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Doctorate in Business Administration

Doctorate in Business Administration

Aimed at high-achieving professionals, our part-time Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) provides an exciting practice-based route to a research degree. It enables you to create and apply original business and management knowledge in ways which will benefit your organisation, industry and profession as well as your career.

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Course details

Study options

Part-time: 4-6 years

Course details



Course description


  • Our DBA programme leads to a highly recognised doctoral level qualification, enabling you to build your research credentials while advancing your professional practice in management
  • Your doctoral studies will be specific to you and your working role: you will undertake independent research in the area relevant to your professional and academic development and advance your knowledge which can be harnessed to improve your own organisation’s performance
  • You do not have to put your career on hold: the DBA is structured to offer maximum flexibility, with teaching in short study blocks and a substantial research project which can be fitted around your work schedule
  • We equip you with high-level research and analysis skills so that you can integrate evidence into practice and become a more critical and reflective practitioner
  • You will receive extensive support from academic supervisors with specialist knowledge in your subject area – all within a truly international research community where you benefit from peer learning and networking
  • Adding the title of Doctor to your CV will make an instant impression, helping you to raise your professional profile and give added momentum to your career

Is a DBA the right choice for me?


As an executive doctoral research degree designed specifically for business professionals, managers and practitioners, the Northampton University DBA will challenge you to take your skills and knowledge to the highest level. It combines academic rigour with an applied approach based on your own professional practice.

The DBA attracts experienced professionals in senior and managerial roles who are keen to take the next step in their career development, to undertake impactful business research, and to add to the body of knowledge in their sector and profession. Many of our students have already achieved masters qualifications and choose the DBA as an alternative to more traditional PhD programmes.

Flexibility is central to the DBA. In the first two years, you will attend the University for scheduled taught sessions which are delivered in five short study blocks – three blocks in Year 1 and two blocks in Year 2 of your study- so that you can fit your learning around your work and home commitments. Throughout your DBA programme, you will undertake your independent research project with the support and guidance of expert supervisors.

This structure makes the DBA an excellent choice for international as well as UK students. You will benefit from being part of a dynamic research community where professionals from different countries, sectors and backgrounds can exchange ideas. It is a chance for you to gain global perspectives and build international networks which will serve you well in your future career.

    Advance your professional practice


    The DBA allows you to investigate an important business issue of your choosing in great depth and apply your knowledge directly to the workplace.

    The taught stages of the course help you to engage with advanced critical analysis and finesse your research skills, including how to design research projects and how to communicate your findings. You will learn how to synthesise ideas and concepts, drawing on the latest theoretical frameworks.

    The independent research stage enables you to focus on a key challenge within your organisation or wider professional domain. You will explore how to solve problems innovatively, drive change and deliver a significant impact.

    Our current DBA students are researching issues which are directly relevant to their experience in the workplace, covering themes such as project management, risk management, business strategy, services marketing, public sector management, cross-cultural management, talent management, environmental sustainability and sustainable development, corporate social responsibility, big data and artificial intelligence.

      Our expertise


      You will be inspired and motivated by an academic team made up of influential researchers, respected authors and experienced consultants. They are engaged in significant research projects and publish regularly to deliver fresh perspectives on the latest business trends.

      Our Business and Management research is internationally recognised through the Research Excellence Framework (2014), and our expertise spans subjects as wide-ranging as behavioural economics, employee engagement, social media marketing, the green economy, industrial policy, supply chain management and corporate social responsibility. As a DBA student, you can also draw on specialist knowledge from across the University, paving the way for you to pursue interdisciplinary research.

      Unlike many other DBA programmes, you will be allocated a supervisor who is a subject specialist at a very early stage in your studies, while you are still completing the taught modules and well before you embark on your independent research project. It means you will receive expert support in shaping your research proposal. In addition, a leadership coach works with each DBA cohort to assist students with their continuing professional development.       

        What you will study


        The DBA programme begins with two taught ‘Theory for Practice’ stages comprising five core modules including a negotiated module requiring you to undertake an applied research project agreed with your DBA supervisor and the module leader. These modules build your skills in argument construction, critical evaluation, analysis and reflection, preparing you for greater learning autonomy as you progress. They also enhance your research skills and familiarity with various research methodologies and methods. The taught stage forms a core part of your doctoral training.

        We also offer an optional module at the end of the taught stage of the programme if you wish to exit the programme with the MSc Business and Management Research qualification.

