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Best Online Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) Programs

Top online DBA degree programs usually include a dissertation and commonly allow students to specialize in a specific area of business. Get details for the best online DBA programs, as well as information about the degree and common career options.

Best Online Doctorate of Business Administration Degree Programs

Online Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) degree programs are fairly common and help prepare students for a wide range of careers in business. Some of the best online DBA programs may offer various specializations, be completed in 3 years, and/or provide students with unique learning opportunities. Compare and contrast a handful of the top online DBA programs here.

1. California Baptist University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Riverside, CA$14,130

California Baptist University has an online DBA that totals 50 units and typically takes 3 years to complete. The program does require a dissertation, and students pursue their degree in a cohort model. Courses in the program are 8 weeks in length, and there are some residency requirements scattered throughout the curriculum. Some students may qualify for financial aid.

2. Felician University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Lodi, NJ$19,690

Felician University offers an online DBA that totals 61 credits. Coursework is self-paced and is divided into 4 phases with opportunities for personalized mentorship. During the first phase, students must complete a brief residency as well as foundational courses. The third phase allows students to choose from options including a teaching assistantship and online teaching practicum or an independent study and field demonstration in business. The final phase includes a dissertation.

3. Saint Leo University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Saint Leo, FL$8,498

Saint Leo University's online DBA totals 57 credits and can be completed in 4 years. Students in the program must complete a dissertation, management teaching practicum, and a consulting practicum experience. The students begin the program by taking a Doctoral Success Lab course that talks about the different resources and support available to students to help them through their degree.

4. Liberty University

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Lynchburg, VA$8,333

Liberty University offers an online DBA that requires 60 credit hours and can be completed in 3 years. Students participate in 8-week courses and can choose from a wide range of concentrations, including finance, leadership, marketing, and international business. The program is also unique in that it offers a biblical foundation to business and management decisions. Students are allowed to transfer up to 15 credits towards their degree.

5. University of the Cumberlands

LocationTuition & Fees (in-state)
Williamsburg, KY$5,970

The University of the Cumberlands has an online DBA that requires 66 credits and can be completed in 3 years when taken full-time or 5 years when taken part-time. The program allows students to choose from concentrations in areas like healthcare administration, strategic management, accounting, and entrepreneurship. Courses are set up in an 8-week format until students begin working on their dissertation; dissertation courses are 16 weeks long.

Rank School Name Location Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Hampton UniversityHampton, VA$11,916
7Gardner-Webb UniversityBoiling Springs, NC$9,050
8George Washington UniversityWashington, DC$30,834
9Baker CollegeFlint, MI$12,610
10St. Thomas UniversityMiami Gardens, FL$10,596
11Keiser University-Ft LauderdaleFort Lauderdale, FL$28,272
12Franklin UniversityColumbus, OH$16,080
13Wilmington UniversityNew Castle, DE$8,636
14University of Maryland-University CollegeAdelphi, MD$8,514
15City University of SeattleSeattle, WA$15,450

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, graduate tuition based on 2018-2019 school year.

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online DBA Programs

Online DBA degree programs may range from about 50 to 66 credits and usually require a dissertation. Some of these degree programs may follow a cohort model to allow students to progress together. It is also fairly common for online DBA programs to require one or more brief on-campus residency experiences to help students gain some face-to-face interaction and hands-on experience in the field. Some programs may also offer hands-on learning through consulting and/or teaching practicums.

Several online DBA programs provide students with a chance to focus their studies and learn how to apply their knowledge to specific areas of business through specializations or concentrations. Some of these concentration areas may include, but are not limited to:

  • Accounting
  • Leadership
  • Marketing
  • Project management
  • Healthcare administration
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Real estate management
  • Supply chain management and logistics
  • Information systems
  • Human resources

Below, we explore a couple other aspects of online DBA programs in more depth.

Online DBA Program Length

Online DBA degree programs can most commonly be completed in 3 years when taken full-time, including the time it takes to complete the dissertation. Some programs may take 4 years to complete full-time, and some programs may vary in length depending on the format of the program. For example, some programs may allow students to take the program in a part-time format and complete it in 5 years, or programs may offer self-paced courses.

Common Courses for Online DBA Programs

Most online DBA degree programs break the curriculum into different sections. Some programs may include core, specialization, and research courses, while others may break courses into phases. Typically, students conclude the program with dissertation and/or research courses that are designed to help students complete their dissertation. Some courses may vary based on a student's chosen concentration area, but some common course topics for online DBA programs may include:

  • Ethics- Typically, these types of business courses examine the ethical issues in management and organizations. Students may explore topics in social responsibility, ethical decision-making, ethics in marketing, labor practices, and use of technology.
  • Economics- Courses in economics usually vary by program with some focusing on the comparison of different economic systems and others applying economic theories to business. Some courses may include a final project, and no matter the focus of the course, most economics courses help train students in economic decision-making skills to address economic problems.
  • Strategic marketing- Strategic marketing courses are usually advanced courses that help train students to develop effective marketing strategies. Students learn about creating marketing concepts that help organizations reach their business goals and may cover topics in brand, price, and marketing trends.
  • Research methods- Students in online DBA programs are likely to be required to take more than one course in research methods. Some of these courses may be available at the introductory and/or advanced levels, and some courses may focus on qualitative or quantitative research methods. In general, these courses aim to teach students the different research designs and methodologies commonly used in the business field.
  • Decision-making/theory- Some online DBA programs may offer multiple courses in decision theory and/or courses that focus on applied decision theory or decision-making. Sometimes decision-making courses may also be paired with topics in strategic thinking and/or innovation. Students in applied decision theory or decision-making courses study different ways to analyze a real-world problem and make the best informed decision possible.

