Most Affordable Online DBA Programs

Most Affordable Online DBA Programs
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The doctor of business administration (DBA) enhances students’ problem-solving and decision-making capabilities by honing advanced business research and analysis skills.

Most Affordable Online DBA Program Badge

Online DBA programs usually require 60 credits and take four years to complete. Accelerated programs may take less time. Candidates with transferable, prior graduate work in business sometimes finish more quickly. Some programs require applicants to hold related master’s degrees and professional experience, while other programs admit qualified bachelor’s degree-holders. Thesis-based programs can take as long as five years.

Learners who graduate from DBA programs online often qualify for executive roles such as president, chief information officer, chief financial officer, or director. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that top executives earned a median annual salary of $104,690 in 2019. The BLS projects jobs for management occupations to grow 5% between 2019 and 2029. Read on for more information on DBA career paths and benefits, program goals and requirements, curriculum options, and scholarships.

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What Are the Goals of a DBA?

Typically serving experienced managers seeking greater expertise and career or salary advancement, DBA degrees provide specialized knowledge in a concentration area such as marketing, finance, or management. Enrollees also cultivate advanced skills in business research, data analysis, strategic planning, and decision-making.

Students pursue this degree to qualify for careers as business leaders, consultants, researchers, or academics. Professionals already working in these capacities can use the DBA to obtain promotions and raises or transition to new fields. Given its research focus, the Ph.D. in business administration proves particularly useful to aspiring researchers or professors.

What Are the Benefits of a DBA?

Students in online DBA programs benefit both personally and professionally. Some of the most common benefits include the following:

Professional Networking
DBA programs usually attract accomplished professionals with top-quality business minds. Typically cohort-based, these programs expose enrollees to an elite cadre of professional collaborators and contacts.
Online DBA programs meet or exceed degree requirements for many business education and management jobs, so this terminal degree can make candidates more eligible for promotion to upper-level positions.
Salary Increase
Advanced degrees often help professionals earn higher salaries, both in their current position and in future roles.
New Skills
DBA programs focus on research skills, analysis, and innovative research applications that can improve decision-making and strategy. DBA students also improve collaboration, communication, and presentation skills that can enhance job performance in most career paths and industries.
Personal Satisfaction
Earning a terminal, doctoral-level degree typically yields interesting experiences and knowledge, feelings of personal achievement, and greater respect from peers.

Accreditation for a DBA

The Council for Higher Education Accreditation recognizes various regional and national accrediting agencies that evaluate the academic quality of higher education institutions and programs. Regionally accredited institutions house most good online DBA programs, so students should ensure their chosen school is regionally accredited by an organization such as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, or the New England Commission of Higher Education.

These agencies apply more rigorous academic standards and thereby distinguish academic schools from career or religious schools, which are often nationally accredited. Accreditation standards matter, as credits and degrees from nationally accredited schools do not usually transfer to regionally accredited schools. Students enrolled at either nationally or regionally accredited schools can qualify for federal financial aid.

Top DBA programs also hold programmatic accreditation through the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Other high-quality programmatic accreditors of business programs include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.


Question Answer
What does DBA stand for? DBA stands for doctor of business administration, a professional doctoral degree often held by top business leaders.
What is the difference between a Ph.D. and a DBA? Many academics and researchers opt for the Ph.D. in business administration, while many industry professionals prefer the management focus of DBA programs.
How long does it take to get a doctoral degree in business administration? The DBA often takes 3-4 years. The exact time frame varies depending on students’ prior graduate coursework, program pacing, and research project requirements.
What can I do with a DBA? DBA programs support competitors for business leadership roles, consulting jobs, and financial analyst or personal advisor careers.

Courses in a DBA Program

Most DBA programs entail around 60 credits, which include core business courses, concentration courses, research courses, and dissertation credits. Common business core courses cover strategy, organizational leadership, and management ethics. Doctoral concentrations may include finance, management, and marketing. Doctoral research methods colloquia and statistics courses help students develop skills in data gathering, measurement, analysis, and reporting. Dissertation projects also enhance business research and writing skills.

