Doctor of Business Administration

The Doctor of Business Administration program at St. Ambrose University transforms you from business practitioner into management scholar.

Geared to experienced managers and professionals who are interested in management, the program strengthens your job performance, the potential for advancement in your career or organization, and awards the credentials – your doctorate – to pursue consulting or teaching.

Our graduates work at Carl Sandburg College, Deere & Company, Rockwell Collins, First Midwest Bank, University of Northern Iowa, and many others.

Ambrose Advantages

  • Evening Courses for the Working Professional
  • Accredited by the ACBSP
  • 100% of Students Recommend the SAU DBA

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Read our fact sheet on the DBA program (pdf)

Why Choose SAU?

Our students tell you why their DBA studies at SAU was just what they needed to succeed professionally.

More Information on the Doctor of Business Administration

What will I learn?

The DBA program will help you develop analytical skills, writing skills, and familiarity with a broad array of literature in the management field.

Some graduates use these skills and insights to advance their careers in diverse fields such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, energy, and IT consulting.

Others use their talents in education, and advance into administration or faculty positions. Still others have made career changes and become full-time educators at colleges and universities.

Only at Ambrose

  • Coursework and class discussions emphasize ethical research and scholarship.
  • Our students come from diverse backgrounds and broaden perspectives in the classroom. They work in a variety of professions and are in various stages of their careers. International students - from countries as far away as Indonesia and China - provide further insight into management issues.
  • Dissertations are more than just research projects. You'll use what you learn in class to benefit your company, through activities such as analyzing mentoring programs, employee performance, and quality initiatives.
  • You'll experience a spirit of cooperation and generosity in our program and on campus, which reflects the quality of life in the Midwest and the Quad Cities.
Frequently Asked Questions

How is a DBA different from a PhD?
Both the DBA and PhD are graduate degrees in business. The exact nature of these degrees differs by institution. Generally speaking, the PhD in business is designed to prepare individuals for careers in education with a strong emphasis on academic research. While our DBA program does include a high degree of academic rigor, we often include a more applied focus than would be found in some PhD programs.

How long will it take to get my DBA?
That depends on the pace you choose. One of our first students completed the entire program in four years while working full-time. However, if you take two classes per semester and one in the summer, you can complete your courses in about 2-1/2 years. This is followed by comprehensive exams and the design and completion of a dissertation.

What is a dissertation?
This is the culminating research project. You choose an area of interest. Then, working with a faculty committee, you develop a detailed research proposal. If the committee approves the proposal, you collect data, analyze it, and write a detailed report. You can read the descriptions of the more recent dissertations here.

What can I do with a DBA degree?
Honestly, that's what's great about the DBA; whether you want to teach at the college level or advance in the business world, the DBA can give you that versatility. The SAU DBA is designed to enhance your critical thinking and analytical skills, and provide a larger breadth of career options--from academia to consulting. Knowledge gained from your DBA experience can improve performance in your current organization or be a stepping stone to other career opportunities.

Is the DBA available through online courses?
While some courses may occasionally use some distance-learning tools, professors teach all classes on the main campus.

Is the St. Ambrose DBA program accredited?
Yes. St. Ambrose University is accredited to offer the degree by the North Central Association of Colleges and Universities and by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP).

How much does this program cost?

Financing a doctoral degree might seem daunting, but our students quickly learn that a St. Ambrose education can be affordable (and worth every penny).


The 2017-18 tuition rate is $1,043/credit hour. The program is usually completed in a total of 48 credit hours. At the 2017-18 tuition rate, the total cost for tuition is $50,064.


Technology: $140/semester
Online course: $25/credit hour
Graduation: $35
Matriculation: $10
Graduation cap/gown/hood/tassel: $100 (approx.) 

Financial Aid

Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Office to learn more about the loans and other options that can help fund your education. In some cases, employers offer tuition reimbursement for completed coursework.