Prerequisite Requirements for an Online DBA

Online DBA degree programs do not usually have specific prerequisite coursework requirements for applicants. However, most students are expected to hold a master's degree, and some programs may allow some work from a business-related master's degree to be transferred in and count towards the DBA. Some of these transfer courses may be accepted in areas like accounting, marketing, leadership, international business, or project management. Students should be sure to check for specific requirements for their chosen concentration. For example, some online DBA programs with a concentration in accounting may require applicants to hold a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Accounting.

Most online DBA programs also require applicants to meet a minimum GPA, which is commonly set at a 3.0 or higher for unconditional admission. Some programs may also like to see any prior work experience, scholarly activities, and/or leadership experiences students have. Other common application materials include transcripts, a personal statement, resume, and/or recommendation letters.

Cost of an Online DBA

The cost of an online DBA program varies by institution. Tuition rates over the duration of the program can range from $33,000 to $45,000. However, depending on the school, there may also be a technology fee per term, a mandatory deposit when you apply, and/or application fees. Students should research tuition and fees carefully for the school of their choice and then consider any opportunities for financial aid and/or funding through the school or program.

Online students may also need to consider any additional costs of meeting all the technology requirements for their given program. Students may need to buy their own computer and/or other equipment to participate in online coursework.

DBA vs. PhD in Business Administration

Online DBA programs and online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Business Administration programs are both fairly common, but DBA programs focus more on the application of business administration while PhD programs focus on theory and research. Both programs provide students with research opportunities and a chance to specialize in a particular field, yet PhD in Business Administration degree programs are usually broader in nature.

Although graduates with a DBA can work the same careers as those with a PhD in Business Administration, those with a DBA may be more likely to work in executive and leadership positions in the business field. Graduates with their PhD in business administration may be more likely to work in academia.

Career Options for Graduates with their DBA

DBA degree programs are usually designed to help prepare students to take on positions of leadership within various areas of business and/or work in research, consulting, or education. Some examples of specific job titles for graduates with their DBA may include:

  • Corporate consultant
  • Entrepreneur
  • Executive manager
  • Economist
  • Business trainer
  • Plant manager
  • Superintendent
  • Facilities manager
  • Management analyst
  • Community service manager

Here we discuss a few of the possible job options in more detail, as well as average salaries.

Sales Manager

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), sales managers made an average salary of $140,320 in 2018. Sales managers in securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities made the highest average salary that year at $216,590. The BLS also reported that sales managers had a job outlook of 5% from 2018 to 2028, which was as fast as average.

Sales managers usually need to have at least a bachelor's degree and some work experience, but those with advanced degrees are likely to hold advanced positions in the sales department of their organization. Sales managers usually work full-time, may need to work some nights and weekends, and may be required to travel. These managers are responsible for overseeing sales teams, developing effective sale strategies for the company, and setting/reaching sale and profit goals.

Financial Manager

Financial managers made an average salary of $146,830 in 2018, according to the BLS. The highest paying industry for financial managers in 2018 was also securities, commodity contracts, and other financial investments and related activities where these managers made an average salary of $209,160. The job outlook from 2018 to 2028 for financial managers was 16%, which is much faster than the national average.

Financial managers are also only required to have a bachelor's degree and at least 5 years of work experience, but those with higher education usually take on higher managerial positions. These managers usually work full-time and may work more than 40 hours a week as they supervise the financial health of their organization. Their job may require them to oversee investment activities, study financial reports, and examine budgets and market trends.

Top Executive

Top executive is a broad term that may include job titles like operations managers, chief executive officers (CEOs), executive directors, or chief human resources officers. In 2018, the BLS reported that chief executives made an average salary of $200,140, with those working in other investment pools and funds making the highest average salary of $284,480. The job outlook for top executives from 2018 to 2028 was 6%, which is as fast as average.

The specific job duties of top executives vary by job title and the size of their organization. In general, these professionals work full-time and may be expected to travel and/or work evenings and weekends. Their primary responsibility is to develop strategies for their organization to be profitable and oversee the work of the various staff members it takes to reach these goals.

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers that specialized in business made an average salary of $103,330 in 2018, per the BLS. Those that worked for colleges, universities, and professional schools made the highest average salary of $108,280 the same year. The BLS reported that the job outlook for business teachers at the postsecondary level was 15% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the national average.

Postsecondary teachers in business may teach multiple business courses in their particular area of expertise within the field. This means they are responsible for developing the curriculum, creating exams and assignments, and helping students as needed. Many postsecondary educators also conduct research in their field and may serve on additional committees or groups for their institution. Most postsecondary teachers work part-time and have flexible schedules to either conduct research or work in their field of expertise.