The United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports employment for business and financial operations occupations is expected to increase by 10 percent over the next eight years. Business executives face steep competition when seeking career advancement. Online DBA programs are now available from reputable schools and designed for business professionals who require a non-traditional path toward a doctoral degree.
Top 20 Most Affordable Online Doctor of Business Administration Programs Methodology
We looked at approximately 70 accredited colleges and universities listed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) College Navigator that offered online doctor of business administration programs. We narrowed our original pool of schools by applying particular criteria, such as graduate tuition and fees less than $20,000 per year and recognition by a major publication like U.S. News and World Report. We then listed the schools and their programs according to raw affordability to generate a list of the top 20 most affordable DBA programs online.
Below is our list of the top 20 online doctor of business administration programs of 2019.
#20 – Felician University
Lodi, New Jersey
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $19,290
Felician University offers an online Doctor of Business Administration program that is fully online with only a brief residency requirement. To be admitted to the program, applicants must have an MBA degree from an accredited college or university, a complete resume, official transcripts, and a personal statement. Online classes include advanced academic study and writing, introduction to research methods, online communications of business knowledge, and statistical and quantitative analysis. Students graduate with an advanced knowledge of the field and experience needed to publish in academic or industry journals. U.S. News and World Report ranks Felician #142-#187 in best regional universities in the North.
#19 – University of the Incarnate Word
San Antonio, Texas
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $18,258
One of the top DBA programs online on our list is the hybrid DBA at University of the Incarnate Word. This doctoral program blends technology with face-to-face instruction to provide students with a hybrid online degree. Transfer credit is not accepted for the DBA program. To satisfy the required 45 credits, students must take classes in business ethics, business operations and process improvement, corporate financial decision-making and value creation, marketing research and analysis, research design and analysis, and writing for publication and presentation. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #39 in best regional universities in the West and #36 in best value schools.
#18 – Northcentral University
San Diego, California
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,526
Northcentral University’s online DBA programs are for working professionals and require no entrance exams. The online DBA consists of 54 credits and 18 courses, which take approximately 39 months to complete. Several specialization areas allow graduate students to tailor their doctoral degree toward personal interests or to meet career goals. Some of the specializations include advanced accounting, applied computer science, financial management, human resources management, marketing, or project management. The program is ACBSP-accredited, and the school is ranked by major publications. In fact, U.S. News and World Report recognize Northcentral among the best national universities. Also, their online graduate business programs have earned top 200 rankings out of more than 1,200 surveyed schools.
#17 – Anaheim University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,252
One of the most affordable Doctor of Business Administration online degree programs on our list is offered by Anaheim University. This fully online graduate program allows working professionals to obtain a DBA degree while maintaining their full-time employment. The program consists of 60 credits and can be completed in approximately three years. Online classes include applied research methods, business analytics, ethics in business management, intellectual property, international and multinational marketing, and a seminar in international business. Students have the option of earning a concentration in international business by taking additional classes. Near the end of the program, a doctoral dissertation is completed. The school is nationally accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
#16 – Temple University
Doctor of Business Administration Online
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $17,054
Temple University offers an affordable online Doctor of Business Administration designed for working professionals. The executive online DBA is a part-time, three-year degree program structured for working executives. Most classes are delivered online, though face-to-face weekend residencies are required. Courses include integrative perspectives on business knowledge, navigating the global marketplace, problem solving using quantitative research methods, scientific inquiry through applied research, and understanding the firm through management and organizational theory. Research, proposal defense, and dissertation defense are all required as part of the program. U.S. News and World Report ranks Temple #106 in best national universities and #93 in best value schools.
#15 – Franklin University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,816
Franklin University’s online DBA programs offers a fast completion time (three years) and accept up to 24 transfer credits. The program is customizable and offers a variety of electives. Classes are delivered fully online to accommodate working professionals. Some of the business core classes include change management and organizational development, development of management theory practice, ethics and social responsibility, organizational behavior and effectiveness, organizational performance analysis, and organizational systems perspective theory and application. Ideal candidates for admission should have at least 12 years of management experience, with at least seven years at the senior management or executive level. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Franklin as a top unranked business school.
