The three-year, part-time Executive DBA curriculum offers a combination of theoretical and research methodology courses. The program is designed to be highly personalized, meaning that you will work closely with a faculty mentor to advise you throughout your coursework and research. This enables you to address an issue relevant and valuable to your career.

As a cohorted program, you will work closely with faculty and your fellow students during the first two years of coursework. During these two years, the program will be delivered through a series of six on-campus residencies per academic year that will take place over three-day weekends. During these weekend residencies (Friday through Sunday), there will be face-to-face classroom instruction, seminars, and networking events.

In between the on-campus residencies, you will remain engaged through an integrative online learning experience. You will participate in interactive online class sessions using web conferencing to reinforce course concepts and prepare for the next on-campus residency. During the summer of the first and second year, you will work with your mentor directly to develop your program of research, either in-person or online.

In the third year, you will work closely with your mentor to develop and complete your dissertation, a unique piece of applied research that contributes to the body of knowledge in your field. You will visit the campus at least twice during the third year: once to defend your research proposal, and once to defend your dissertation. While not required, program participants are encouraged to schedule additional on-site visits with their mentor as needed during their third year.

As a final requirement for program completion, all Executive DBA students develop a dissertation proposal to investigate an important business problem that is of strategic importance to their own organization, industry or market. Students should apply the relevant domain-specific and interdisciplinary knowledge to inform their research and select appropriate research methods for their study, including data collection and analysis. The student’s dissertation is expected to make a significant contribution to the understanding of a business phenomenon.

Each student will prepare a written proposal for the dissertation, drawing significantly on the work they have done in their four research projects (R1 through R4). The student’s mentor, with assistance from other faculty, will evaluate the proposal in terms of significance of the problem being investigated, the suitability of theories being applied, the research design and the expected data collection and analysis. Successfully defended proposals will satisfy the Dissertation Research requirement in the fall semester of the third year. Based on the research produced and feedback obtained by the student’s dissertation committee, they will prepare the final dissertation and submit it for review by their committee.

To fully complete the requirements of the Executive DBA Program, each student must pass the oral defense and obtain approval of the final written dissertation document by the committee of faculty members. The successful final defense of their dissertation will satisfy the Dissertation Research requirement in the spring of the third year.

Research Deliverables

The research projects are structured as independent study courses. With faculty guidance, the students develop their research ideas, build toward the dissertation proposal, and plan for disseminating their research. The courses also create “checkpoints” to keep the student on track to complete their dissertation proposal on-time.

Dissertation Proposal

In the dissertation proposal, the student must demonstrate a broad knowledge of the field, current methods of investigation, and the ability to conduct the proposed research on a realistic timeline. The objective is to conduct high-quality applied research that expands the frontiers of knowledge within the business discipline. When all members of the Doctoral Committee have approved the proposal, the proposal represents an agreement between the student and the committee that the theoretical and methodological approaches being taken are considered acceptable if the work is conducted appropriately and within the established timeline.


A doctoral dissertation must:

  • Meet the standards for original research
  • Uphold the ethics and standards governing research in the business discipline
  • Demonstrate mastery of the research methodology and subject matter
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the contribution of the research to practice
  • Meet the standards of writing and presentation expected in an academic publication, including grammar, formatting and readability.

A fundamental component of the Executive DBA experience is the close working relationship that you will have with faculty members. The mentor-student relationship is an apprenticeship that enables development and hands-on research training. Your mentor will provide close guidance regarding research, portfolio and professional development.

You will meet frequently, either in person or online, with your DBA mentor to discuss your projects, review coursework, and ensure that you are progressing through the program.

“Mentorship is a cornerstone of the Executive DBA program. Our job as faculty is to guide students in developing a program of research tailored to their needs.”

– Ron Anderson, Chair of Finance Department and Professor of Finance

Partnerships with Impact

Responsible for operations and the development of global offices and sales teams, Jeff Pepin has a vested interest in investigating the ways organizations develop and nurture effective leaders. In partnership with Fox School professor Dr. John Deckop, whose research interests include spirituality and work, Pepin developed a research agenda that will explore the link between increased mindfulness and greater leadership effectiveness.

“Given his extensive business experience, Jeff hit the ground running when it came to meeting the analytical challenges of developing a theoretical framework for his paper. The potential benefits of his research to his organization are apparent and compelling.

– John Deckop, Professor of Human Resources Management

DBA residencies occur on the following dates.

Fall 2020
Orientation: September 10
September 11-13
October 23-25
December 4-6

Spring 2021
January 22-24
March 5-7
April 16-18

Fall 2021
Orientation: September 9
September 10-12
October 22-24
December 3-5

Spring 2022
January 21-23
March 4-6
April 8-10

Course Listings

Students take five foundational (F) and five methods (M) courses during the first two years of the program. The foundational courses cover business research theory and domain knowledge in the areas of globalization and emerging markets, leadership, executive decision-making, research ethics, societal implications, and creation and dissemination of knowledge. The methods courses cover the philosophy of science, the foundations of applied research, building and testing theory, and quantitative and qualitative research methods.There are also three research projects (R) during the first two years under the guidance of an Executive DBA faculty mentor.

You can learn more about each course by selecting its title below.

Course Number and Title Credits
Fall Term
BA9801: Understanding the Firm through Management and Organizational Theory 3
BA9802: Scientific Inquiry through Applied Research 3
BA9813: Problem Solving using Quantitative Research Methods 3
Spring Term
BA9803: Navigating the Global Marketplace 3
BA9806: Integrative Perspectives on Business Knowledge 3
BA9815: Problem Solving Using Qualitative Research Methods 3
Summer Term
BA9883: Research Project I 3
Course Number and Title Credits
Fall Term
BA9814: Advanced Quantitative Research Methods 3
BA9817: Applied Qualitative Research Methods 3
BA9883: Research Project II & Research Workshop 3
Spring Term
BA9812: Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the New Economy 3
BA9816: Creation and Dissemination of Business Knowledge 3
BA9883: Research Project III & Research Workshop 3
Summer Term
BA9884: Research Project IV 3
Course Number and Title Credits
Fall Term
BA9998: Dissertation Proposal 6
Spring Term
BA9999: Dissertation Defense 6