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The University of Southampton
Southampton Business SchoolPostgraduate study

DBA Doctorate of Business Administration

Gain fresh insights into a real-world business problem on this DBA degree. Its strong emphasis on rigorous research will help you take your critical and analytical skills to a new level to enhance your professional credentials.

Introducing your degree

Advance your career by studying for a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) at Southampton Business School. This DBA, which is among the research-focused courses offered in the UK, will give you access to the latest ideas in your sector and enable you to apply them to a real-world problem within your organisation. As well as sharpening your critical and analytical skills, you will develop your managerial capabilities and apply your learning in the workplace. You’ll be supervised by leading academics with expertise in your area of research, who will share their knowledge and support you throughout your DBA journey. This part-time degree is designed for senior managers and consultants who want to study at an advanced level while working full time. It can be completed over a maximum of seven years although you can choose to complete within four. We offer the flexibility to pause your studies or extend the course duration to fit around your professional commitments.

Make a step change in your career by studying for a Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) at Southampton Business School. The DBA is equivalent to a PhD, but focuses on high-level strategic business problems rather than purely academic questions. Supervised by expert academics, you’ll apply the latest concepts and methodologies to a real-world issue within your organisation or business sector. You’ll also devise and follow a professional development plan, through which you will demonstrate the impact of your studies on your own practice and development. 

To ensure we maintain our reputation for academic excellence, this course has a small, select intake. Our students are senior managers or consultants who are looking to challenge themselves and who have approached us with a robust research idea.

We welcome applications from candidates with either an MBA or MSc (preferably in a management-related subject), or a professional business qualification. In addition, candidates must have at least seven years’ work experience, with a substantial part of this spent in a managerial or equivalent role. Applications from international students are welcome, but please note that this degree is not available on a full-time basis.

View the Doctoral Programme Profile for this course

To Apply

To apply to the School's DBA programme:

  • In the first instance, please complete the DBA Research Proposal Form and email it to the DBA Director, Professor Simon Wolfe, for consideration.
  • Professor Wolfe may then ask you to complete a University of Southampton online application form, where you will need to submit your supporting documents online (see the red button 'Apply for this Course' above).

Key facts

  • Designed for senior executives and consultants who want to make a step change in their career or stand out from their competitors.
  • This DBA concentrates on rigorous, independent research, unlike many other UK DBA degrees that include more taught or project-based elements.
  • You’ll work with two research-active supervisors who will offer expert support and guidance throughout your studies.
  • Students have up to a maximum of seven years but the programme can be completed over four years. There is the flexibility to pause your studies or extend the course duration to accommodate changing professional commitments.
  • Degree awarded: Doctorate

Director of Programme

Our students

Mark Hollyoake

Mark Hollyoake, a student on our Doctorate of Business Administration (DBA) course talks about his study experience at Southampton Business School.

Find out more
Eilis Collins

Eilis Collins

Eilis Collins is a Doctor of Business Administration student within Southampton Business School.

Hamid Reza Maleki

Hamid Reza Maleki

Hamid Reza Maleki is a Doctor of Business Administration student within Southampton Business School.

Belinda Nwosu

Belinda Nwosu

Belinda Nwosu is a Doctor of Business Administration student within Southampton Business School.

David J O’Connor

David J O’Connor

David J O’Connor is a Doctor of Business Administration student within Southampton Business School.

Alexander Culley

Alexander Culley

Alexander Culley is a Doctor of Business Administration Candidate within Southampton Business School.

Typical entry requirements

Your application will be carefully considered by a specialist member of the academic staff who will weigh up many factors. These include your academic achievements, interests and aptitudes, as well as your motivation and your referee's confidential report.

Selection process

We make our decisions in most cases on the application form and supporting documents alone. Candidates who require special consideration, eg on grounds of age, disability or non-standard entry qualifications, may be interviewed.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.

Typical course content

The DBA is a part-time degree designed for professionals in full-time employment. It can be completed within four years, based on around 16 to 20 hours per week of study. However, we recognise that some people may take longer to qualify due to changing professional demands. The maximum time for completion of the course is seven years (84 months).

The degree has a two-part structure:

Part one covers the first two years of study. During this time you’ll attend a one-week induction module during the first semester, which will introduce you to the nature of doctoral research, critical evaluation skills and the principles of academic writing. You’ll meet the supervisors who will guide you through the research process and agree how you can best work together. You’ll also be required to complete a five-day residential research module during the second semester and submit a number of assignments, including a literature review, thesis critique and your research proposal.

Part two (years three and four of the programme) is spent conducting independent research, analysing the results and writing them up for your thesis. 

In every year of study you’ll take part in at least one two-day doctoral workshop, known as a colloquium. This offers a chance to present your research proposals, discuss the development of your ideas and gain feedback from your fellow students and the academic team.

Expert supervision 

You’ll be supported by two leading published academic supervisors who are active researchers and therefore well placed to guide you through the degree. Our supervisors include experts in a range of areas including human resources management, business strategy, risk management, organisation behaviour, leadership, change management, accounting and marketing.

Through quarterly meetings, either online or face to face, they will support you throughout your DBA studies. Many of our supervisors are experienced management practitioners, so will be able to provide mentoring in relation to your professional development goals.

For example, Dr Mel Ashleigh

  • was an HR specialist in industry and has a wealth of experience in people management and training
  • is a fully qualified team trainer
  • is a consultant and trainer in psychotherapy and coaching, for independent clients and counselling organisations
  • ran training programmes for outside agencies for student recruitment, such as PwC
  • advised on HR management and training issues as a school board governor for an independent school
  • is in private practice as a counsellor and life coach
  • is an active researcher whose interests include trust at individual, team and organisational levels, team training, career perspectives and trans active memory.

Make a real-life impact 

The DBA is an opportunity to explore a complex, real-world organisational or management issue, using the latest theories and research methods. For example, current students are:

  • exploring the challenges of building trust-based business-to-business customer relationships
  • finding out how to motivate and engage employees to reduce staff turnover in the fast food industry
  • investigating the factors that contribute to effective purchaser-provider relationships, looking at this in the context of contract negotiation
  • looking at ways to overcome resistance to change within an established sector
  • Graduate development programs and the future world of work

View the programme specification for this course for 2018/19 entrants
View the programme specification for this course for 2019/20 entrants

Tuition fees

List of tuition fees for this course and it's variations
Course TitleAwardYear of entryMode of studyUK/EUInternational
Business AdministrationDoctor (DBA)2023Part-time£11,596£15,812
Business AdministrationDoctor (DBA)2024Part-time£12,700£17,300
View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries, sponsorships or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Whatever your sector or your motivation for studying, the research-based approach of the Southampton Business School DBA will help you to advance your career. Achieving a DBA qualification will:

  • develop your analytic and critical skills, enabling you to approach business challenges in new ways
  • build your credentials and differentiate you from other consultants or professionals in your field
  • enable you to develop an evidence-based consulting model or management tool that will give you a competitive advantage
  • help you to move towards a career in academia, or a portfolio career that includes academic aspects

Study locations

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