The Best Online Doctorate in Business Administration Programs
Updated August 12, 2022
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Business professionals hoping to advance their careers or branch out into academia should consider earning a doctor of business administration online. Students can earn either an online Ph.D. in business or an online doctor of business administration (DBA). Both are terminal degrees. While a Ph.D. prepares business professionals for postsecondary teaching positions, online DBA programs prepare students for executive positions in business. The earning potential for top executives with a doctorate of business administration is significant. Earning a doctor of business administration online may be a convenient and flexible way to attain this kind of earning potential.
As business sectors like technology and healthcare continue to expand, talented business leaders continue to grow in demand and value. With a number of quality schools offering DBA degree programs online, earning a doctorate of business administration has never been easier or cheaper. Online DBA programs not only let you study from the comfort of your home, but also allow you to pursue your degree without sacrificing your current job.
The Best Online Doctorate in Business Administration Degree Programs
Featured Online Schools
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
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What Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Business Administration Program?
Every online DBA program is different, offering unique courses, academic timelines, residency demands, and dissertation requirements. Though programs may differ from school to school, most online doctor of business administration programs seem to share certain key features. Students can anticipate certain foundational courses and dissertation requirements.
Curriculum for an Online Doctorate in Business Administration
- Financial decision making:
In this course, students learn how to collect and analyze financial data and use their findings to make sound financial decisions for organizations. Students also learn how to predict trends that may affect their organizations in the future.
- Organizational development theories and trends:
In this course, students learn the ins and outs of reorganizing a company. Coursework pulls from theories like organizational ecology, organizational frames, and lean operational strategy. Students learn how to assess, plan, and implement change in an organization to maximize efficiency.
- Corporate and personal ethics:
This course explores the ethical dilemmas inherent to the field of business. Students discuss how to fuse ethics into their corporate strategies, focusing on sustainable business practices, philanthropy, and personal morals. Using contemporary businesses as case studies, students learn how to enact best practices and set innovative standards for ethical business.
- Global management:
Students learn how to conduct business on a global scale. Coursework covers variables that affect foreign businesses, including cultural, political, geographic, environmental, and legal factors. Students also learn about international management, as well as international finance and accounting.
- Research methodology and design:
This course provides a foundation for students to begin their dissertation. Students learn research methodologies and apply them to research in a business setting. Students identify an area of interest, draft research questions, critique previous studies, and begin designing their own research study.
How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Doctorate in Business Administration?
Students typically earn a doctor of business administration online in three to five years, including the time required to research, write, and defend a dissertation. Programs generally require 60 credit hours of coursework. These credits include core and elective coursework, a research component, and the dissertation.
Several factors can affect how long it takes to earn a DBA degree online. Some schools will honor more transfer credits than others. Schools that accept a generous amount of transfer credits allow students to graduate earlier than they would otherwise. Schools that follow an individually paced learning format rather than a cohort learning format may also help students to graduate in less time. Individually paced learning allows students to advance through course requirements at their own speed. In cohort models, students progress through their program as a group of peers, usually taking one class at a time.
Employment Outlook for Doctorate in Business Administration Graduates
Doctorate in Business Administration Careers and Salaries
Professionals who earn a DBA online go on to work in a variety of fields, including healthcare, education, government, military, nonprofits, and private businesses. Many people in doctor of business administration online programs come from a business background and have earned either an MBA or a bachelor's degree in business. Candidates typically have experience in finance, management, or administration.
Many are active business professionals interested in advancing within their current field of employment. Alternatively, students pursuing an online Ph.D. in business administration may enter a career in academia. Below are five careers for graduates who complete an online doctor of business administration.
- Top Executive:
Top executives manage companies at the highest level. They create plans for success and ensure a company enacts policies, strategies, and operations necessary to achieve its goals. They oversee financial activity, negotiate contracts, appoint employees to key positions, and determine where to cut costs. The position is often highly demanding and may require frequent travel to meetings and conferences.
- Median Annual Salary: $104,980
- Projected Growth Rate: 8%
- Human Resources Manager:
HR managers serve as a bridge between an organization’s employees and employers. They help recruit, interview, hire, and compensate employees, and communicate with an organization’s management about hiring needs. They also handle interpersonal issues among staff, mediate conflicts, oversee employee benefits programs, and manage compensation issues. Many HR managers travel to meet with distant branches.