Specific coursework offerings vary based on school, program type, and concentration choice. However, the sample courses below appear in many business doctoral programs.

  • Marketing Research

    Complimenting other statistical methods and research courses in the DBA curriculum, this course frequently appears in programs featuring a marketing concentration or emphasis. Learners study segmentation and branding, consumer behavior, pricing, and marketing communication and sales integration. Enrollees learn and practice marketing research process steps from survey design to data analysis and reporting. The course may require participants to design and implement a marketing campaign.

  • Strategic Perspectives

    This course provides the strategic tools, skills, and solutions for organizational optimization and problem-solving. Enrollees learn how to create strategic policies, decisions, and processes that ensure firm profits, competitiveness, and longevity. This often-interdisciplinary course may draw from diverse business disciplines including organizational behavior, marketing, economics, and accounting. Students often complete research projects.

  • Statistical Analysis

    Providing analytical techniques and tools for data measurement and analysis, this course supports students’ understanding of statistics in business literature, doctoral coursework, and dissertation research. Enrollees examine topics such as correlation, descriptive statistics, exploratory factor analysis, and regression analysis. More advanced versions of this course explore multivariate analysis techniques such as multiple regression analysis, structural equation modeling, and conjoint and cluster analysis.

  • Dissertation

    The dissertation phase often entails two years of research and writing. Often supported by a corresponding course sequence, the dissertation process requires doctoral students to design and complete a research study. Dissertation courses often assist enrollees in developing their ideas, fulfilling the various research study procedures and requirements, and receiving feedback from peers and mentors. Learners often must propose and defend their dissertations orally to a faculty committee with relevant expertise.

  • Management Ethics

    A core course in many DBA programs featuring a management concentration, this course surveys methods for understanding and addressing ethical issues. Often using real-life examples, this course examines diverse ethical and moral dilemmas managers experience. Learners critically analyze short- and long-term ethical challenges and possible resolutions across various organizations, contexts, industries, and cultures.

How to Become an Executive

Public-sector business executives often possess a bachelor’s or a master’s degree in areas such as public administration or business administration. Research and leadership positions in public health, law, or education may require doctoral-level degrees. Some administration programs allow candidates to complete specialized curriculum concentrations tailored to a desired industry or role. Graduates may also need standard professional certifications, such as the certified public accountant credential.

According to the BLS, top executives need significant management experience in a relevant organization, role, or industry. Professionals may work their way up through company ranks, demonstrating success in lower-level management roles before being promoted to top executives.

Career and Salary Outlook for Business Administration Students

Business administration doctoral graduates often pursue lucrative careers in management, finance, or education. The Ph.D. in business administration typically supports research and teaching careers, while the DBA often serves aspiring public administrators or business executives. No degree guarantees a job, but earning a DBA can make candidates more competitive for many careers, including those listed below.

Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager
These professionals collaborate with various teams to create campaigns and programs attractive to potential consumers. Duties vary by company, department, and position, but most managers oversee operations, manage personnel, negotiate contracts, and conduct research. These managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree in a related field.

Postsecondary Teacher: Usually experts in a particular subject area, these educators typically teach students at colleges, universities, and technical schools. Teaching duties may include lesson planning, lecturing, grading, and academic advising. University professors often must balance their teaching responsibilities with scholarly pursuits such as conducting, presenting, and publishing their research. Full-time university faculty usually have terminal degrees in their discipline.

Personal Financial Advisor
These advisors provide financial counsel to private clients. Often specializing in financial areas such as mortgages and insurance, investments, or retirement, these professionals assist clients with financial goal-setting, decision-making, and planning. Daily activities often include researching investments, monitoring accounts, and explaining financial matters to clients. Personal financial advisors often hold at least a bachelor’s in a finance-related subject.

