Make a positive difference to organisations and society. The Doctor of Business Administration is a professional doctorate programme designed to develop applied research for managers in business, public services and non-profit organisations. 


Are you a senior manager or leader seeking to enhance your expertise and make a substantial impact in your organization and to continuing development of your employees?

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme is a unique blend of theoretical learning and practical experience tailored to cultivate reflective practitioners in their respective industries. 

Unlike traditional academic pursuits, the DBA focuses on real-world application, evaluating your progress through continuous assessment and culminating in a major research project centered on your workplace.

Joining our DBA programme will elevate your skills and knowledge, equivalent to a PhD in rigor and significance, and make a profound contribution to both academia and business practice, while advancing your career as a dynamic leader. Discover the transformative learning outcomes awaiting you in the DBA programme.

Why choose Edinburgh Napier University for your DBA?

  • Edinburgh Napier University is the number one Scottish Modern University for research power and impact (Research Excellence Framework 2021). The Business School is actively involved in a diverse range of research covering most areas of business, management and marketing. Students will be able to undertake rigorous research in the field of business and management and develop their ability to appraise critically their own insight and impact as a manager.
  • We have subject expertise in Human Resource Management, Marketing, Accounting, Tourism and many more disciplines, meaning we can support you in achieving excellence in your employment and chosen area of expertise.
  • The Napier DBA is designed to allow you to work within a flexible structure to be completed within three years while working, with part-time study.
  • We are the top university in Edinburgh for overall student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2022). You will be working with dedicated supervisors and administrative staff who will support you through your study.
  • Through sponsoring a DBA student, your employer will have access to the latest business developments from both a theoretical and practical perspective. The employer will also have the opportunity to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their organisation through research carried out by one of their own professional employees
Delroy Dennis shares DBA experience

"I'm highly appreciative of the professionalism and positive attitudes of the professors and supervisors at Edinburgh Napier University Business School. They are always available and willing to guide each participant throughout the DBA process."

Course details

Students will be expected to demonstrate their ability to:

  • Complete Edinburgh Napier University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods, demonstrating their ability to undertake research, critical investigation and evaluation, of an approved topic in their professional area;

  • Integrate rigorous academic and critical analysis with practical relevance and application;

  • Write a doctoral thesis which makes a significant original contribution to business and professional practice and clearly communicates their research work, conclusions and recommendations. 

The Programme is divided into two stages.

Stage 1 incorporates of the Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods (PGCert RM), which is compulsory for DBA students at Edinburgh Napier, lasts one year and is based on learning and research in a modular structure with specified assessments.

Students must pass the PGCert RM before progressing to Stage 2 of the DBA.

Stage 2 continues for the rest of your time as a DBA student, after completing the PGCert in Research Methods, up to a maximum of four years after you started the PGCert stage. During the second stage, you will complete your research and develop your DBA thesis of 50,000 - 60,000 words.

The thesis will be examined in line with University regulations for doctoral examination and will include a viva voce examination.

Entry requirements

Academic: For admission to the DBA programme, applicants should be currently employed in a senior management role and have an MBA or a Masters qualification in a relevant area, coupled with relevant work experience in a senior management role (usually 5 years). Exceptionally, applicants who do not have a recognised formal qualification may be considered on the basis of extensive senior management experience and evidence of appropriate academic ability.

English language: You will also need excellent English written and oral communication skills to undertake a professional doctorate. We may ask you to provide evidence of your ability to read, speak, write and listen in English. Your English ability can be demonstrated in a number of ways, but as a guideline, we expect an IELTS score of at least 7.0. Further details are available in our English Language Policy.

References: All applicants for DBA must include two references. One should be an academic reference and one should be a professional reference.

Fees & funding

DBA fees are payable in advance at the start of every year of study and you’ll need to pay fees for each year or part year of your standard period of study. 

Our fees are reviewed each year. Fees for 2023/24 are outlined below.

  • For both UK and International students, Years 1 – 3 cost £9,800 each year. There is a fee of £400 for Year 4 (optional). 

More information about fees for the Napier DBA can be found on our website. 

How to apply 

Applications for the Edinburgh Napier DBA can be made online using our online application system: Doctor of Business Administration Online Application

If you would like to discuss the programme with a member of the team, or to register your interest, please contact Kyle Thomson (Programme Administrator).

Important application dates

  • To start in October, you should apply by 31 May of that year.
  • To start in March, you should apply by 30 November of the preceding year.

The next DBA intake will commence in October 2024.

Application process

  1. Speak to a member of the team about our DBA. This is a great opportunity to ask any questions you have about the programme and talk about your research idea. Please contactKyle Thomson (Programme Administrator) in the first instance.
  2. Complete a research proposal templateThis details the information you need to provide to describe your research idea and the work-based problem or opportunity it seeks to address.
  3. Provide references - All students applying for a DBA also need to provide two references: one academic and one professional. Your application will be placed on hold until references are supplied.
  4. Please provide your referees with a copy of the reference form and a copy of your project proposal. Ask them to return the reference to the address detailed on the reference form.
  5. Once you’ve written your research proposal and obtained two referees, then you’re ready to submit your application through the online link below.

We aim to provide an initial response within seven weeks, so long as your application is completed correctly.  If your application is incorrect or incomplete, then we’ll need to return it to you for additional information, which will lengthen the time it takes to process.

If your application is successful, we will set up an interview around your availability.

View useful documents at the bottom of this page.  

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Frequently Asked Questions Frequently Asked Questions about the DBA programme
Our research

Research conducted at Edinburgh Napier University brings together our academic staff, students and external partners to solve real-world problems, influence policy and deliver positive societal change. We use our expertise to find ingenious ways forward and work to develop non-traditional partnerships beyond the education sphere.