An Innovative Doctorate in Business Administration

The Concordia University Chicago Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) is designed to meet the demand for doctoral business education that is the next step in individual professional development. The program, one of the top DBA programs in Chicago, provides a further tier of leadership and management preparation beyond the master’s level. The DBA creates an opportunity for students and faculty to further cultivate the global perspectives, knowledge, and networks already established through the College’s expanding global presence. The curriculum, residencies, specializations, and the Mentor interface are innovative by design and delivery. A unique feature of Concordia-Chicago's DBA program is that the dissertation process begins immediately with students choosing a preliminary topic at the beginning of their program of study.

The Concordia-Chicago Doctorate in Business Administration has been designed for professionals who seek professional enrichment and want to focus on real-life business challenges while developing application-oriented research. Seasoned business professionals know that they must blend research with their management practice. They must know how to assess current global trends in business, leadership, and management that affect their organizations. The DBA program is committed to scholarly business research, and qualified candidates will have research interests that align with one of the two specializations offered. Those who earn a DBA degree will be prepared to advance in their profession and to use their research expertise to positively impact organizational goals.

Why a CUC DBA?

The doctorate in business administration is a terminal, professional degree within the broad-reaching fields of business, social enterprise, and public sector management. Holders of the DBA frequently work in executive leadership capacities in a variety of industries and organizations and in academe. While many executive leaders may hold graduate business degrees, increasing complexity, new knowledge, and turbulence within the business environment require an advanced level of knowledge, skill, and ability.

The Concordia University Chicago DBA focuses on practice, contributing to extending the theoretical base of the particular practice and extending the use of business knowledge through application. The CUC DBA integrates academic and dissertation preparation through a tightly monitored schedule concurrent with coursework, rather than in a linear fashion in which students take courses first and then write their dissertation.

"Keeping up with your profession, or, as a business expert aptly put it, 'to always be fit for future action,' is a key responsibility of any business professional. The Concordia-Chicago DBA provides a pathway that empowers business professionals to proactively keep pace with their fast-changing professions. The Concordia-Chicago DBA focuses on three vital areas (a) leading for innovation, (b) honing the student’s capacity to conduct research, generate, and apply analytics, and (c) sharpening the student’s ability to think critically and communicate effectively. These essential skills transcend skills acquired at the master’s level and enable the professional to adapt to a continuously changing world. Students will earn not only a DBA but a Concordia-Chicago DBA." Dr. Claudia Santin Dean, College of Business

Two DBA specializations are offered, Innovation in Health Care and Leadership and Innovation.

Program Structure

  • Core courses and specializations courses capture the knowledge needed for the business profession
  • Three residency courses provide sustained participation with peers and faculty members in scholarly/creative activities
  • Acquisition of skills of inquiry, development of research techniques, and the incorporation of professional values
  • Mentors who work with students through their program of study
  • eBooks and eResources are used to contain costs
  • Coursework and activities are integrated, ensuring all student effort is complementary
  • Dissertation discussion begins in the first term
  • The program is designed for three-year completion. Students requiring more time register for continuing services. The three-year delivery model mirrors the business environment and is managed by the student as a business enterprise
  • Students do not wait until coursework is finished to focus on their dissertation

Note: travel and accommodations are not included in tuition

The Mentor Experience

At Concordia-Chicago, doctorate of business administration students is matched with a mentor in the second term of their program of study. Mentors are selected for their business and research knowledge and their strong interpersonal skills. The relationship between the mentor and the student builds quality into the dissertation in a step-by-step, measurable way, preparing the student to begin collecting data, and writing chapters 4 and 5 of the dissertation supporting the completion of the dissertation by the end of year 3.

"The heart of the CUC DBA is the one-to-one mentoring course room experience. 'To innovate is not to reform: It is introducing useful change' (Adair, 2011, p. 412). The CUC DBA mentoring experience is an innovation in doctoral education. Concordia’s DBA dissertation mentoring experience starts as a continuous support to you as your mentor helps you orchestrate the dissertation journey. 'We Can Do This Together,' is the winning mantra." Charlene Dunfee, DM, Ph.D., DBA Core Faculty

DBA Residencies

The Concordia-Chicago DBA program integrates three residencies at pivotal points of the program. Whether students are taking courses face-to-face or online, everyone attends residencies to enable personal support of program requirement achievement and ensure on-time graduation. Residences are 4-day experiences and provide a rich blended-learning experience. Pre-and post-work encompasses an entire 8-week term.

CUC DBA Courses

Year 1

  • DBA Foundations & Residency I
  • The Global Leader
  • Research Design Part I & Mentor Course Room
  • Research Design Part II & Mentor Course Room
  • Mentor Course Room
  • Specialization Course I & Mentor Course Room

Year 2

  • Quantitative Research, Statistical Methods & Residency II
  • Qualitative Research & Mentor Course Room
  • Global Strategy: Perspective
  • Global Business Operations
  • Mentor Course Room
  • Specialization Course II & Mentor Course Room

Year 3

  • Business Analytics & Residency III
  • Mentor Course Room
  • Global Concepts in Strategic Marketing
  • Specialization Course III & Mentor Course Room
  • Dissertation I
  • Dissertation II

Total Credit Hours: 60

The DBA program outcomes are aligned with the College of Business’ Pillars of Knowledge:

  • Ethics and Social Responsibility
  • Critical Thinking and Entrepreneurial Mindset
  • Communication and Human Relations
  • Global Interconnectedness and Inclusiveness

Program Outcomes

The program prepares graduates to:

  • Critically examine the literature on business, leadership, and applied research
  • Undertake independent, ethical, innovative, and rigorous business research
  • Synthesize global trends, business knowledge, and leadership theory to advance both theory and practice
  • Design and implement innovative business solutions
  • Evaluate the efficacy of business principles to effect change in global environments

Career Outlook

The market is robust for holders of the doctorate in business administration. Generally, MBA programs and other business-related master’s programs link to a DBA as a logical next step in business professionalization. As business requirements become more demanding and specialized, the demand for advanced business and leadership training, such as in the DBA, will increase. According to, graduates holding a doctor of business administration degree are prepared to work in executive positions, such as CEOs, within organizations or in scholarly pursuits at universities and colleges. Chief executives, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, earn high six-figure salaries or more, and professors with business doctorates tend to earn high wages from consulting, in addition to teaching and conducting research.

DBA Admission Requirements

  • Master’s degree in business or related field with a minimum 3.0 GPA*
  • A completed Doctoral Application for Admission
  • Submission of rationale statement
  • Transcripts
  • 2 Letters of recommendation: 1 professional recommendation; 1 academic recommendation
  • Past experience: 5 years of professional experience is recommended
  • Resume

*Exceptions to the 3.0 master’s GPA may petition the dean of the College of Business for admission; additional admission criteria may be required.

Note: Students will need to maintain a 3.0 GPA while in the program.

What is a DBA and how does it differ from a Ph.D.?

A DBA is a professional doctorate with a focus on theoretical knowledge and its application to business practice. While also intended to prepare graduates for academic careers, the DBA has more practical application in managerial settings than the Ph.D.

A Ph.D. is a research degree for candidates who would like to pursue a traditional academic career and conduct research that contributes to business knowledge or theory.

The DBA and Ph.D. are academically equivalent. Concordia-Chicago graduates holding a DBA degree are prepared to work in executive and leadership positions within organizations, as consultants, or in scholarly pursuits at universities and colleges.

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Last updated February 7, 2019
This course is Online, Campus based
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Sept. 2019
3 years
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