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Athabasca University

Doctor of Business Administration
Program Regulations

Program Structure

DBA students begin their program with two orientations: one online and one on site. Onsite orientations coincide with research workshops for second and third year DBA students.

In years one and two, students complete six online courses plus two onsite research workshops. Following this coursework, in year three, each student prepares a dissertation research proposal (under supervision) followed by an oral candidacy exam. Upon successfully passing the oral candidacy exam, a student becomes a 'doctoral candidate' and commences work on the final dissertation. The doctoral candidate must conduct original research, write a dissertation and participate in an oral dissertation defense that is approved by a supervisory committee before being awarded the doctorate degree. 

Course Descriptions and Schedules

Program Requirements

Total credits in the program 21 credits
Residency Requirement: Students must complete at least 50 per cent of their doctoral courses and all DBA dissertation requirements through Athabasca University.  
Required Courses  
Year 1    
DBA 000 Orientation – online and onsite (0)
DBA 800 Conceptual Foundations of Organizational Research (3)
DBA 801 Current Research (3)
DBA 802 Management Research in Practice (3)
Year 2    
DBA 001 Onsite Research Workshop Year 2 (0)
DBA 803 Quantitative Research Methods (3)
DBA 804 Qualitative Research Methods (3)
DBA 805 Advanced Readings (3)
Year 3    
DBA 002 Onsite Research Workshop Year 3 (0)
DBA 806 Dissertation Proposal/Preparation for Candidacy Exam (3)
Year 4    
DBA 807 Candidacy Exam (0)
DBA 899 Dissertation Defense (0)

In exceptional cases, DBA students may be permitted to take courses out of order except for DDBA 000 (orientation), DDBA 800 (first course), and DDBA 806 (final course).

Time Commitment

Students will normally complete the DBA program in four to five years, but may have up to seven years to complete all requirements.

Extensions of up to one additional year may be considered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and the Program Director or designate in exceptional circumstances and will require the payment of a continuing program fee.

DBA students re-admitted to the program following a program withdrawal will be expected to complete their program studies within 7 years, less the duration of time the student was previously enrolled in the DBA program. Exceptions may be made by the DBA Program Director or designate.

Dissertation Research and Defense

The dissertation begins after successful completion of all prescribed DBA courses, and completion of at least two research workshops, candidacy exam/proposal defense. The appointment and composition of the dissertation supervisory committee will follow the policies of the AU Faculty of Graduate Studies.

DBA students will be assigned either an AU Supervisor or Co-Supervisors (internal AU supervisor and external supervisor) while enrolled in DDBA 805. Supervisors and committee member composition will follow all policies and procedures as prescribed in the Faculty of Graduate Studies Handbook.

Active Status and Continuation

To maintain active status, a DBA student must successfully complete at least one course in his/her program of study within a 12-month period, or be enrolled in DDBA 806 or 899 and be actively pursuing research toward the doctoral degree. A student who does not maintain active status will be deemed to have withdrawn from the program, and will be required to pay the tuition portion for courses completed and in which they are currently registered. They may also be assessed a Program Discontinuation fee.

DBA students who do not maintain "active status" may speak to their supervisor to gain permission to have their program extended, with the final decision to come from the DBA Program Director or his/her designate.

DBA students who fail any course will be automatically withdrawn from their program with no opportunity for re-enrolment unless exceptional approval is given by the DBA Program Director or designate and the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Program Deferrals

DBA students who have commenced the program can defer upcoming courses should they find themselves experiencing changed circumstances in either their personal or professional lives. Course deferrals must be requested at least 21 days prior to the start date of their next course. Deferring courses will delay program completion. All course deferrals or withdrawals must be approved by the DBA Program Director or his/her designate.

DBA students deferring into a cohort group or re-entering the program where new curriculum requirements have come into effect will have courses from both the old and new curriculum. The remaining program requirements will be determined and approved by the DBA Program Director or his/her designate.

Should a DBA student withdraw from studies and subsequently be readmitted to the program, they will be required to pay any fee increases that occur between the time of last enrolment and re-registration. Credit for courses previously completed will be evaluated by the DBA Program Director or designate and applied to the program requirements, where appropriate.

Program Withdrawal

DBA students who choose to withdraw from their program of study, without record of registration, must do so within thirty (30) calendar days of the commencement of the program. A withdrawal occurring in this time will not be recorded on the DBA student’s transcript.

A student who withdraws from his/her program of study after the thirty calendar day period from the start of the program will:

  1. have this withdrawal recorded on his/her transcript;
  2. pay the tuition portion for courses completed and currently registered in; and
  3. may be required to pay a program discontinuation fee. Any program fees paid will be non-refundable.

Re-Enrolment in the Program

Re-enrolment to the DBA program can occur within three years of student departure, subject to review and approval by the DBA Admissions Committee, and payment of all applicable fees. Fees will be assessed at current rates. Re-enrolled candidates will be required to pay any fee increases that occur between the time of re-enrolment and last registration. Credit for courses previously completed will be re-evaluated and applied to the program requirements, where appropriate. Additional extensions and alternatives may be granted by the DBA Program Director or his/her designate only in exceptional circumstances and on payment of the appropriate fee.

Graduation Requirements

Before being able to graduate with a DBA, a DBA student must have attended and successfully completed three separate on-site workshops (including one for the Orientation), typically one in each year of study.

To be awarded the Doctor of Business Administration, students must meet all of the requirements as set out in the Faculty of Graduate Studies guidelines. A minimum grade of B- (2.7) is required for all courses. Students must also complete and submit an Application for Graduation form, and meet all other regulations.

In addition, students must have paid any fees owed to the University and have returned all library resources.

Information effective September 1, 2020 to August 31, 2021.

Updated April 13 2021 by laurab

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