DBA 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.

Doctoral Business Research 1: an Introduction to Research Methods

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.

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Doctoral Business Research 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.

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Doctoral Business Research 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.

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Optional on-campus 4-day seminars are available at our Edinburgh and Dubai campuses for each of the courses. Please contact us for the seminar timetable.

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 Business Research Methods, a significant University award in its own right. 

The research stage 

On completion of the three courses and the submission of a viable research idea, you will commence the research stage.Here you will have the support of a dedicated Edinburgh Business School supervisor to guide you throughout the development of your proposal to the final thesis. You will have approximately six hours of contact time with the supervisor every month; electronic communication takes place on a secure web board within your student portal and is supplemented by telephone/Skype conversations. 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. We can accept applications throughout the year and you can commence your studies once you are offered a place on the programme. To apply, please complete the application form and return this with the below supporting documents to the address provided on the form.

Please note that possession of the minimum entry requirements does not guarantee entry on to the programme.

Work experience

We require applicants to have a minimum of 5 years relevant work experience. This is to be detailed on the application form, however you may wish to supply a CV to support your application.

Academic transcripts and certificates

Entry on to the DBA programme requires a Masters degree from a recognised institution, equal in standard to one offered by Heriot-Watt University. Please send a copy of your degree transcript and certificate. We will require to see an original of these, which can be either a certified colour copy sent by post to the address on the application form, or a copy sent directly from the institution to ourselves either by post or email.

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 confirmation from your employer 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. 


Additional fees information

Please use Edinburgh Business School's fees calculator.

Additional scholarship information

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