed.
- Chief executive officer: CEOs oversee the majority of their organization’s executive decisions. They also work with other executives to create strategic plans and ensure that all personnel follow the guidelines of these plans. They may also have a hand in evaluating the performance of other high-ranking personnel, such as presidents and vice presidents.
- Management consultant: Management consultants work with executive leaders to improve the efficiency, productivity and public perception of their organization. They create forecasts that predict performance factors and then evaluate employees in order to ensure goals are being met.
- Organizational development director: These professionals manage and set goals for organizational development teams that are responsible for training and optimizing the skill sets of employees. In addition to a master’s degree or DBA, employers hiring for organizational development director positions often prefer at least six years of professional experience.
- Senior business analyst: Senior business analysts use data to pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses of an organization and then work with executives to address areas where improvements are needed. Additionally, they help enforce deadlines, coordinate resources and provide client services.
Licensure and certification
Some occupations associated with a doctorate in business administration may require certification. Management consultants, for example, often need to become certified as project management professionals through the Project Management Institute. This credential is open to candidates who meet certain prerequisites, including at least 35 hours of project management education and at least 4,500 hours in project management roles.
Additional certification opportunities are offered through professional associations, such as the certified association executive credential through ASAE, which demonstrates knowledge in organizational management and requires candidates to sit for a comprehensive exam.