Executive DBA (delivered in Singapore)


Are you ready to advance your career, become inquisitive, analytical and equipped with skills to make a significant difference?

Location: Delivered in partnership with Kaplan in Singapore

Course type
Full-time / Part-time
Entry requirements

Three years (full-time);
four years (part-time)

Start date

Start dates available for March and September. Please visit Kaplan, Singapore here for more details. 

Course overview

The global business environment is constantly changing - be it in terms of technology, regulations or macroeconomic forces. With change, comes new and complex challenges that must be skilfully navigated to ensure business prosperity. These challenges call for analytical thought leaders who understand industry needs and can provide solutions in practice.

The DBA programme is designed for experienced business executives wanting to leverage their experience with cutting-edge, research-based skills that will enable them to successfully tackle business challenges and make an impact on industry. You will combine advanced theory and contemporary business research to develop a comprehensive data-driven research project, focusing on a discipline of your choice. Delivered in partnership with the triple-accredited Aston Business School, you will gain specialist knowledge and research support in areas such as accounting, law, marketing, strategy, economics, finance and entrepreneurship.

Dr Geoff Parkes

“What sets DBA graduates apart is their ability to bridge the gap between theory and practice. They are trained to apply their extensive knowledge directly to real-world business problems, making them invaluable assets to their employers.”

Dr Geoff Parkes
Executive DBA
Programme Director

Why study the Executive DBA?

Triple accredited icon
Recognised for quality
Aston Business School is proud to be among 1% of business schools worldwide with triple accreditation
Safe in our hands
Aston Business School has expert supervisory academics specialising in a range of disciplines including finance, accounting and economics
Internationally recognised research
78% of our business research achieved 3* and 4* in the latest Research Excellence Framework

Course description

Executive Doctor of Business Administration

Our Executive DBA programme, a milestone in personal development, combines academic knowledge and professional expertise, enabling you to initiate organisational change.

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What we will provide
First-class guidance and teaching delivered by expert academics who specialise in accounting, law, marketing, strategy, economics, finance and entrepreneurship. Your paired supervisory team will offer professional guidance as you refine and develop your doctoral thesis.

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What you will provide
Entry to this competitive programme requires business executives with at least five years of senior management experience. Applicants should demonstrate significant drive, commitment, and a thorough understanding of a specific business issue, along with a research-informed desire for advanced knowledge in their interest area.

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What skills we teach
You will acquire essential research skills, build your professional network, become more inquisitive and adopt evidence-based thinking. You will learn to identify, analyse and solve problems through rigorous research, enhancing your strategic decision-making and organisational impact.

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Career prospects
The knowledge, credibility and skillset gained from this DBA programme will elevate your career, opening paths in consultancy, academia or your current managerial role. You will be equipped to provide innovative solutions, effectively tackling business problems and improving organisational performance.

How you will learn

Our DBA programme is geared towards executives with at least five years of experience, who hold a Masters degree in management and are looking to enhance their skills and equip themselves to successfully tackle business challenges and make an impact on industry and society. As part of the programme, you will combine advanced theory and contemporary business research to develop a comprehensive data driven research project. This can be across a range of disciplines such as finance, business management, accounting, economics, organisational behaviour, data analytics and human resources.

With a clear research proposal and defined anticipated contribution established, you will be given access to content aimed at honing efficient, data-driven research skills. The modules are led by experts who blend theoretical and practical business knowledge.

At the pinnacle of business administration degrees, your personal and professional growth relies on drive, reflection and commitment to in-depth research and analysis. Support is integral; you will join a collaborative network of like-minded professionals for guidance and inspiration.

What you will learn

During the first year of the DBA programme, you will evolve into an independent, professional researcher, armed with the knowledge to carry out your research. Across four core modules, you will be introduced to business and management research, establishing a solid foundation in both qualitative and quantitative methods. Your critical analysis skills will be honed as you evaluate current theories pertinent to your specific business area. Emphasising practical application, the DBA cultivates an appreciation for impact-driven research, enhancing decision-making within business. You will also learn to effectively communicate the potential impact of your research on your organisation.

