May 22, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2021-2022 
Graduate Catalog | 2021-2022 Previous Edition

Business Administration, DBA

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is a professional degree taught in an executive format designed to prepare graduates for leadership positions in organizations and teaching careers in academia.  The program focuses on research methodology with practice-focus content and projects that address issues confronting contemporary business leaders.  Students gain an advanced level of knowledge in the following major fields:  management, marketing, operations management and information systems.  In addition, students are expected to demonstrate mastery of the existing body of knowledge in their major field and to develop new knowledge through original independent research.  With the educational background provided by the program, graduates are qualified to lead organizations as senior executives and change agents, acquire faculty positions in academic institutions, and launch successful careers in management consulting.

Admission Requirements

All applicants seeking admission to the DBA program must fulfill the University’s general requirements for graduate admission at the Ph.D. level.  Additional requirements for admission into the program include:

  • An earned MBA or master’s degree in a related field from a college or university accredited by an accepted accrediting body with a minimum GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Five or more years of professional working experience
  • For non-native speakers of English, a minimum score of 220 on the computer-based TOEFL, a score of 557 on the paper-based TOEFL, a score of 83on the internet-based TOEFL, or a band score of 6.5 on the IELTS
  • Three positive letters of recommendation
  • Two essays: one addressing the candidate’s goals and motivations for pursuing the DBA and the second outlining the candidate’s general areas of research interest
  • Other credentials as required by the Graduate school or the executive DBA program committee

Students are admitted to the program by the Dean of the Graduate School based on the recommendation of the Belk College of Business DBA Program Director, in consultation with the Belk College of Business DBA Program Committee.  Recommendations are based on the assessments of the Program Director and Program Committee of the candidate’s ability to complete the program, as supported by the application materials.  If there are more candidates than can be accommodated, candidates are recommended in order of their perceived ability, promise of success, and suitability to the program.

Degree Requirements

The degree of Doctor of Business Administration is awarded for completion of scholarly research that advances knowledge in the fields of business theory or practice.  Evidence of this is demonstrated by a successful dissertation defense.  Additionally, recipients of this degree must demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge within the field and potential for success in future leadership positions and academia.

The DBA is a three-year (six-semester), lockstep program consisting of 18 three credit hour courses.  The program requires 54 post-master’s credit hours.  The curriculum has three major components:

Degree Total = 54 Credit Hours

Grade Requirements

Students are expected to earn an A or B in all courses included in the program and must maintain a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA (on a 4.0 scale) to graduate.  The dissertation is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis and, therefore, is not be included in the cumulative average.  An accumulation of two C grades or one U grade will result in termination from the program.

Dissertation Advisor and Advisory Committee

Every student in the program must have a Dissertation Advisor and an Advisory Committee prior to being admitted to Candidacy.  Students should select a dissertation advisor before the end of the second year of the program.  Students and their dissertation advisor jointly determine the advisory committee.  The Dissertation Advisor serves as Chair of the Advisory Committee and must be a member of the Graduate Faculty of Belk College of Business UNC Charlotte.  The Advisory Committee must have at least four members, three of which are chosen by the student. Normally, the Dissertation Chair will be graduate faculty of the Belk College from the Departments of Business Information Systems and Operations Management, Management, or Marketing.  Advisory Committee members must be members of the graduate faculty at UNC Charlotte or from other institutions or industry provided they have relevant expertise and background.  Committee members should reflect both content and methods expertise needed for the student to complete the research.

Admission to Candidacy

The dissertation topic may be proposed after students have completed the required coursework.  The proposal defense serves as the qualifying exam.  Pursuant to Graduate School rules, doctoral students advance to candidacy after their Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School approve the dissertation topic.  Further pursuant to Graduate School rules, candidacy must be achieved at least six months before the degree is conferred.


Students must complete and defend a dissertation based on a research program approved by the their Dissertation Advisor and Advisory Committee which results in a high-quality, original, and substantial piece of research.  Students must orally present and defend the dissertation before the Advisory Committee in a defense that is open to the University community.  A copy of the dissertation must be made available to the Graduate Faculty of the Belk College of Business at least three weeks prior to the public defense.  While the defense is open to the University community, the deliberations of the Advisory Committee are held in Executive Session.  The dissertation is graded on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis by the Advisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School.

The dissertation defense is the final examination.  It is a Graduate School requirement that students who fail the final examination twice are terminated from the program.

Residency Requirement

The DBA is a cohort-based program offered in an executive format.  Normally students must enroll for nine credit hours during each semester of the regular academic year (i.e., fall and spring). Students may petition the Program Director for permission to enroll in less than nine semester hours in cases of hardship or other emergencies. It is a Graduate School requirement that a student must enroll in at least 18 total credit hours of Dissertation Research in order to graduate from the program.

Students that have completed all degree requirements, including the Dissertation Defense, may enroll once in GRAD 9999  in order to meet Graduate School Residency requirements.

Time Limit for Degree Completion

Students are allowed a maximum of nine calendar years from formal admission to the DBA program to complete the program successfully.

Application for Degree

Students should make application for their degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.