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).
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.
Triple-accredited business school
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. You'll have the opportunity to:
- 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, act as a change agent utilising proven models and methods to enact change. Therefore, there are multiple benefits for you as a student, your organisation and the wider academic community.
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.
Fees & funding
Year 1: £15,750
Total fee: £45,000
A DBA is four years of study part-time. Students who require an additional (5th) year of supervised study will be liable for an additional fee of £5,000.
|What your fee includes|
The fee includes:
|Tuition fee discount for Strathclyde Alumni|
We are pleased to be able to offer a discount of 10% to Strathclyde alumni.
Please note: the fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.
Payment options are available, please contact us to find out more.
Support & development
What you'll study
Year 1 & Year 2
Years 1 and 2 are similar to those of a part-time taught Masters programme although the modules you'll study are more research-focused and you are given much more choice of what you study. Additionally, you'll 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; those 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||What you'll study|
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)
Directed study on areas of specialist knowledge (60 credits)
Credits 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.
Research project (60 credits)
You'll work on and write up, a pilot study focused on your DBA research problem.
|Workshops||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
There are no taught modules, instead you'll devote your time to empirical research. 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||What you'll study|
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.
|Workshops||Three workshops in Years 3 and 4 will support the three stages of the DBA thesis and you'll also 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.
Simply put, Strathclyde Business School is the best business school in Scotland!
DBA Management Science
Postgraduate research at the Strathclyde Doctoral School
The Strathclyde Doctoral School provides a vibrant and comprehensive student-centred research and training environment in order to grow and support current and future research talent. The School encompasses our four faculties and is committed to enriching the student experience, intensifying research outputs and opportunities, and ensuring training is at the highest level. As a postgraduate researcher, you'll automatically become a member of the Strathclyde Doctoral School.Find out more about the Doctoral School
We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.Visit our international students' section
Interested in undertaking a postgraduate research degree at Strathclyde?
Download our step-by-step guide on how to submit your 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:
- the DBA is an intensive programme and as a practising manager, you'll have to balance this with your job and family commitments – are you certain that you'll 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'll be with your company for the duration of the DBA programme 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're suited to this programme, you're fully prepared to embark on this programme and that the process of application is as straightforward as possible.
You must hold a UK Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, at minimum 2:1 level or a Masters degree in a relevant discipline from a recognised academic institution. In addition you would be expected to have a minimum of five years management experience.
DBA Research Brief
Your DBA application must contain a document that describes in broad terms what you are interested in researching. This brief will form the starting point for our discussion and will help us to select a supervisor for you.
Due to the variety and diversity of research projects that can be undertaken there is no ideal form of brief. The key thing is that it communicates clearly what you are interested in. Below is a list of the information that you should aim to include in your brief. Your entire brief should be no more than 300 words.
Research topic area
This is a description of what you are interested in and should be written in broad terms. For example topic areas may include strategic management, change management, leadership, etc. You might visit our departmental website pages for more detail on the broad areas that each department is active within.
This is a statement explaining why this research is important and why you are interested in it.
This is a description of where your research will be carried out. This may include an overview of the industry and some information on the company (or companies) that your research might take place in.
Start date: Oct 2021 - Sep 2022
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