The course

Distance learning
Course type
Entry date



The DBA from Edinburgh Business School is designed to help students use research methods to define, implement and evaluate potential solutions for very real business issues.

Attracting high-calibre students from across the globe, the DBA builds on the learning gathered in our MBA and MSc courses to create a research-based programme of original thought and novel ideas. Studied on a distant learning basis, students will have the full support of a dedicated Edinburgh Business School supervisor.

All DBA students must be fluent in the English language.

Programme duration

Typically, the DBA programme can be completed by 5 years of self-study.

If the DBA Admissions team decide that your existing Masters level qualifications are not suitable for the subject of your thesis idea, you may be advised to undertake an Edinburgh Business School MSc programme.

Course content

The courses stage

On acceptance on to the programme, you must first complete the three courses titled Introduction to Business Research 1, 2 and 3. These courses support students in understanding the research process:

  • Introduction to Business Research 1 gives you a basic understanding of what research is and how it is carried out. It is particularly useful if you have not undertaken any postgraduate research before.
  • Introduction to Business Research 2 considers research methodology and literature review. It explains how to carry out a business-related literature review and then use it to develop a hypothesis or theory about a business issue.
  • Introduction to Business Research 3 concentrates on statistical techniques for data collection, analysis and drawing conclusions.

On completion of the three Business Research courses, you will discuss your research interests with the Edinburgh Business School Senior Mentor and develop an outline of your proposed area of research. The Senior Mentor will then review your academic transcript and planned topic to decide which, if any, additional courses are required.

You must successfully complete these additional subject courses. Each course requires around 200 hours of study.

Some subject courses may also be studied on campus at EBS.

The research stage

Once the Course Stage is complete, you will be allocated an Edinburgh Business School mentor, and you pay the Mentoring fee.

Your mentor will work with you in the preparation of your research proposal. The mentor will be a senior academic with experience of mentoring DBA students. Typically, the Mentored stage lasts for six months.

The research proposal must be submitted to the Edinburgh Business School DBA Research Committee for approval. Once the research proposal is accepted, you will be allocated a supervisor whose expertise lies within your proposed area of research.

The supervised stage

During this stage of the DBA programme, you work under the direction of your supervisor to conduct a literature review that supports your research and underpinning methodology, and carry out your research and write your thesis.

Your supervisor will be a senior academic with specific knowledge of your chosen area of research. He or she may or may not be a member of our faculty. You will have approximately six hours of contact time with the supervisor every month; communication will be primarily via email.

As with the research proposal, each stage of your research must be developed to a level acceptable to the Edinburgh Business School DBA Research Committee.

After acceptance of the literature review and synthesis, you will work on your thesis (approximate length 45,000 words) under the direction of your supervisor. The thesis is then submitted formally to the University and assessment takes the form of a review followed by an oral 'defence' of your thesis.

The examination will be conducted in person or by live video link at the University's discretion.

Typically, the supervised stage lasts two to three years, but this can of course vary greatly by individual student.