Students walking past exterior of Strathclyde Business School on Cathedral Street

DBADoctor of Business Administration

Research opportunities

Why study a DBA?

Within business, we're often faced with issues that test our problem-solving abilities. Academia can assist by providing methods, models and theories that can be used to unpack and analyse problems, and unlock solutions.

However, as organisations evolve and their activity becomes more complex, existing thinking may not be enough. Research into organisational phenomena is therefore ongoing and it's recognised that the contribution of practitioners to research is of vital importance. Too often though, the engagement of practice with academia is difficult to facilitate. One mechanism for achieving this engagement is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).

What is a DBA?

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a research degree designed to develop business professionals skilled in solving business problems. Your focus will be on applying academic theories, methods and models to solve problems of practice. Research projects undertaken during the DBA programme aim to understand and explore how organisations work and how management is practised.

  • learn how to analyse complex situations and problems
  • acquire skills in conceptual and reflexive thinking
  • develop knowledge of the design, implementation and monitoring of research interventions

The DBA provides two main opportunities:

  • Firstly, you develop knowledge in a specialist area. On completion, you can legitimately be considered an expert in your field, having studied it in-depth and conducted academically rigorous and practically relevant research which contributes to thinking in your chosen area.
  • Secondly, it supports you in carrying out an intervention within your organisation that will be hugely beneficial. At its core, a DBA is a knowledge exchange mechanism where you, supported by your supervisors and the wider research community within the University, acts as a change agent utilising proven models and methods to enact change. Therefore, there are multiple benefits for the student, their organisation and the wider academic community. 

Those holding a DBA are expert organisational practitioners and form a useful and necessary bridge between academia and practice, and between universities and organisations. Consequently, this mode of study can be seen as a long-term investment for both communities.

Fees & funding

Total fees for DBA students commencing in academic year 2019/20 should be paid for in the following installments:

  • Year 1: £15,750
  • Year 2: £15,750
  • Year 3: £6,750
  • Year 4: £6,750

Total Fee: £45,000

Note: Fees quoted above are for academic year 2019/20. Tuition fees for subsequent years are subject to an annual increase.

Payment options are available, please contact us to find out more.

*A DBA is four years part-time. Students who require an additional year of supervised study will be liable for this additional fee. Students who require a sixth or subsequent year may be charged a continuation fee.

Tuition fee discount for Strathclyde Alumni

We are pleased to be able to offer a discount of 10% to Strathclyde University alumni.

What your fee includes:

The fee includes:

  • registration
  • tuition
  • supervision
  • lunches during induction week and workshops
  • access to hot-desking facilities when you're based on campus
  • printing allowance
  • use of Strathclyde campus student facilities
  • graduation ceremony costs

It excludes:

  • accommodation
  • travel
  • any costs associated with your thesis research
  • printing and binding of your thesis
  • hire of graduation robes
  • graduation photographs

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.

How can I apply?

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

The DBA is a research degree and therefore a much more involved and personal journey than previous programmes of study that you may have undertaken. The preparation carried out prior to beginning your DBA will significantly enhance your DBA experience. We see the application’s process as the beginning of the relationship between the student and the University, and an important part of this preparation, so we promote an interactive approach.

Therefore before applying it is worth considering the following points:

  • the DBA is an intensive program and as a practising manager you will have to balance this with your job and family commitments. Are you certain that you will be able to maintain an acceptable work-life balance?
  • the DBA requires a certain amount of pre-existing subject-specific and domain knowledge. Are you certain that you have this knowledge?
  • the DBA requires you to carry out an organisational intervention. Are you certain that you will be with your company for the duration of the DBA program and that you have their full support in carrying out this intervention?

Therefore, before submitting your application it may be useful to contact the Director of DBA programmes, Dr Steve Paton. This initial contact will allow us to explore your research interests and motivations and help you construct the best application possible. Our aim is to ensure that you are suited to this program, you are fully prepared to embark on this programme and that the process of application is as straightforward as possible.

DBA Research Proposal

Your DBA application must contain a research proposal. Due to the variety and diversity of research projects that could be undertaken as a DBA there is no ideal form of proposal. The key thing is that you communicate clearly to the reader what you are intending to do, why it is worth doing and how and where you are going to do it. Below is a list of things that you should aim to include in your proposal.

Research imperative

This is a statement explaining why this research is important and who will benefit from it.

