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.