#14 – Concordia University
River Forest, Illinois
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,360
Concordia University offers an accredited online Doctor of Business Administration that is designed to meet the demand for doctoral business education. Two DBA specializations are also offered to allow students to tailor their degree toward an area of interest. These specializations include innovation in health care and leadership and innovation. Courses are delivered online and include communication and human resources, critical thinking and entrepreneurship mindset, ethics and social responsibility, and global interconnectedness and inclusiveness. To apply to the program, students must have an MBA or business-related master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and five years of professional work experience. U.S. News and World Report ranks Concordia #72 in best regional universities in the Midwest and #44 in best value schools.
#13 – City University of Seattle
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $15,264
City University of Seattle offers online DBA programs designed with the working executive or business professional in mind. The program offers students flexibility to choose between onsite or online formats. For those seeking online study, courses include business process analysis and strategic management, financial decision-making, industry analysis and market innovation, organizational identity and culture, and technology implementation and change management. A residency and dissertation requirement must also be met. The DBA program is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU) and recognized by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school’s online business programs rank among the top 175 and 112 online programs in the country.
#12 – California Baptist University
Doctor of Business Administration Online
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,997
California Baptist University offers one of the most affordable DBA programs online on our list. The online DBA is a 50-credit program designed to complete in as little as three years, including the dissertation. Eight-week structured courses are delivered online, though residency participation at key intervals throughout the program are required. Online courses include applying economic theory to decision making, ethics in organizations and management, foundations of organization and management, international business in global markets, quantitative research methods, and strategic marketing. Applicants should hold an MBA or its equivalent with a GPA of 3.0 or better. U.S. News and World Report ranks CBU #32 in best regional universities in the West and #20 in best value schools.
#11 – Argosy University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,656
The Doctor of Business Administration online degree program at Argosy University offers online courses and several concentration options. Students may elect to study a specialized area of business such as accounting, information systems, international business, management, or marketing. Courses are delivered online and include core business classes and a research core. These classes include advanced academic study and writing, advanced statistical methods, corporate and global finance, holistic management in organizations, managing global challenges, marketing strategy and management, and strategy formulation and evaluation. Admission requires an earned master’s in business or closely related field and at least three years, preferably five, of full-time managerial or professional experience. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Argosy as a top national university.
#10 – George Fox University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,015
George Fox University’s Doctor of Business Administration online degree program provides Christ-centered instruction for business educators and leaders. The program is designed for business professionals who want to transition to become professors or consultants, or seek leadership roles in their current job. The program is hybrid but offers online courses alongside the residency component. Courses include conceptual foundations of economics, conceptual foundations of finance, foundations of management and leadership, international business, and strategic management. Admission requires bachelor’s and master’s degrees from regionally accredited institutions with a minimum 3.0 GPA and full-time faculty appointment or professional industry experience. U.S. News and World Report ranks George Fox #24 in best regional universities in the West.
#9 – Johnson & Wales University
Providence, Rhode Island
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $13,008
Johnson & Wales University’s Doctor of Business Administration online degree program is designed to meet industry needs across sectors of business, healthcare, government, education, and military. The program moves at a quick pace and takes approximately three years to complete. Courses run eight weeks in length, giving students the ability to cover content at a quick rate. Courses are administered online, and students are required to maintain a 3.0 GPA with no course grade lower than B-. Courses include contemporary leadership issues, organizational behavior innovation and change, and problems and methods in marketing management. U.S. News and World Report ranks Johnson & Wales #74 in best regional universities in the North and #74 in best value schools.
#8 – Baker College
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,510
The online DBA programs at Baker College are designed to provide education and skills to leaders at the highest level of business. A total of sixty hours are required to graduate, along with the completion of online courses and a dissertation. Courses include corporate and personal ethics, doctoral writing and literature review, knowledge management and information systems, managing in a world-wide context, quality improvement and organizational change, and the scholar practitioner. A two-credit professional residency is also required. U.S. News and World Report recognizes Baker College as a top regional college in the Midwest, and the school is one of our most affordable picks.
