DBA Doctor of Business Administration

The course

Online learning
Course award
Entry date
Open enrolment

Heriot-Watt University is a research-led university in the UK. REF 2021 classed 86.8% of our research and 88.6% of our research outputs as world-leading or internationally excellent.



The DBA is a professional research degree, designed to support you and give you the skills you need to deliver unique solutions in your sector or organisation, based on accurate and unbiased analysis of situations therein.

The programme is led by academics at the Edinburgh Business School and is suitable for professionals with a number of years of work experience who wish to explore advanced principles of business administration.

We have designed the DBA to fit around your working life as a self study, online programme.

Programme duration

The average time needed to complete the DBA is five years. There is no fixed start date, so you can begin at any time.


The programme consists of two stages: the course stage and the research stage, and builds on the learning gathered on completion of an MBA or MSc programme. 

The course stage

The course stage will equip you with the knowledge and expertise needed to develop the topic of your thesis and your understanding of the research process. The stage comprises of three courses, Doctoral Business Research 1, 2 and 3. Each course is assessed by a three-hour examination.

Optional on-campus 4-day seminars are available at our Edinburgh and Dubai campuses for each of the RM courses. Download our research methods and teaching timetable 2022/23

On successful completion of the three courses, not only will you have you have the theory, knowledge, tools and techniques required to embark on a doctoral research programme, but you are also awarded a Postgraduate Certificate in Research Methods, a significant University award in its own right.

Edinburgh Business School sits within the School of Social Sciences (SoSS) which has an integrated, research-driven community, delivering insight, knowledge and expertise across a range of disciplines. Our world-leading research is based around our research centres:

Research Methods 1: An Introduction

This course presents the first step in a basic review of the nature of research and methods for business and management doctoral students. It will provide students with the practical research tools and the theoretical background for critiquing and designing research on a variety of topics. It also serves as a useful guide as to the content required in a thesis, the nature of examination for a doctoral degree, and how to generate research questions and write in an appropriate ‘academic’ style.

Download Research Methods 1 course taster

Research Methods 2: The Qualitative Researcher

This course introduces qualitative research methods for business and management doctoral students. It will help students to assess the advantages and disadvantages of different qualitative methods and look at how they can combine with each other. Moreover, it provides a holistic understanding of the qualitative research process starting from outline of philosophical underpinnings to qualitative data collection, analysis and reporting.

Download Research Methods 2 course taster

Research Methods 3: The Quantitative Researcher

This course introduces quantitative research methods for business and management doctoral students. It will provide an understanding of the different techniques available from data collection through to analysis. The course is designed as an introduction to quantitative techniques, bridging into more advance ones with a comprehensive coverage of the most commonly used methods. The course will also train students on the use of SPSS statistical software to carry out analysis and apply the techniques covered within the course.

Download Research Methods 3 course taster

The research stage 

On completion of the three courses, you will be asked to finalise your research idea and discuss it with potential supervisor from within our Faculty.

Once a supervisor is in place, they will guide you throughout the development of your idea to the final thesis. Electronic communication takes place on a secure web board within your student portal and is supplemented using MS Teams meetings. Your final thesis will be examined by an oral defence (Viva Voce) of your research.

The DBA programme at Edinburgh Business School offers a unique opportunity to study a part-time, flexible doctorate. It couples first-class research methods training with senior academics to produce world-leading practitioners of research-based business solutions

Dr Jesus Canduela, Head of DBA Programme

Entry requirements

We welcome applications from suitably qualified applicants throughout the academic year and you can commence your studies once you are offered a place on the programme. To apply, please complete the application form and submit this along with the required supporting documents.

Please note that possession of the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee entry on to the programme. We will select the best candidates based on academic and professional credentials and those whose research interests are aligned with the School's Research Centres.

Work experience

Applicants are required to have a minimum of 5 years relevant, managerial-level work experience. A CV showing evidence of your career progression should be submitted along with your application form.


Entry on to the DBA programme requires a Masters degree in a relevant field from a recognised institution, equal in standard to one offered by Heriot-Watt University. Please submit a certified colour copy of your degree transcript and certificate or a copy sent directly from the awarding institution.

Research interests

The application form requires you to give a brief overview of your research idea. You should also specify which of the School's Research Centres you believe is most suited to your research interests. 

English language proficiency

If English is not your first language and it has been over two years since you studied your Masters degree in English, we will require proof of English proficiency. This can be either the results of an IELTS test with a minimum score of 6.5 with no score lower than 6.0 in reading, writing, speaking and listening (which needs to have been taken within the past two years). 

We can also accept a letter from your employers HR department confirming that English is the main language in your workplace.


We require two references, preferably one academic and one professional. These are to be written on an official letterhead. 


Fees for this course can be found on the tuition fees page.

Additional scholarship information

Find out more about Edinburgh Business School's scholarships and funding opportunities.