Having established these fundamental skills, you will advance to the research phase, positioning yourself as a thought leader through research grounded in advanced academic theory. This phase will develop your critical thinking and analytical abilities as you conduct a comprehensive literature review and explore various methodological approaches to your business problem. As a result, you will emerge as a strategic decision-maker, adept at using research to drive organisational change. Ultimately, your capacity to apply knowledge in practice will render you an invaluable asset to employers.

Julia Hofmann

Leading on innovation

Julia Hofmann says the skills she acquired throughout the DBA were instrumental in promoting innovation and leading transformation programmes within her organisation.

Paul Jones

Theory applied in practice

Paul Jones provides insight into how a DBA differs from a PhD and why he chose to study a DBA at Aston Business School.

Course objectives

  1. Provides you with the skills to design and deliver impactful research that benefits you, your organisation and the wider field of management practice.
  2. Offers personal development opportunities to enhance your effectiveness as an executive.
  3. Delivers an excellent learning experience based on the research and consultancy expertise of Aston University's academic staff.
  4. Aids in the dissemination, development and management of professional practices and policy.
  5. Contributes a substantial and original addition to knowledge through your research thesis or portfolio, demonstrating a critical appreciation of existing knowledge in the field and including elements suitable for publication.


Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

In the taught stage you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Introduction to Business and Management Research
This module will help you understand the process of business and management research and develop the necessary research skills to conduct a literature review.
Applied Research Methods 
This module will enable you to think about the links between philosophy, theory, and research methodology, and apply these to business and management research.
Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods 
This module will provide you with a grounding in the theoretical principles of, and approaches to, quantitative and qualitative research.
Professional Development and Research Impact 
During this module, you will develop an appreciation for impact related research to inform the operations and decision making within business and consider your future professional development.

Research stage modules

In the research stage you will study the following core modules: 

Module TitleCredits
Portfolio or Thesis 

On completion of the taught phase and based on your research topic/area, you will be partnered with academic supervisors. Your supervisors will guide and support you as you develop your doctoral thesis, which forms the capstone for programme. Our faculty specialise in departments such as Accounting, Law, Marketing and Strategy, and Economics, Finance and Entrepreneurship.

This stage of the programme requires significant drive, commitment and dedication to undertaking independent study. 

In month 20 of the programme (determined from point of programme registration), you will submit a qualifying report which is assessed by viva voce examination with internal examiners. Briefly, the report will deliver a detailed review of previous research findings relating to your research and a plan & design for research work going forward. 

Progress on the programme is contingent on meeting the submission deadline for the qualifying report and passing the viva. 

Following successful completion of the qualifying report and viva, candidates further develop and ultimately submit a thesis which is examined in a viva voce examination with internal and external examiners.


Programme outcomes

On successful completion of both the taught and research stage, you will be able to:

  • Know the philosophy, principles, underlying concepts, and practices of research.
  • Apply principles, models, and theories to a research problem, usually in your own working environment.
  • Critically understand the key literature in a specific area of business and management of your choice.
  • Understand how to design and deliver impactful research.
  • Demonstrate a high level of intellectual and analytical skills.
  • Critically review literature in your chosen area of study.
  • Design research that is firmly grounded in relevant literature.
  • Demonstrate an advanced level of understanding of relevant research methodologies, including statistical analyses and qualitative methodologies.
  • Design research that delivers impactful outcomes.
  • Apply theoretical principles, models, and theories to real-life problems arising in the working environment.
  • Present recommendations for action underpinned by rigorous research. 
  • Critically analyse data.
  • Demonstrate rigorous design in data collection methodologies.
  • Display strong report writing skills.
  • Show advanced presentational skills.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in written and verbal communication.

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.


