Best Doctor of Business Administration Degrees

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Usually serving aspiring top executives, doctor of business administration (DBA) programs offer core courses and specializations in various fields. DBA programs cultivate high-level research, analysis, decision-making, and problem-solving skills that can serve graduates well in public service administration or business executive roles.

DBA graduates often qualify for management occupations that pay an annual median salary of $105,660, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Management positions with especially promising job growth projections include financial manager, social and community service manager, and medical and health services manager.

Applicants to doctor of business administration programs typically need a 3.0 minimum GPA and a related master’s degree. However, some programs admit bachelor’s degree-holders with relevant professional experience. Read further for additional information on DBA requirements, benefits, careers, and scholarships.

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What Are the Goals of a Business Administration Degree?

Learners interested in doctoral degrees in business usually choose between a doctor of business administration, a doctor of business management (DBM), or a Ph.D. in business administration. Generally speaking, DBA and DBM degrees work best for industry leaders, while Ph.D. degrees suit academics and researchers.

DBM programs focus on management of daily operations, while DBA programs examine organization-wide initiatives and decisions. Some DBA programs offer dozens of courses and curriculum specialization in fields such as real estate management, information systems management, nonprofit management, and healthcare management.

Why Get a Business Administration Degree?

As terminal business degrees, doctor of business administration degrees meet or exceed degree requirements for most business careers. Professionals with a DBA often enjoy many personal and professional benefits, including promotions, salary increases, field or industry specialization, and networking opportunities.

Many working professionals pursue business administration degrees to advance their careers. A DBA can make recipients more competitive for top executive roles such as president, director, vice president, or CEO.

PayScale salary data from September 2020 indicates that doctoral degree-holders average $102,320 annually, whereas MBA-holders make about $89,380 annually (as of February 2021).

A DBA encourages specialization in particular industries and niche fields. Popular DBA specializations include human resource management, strategic management, international business, and leadership.

Usually composed of high-level professionals, DBA cohorts encourage forging of advantageous professional collaborations and connections. Many doctor of business administration programs also include internship components that support networking.

DBA programs prepare graduates for leadership roles in business, education, research, or the nonprofit sector. Enrollees typically take courses such as organizational leadership, which focuses on strategic decision-making.

What Are the Requirements for a Business Administration Degree?

Doctor of business administration programs usually seek applicants with relevant master’s degrees and professional experience. Some programs also require strong GMAT or GRE scores and writing samples. Applicants must typically submit official transcripts, resumes, recommendation letters, and test scores.

To graduate with a DBA, students usually complete 60 credits of core and specialization courses. Many doctor of business administration programs require a dissertation project involving original research. Some DBA programs and dissertation projects include a real-world internship component at an approved site, which may include working students’ current places of employment.

How Much Will a DBA Degree Cost?

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) tracks graduate tuition over time by institution type. The NCES reported that average graduate tuition and related fees ranged from $12,000-$28,000 for the 2018-2019 school year.

The price of a DBA degree may vary based on the prestige or reputation of a university and its private or public status. Degree-seekers who study online may also pay less than those who study on campus. Other expenses include educational materials, technology, campus fees, and transportation.

Financial resources can help offset the cost of a graduate degree. DBA candidates can apply for financial aid, scholarships, grants, fellowships, and loans. The linked pages below offer guidance on submitting the FAFSA and top scholarships.

Learn more about paying for college:

Choosing the Right DBA Program

DBA applicants can use rankings to begin their school search. However, there are several other educational factors to consider when selecting the right program.

  • Accreditation

    The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) sets the highest standard for business schools. AACSB only offers accreditation to the top 5% of programs. Candidates should pursue DBA programs that hold AACSB accreditation to ensure the quality and merit of their degrees.
  • Tuition Costs

    Learners should carefully budget their educational expenses to avoid building too much student debt. Review tuition rates at several schools before making your decision. Many public universities offer high-quality, accredited education at reasonable tuition rates.
  • Available Concentrations

    DBA programs may include concentrated study and research in a specific field like accounting, human resource management, or international business. Applicants should confirm that potential schools employ experienced faculty and offer relevant concentrations.