#7 – University of Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,201
One of the most affordable DBA programs online is found at University of Missouri. The three-year, cohort-based program offers a flexible format with limited monthly required visits to campus. The online DBA requires the completion of 60 credit hours. Online classes and curriculum cover interdisciplinary topics with a focus on general management and business issues, as well as the application of quantitative and qualitative research methods to unique business problems. Ideal admission candidates hold an MBA or post-baccalaureate degree, work full time, and have 10-20 years of management experience. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school #226 in best national universities and #129 in top public schools.
#6 – Florida International University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,097
Florida International University’s online DBA programs offer hybrid face-to-face and online classes. The three-year curriculum is designed for working professionals who need a non-traditional trajectory toward a DBA. A total of 72 credits are required, including courses in experiment and survey design, financial issues in the global environment, international business theory and practice, philosophy and process of applied business research, and quantitative research methods. To be eligible for admission, applicants must have an MBA or relevant business-focused master’s degree and a minimum 15 years of work experience. U.S. News and World Report ranks FIU #187 in best national universities and #100 in top public schools.
#5 – Grand Canyon University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,555
Grand Canyon University’s DBA programs online include the DBA with an emphasis in data analytics. This program is designed to empower learners to manage and analyze enterprise data, also known as big data. Through online classes, the program meets the demands of career-oriented professionals who need to balance education with outside obligations. Courses include analysis of existing research, approaches to research design and data analysis, emerging issues in financial management, foundations for research, introduction to advanced graduate studies and scholarship, and the sustainable future. A total of sixty credits are required, and most classes run eight weeks in length. U.S. News and World Report ranks GCU #230-#301 in best national universities.
#4 – Liberty University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,723
Liberty University’s online Doctor of Business Administration is a sixty credit hour degree that takes 3.5 years on average to complete. Classes are delivered 100% online and run in eight-week sequences. Eligible students may transfer up to 15 credit hours. The DBA program offers several specialization options designed to allow students to tailor their degree toward areas of interest. Some of the available concentrations include accounting, finance, healthcare management, international business, marketing, project management, strategic management, and supply chain management and logistics. Successful admission requires a regionally or nationally accredited master’s degree with a 3.0 GPA. U.S. News and World Report ranks Liberty among the top 300 best national universities.
#3 – Wilmington University
New Castle, Delaware
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,438
One of the most affordable DBA programs online on our list is offered by Wilmington University. This program is open to managers, leaders, educators, and consultants who want to enhance their competencies and make an impact in the business world. The IACBE-accredited DBA offers 100% online courses that can be completed in as little as three years. Some of the required courses include business intelligence, ethics in business and management, experiential learning and leadership issues, global management models, managing innovation and change, and statistics for research. Admission to the DBA program requires official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a state of goals and objectives. U.S. News and World Report ranks Wilmington among the top 300 best national universities.
#2 – William Howard Taft University
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $4,740
William Howard Taft University’s online Doctor of Business Administration program emphasizes independent study and business leadership. The program is designed for mid-level and senior managers who desire high level learning without attending classroom sessions. All courses are delivered online and include business law, corporate social responsibility and ethics, designing economic business strategies, leadership theory and practice, marketing research for managerial decision making, and organizational design. An accredited master’s degree and professional work experience are needed at the time of application. William Howard Taft is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission and is a member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
#1 – Columbia Southern University
Orange Beach, Alabama
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $3,615
The online Doctor of Business Administration at Columbia Southern University requires students to complete a dissertation and defend their research prior to graduation. Though an online degree, students forge relationship through the school’s graduate mentorship. A total of 61 credits are required for the DBA. Courses include business ethics and corporate responsibility, corporate finance, human resource management, international business and global strategy, management accounting and control systems, and negotiations and business strategy. Columbia Southern is an accredited member of the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) and offers the #1 most affordable online DBA program on our list.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the difference between an online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and a PhD?
In general, people who enroll in online DBA programs have already achieved success in business. Most DBA degree candidates have worked for years in a professional business setting managing teams and organizations. These individuals typically hold an MBA or a closely related master’s degree in management of an area of business. Returning to school for an online DBA means career advancement and the completion of research in a practical area of business.
PhD candidates often have a different goal in mind than DBA degree seeking students. PhD students are often younger, have little to no practical work experience, and desire to enter academia or a research-based setting following graduation.
