Executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

(Online)

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

Location: Delivered online via distance learning 

Please note applications for April 2024 are closed.

Course type
Part-time / distance learning
Entry requirements
Duration

Four - six years (April 2024 and September 2024 starts)

Start date

APRIL 2024 START

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. 

This online, part-time 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 by 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 Executive DBA at Aston University?

Flexible_IT
Flexible around you
Our part-time DBA is completely online, with flexible, accessible resources that allow you to leverage your experience without putting your career on hold
Triple accredited icon
Recognised for quality
Aston Business School is proud to be among 1% of business schools worldwide with triple accreditation
support-structure
Safe in our hands
Aston Business School has expert supervisory academics specialising in a range of disciplines including finance, accounting and economics
ref
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.

arrow icon

What we will provide
First-class guidance and teaching delivered by expert academics at a triple-accredited business school. We are home to business practitioners 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.

user icon

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.

graduate cap icon

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.

signpost icon

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

This programme offers busy professionals essential research resources and insights, allowing continuation of their work. 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 part-time, online modules are led by experts who blend theoretical and practical business knowledge. They combine asynchronous and synchronous learning on our virtual platform, suitable for peer and faculty interaction, and networking.

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. Research colloquia enable you to present your work to faculty and industry experts, receiving valuable feedback. Your academic supervisor provides continuous insight and support.

You will also have access to a range of training programmes which focus on developing subject-specific and transferable skills, delivered by Aston Graduate School.
 

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

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.
15
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.
15
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.
30
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.
15
Total75

 

 

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.
 

465
Total465

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.

 

Entry requirements

You will need: 

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

Please note applications for April 2024 are closed. 

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.

Adam Robinson

Speak to our Enquiries Team

If you have any questions about the application process or would like more information about the programme, please email our Enquiries Team.

Alternatively, you can book a call with our Account Manager, Adam Robinson: 

Email: dba_enquiries@aston.ac.uk

Geoff Parkes

Meet your programme director

Dr Geoff Parkes
Programme Director, Executive DBA 

If you have any questions about the course or modules you will be studying, you can get in touch via email and I will be happy to answer your queries.

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

Annual Tuition Fee (2024/25)

Years 1-4£9, 750
Year 5 (if required)£5, 000
Year 6 (if required)£500

More information on fees

The annual tuition fee for the Programme is £9,750, payable over three instalments of £3,250. This tuition fee is a fixed annual fee for the first 4 years of the programme (£39,000).

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law.

Scholarships

Aston University alumni will receive an automatic 20% fee reduction. Unfortunately, there are no other scholarship opportunities available for the DBA programme.
 

Assessment

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
Paul Attwal

Getting the right balance

As head of performance within the NHS, Paul explains how he balances senior-level work with academic studies. 

Alumni

Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

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. 
 

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 does a Doctor of Business Administration do?

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.

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?

Adam Robinson

If you would like to register your interest, our Account Manager, Adam Robinson, will be in touch to talk to you about the application process and answer any questions you may have. 

Register your interest here.

Download our Executive DBA brochure 

If you need more information or have any queries, please email us.  

 

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:

Read more

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.

Read more