A doctorate in business administration (DBA) is a terminal degree that qualify degree holders for top executive positions in business or for university-level teaching positions. Both positions offer median six-figure salaries according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ($106,010 for business school professors and $104,700 for top executives). Unlike a Phd. in business, this degree focuses on applying theory to real-world practice and offers degree-holders a range of career options outside of higher education and scholarly research while still preparing them to teach.
Many DBA programs, such as those ranked below, are specially designed for executives to complete in three or four years while working. Classes typically meet in the evenings or on weekends and sometimes provide online activities in between campus residencies. Many DBA programs are also cohort-based, allowing for networking and collaboration among peers. Explore the rankings below for some of the nation’s best business doctoral programs.
What are the best Doctor of Business Administration degrees?
We’ve ranked the top 20 DBA programs that can help you become a leading candidate for a new executive position – or to move up within your current organization. Our rankings take into account factors including reputation, graduation rates, selectivity, and faculty resources. Some, but not all, are targeted towards management professionals already working in the field and require significant previous work experience for admission. Check those requirements carefully so you can find the program that best fits your needs.
Washington University in St. Louis
College Choice Score: 85.7
Tuition per credit hour: $1,676
Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin School of Business offers a 72-credit DBA degree in finance or marketing. Designed for those working in industry, this degree takes four years to complete full-time or five or six years to finish part-time. Olin’s program consists of 48 credits of coursework (22 credits of required courses and 22 credits of electives) after completion of any needed foundation courses and 24 credits for research. Research credits are divided between preparatory research and work on a doctoral thesis. Doctoral students must pass comprehensive exams within six months of completing all coursework and successfully defend their doctoral thesis.
University of Florida
College Choice Score: 63.3
Tuition per credit hour: $1,720
The University of Florida offers a 60-hour, non-resident DBA program for experienced managers with master’s degrees. This professional degree emphasizes the application of theory to business practice. This three-year program is divided into nine terms. DBA candidates travel to campus for classes once or twice per term. The program consists of 42 hours of coursework completed over the first six terms and 18 hours for a dissertation completed during the last three terms. UF delivers most course content during campus residencies with minimal online components. During research symposium weekends in the third year, faculty members and doctoral candidates present their current research.
College Choice Score: 50
Tuition per credit hour: $1,192
Doctoral students in Drexel University’s DBA program join a cohort of 12-18 students who collaborate during on-campus residencies and online modules. Drexel’s quarter system enables doctoral candidates to finish this degree in as little as two and a half years (10 quarters). The program format consists of two integrated 10-week courses per term that alternate between on-campus and online delivery every few weeks, with two campus residencies per term. Drexel’s DBA culminates in a doctoral dissertation process that includes guiding courses on the research process and proposal, doctoral research including data collection and analysis, and defense of the doctoral thesis.
University of Dallas
College Choice Score: 49
Tuition per credit hour: $1,895
The University of Dallas offers a three-year DBA program. This 61-credit degree includes 19 hours of content courses, 18 hours of research methods courses, 6 hours of doctoral colloquia, and 18 hours for completion of a doctoral dissertation. Offered in a blended format, courses combine monthly weekend residencies with online learning. Throughout the program, doctoral candidates collaborate with peers as part of a cohort of business executives. Ideal applicants possess at least 12 years of managerial experience (seven at the senior level) and an MBA. This DBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
St. Ambrose University
College Choice Score: 46.9
Tuition per credit hour: $1,043
A regional university located in Davenport, Iowa, St. Ambrose University offers a 48-credit DBA intended for management professionals with master’s degrees. It includes 11 courses (33 credits) that students can complete in under three years, followed by written and oral comprehensive exams and a dissertation (15 credits). To accommodate working professionals, the school holds classes in the evenings. Special topics courses on organizational behavior and human resource management emphasize discussion of course materials and application to the student’s workplace. Research methods courses prepare students to complete the dissertation. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).
College Choice Score: 45.3
Tuition per credit hour: $2,300
Temple University offers a three-year, part-time executive DBA designed for senior leadership professionals. Preferred applicants hold an MBA and 12 years of managerial experience, seven at the senior level. DBA candidates join a cohort of peers they work with during the first two years of program coursework. Temple delivers courses through six on-campus weekend residencies per year in Philadelphia that include classroom instruction, seminars, and networking. Students remain engaged between residencies through online class sessions. During the third year, DBA candidates work with a mentor to develop and complete a dissertation that draws on research completed on four previous research projects.
College Choice Score: 44.9
Tuition per credit hour: $580
Anderson University offers a four-year, part-time DBA that seeks to produce Christian business scholars. Applicants should hold a master’s degree with a minimum of 30 hours of graduate work in business that candidates transfer in before starting the program’s 60 hours of doctoral work, for a total of 90 hours. Anderson’s program consists of 27 hours of core courses (divided between courses in research, education, and conceptual foundations), 18 hours of major coursework, and 15 hours for a dissertation. Doctoral students complete most of the coursework during the first three years through on-campus residencies in May, August, and January.