Management Analyst
Also known as management consultants, these professionals analyze organizational efficiency and give company executives suggestions for reducing costs and increasing profits. Typical duties include analyzing financial reports and data, talking to employees, observing operations, and creating reports and recommendations for managers. Analysts may work as independent consultants, members of consulting teams, or regular employees. Analysts may specialize in specific management areas, such as corporate restructuring or inventory control.

Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Manager $135,900 6%
Postsecondary Teacher $79,540 9%
Personal Financial Advisor $87,850 4%
Management Analysis $85,260 11%

Source: BLS

Certifications and Licensure for Business Administration Students

Doctoral degrees in business administration exceed degree requirements for many business-related jobs. However, some positions may require additional professional training or certification demonstrating specific skill sets and competencies. Common certifications include certified public accountant (CPA), certified management accountant (CMA), and project management professional. Other popular credentials include certified internal auditor and certified financial analyst (CFA). See below for descriptions of professional certifications held by some DBA graduates.

Certified Management Accountant

A widely recognized global benchmark, this certification supports various careers in management accounting and finance. CMA candidates require a bachelor’s degree or professional accounting certification, two years of professional experience, and successful performance on the CMA examination.

Project Management Professional Certification

Administered by the Project Management Institute, this credential confirms professionals’ project management skills. Applicants need a four-year degree, 36 months of project leadership experience, and 35 hours of project management education or training (or associate-level project management certification). Note that candidates with 60 months of project management experience need not possess four-year degrees.

Certified Financial Analyst

The CFA credential typically serves financial analysts and other finance professionals seeking portfolio management and investment analysis skills. Candidates need a bachelor’s degree or must be college seniors when enrolling for the level one of the CFA exam. CFA candidates can also meet entry requirements by demonstrating 48 months of consecutive, non-overlapping full-time professional experience or education. Only paid work counts toward professional experience requirements. CFA candidates submit recommendation letters and pass three examinations.

How Can a Ph.D. Student Pay for College?

Many degree-seekers apply for scholarships to help cover education expenses. Often based on some combination of need, merit, or group membership, scholarships support recipients with financial awards that do not require repayment. Eligible doctoral candidates in business should research scholarships such as the ones below.

Minorities in Government Finance Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship goes to qualifying U.S. or Canadian minority students pursuing finance careers in local government. Eligible candidates are enrolled full time in business-related programs, such as government or nonprofit business administration, finance, accounting, or economics. Other eligible fields include public administration and political science. Applicants submit a recommendation letter verifying commitment to the public sector.
Amount: $10,000

Goldberg-Miller Public Finance Scholarship
Who Can Apply: This scholarship is awarded to qualifying U.S. or Canadian citizens or permanent residents demonstrating full-time enrollment in local government/finance-related graduate programs. Applicants submit transcripts, a resume, a recommendation letter, and a statement of purpose outlining state or local government finance career plans.
Amount: $15,000

Golden Key International Honor Society Graduate Scholar Award
Who Can Apply: The Golden Key’s premier scholarship, this award goes to prospective or current enrollees in graduate programs at accredited schools. Only Golden Key members can receive this scholarship. Applicants submit transcripts, a personal statement, a resume, and a recommendation letter.
Amount: $10,000

National Aircraft Finance Association Corporate Aviation Business Scholarship
Who Can Apply: NAFA awards this scholarship to qualifying applicants studying aviation and who intend to pursue business careers in corporate aviation. Applicants may also study business, economics, finance, or accounting. Candidates must demonstrate full-time undergraduate or graduate enrollment with a 3.0 minimum GPA. NAFA prefers U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Interested candidates apply through their school’s financial aid office.
Amount: $1,000-$5,000

Affordable Online DBA Programs

  • City University of Seattle

    Seattle, WA



    Based in Seattle, Washington, CityU offers an online DBA that emphasizes practical research and implementation. Enrollees gain general business skills in critical thinking and leadership, plus advanced skills in organizational intervention and agile business practice.

    This program requires seven six-credit business core courses in topics such as financial decision-making, industry analysis and market innovation, and organizational development. Remaining DBA requirements include research courses, four specialization courses, and 18 dissertation credits. The dissertation process involves a prospectus, proposal, and defense.

