Our executive Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Programme Structure

Our executive DBA is a part-time distance learning course that can be completed in 4-6 years.

The Research Methods Course (RMC) modules are taught by expert staff in management research, completed in year 1 (maximum of 2 years), and are the foundation for all doctoral students: 

  • Develop as a professional researcher
  • Build the skills required to successfully complete the programme 
  • Lead to the development of your final research proposal and qualifying report


Four subsequent research methods modules via Aston University’s Blackboard™ Virtual Learning Environment taught consecutively during year 1:

  • Introduction to Business and Management Research – understand the process of business and management research and develop the necessary research skills to conduct a literature review.
  • Applied Research Methods – enable you to think about the links between philosophy, theory, and research methodology, and apply these to business and management research.
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Research Methods – provide a thorough grounding in the theoretical principles of, and approaches to, quantitative and qualitative research.
  • Professional Development and Research Impact – develop an appreciation for impact related research to inform the operations and decision making within business and consider your future professional development.

The final Research Proposal and Qualifying Report, which is the conclusion of the RMC, is completed in years 2-4 (up to 6 years maximum). 


Research Methods Course

Each of the Research Method Course modules are assessed through assignments that require you to link the concepts from that module to your own research project.

Qualifying Report

The RMC is designed to lead to the development of a Qualifying Report, a written document approximately 6,000 words in length that forms the basis for your final thesis. The Qualifying Report is examined by viva voce and must be successfully completed before you proceed onto the next stage of the research project.

Final Thesis

The research project culminates in the submission of a final thesis up to 80,000 words in length. The thesis must be successfully defended by viva voce before the degree can be awarded. It can also be published and practically applied to your current role.  


Distance Learning

Our executive DBA offers a wide range of facilities in order to ease your transition into the world of research. 

A specifically tailored Distance Learning Course, coupled with exemplary customer care and world-class supervision, ensures you have all the necessary knowledge to succeed. 

The latest version of the Blackboard™ Virtual Learning Environment is designed to meet the needs of the DBA student specifically: 

  • Podcasts
  • Vodcasts
  • Directed reading
  • Online tasks and quizzes 
  • Video conferencing for live discussions and research supervision

Virtual discussion boards are also used to conduct asynchronous online sessions between students and course tutors. 

We understand your time is precious and that undertaking the executive DBA is a huge commitment.

Therefore, we pair you with an academic supervisor who is a leading specialist in the topic you choose. Your supervisor will support you through the entire process as you develop your research idea into your final thesis. If your topic is multidisciplinary, we’ll ensure you have a team that can guide you in every area.  

A Student Support Advisor will also help you stay on track through every course, and assist with any questions or concerns you have regarding the online learning environment. 


Research Excellence and Supervision

Every executive DBA student is guaranteed to have a supervisor who has an excellent research track record directly related to the DBA topic. This is a rare facility that can only be undertaken by an institution with the research breadth of Aston Business School.

Our academics sit within the following departments:


Aston Law

Economics, Finance and Entrepreneurship

Marketing and Strategy

Operations and Information Management

Work and Organisational Psychology


Research DBA Topics

When you apply for the executive DBA, you will need to have an idea of the kind of research project you'd like to embark upon. With your application, you will need to submit a research proposal to demonstrate how you plan to take your topic further. 

Learn what makes a good research proposal.

Here is a small sample of the kind of research topics DBA students have embarked upon here at Aston Business School:

Getting Our Hands Dirty: A Case Study Investigation of Strategic Decision Implementation: Dr Neil Shepherd and Dr John Rudd 

Managing retail innovations, consumers, employees and channels: Heiner Evanschitzky 

Can psychometric testing be used to explain, predict and measure behavioural competences and the funding resource orchestration of the entrepreneur?: Dr Geoff Parkes



“The DBA allowed me to make the transition from a corporate world and learn the academic way of doing business.” - Paul Joesbury Chief Procurement Officer, Chesapeake Packaging

“My current research interest is in senior female entrepreneurship and particularly how the entrepreneurial intentions of older women are triggered. I am a senior entrepreneur and understand well the problems older women face when considering venture creation.” - Isabella Moore, Chair of the National Women's Enterprise Panel and President of the Eurochambres Women's Network


Entry Requirements

For direct enrolment into the executive DBA you must have

  • an MBA, MSc or MA degree in business or management (or an equivalent professional qualification)
  • a minimum of five years experience in a senior role
  • if English isn’t your first language, either evidence that the master’s degree was taught mainly or entirely in English, a minimum TOEFL score of 87 or a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall, or an equivalent English language qualification recognised by Aston University is needed

Additionally, you should demonstrate appropriate links to the practice your proposed research refers to.