FAQ on Doctor of Business Administration Degrees

true Q. What does a doctor of business administration do?

DBA graduates often become leaders in industry or the public sector. Possible careers include financial analyst, consultant, manager, or director.

true Q. What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a DBA?

A Ph.D. usually serves aspiring academics and researchers, while DBA programs offer more preparation for management and administration careers.

true Q. Can I get a DBA without a master of business administration?

Some DBA programs accept applicants with bachelor’s or master’s degrees in non-business fields, but these learners may need to complete foundational coursework.

Q. How many years does it take to get a DBA?

DBA programs usually require 60 credits and take 3-5 years to finish. Enrollees with transferable master’s coursework may finish sooner. Programs requiring a thesis may take longer.

Best Doctor of Business Administration Degrees 2021

  • Bentley University

    Waltham, MA

    A private university based in Waltham, Massachusetts, Bentley University offers a doctor of administration degree in accountancy and business. This interdisciplinary program covers business, society, and technology.

    Students pursuing a Ph.D. in accountancy study various courses including management control, information technology controls, corporate governance, and tax. The entire program includes 42 credits, plus two elective courses. The Ph.D. in business also comprises 42 credits, with nine credits coming from the elective courses category.

    To gain admission into the program, students need a master's degree. Prospective students should also submit GRE or GMAT test scores. For international students, IELTS or TOEFL test scores also count toward meeting the admission requirements. Additionally, applicants should submit an updated resume, a personal statement, and three letters of recommendation. The admissions board selects students for personal interviews.

    Bentley University is accredited by the New England Commission on Higher Education (NECHE).

  • Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Established in 1900, Carnegie Mellon University is a private university in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The university offers a doctor of business administration program. Students enrolled in this program establish close professional and social relationships with professionals in the same field. The program offers eight focused areas of study.

    To gain admission into the program, applicants must provide transcripts from previously attended undergraduate and graduate programs, regardless of whether they earned degrees from these programs.

    Students must submit GMAT and GRE test results. Test results older than five years do not qualify. For non-English speakers, the TOEFL is mandatory. Students must also attend and take part in annual conferences and workshops as part of the curriculum.

    The Carnegie Mellon University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  • City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA

    Based in Seattle, Washington, the private City University of Seattle offers a flexible doctoral program in business administration. This program targets professionals looking to improve and advance their organization's interventional thinking, critical thinking, leadership, and business practices. Students also gain business knowledge in their field of choice.

    Learners must complete 91 credits, including a 42-credit business administration core. The research core requires 15 credits, and the specialized study concentration needs 12 credits.

    Admission requirements include official transcripts from a master's degree program demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants should also submit a professional resume showing at least five years of business experience and a goal statement.

    The City University of Seattle is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

  • Drexel University

    Philadelphia, PA

    A private university with its main campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University offers an executive doctoral program in business administration. This program challenges students to upgrade their performance and thinking to the next level, equipping learners to create new ideas and revolutionize the business landscape. Students can complete the entire program in 2.5 years. The university offers both part-time and full-time options.

    Applicants must have completed 10 years of leadership or senior industry experience and a master's degree. Prospective students must also hold undergraduate and graduate degrees from accredited institutions.

    Drexel University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).

  • Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach

    Daytona Beach, FL

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach is a residential campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The university offers a doctor of aviation business administration degree for professionals looking to take the next step in their career.

    The program requires 60 credits, which students can complete in as little as three years. Fifteen credits come from the core aviation business courses, nine from qualitative skills and research methods, and the remaining 36 from research seminars and dissertations.

    Students who earned their MBA at Embry-Riddle or who took appropriate graduate courses from other institutions can transfer some credits to this program. Students must also attend a five-day seminar at the university's Daytona Beach Campus.

    Applicants need a master's degree in business administration or another appropriate discipline, exceptional academic records, recent GMAT or GRE test results, and a statement of research. International students should submit TOEFL or IELTS scores as well.

    Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona Beach is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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