    Students can complete this 91-credit program in 3-4 years. CityU DBA students can graduate sooner by transferring up to 12 credits. Online learners meet synchronously with classmates for an hour every other week and may attend three optional in-person residencies.

    City University of Seattle is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

  • Concordia University-Chicago

    River Forest, IL



    A private, nonprofit school based in River Forest, Illinois, CUC offers an innovative doctor of business administration that builds leadership and management skills through its unique curriculum, four specialization options, three on-campus residencies, and mentor interface. One of Chicago's best DBA programs, CUC's unique program fosters a global perspective and presence and has students start their dissertations immediately.

    This three-year, 60-credit DBA features accelerated, eight-week courses. The curriculum includes 17 core course credits focused on topics such as global leadership and social responsibility, global perspectives on strategy, and global business operations.

    Learners also complete nine specialization-related credits in one of the following areas: health care management, strategic leadership and innovation, human resource innovations, and marketing innovations. CUC's program also requires 10 research methods credits, three residency credits, 15 mentorship credits, and six dissertation credits.

    Applicants need a master's degree and a 3.0 minimum GPA from a regionally accredited school. They must submit a rationale statement, official transcripts, two recommendation letters, and a resume. Candidates with at least five years of professional experience may receive preference over less-experienced candidates.

    Concordia University Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Felician University

    Lodi, NJ



    Rutherford, New Jersey's Felician University offers an online DBA focused on management theory, transformative research, and critical management skills. This degree supports careers in consulting, teaching, and business leadership in the contemporary global business environment. Enrollees learn to research and publish their work in industry and academic business journals. Applicants need an MBA and must submit resumes, official transcripts, and personal statements.

    Felician University's flexible, individualized online DBA program allows for self-pacing and provides personalized mentorship. The four-phase curriculum begins with 10 research and writing foundations credits, followed by 30 credits of core coursework in management, decision analysis, and marketing. In phase three, enrollees complete a nine-credit practicum, project, or certification examination related to teaching or business administration. Phase four entails 12 dissertation credits. Online learners must complete two brief residencies.

    Felician University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

  • George Fox University

    Newberg, OR



    Geroge Fox is a private, nonprofit Christian university founded for Quakers in 1981. This Newberg, Oregon, school offers a part-time online DBA serving working business and university professionals seeking enrichment, promotion, or credentials for consulting or professor roles.

    This 56-credit, cohort-based hybrid program runs mostly online, but learners must attend two on-campus residencies per year. The program usually requires four years to complete, including one dissertation year.

    Students take business core, research core, and education core courses, and choose a concentration in marketing, accounting, or management. All enrollees complete a dissertation and a practicum in teaching or consulting.

    Applicants need a master's degree, 3.0 minimum GPA, and five years of professional experience or a full-time faculty position. Enrollees also need prior coursework in finance, economics, and accounting.

    George Fox University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The DBA holds programmatic accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

  • Liberty University

    Lynchburg, VA



    Liberty is a private, evangelical Christian university in Lynchburg, Virginia, that prides itself on its practical approach and biblical foundation. The school offers a fully online DBA that boasts programmatic accreditation by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.

    This 60-credit, accelerated program consists of eight-week online courses and takes about three years to finish. Graduation timelines depend largely on prior coursework completed, since Liberty allows transfer of up to 50% of required credits. Enrollees choose between 15 curriculum specialization options, including nonprofit leadership and management, Six

    Sigma, strategic media and digital content, and international business.

    Applicants typically need a 3.0 minimum GPA and an MBA from a regionally or nationally accredited school. DBA students specializing in accounting or information systems require master's degrees related to these subjects. Applicants must submit official transcripts.

    Liberty University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Lincoln Memorial University

    Harrogate, TN



    Based in Harrogate, Tennessee, LMU offers a DBA in management for Appalachia's working business leaders, researchers, and professors. Enrollees can complete this 60-credit program 100% online. Coursework requirements include 12 foundations credits, 15 business application core credits, 12 management concentration courses, and 21 research methods and dissertation credits.