        The ‘Independent research stage’ follows from the taught stage. This stage of your DBA programme aligns closely with the doctoral progression milestones culminating in the final examination of your doctoral thesis via viva voice by the internal and external examiners.

          Stage one
          • Introduction to research (20 credits)
          • Designing research projects (40 credits)
          Stage two
          • Developing the professional self (20 credits)
          • Negotiated module (20 credits)
          • Communicating your research (20 credits)
          Stage three
          • Practitioner project (420 credits) – PhD thesis of 50,000-60,000 words

          How you will learn

          Doctoral level study requires a great deal of independent study, equating to around 20 hours per week.

          The scheduled taught sessions occur in blocks throughout the first two years of the programme and you will engage in: 

          • seminars
          • practical activity
          • supervision
          • tutorials
          • work-based learning

          One-to-one tutorials, typically amounting to 10-15 hours per year, are arranged between you and your tutoring/supervision team. You can access your tutorials via online, phone or face-to-face options.

          You can also make the most of online resources through our virtual learning environment (Blackboard/Course Resources).


          Showcase your research

          We encourage and support you to present your research to a wider audience. Our annual research conferences – at both University and Business School level – are a unique opportunity to share your progress and findings, while hearing from fellow students and academics about their own business specialisms. There may also be the chance to raise your professional profile by attending national and international conferences.


          How you are assessed

          Assessments are designed to be broad, wide-ranging, flexible and innovative. They facilitate your professional learning and allow you to produce work relevant to your own specialism. The assessments will review your: 

          • ability to apply and evaluate skills
          • theory development and application skills
          • literature review skills
          • critical reasoning
          • analytical and research skills
          • problem solving
          • use of self-reflection
          • demonstration of evidence-based practice
          • academic writing and language skills

          You must pass all the Theory for Practice taught stage modules in order to transfer to the independent research stage. Assessment outputs include preparing a research progress review at the end of stage 2.

          At the Independent Research stage, you are required to complete reports which act as progression milestones. The final assessment for the doctoral award is through examination of your major practitioner project and a viva voce. We provide additional support at this stage through mock viva voce examinations.

          Throughout your work towards the DBA, tutors and supervisors will give you formative feedback which serves as on-going support and guidance. Formal records of supervision meetings will also be kept to provide you with additional feedback.

            Entry requirements


            The programme seeks to admit highly capable individuals able to demonstrate motivation, interest and aptitude for doctoral level study with interests in business and management research. Both home and international applications are encouraged.

            • Applicants should have a masters degree in a relevant field. A good first degree may be considered instead of a masters
            • Applicants should have at least three years professional experience
            • Where English is not the first language, applicants may need to provide the minimum English qualification IELTS 6.5 (with no less than 5.5 in each component). IELTS may not be needed where a degree has been obtained in the UK or another English speaking countries. English speaking professional settings may be considered
            • All applicants must be interviewed
            • Decisions about entry to the programme are made on the basis of application, prior education attainment, interview, professional experience and research proposal

            Where English is not the first language:

            • Applicants need to provide the minimum English qualification IELTS level 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in each component area). All tutorials, supervision and assessment are in English. Other substantial evidence of English Proficiency may be taken into account
            • Applicants may be required to undertake a pre-sessional English course at additional cost to ensure that they have a standard of English appropriate to this level of study. If applicants do not pass this course they will not be permitted to study on this programme

            Potential applicants are strongly advised to discuss the programme and alternative doctoral study options with the Programme Leader prior to applying to ensure a best fit in terms of personal, professional and career aspirations.

              Fees and funding


              • Year 1: £7,800
              • Year 2: £7,800
              • Year 3: £5,700
              • Year 4: £5,700

              Please note that all fees may be subject to annual increase.



                Students choose to complete doctoral research for many reasons: you could be keen to take your professional development to the next level; to pursue applied research which has a meaningful impact in your workplace; or to add to the body of specialist knowledge about a particular professional area.


                Whatever your ambition, the DBA adds prestige to your CV. When you successfully complete this programme, you will have achieved the highest academic qualification and will be allowed to use the title of Doctor (please note that some countries accept doctoral awards in different ways).

                Our DBA students are usually in full-time employment, undertaking research in their own work context, and can use their doctorate as a platform for further promotion to senior roles and an enhanced standing in their profession.

                As an elite member of Northampton Business School’s alumni networks, you will also be encouraged to maintain your links with the University beyond the DBA programme. There is the potential to contribute to joint research projects and publications, become an associate lecturer or guest speaker, and support students following in your footsteps.

                Teaching hours


                Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the Northampton University, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

                Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.