Knowledge gap

This is an explanation of the area that you are researching. This section should clearly outline what is missing from knowledge. Some reference to existing thinking should be included, for example, relevant thinking in adjacent areas and/or thinking that you intend to build on.

Research context

This is a description of where your research will be carried out. This should include an overview of the industry and some detailed information on the company (or companies) that your intervention will take place in.

Research method

This should contain a broad overview of how you intend to conduct your research. This section may be quite brief as, at this early stage, you will only have a vague idea of what you intend to do.

You can apply for a postgraduate research degree at any point in the year.

All you have to do is complete an online application.

Support & development

What you'll study

Year 1 & Year 2

Years 1 and 2 are similar to those of a part-time taught Master’s programme though the modules you'll study are more research-focused and you are given much more choice of what you study. Additionally, you will be allocated a supervisory team from day one so your programme is directly supervised and supported on an individual basis.

Your modules will be delivered at our Glasgow campus though those students on an international cohort-based programme may, in some circumstances, be taught at other venues.

The following is an indication of what you will study:

Stage 1

Directed study on research methods (60 credits)
  • Compulsory Classes: Research Methods (20 credits); Reviewing Literature in Business Subjects (10 credits); Research Colloquium (10 credits)
  • Optional Classes: Introduction to Quantitative Methods & Advanced Quantitative Methods (20 credits) or Advanced Qualitative Methods (20 credits)
Stage 2
Directed study on areas of specialist knowledge (60 credits)
  • Credits here can be gained through specialist study from our range of MSc programmes or you can customise your course with a range of special topic option
Stage 3
Research project (60 credits)
  • You'll work on, and write up, a pilot study focussed on your DBA research problem.


You'll attend three workshops which will introduce the DBA, help you develop your research problem and gain feedback on your pilot study

Year 3 & Year 4

Years 3 and 4 are devoted to empirical research and contain no taught modules. Your programme of work will be co-constructed between you and your supervisory team.

With a DBA the key is flexibility as you're researching issues of practice and your ‘laboratory’ is your workplace. Depending on your role you may find that the academic work is integrated into your work activity. If you're studying in a cohort you'll also attend additional workshops spread evenly throughout Years 3 and 4. 

Stage 4

Doctoral thesis (360 credits)

The DBA thesis is divided up into three interlinked projects, each around 20,000 words. The three projects address:

  • Planning the Intervention
  • Making the Intervention
  • Evaluating the Intervention


Three workshops in Years 3 and 4 will support the three stages of the DBA thesis and, in addition, you'll have an opportunity to get feedback on your work in a conference setting.

Studying in a cohort

DBA study can be carried out individually, but there are certain benefits to studying within a cohort. The cohort provides a community of like-minded students offering mutual support in the academic journey and solving of practical issues. There's often a commonality in the subject areas studied and the organisational situations that students face, and exchanging ideas with peers is of great benefit.

The Strathclyde DBA encourages cohort-based learning by providing a series of workshops within the programme where students within the cohort meet up and discuss their research. The cohort model is supported by dedicated academics and support staff to ensure that students receive the assistance they require for a productive and enjoyable experience.

PhD vs DBA

PhD and DBA programmes appeal to different student groups. Often students embarking on a PhD programme aspire to an academic career. These students often come directly from other studies and start their PhD soon after graduating. In contrast, DBA programmes are designed for practitioners of management who are looking for new intellectual challenges. These students often have a management degree, such as an MBA, already and may want to distinguish themselves further with a doctoral degree.

Potential DBA students are interested in management research and may have a practical research question in mind. This may be a specific problem encountered in their work environment or a more general issue of practice that they are keen to resolve.

Both PhD and DBA programmes aim to generate new knowledge, but the emphasis of each is different.

PhD students begin by identifying a gap in existing knowledge and they do so mainly by carrying out an extensive review of literature in their chosen knowledge area. On identifying the gap, they then design research programmes, often within organisations, that provide the data required to address that gap.

DBA students, on the other hand, begin by identifying a problem in practice. They then consult academic models and theories that may help to inform their understanding of that problem. They then design interventions within their organisations which allow them to investigate and resolve the problem. In doing this DBA students may contribute to theory or practice, or both. As with a PhD, the outcomes of the DBA research must be generalisable, allowing abstraction and application to other contexts.    

Contact us

To find out more about how a DBA could benefit you or your organisation, please contact Dr Steve Paton, Director of the Strathclyde DBA.