    Like many online DBA programs, courses cover topics such as global perspectives and implications in business, advanced theory in management, and business synthesis and integration. Management concentration courses cover organizational entrepreneurship, human resources management development, organizational culture and change, and organizational structure and design.

    Applicants with business-related master's degrees can transfer up to 12 foundational course credits. Applicants submit two recommendation letters, a writing sample, a resume, and transcripts demonstrating completion of bachelor's and master's degrees.

    Lincoln Memorial University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Saint Leo University

    Saint Leo, FL



    A private, Roman Catholic liberal arts school in Saint Leo, Florida, Saint Leo welcomes students of all faiths to its online DBA program. This student-centered, outcome-driven program emphasizes innovation and social responsibility. Saint Leo's DBA cultivates research, analysis, and application skills to prepare graduates for teaching, research, education administration, or consulting careers.

    This 57-credit DBA entails 51 core course credits and six specialization credits. Core courses cover research methods, applied management theory, global leadership and ethics, and organizational behavior and social responsibility. Students choose between teaching and consulting tracks and complete two additional specialization courses, including a practicum.

    Most Saint Leo students receive financial aid. Military members and their spouses receive heavy tuition discounts. Saint Leo maintains rolling admissions and six possible start times per year.

    Saint Leo University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • University of Dallas

    Irving, TX



    A Catholic university that welcomes online and on-campus students from all backgrounds, UD in Irving, Texas, offers the state's only doctor of business administration (DBA) program accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Run through UD's Satish & Yasmin Gupta College of Business, the DBA emphasizes research and principled leadership.

    UD's program usually serves academics or experienced managers seeking higher education teaching opportunities or evidence-based management consulting expertise. To accommodate working students, this three-year, cohort-based program combines classroom and online learning modalities. The 61-credit curriculum entails 19 content credits, 18 research credits, six doctoral colloquium credits, and 18 dissertation credits.

    DBA enrollees typically hold regionally accredited master's degrees and at least 12 years of management experience. UD's selective admissions process includes an on-campus interview.

    University of Dallas is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

  • Wayne State University

    Detroit, MI



    WSU's Mike Ilitch School of Business in Detroit, Michigan, offers a doctor of philosophy in business administration featuring specialization options in marketing, management, and finance. Like many online Ph.D. programs in business, WSU's program usually serves students pursuing research or teaching careers.

    This 90-credit program includes 30 dissertation credits and 60 coursework credits, including 30 credits at the 7000 level or above. After completing 50 credits, learners must pass written and oral examinations to proceed to doctoral candidacy. Enrollees spend at least four consecutive semesters conducting dissertation-related work. Ph.D. students serve as research or teaching assistants and thereby receive 4-5 years of funding, including tuition remission, health insurance, and a living stipend.

    Eligible DBA applicants need at least a bachelor's degree, a 3.0 cumulative or 3.5 upper-level GPA, and a 600 minimum GMAT score. Applicants submit three recommendation letters and an essay outlining career objectives.

    Wayne State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

  • Wilmington University

    New Castle, DE



    WilmU, a private nonprofit university in New Castle, Delaware, provides an accelerated, part-time, 54-credit online DBA serving current or aspiring business consultants, managers, educators, and leaders. This cohort-based program emphasizes collaborative learning and mentorship from top business leaders and academics. Collaborating with an industry leader and organization, enrollees complete a capstone research project that involves real-world fieldwork and research applications.

    This DBA requires 21 common core credits, 24 program core credits, and nine dissertation credits. Taking one course per seven-week term, working students can complete DBA coursework within 2.5 years, followed by an additional 1-2 years of dissertation work. To accommodate working students, WilmU offers its DBA courses fully online or in a hybrid format that includes face-to-face weeknight meetings.

    Wilmington University is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The DBA program is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education.

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

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