Sacred Heart University
College Choice Score: 42.9
Tuition per credit hour: $1,212
Sacred Heart University offers a DBA in finance for applicants holding a master’s degree in business or a related area that students can complete in three years. The school’s cohort-based, 48-hour program consists of two years of business foundations and finance coursework culminating in a comprehensive exam, followed by a third year of dissertation research. Designed for working executives, Sacred Heart’s DBA program encourages professional collaboration through 15 weekend residences in Fairfield, Connecticut, that include classroom instruction, hands-on learning laboratories, interactive seminars, and executive-style meetings. This DBA program is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
University of Wisconsin at Whitewater
College Choice Score: 41.2
Tuition per credit hour: $1,400
The University of Wisconsin – Whitewater offers online and on-campus bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business and an on-campus doctorate. Preferred applicants to the school’s 60-credit DBA program possess an MBA and at least six years of management experience. Doctoral candidates join a cohort that attends classes one weekend a month (13 times per year) for two years of coursework. Students use an online platform in between campus sessions to stay connected to peers and professors, engage in learning activities, and turn in assignments. The third and final year of the program consists of original dissertation research on a finance topic.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota
College Choice Score: 40.8
Tuition per credit hour: $810
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota offers a DBA program at its Twin Cities campus. Applicants must hold a master’s degree and those who meet graduate-level prerequisites in statistics, managerial economics, and finance can complete the 54-credit program in three years. The program consists of 27 credits of coursework in business and research skills, 12 credits of specialization coursework in management and strategy or business economics and finance, and 15 credits of summative activities. These summative activities include passing a comprehensive exam and proposal, completion, and defense of a doctoral thesis. Cohorts of doctoral candidates at St. Mary’s begin each fall.
University of South Florida
College Choice Score: 36.7
Tuition per credit hour: $1,250
The University of South Florida offers a DBA program specially designed for business executives who wish to publish their research. Students meet in a cohort of executives 10 weekends per year while completing coursework for the three-year program. USF supplements on-campus classes with online activities in between sessions. The 72-credit program consists of regular courses (33 hours), publication courses (9 hours), issues courses (10 hours), and a dissertation (20 hours). During the first two years, students typically take four 3-credit classes per semester (two at a time). In the third year, students participate in student-directed issues courses and complete dissertation research.
Florida Institute of Technology
College Choice Score: 33.7
Tuition per credit hour: $1,288
Florida Institute of Technology offers a professional DBA degree through its Huntsville, Alabama, and Melbourne, Florida, campuses. Applicants to this cohort program must possess an MBA or related degree with a 3.2 GPA and 10 years of managerial experience. Each three-year cohort of government, defense, and industry professionals meets once a semester to promote collaboration. The 42-credit program consists of advanced business courses in years one and two followed by research methods courses, dissertation research, and special topics seminars in years two and three. FIT requires DBA candidates to pass a comprehensive exam at the end of the second fall term.
College Choice Score: 31.6
Tuition per credit hour: $1,014
Shippensburg University will offer a new three-year, 54-hour DBA program designed to accommodate working professionals starting in August 2019. The program provides weekend classes at the school’s Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, campus, a two-hour drive from the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. During the first two years, DBA candidates take classroom-based research and business theory courses. They also participate in a series of special interest seminars during the second year that allow for interaction among business scholars with shared interests. In the third year, doctoral candidates develop and complete an original research-based dissertation under the mentorship of a faculty member.
College Choice Score: 28.6
Tuition per credit hour: $1,428
Jacksonville University offers a 63-credit DBA that experienced executives can earn in three years. This cohort program starts each fall and emphasizes leadership, globalization, and business analytics. JU holds weekend DBA classes once a month for the first two years of the program. Classes include weekly exchanges with faculty and peers. Doctoral candidates spend the third year engaged in dissertation research and must pass a comprehensive exam and successfully defend their thesis to graduate. A full-time program option offers doctoral students additional opportunities to do advanced research, teach at the college level, or intern with a corporation.
University of North Carolina at Charlotte
College Choice Score: 27.6
Tuition per credit hour: $1,555
With the only DBA in the University of North Carolina University system, UNC Charlotte offers a three-year, cohort-based program designed for experienced executives. Advanced courses focusing on topics including information systems and operations management meet weekends once per month for 10 months each year. Students typically enroll in nine credits each semester. The program requires 54 post-MBA credits, including 21 credits of research methodology courses, 15 credits for seminars in applied research, and 18 hours to complete a dissertation. In this program, students submit a dissertation proposal after completion of the required coursework and proposal defense counts as a qualifying exam.