How to Apply

These are the required documents needed to apply for the executive DBA:

  • Masters degree certificate and transcript (in a relevant subject field)
  • Undergraduate degree certificate and transcript 
  • Copy of passport (for home/EU students)
  • CV/Resume 
  • Personal statement 
  • Two references, preferably academic from the most recent institution of study, dated within two years
  • English language (nationals of English-majority speaking countries or those who have studied in an English-majority speaking country within 2 years of their DBA start date. Anybody else would need to provide an IELTs 6.5 overall (reading & writing - 6.5 / speaking & listening - 6.0) or TOEFL (reading - 23 / writing - 26 / speaking & listening - 19)

For more information click here

Application deadline: 17th February 2023
Programme start date: 3rd April 2023




A Word from the Programme Director

We live in an increasingly interconnected world where any delay in the supply chain in one part of the world leads to disruptions in the production process at the other end of the world. These often result in unhappy customers, ultimately leading to market share and severe financial losses. In that high intensity process, managers are constantly having to make strategic decisions that should not only ensure the long-term financial security of firms, but there is also an expectation that firms ensure the well-being of their employees and operate as socially responsible organisations. In short, any decision taken by a manager, however insignificant it may seem, has an impact on the sustainability of the firm and the livelihood and well-being on individuals globally.

Aston Business School not only does world-leading research on how organisations operate and on how management practices can help improve the performance of those organisations, it also has a long tradition of working very closely with businesses. For example, the Goldman Sachs 10,000 small business programme at Aston Business School is designed to boost local economic growth and job creation through providing a combination of targeted, high-quality, practical business education and support services to small businesses and social enterprises. Aston Business School, therefore, is well-positioned to shape the future leaders of the high-paced and multi-faceted business world.   

Whether you want to study towards a DBA to progress through the ranks within your organisation or widen your career options, we can help you develop the skills needed to achieve your goal. You will be developing critical, analytical and strategic thinking capabilities, which are so vital in today’s business environment, by conducting in-depth research in a specific area of management. Our faculty will support you in this process. If you already have an idea you want to work on, we can help you refine it; if you are unsure about your research topic, we can help you shape it. The programme is now largely delivered online and therefore you can benefit from our expertise wherever you are in the world without being physically present on campus. To find out more or to exchange ideas with a potential supervisor, explore the executive DBA web pages or talk to a member of the DBA Team.

We look forward to working with you in your research journey.

Dr Rakesh Bissoondeeal, executive DBA Director

Globally Ranked and Recognised

Aston Business School has an international reputation as a top research university with top-tier faculty and teaching scholars and experienced professionals.

Aston means business podcasts where our top academics provide essential advice to business owners and managers, entrepreneurs and students. In March 2020 we turned this podcast’s attention to small and medium sized businesses in our community (known as SMEs), and how they are responding to the challenges brought on by COVID-19. Our guests are interviewed by Steve Dyson, a business journalist and former daily newspaper editor who has presented dozens of regional programmes for BBC’s HARDtalk series.

A Midlands HR firm has managed to triple revenues in the last 12 months after offering vital free and low-cost advice to SMEs throughout COVID-19. Centric HR, founded by Sandra Berns in Staffordshire in 2016, decided to invest extra resource in helping small firms who otherwise faced “extortionate” fees for basic guidance during the pandemic.

Professional Distinction

With The executive DBA, you will be awarded the opportunity to improve skills such as critical thinking, writing and research. You can also enhance your career outlook: 85% of surveyed professional doctorate graduates stated their degree facilitated their promotion or career change.

Emphasis on Actionable Research

The executive DBA is an independent research experience that distills theory into practise.

  • Aston achieved the highest level of quality rating for research impact and research environment in the most recent Research Excellent Framework (REF) assessment.
  • Dedicated research centres for SMEs, social enterprise/entrepreneurship, servitization and more are at your disposal.