Entry requirements

You will need: 

  • A masters degree in business or management (or related subject)
  • A minimum of five years’ senior management experience

You will also need to provide:

  • Official academic transcript(s) and certificate(s) evidencing an MBA, MSc or MA degree in business or management
  • Two references, one of which must be from your current employer
  • A detailed CV
  • A copy of your passport
  • A research proposal 
  • A personal statement detailing your motivations for undertaking this programme and how your background, qualifications and experiences will help you meet its demands.

English language requirements 

If English isn’t your first language, in addition to the standard entry requirements, you must evidence that your masters degree was taught entirely in English. 

Alternatively, you can evidence that you have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall or an equivalent English language qualification recognised by Aston University, taken within the last two years. 

Aston University can also provide an internationally accredited online English Language Assessment, this can be discussed during the application process with your DBA Advisor.

Applications that meet entry requirements are reviewed by the DBA Programme Director. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to interview via Microsoft Teams. As part of the interview, applicants will have a conversation with the DBA Programme Director and faculty members to discuss their proposed research and the requirements of the programme.

Successful applicants will receive offer letters and information on programme registration and enrolment.

Fees and scholarships

Please contact Kaplan directly for fees and scholarships available:

Further information about this course


You will be assessed through a combination of written essays and critical reviews. As you develop your doctoral thesis, you will submit a qualifying report in month 20 of the programme, which is assessed by a viva voce examination with internal examiners. Following the successful completion of the qualifying report and viva, candidates will further develop and ultimately submit a thesis. This thesis is examined in a viva voce examination with both internal and external examiners.

Career prospects

The specialist knowledge, credibility and skillset acquired through successfully completing the DBA programme will make you an invaluable asset to employers across a wide array of organisations. The programme prepares you for a career in academia and consulting, or for applying your learnings to your current position. You will be efficiently equipped to tackle current issues and transform your organisation. Graduates have become thought leaders and have been successful in the following roles:

  •  Consultant
  •  Business lead
  •  Research director
  •  Chief executive officer
  •  Academic professor

Frequently asked questions

How does a DBA differ from a PhD?

A DBA is the same level of education as a PhD. Both are research-oriented degrees that confer the title of Doctor and both degrees require candidates to conduct original research and make a significant contribution to knowledge. The research context and typical candidate profiles however differ between the degrees. 

The DBA is considered a professional doctorate geared towards executives and high-level managers. In a DBA, the focus is on using theory and research to design robust interventions that address real-world business issues. An impact on professional practice is thus achieved. 

On the other hand, typically, a PhD focuses on more theoretical research seeking to identify new theories or extend existing ones.  And PhD candidates are typically in the early stages of their academic careers. 

A Doctor of Business Administration is the next step past an MBA and the highest level of business administration degree. You can establish yourself as a thought leader through meaningful data-driven research founded on advanced academic theory and contemporary business research that impacts business practice.

Do I have to create a new theory as part of the doctoral thesis?

No. Einstein and Sir Isaac Newton created new theories – that level of academic endeavour isn’t what’s required.  What you must do in a doctoral thesis is contribute to knowledge both for practice and academia.  Just like in natural and physical sciences we have social science theories and the opportunity for a DBA student is to apply these theories to a practical business problem, in a way that creates new knowledge. DBA students have an edge over PhD students because they are closer to practice and can access data – that is always a big challenge for academics.

How long is the part-time DBA programme?

The programme is offered on a part-time basis. In accordance with University Regulations for part-time research students, the earliest date for completion of the doctoral programme (i.e., submission of thesis) is four years following registration. This may be extended to a maximum of six years.

What is a research proposal?

See our guidance notes on developing a research proposal.