- Median Annual Salary: $113,300
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
Economists analyze data, evaluate economic problems, conduct surveys, and predict economic trends to advise businesses and organizations about financial decisions. When working in the private sector, economists study consumer demand and sales to inform business decisions and maximize profit.
- Median Annual Salary: $104,340
- Projected Growth Rate: 6%
- Postsecondary Teacher:
Educators with a Ph.D. in business administration can teach business-related topics at a college level. They also conduct research in their field, publish papers or books, and practice their own business on the side. They can work in public or private universities, community colleges, or professional schools. Their schedules vary according to their school’s academic schedule.
- Median Annual Salary: $78,470
- Projected Growth Rate: 15%
- Financial Analyst:
Financial analysts advise businesses and organizations in making financial decisions, specifically in the area of investments. They study stocks, bonds, and economic trends in order to recommend profitable investments or portfolios. They often work more than 40 hours per week.
- Median Annual Salary: $85,660
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Business Administration Professional Organizations
Professional business organizations allow students earning their doctor of business administration online to connect with employers and other professionals in their field. These organizations also provide professional development opportunities like conferences, seminars, online courses, and certification programs. Most offer member benefits such as discounts on conferences and courses, access to job boards, and online forums. Members can also access educational resources like podcasts, newsletters, and webcasts. In addition to larger professional organizations, students can join specialized organizations that focus on fields like healthcare management, international finance, and e-marketing.
- Sales and Marketing Executives International (SMEI):
SMEI is the only international professional association dedicated to sales and marketing. In addition to connecting sales professionals from across the globe, the organization offers online forums and webinars, certifications, a career board, and online courses.
- American Management Association (AMA):
AMA partners with several Fortune 500 companies to offer professional growth opportunities for business managers. The association offers seminars, conferences, books, podcasts, and webcasts. In 2017, Training Industry Inc. deemed AMA a top 20 leadership training company.
- American Marketing Association:
The American Marketing Association is the largest association of marketing professionals in the world. Members gain access to training programs, a marketer’s toolkit, conferences, educational articles, webcasts, and podcasts.
Paying for Your Online Doctorate in Business Administration
Students earning their online doctorate in business administration have many options for funding their education. Students pursuing their online DBA or online Ph.D. should fill out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to determine if they qualify for federal aid. Students should also contact representatives with their department and school to see if any funding opportunities exist. Professionals pursuing an online Ph.D. in business administration can apply for fellowships and scholarships through their school’s business department. Unfortunately, these same opportunities do not always apply for students earning their doctor of business administration online.
Employers may also assist with the cost of tuition, provided that the student plans to continue working for the company. Students should contact their employer to inquire about tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement programs. The flexible schedule of an online DBA program also allows students to continue working to fund their education. Students pursuing an online DBA can also take out loans or apply for grants from third-party organizations.
Accreditation for Online Doctorate in Business Administration Degrees
When a school is regionally or nationally accredited, it means that an accrediting agency has conducted a review and determined the school meets certain standards of educational quality. Of the two types, regional accreditation is generally considered more prestigious than national accreditation. While most schools and employers honor credits earned at a regionally accredited school, not all regionally accredited schools or employers will honor credits earned at a nationally accredited school.
When choosing an online DBA program, you should check to see that the school is accredited and determine whether this accreditation is regional or national. Common regional accrediting agencies include the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The Distance Education Accrediting Commission is a common national accrediting agency that reviews online programs. You should also look for online DBA programs accredited by business-specific accrediting agencies like the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business and the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
Two organizations oversee accreditation: the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The ED is a government agency responsible for overseeing the quality and progress of educational programs in the U.S. CHEA is an independent organization representing more than 3,000 colleges and over 50 accrediting organizations. While neither entity grants accreditation to schools, both organizations review accrediting agencies to determine if they meet certain standards of quality. Both organizations also publish a list of accredited programs for the public’s use. To find out whether an online DBA or online Ph.D. program in business is accredited, consult the list of accredited programs on the ED and CHEA websites.
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