Most PhD programs are full-time, while DBA programs may be completed on a part-time basis and fully online. DBA programs typically take three to four years to complete, while a PhD program may take in excess of five years. If you are considering a PhD or DBA, it is important to evaluate your goals and time you are able to devote to coursework and research. If your time is limited due to outside obligations, such as work and family life, an online DBA program may fit your needs better than a PhD in business.
What is the average time for an online Doctor of Business Administration program?
The doctor of business administration (online DBA) is designed to equip graduates to lead, consult, educate, and research in corporate or academic venues. Generally, online DBA programs require applicants hold a master’s in business administration or closely related degree. By entering a DBA program with an MBA, you will have completed essential courses and gained a strong foundation for your doctoral degree. But since DBA programs require a superior competency and higher level of research than MBA programs, significant time is required.
Online DBA programs typically take between three and six years to complete on average. Some of the accelerated programs on our list allow students to move at their own pace and earn a doctoral degree in just three years. The length of completion depends on enrollment. For individuals wanting to earn a degree at a quicker rate, full-time enrollment is essential. Part-time enrollment means a longer duration of time to complete the online DBA.
Additionally, online DBA candidates typically complete a doctoral dissertation and pass a comprehensive examination as part of satisfying degree requirements. The dissertation requires research, writing, and defense components. All aspects of the degree take time. The online DBA, though fast-paced, requires methodical study in a particular area of interest.
What is the career outlook for individuals with an online DBA?
The overall employment of top executives, such as chief executives (CEOs) and general and operations managers is projected to grow eight percent through the year 2026. Business and financial operations occupations overall are expected to increase by 10 percent through 2026. This steady increase will be driven by the formation of new organizations and the expansion of existing ones. This is a two to three percent faster growth rate than all other occupations.
Job prospects for chief executives and general or operations managers should be favorable, though strong competition for positions is expected. High earnings potential and prestige associated with these positions attract qualified applicants and increase competition for jobs. By earning an advanced degree, such as the online DBA, you will set yourself apart from the competition pool.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, top executives like general and operations managers should see a steady growth in new jobs. CEO positions may face the most competition due to highly qualified candidates, but those with an advanced degree and extensive experience, particularly in leadership and management roles, will have the best job prospects.
What earnings potential do I have with an online Doctor of Business Administration?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Occupational Outlook Handbook, the median annual wage for chief executives in May of 2017 was $183,370. The lowest ten percent of all top executives, according to BLS, earned less than $68,110, while the highest ten percent earned more than $208,000 on average. Executives are the top earners for all business management positions we looked at.
The median annual wage for general and operations managers, as reported by BLS, in May 2017 was $100,410. The lowest ten percent in these occupations earned less than $44,000 per year while the highest ten percent earned more than $208,000 per year.
Salary varies among industry. Those working as chief executives and top-level managers in professional, scientific, and technical services earn the highest wages, while those in retail trade earn the lowest. Compensation packages also vary. For corporate executives, compensation packages include stock options and performance bonuses, while nonprofit execs receive fewer incentives.
With responsibility comes extended work hours. Most executives work more than forty hours per week. In fact, the majority report working evenings and weekends. BLS reports that in 2016, about fifty percent of top executives worked more than 40 hours per week.
What are the admission requirements for online Doctor of Business Administration programs?
For most online doctor of business administration programs, the application process includes different phases designed to determine qualified candidates. Preferred qualifications vary, but most require an earned MBA or master’s level degree from a regionally or nationally accredited college or university. Some programs may also require the completion of particular classes, such as business ethics or statistics. Admission boards always request official transcripts, and many require satisfactory GPAs. The programs on our list typically require satisfactory undergraduate GPAs and at least a 3.0 graduate GPA.
Evidence of work experience in a management role is also important to online DBA programs. The number of years of experience varies, but the average preferred length of time is six years of significant professional and/or senior level management experience. If you do not have the requested minimum professional experience, be prepared to explain why your qualifications compensate for the absence of work history. In some cases, consulting, teaching, or volunteer experience will be sufficient.
Also, admissions require a track record of success. Professional achievements and personal development are often favorably looked upon, so be sure to document your success. Additional requirements may also include leading major projects or preparing written work that is under publication review.