Payment Deferral

Does your employer offer tuition reimbursement?
This is a common method many of our students use to pay for their graduate education. Because it varies when companies reimburse their employees, St. Ambrose offers deferred payment until you get reimbursed or until you complete your classes (proof of completion). Both options are helpful when you want to avoid the use of personal finances to pay for classes. To qualify for employer deferral, our enrollment specialists will be happy to walk you through the process. If you aren't sure your employer offers tuition assistance, we recommend speaking with your human resources representative.

Do you have military benefits you would like to explore?
We have an admissions specialist who is an expert in military benefits who will work with you to determine available dollars and how to invest this benefit in a St. Ambrose education. If neither of these options apply to you, there are federal loans available. Graduate students have up to $ available (2016-17) per academic year for low-interest loans not based on income level. Our Financial Aid Department can help you with any questions

Degree Requirements

You will take 11 courses from these four areas:

Research methods: Provides tools so you can design research studies and analyze data.
Seminars in four major areas: Covers organizational behavior, human resources, strategic management, and organization theory.
Case research course: Helps you analyze organization cases and develop abilities to research and write case studies.
Topics courses: An in-depth study of a particular area in the fields of organizational behavior, human resources, strategic management, and organizational theory.

Students complete all courses in Research Methods and Readings Seminars. All coursework must be completed before taking written and oral exams.

Research Methods Courses

DBA 901 Research Methodology
DBA 902 Statistical Techniques I
DBA 903 Statistical Techniques II
DBA 904 Dissertation Design and Development

Readings Seminars

DBA 910 Analyzing Behavior in Organizations
DBA 911 Managing Human Resources in a Global Environment
DBA 913 Developing Strategy for Competitiveness

Special Topics Courses

Students will be required to complete four of the eight 930-970 series of courses:
DBA 930, 931 Special Topics: Human Resources
DBA 940, 941 Special Topics: Organizational Behavior
DBA 950, 951 Special Topics: Organization Theory
DBA 960, 961 Special Topics: Strategic Management
DBA 970 Special Topics: Collegiate Teaching

Written and Oral Comprehensive Exams

Both written and oral exams are required. The comprehensive tests examine your command of the management literature and your ability to integrate this literature into models that have theoretical significance and practical utility.

Comprehensive exams occur in March and October. You will take the written examination over two days, which consists of a 4-hour testing period each day.

Upon successful completion of the written examination, you then complete the oral portion. The time limit varies depending on the questions faculty ask and your performance.


The dissertation is your final step before graduation. Upon successful completion of comprehensive exams, you begin the dissertation class, DBA 990 Dissertation.

Admission and Application

At Ambrose, we understand that enrolling in graduate school is an investment personally, professionally, and financially. All of us in the Doctor of Business Administration program are ready to help you through the admissions process.

The following are requirements that must be fulfilled before your application will be considered by our Admissions Retention Committee:

  • Complete the online application.
  • Written statement of career goals: Briefly describe your educational and professional goals and the way in which you think the DBA program will help you accomplish them.
  • Current résumé
  • Two letters of recommendation. Each reference should send the letter directly to St. Ambrose University. At least one letter should be from an employer who is qualified to discuss your professional skills. At least one letter should be from a professor who is able to comment on your performance and ability to pursue doctoral studies.
  • A minimum of one (and up to three) written scholarly projects done in previous collegiate work as testimony to scholarship.
  • Official transcripts to be forwarded directly from all colleges and universities previously attended. A master's degree in business, management, economics, accounting, or a related but acceptable field from an accredited educational institution is required. If the master's degree is in an area outside of business, it may be necessary to complete relevant business course work prior to entrance in the DBA Program.
  • TOEFL for international students. For candidates from non-English speaking countries, the TOEFL score will be required.
  • A personal interview may be required.

All materials should be submitted to:

Doctor of Business Administration Program
College of Business
St. Ambrose University
518 W. Locust Street
Davenport, Iowa 52803

Apply Visit Info


Monica Forret, PhD, Program Director

Doctor of Business Administration
Ambrose Hall 304
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803

So, what's next?

Are you ready to take the next step? St. Ambrose offers more than 60 programs and 27 athletic teams and sports to join on campus. Become an Ambrosian today!