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Best online doctorate in business administration 2021: Top picks

  • December 01, 2021

    The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that more than 750,000 new jobs for business and financial occupations will be added to the workforce between 2020 and 2030, along with over 900,000 new positions in the managerial field. The number of chief executive positions is also expected to grow as fast as the average for all occupations. 

    For students earning a doctorate in business administration, this bodes well. Graduates with a DBA can teach at colleges and universities, thrive as top executives, or start their own businesses. 

    This page ranks the top doctorate of business administration degrees to help you find the best program for your goals. 

    The best online doctorate in business administration degrees

    ZDNet’s ranking methodology considers numerous factors, including cost, convenience, and curricula, to help you choose the right DBA program. 

    Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

    What’s the difference between a doctorate in business administration and a business Ph.D.?

    Students can earn either a doctorate in business administration or a doctor of philosophy in business. Both degrees require three to five years of advanced business coursework and original research. However, a DBA trains students to find practical solutions to existing business problems, and prepares students to work in high-level business roles. Students in a Ph.D. program develop business theories at the abstract level, which prepares graduates to work in academia or research.

    Insights from a doctor of business administration degree holder

    Dr. David L Tuyo II, DBA, MBA serves as the President and CEO of University Credit Union. His career in the financial services industry spans over 20 years, with the majority dedicated to serving credit unions. He has served financial institutions in a multitude of roles, including COO, CFO, and chief investment officer.

    ZDNet: Why did you choose to pursue a DBA program, rather than a business Ph.D. program?

    David Tuyo: After completing my MBA, I was curious about what the next steps would be, while at the same time assessing the next 25+ years of my career. I have always wanted to pursue an academic interest, but only after retirement from the financial services industry. 

    With this in mind, I was choosing between a doctor of philosophy in management or a doctor of business administration. I spoke with many who were in the academic community, and then I weighed the consequences on my personal life, as we had young children in elementary school at that time. Since I was not going to pursue a career as an academic in the near term and the DBA offered a more professional/career-friendly option, I decided the DBA was the best path.

    ZDNet: What were the biggest takeaway(s) you got from your DBA program that you may not have gotten otherwise?

    DT: The entire experience was extraordinary. The research and exploration in fields that I had the pleasure of working within for decades were given new light and possibility. The partnership with faculty to push me to levels I had not previously achieved was beyond gratifying. The application of some of the work immediately in the financial services industry gave credence to the years of work in earning the DBA. 

    ZDNet: In what cases is a DBA worth it to pursue? In what cases might it not be worthwhile?

    DT: For a professional wishing to pursue further academic work and not planning on entering the world of academics, the DBA is a phenomenal choice. For those wishing to enter the world of academia sooner than later, the Ph.D. would most likely be the best option.

    What to expect in an online DBA program

    An online doctorate in business administration includes three to five years of coursework in topics like organizational theory, business intelligence, and strategic management. Students also take quantitative and qualitative research methods classes. 

    Learners in DBA programs attend lectures and seminars, where they work with peers and as part of teams. Students also conduct independent research in anticipation of completing a dissertation at the end of the program.

    Doctorate in business administration courses

    Many of the core courses in doctorate in business administration programs are comparable with each other. Classes in strategic management, organizational behavior, and corporate policy accompany research coursework. Students learn to apply theory to business practices by studying management models, executive decision-making, and business innovation and change.

    Organizational strategy and policy

    Organizational strategy and policy coursework introduces students to theories, tools, and practices for forming, implementing, and assessing organizational policies. Coursework integrates case studies, and learners research and recommend solutions to specific strategic problems and challenges.

    Quantitative research methods for business

    By emphasizing data analysis and its applications for business, market research, and consumer behavior, students explore the models, tools, and technologies for conducting quantitative research. Topics include surveys, experiments, structural equation modeling, and action research.

    Strategic management

    Strategic management classes focus on managerial practices as they relate to economic conditions, corporate policy, and organizational needs. Through case analysis, assessment of industry and market structures, and valuation exercises, learners learn to develop and implement successful strategies in various managerial scenarios.

    Change leadership

    With an eye toward innovation and overcoming boundaries and obstacles, classes in change leadership train students to look at individual and organization factors alike. Students also make considerations for motivation, influence, and personal characteristics as they relate to change.

    Business administration degree levels

    • Associate: A business administration associate degree includes roughly two years of coursework. The curriculum includes foundational classes in business topics like finance, accounting, management, and marketing. Introductory courses in business communications accompany general education coursework in English, computer science, and mathematics. 
    • Bachelor’s: The best online business administration degrees study comprehensive business principles and practices through four years of coursework. Classes include organizational strategy, business intelligence, marketing and promotions, and business research. As part of a business administration degree, learners often complete an internship requirement. 
    • Master’s: The best online MBAs provide students with advanced coursework in business topics like marketing, finance, organizational behavior, and international business. Specifics vary when it comes to what to expect in an MBA program, but many degrees include MBA concentrations like healthcare administration, sports management, and business intelligence.
    • Doctorate: A doctorate in business administration teaches students advanced finance, leadership, and research skills to thrive in high-level business positions. Students develop business expertise through three to five years of coursework, research, and writing requirements. 

    In conclusion

    Doctoral programs in business administration prepare individuals to take on roles as senior managers and business leaders. If that aligns with your goals, check out the top picks for online doctorates in business administration on this page. 

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