Your research proposal is a critical component of your application. It offers an overview of your research agenda and provides the reader with (a) an understanding of the key research question(s), (b) the context, background, and relevance of these questions, (c) potential research methods that could address the questions in a timely manner (these can be broad), and (d) the anticipated contribution to current understanding in the field or professional practice. The proposal should also indicate the current state of knowledge in the research area (i.e., relevant theories and literature) and potential data sources to address the research question(s). Ideally, the proposal identifies the department(s) most closely aligned with the research.

In essence, the research proposal clearly communicates what is to be researched, motivates and justifies the proposed research, explains how the research will be undertaken, and provides an indication of the usefulness of the results it generates to the field or professional practice.

It is important to note that the research proposal is an outline of your intended research trajectory and will evolve as you become more familiar with the literature and theories surrounding your research area over the course of the program. Therefore, you are not expected to conduct a comprehensive review of the outstanding literature or research associated with your research area, nor confirm methodological approaches to resolving the research problem at this stage. However, you are expected to convey your current line of thought and knowledge about a given research issue or problem and potential approaches for analysing it.

Given that the proposal is a concise blueprint for the research to be undertaken, it should be between 1000-1400 words. Finally, the research proposal must have a succinct and meaningful title, which is excluded from the suggested word limit.

Guidance for research proposal 

What is the interview structure? What do I need to prepare?

Be prepared to talk about your research question in an academic context – so why would knowledge in this area be different – be capable of making a contribution?  Most importantly find out about Aston Research Centres and the research profiles of our academics.  These outline the research we specialise in and want to receive proposals about.  If you can read some journal articles – do any call for more research on your topic?

How can I find out more information?

If you would like to find out more information about the doctorate, register your interest and our enquiries team will be in touch.

Register your interest here

Alternatively, you can download our Executive DBA brochure:

Download brochure here

Why study the DBA at Kaplan in Singapore?

The Aston DBA is delivered in partnership with Kaplan in Singapore. This course will give you the opportunity to undertake your DBA with the additional support provided by Kaplan.

This qualification offers you the flexibility to begin your studies in March or September each year.

Upon successful completion, you will graduate with a Doctor of Business Administration degree awarded by Aston University.

Kaplan is one of the world’s largest and most diverse education providers with over one million students globally. In Singapore, Kaplan is registered with the Committee for Private Education (CPE) and 4-year EduTrust certified, with a well-established reputation for delivering business and management qualifications. Since 2005, Kaplan has served over 100,000 graduates in Singapore and its modern campus is host to a vibrant and internationally diverse group of students, from over 35 countries and regions.

DBA updates

The rising demand for DBAs

Today’s global business environment has led to rising demand for more advanced qualifications. Aston University’s DBA programme director, Geoff Parkes, explains how a DBA degree can help leaders meet employer demands and identify cutting-edge solutions to business problems.

Read the full article below:

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Paul Jones discusses the difference between a PhD and a DBA

Paul Jones joins Dr Simon McCabe and offers some real insight into how a DBA differs from a PhD. Paul also discusses why he chose to study a DBA at Aston University.

Geoff Parkes discusses what makes a good application

Programme Director, Dr Geoff Parkes provides some guidance on creating a good application. He discusses the importance of having a structure to your application, knowing what the research question is and what the contribution of your research would be.

Doctor of Business Administration: the benefits of professional doctoral study

The pursuit of professional doctoral study offers a multitude of benefits that extend beyond the individual and can have a significant impact on society, organisations and the academic community.  Dr Geoff Parkes, associate programme director of the DBA programme, shares his views on the advantages of professional doctoral programmes, emphasising their contribution to personal and career development, the advancement of knowledge and the broader social context.

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Hear from DBA student Robin Morgenstern

Current DBA student and business owner Robin Morgenstern discusses the DBA at Aston University.

Supervising doctoral students: An academics perspective

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and PhD programmes offer distinct paths within the realm of doctoral studies, each tailored to address the needs of specific cohorts. In this article, senior lecturer in marketing and DBA supervisor at Aston Business School Andrew Farrell discusses how academics supervise professional doctoral students.

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