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Doctor of Philosophy
in Business Administration

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Complete your studies on your own time.

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Start your first course when it’s convenient for you.

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Finish your PhD-BA in just 20 courses.

National and Northcentral have merged, and this program is now offered by NU. Learn more.

Home » Programs » Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration

Enhance and Advance the Global Economy

Learn to tackle the biggest challenges in our global economy with the 100% online Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD-BA) degree program at National University. This advanced degree allows you to focus on research-based leadership strategies. As a doctoral candidate, you’ll be challenged to enhance your field with a dissertation on a subject unique to your experience and proven expertise.

NU’s PhD-BA program provides high-level training for senior leadership positions, with an opportunity to build the skills to meet the greatest challenges in today’s business world. Refine your existing knowledge and delve into emerging technologies while you gain a wealth of experience from your mentoring professors.

The PhD-BA at National University is a research-based program designed to prepare you for positions in the private and public sectors by enhancing knowledge and competencies appropriate to a leadership role in business, administration, and technology management. 

You can tailor your NU online PhD-BA to match your interests with one of these 10 specializations: 

  • Advanced Accounting
  • Financial Management
  • Global Business Management
  • Health Services Specialization
  • Homeland Security: Leadership & Policy (HS)
  • Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • Information Technology
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Strategic Marketing
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The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

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*The DBA program is accredited by ACBSP; however, the Health Services, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and Information Technology specializations are not.

Course Details

Credit Hours: 60

Courses: 20

Estimated Time to Complete: 40 Months

The Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD-BA) program can be completed in 60 credits. Each foundational course runs 8 weeks, and dissertation courses run 12 weeks.

Course Sequence

The PhD program requires a minimum of 60 credits. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.

Courses taken to satisfy the fundamental requirements may not be counted toward completion of required specializations courses or electives.

Students who complete at least 15 credit hours in a single area of specialization at NU (not counting foundational courses) may elect to have the specialization recorded on their transcript and diploma. Students may also opt for a General Business specialization, electing 15 credit hours of cross-discipline courses. Elective courses must be appropriate to the student’s degree program.

The PhD in Business requires a minimum of five core courses, five specialization courses, two statistical courses, five research courses, and one doctoral elective course. Upon completion of these course requirements, students advance to the doctoral sequence of courses. A minimum of four dissertation research courses must be completed in order to complete the program.

Required Foundational Courses must be taken first and in sequence. Evaluation track students will take SKS-7001 after BUS-7101 and before BUS-7110. Following the completion of Foundational, Specialization, Research, and Doctoral Elective courses must be taken in sequence as described.

Program at a Glance

16 professionally relevant specializations*

  • Total Credit Hours: At least 60 Credit Hours
  • Courses: 20 Courses
  • Recommended Completion Time: 38 Months
  • Next Start Date: Every Monday
  • Classroom Size: One

*The PhD-BA program is accredited by ACBSP; however, the Applied Computer Science, Computer and Information Security, Healthcare Administration, Industrial Organizational Psychology, Management of Engineering and Technology, and Management Information Systems, specializations are not.

Admission to the Doctorate programs requires a master’s degree from an accredited institution.

The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university with a grade of “B” or better.

The PhD degree programs in business have the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through NU
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • Satisfactory completion of the PhD-BA Pre-Candidacy Prospectus
  • University Approval of Dissertation Manuscript and Oral Defense completed
  • Submission of the approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound dissertation manuscript and an electronic copy
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their diploma and/or degree posted transcript. 
  • Administrative Services Managers/Directors 
  • Business Teacher
  • Chief Executives 
  • General and Operations Managers/Directors 
  • Industrial Production Managers/Directors 
  • Loss Prevention Managers/Directors 
  • Market Research Analysts 
  • Operations Research Managers/Directors 
  • Postsecondary Management Analysts 
  • Regulatory Affairs Managers/Directors 
  • Sales Managers/Directors 
  • Security Managers/Directors 
  • Social and Community Service Managers/Directors 
  • Storage and Distribution Managers/Directors 
  • Supply Chain Managers/Directors 
  • Transportation Managers/Directors 

*Positions may require additional experience, training, and other factors beyond successfully completing this degree program. Depending on where you reside, many positions may also require state licensure, and it is the responsibility of the student to ensure that all licensure requirements are met. We encourage you to also review program specific requirements with an NU advisor. Any data provided on this page is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee that completion of any degree program will achieve the underlying occupation or commensurate salary.

Dissertation Process

Faculty assist each NU Doctoral candidate to reach this academic goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.


This specialization explores principles, concepts, tools, and techniques to improve project performance and organizational effectiveness. Students examine all aspects of managing and overseeing business projects, including cost estimates, budget management, cost control, risk assessment, bid negotiation and contracts, and performance reporting critical to the success of any enterprise. The specialization focuses on management, leadership, and team building in the project/program environment. Students will examine strategies relating to managing multiple projects as well as the concepts of earned value project management.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization serves to enhance the understanding and practice of organizational leadership using an interdisciplinary approach between business and education theory and research. This specialization has broad appeal among practicing professionals (middle and upper management, and military personnel) with a background in business administration, human resources, nonprofit administration, and related fields, whose professional goal may be organizational consulting or a generalist leadership position in corporate, government, not-for-profit, educational or community organizations.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization explores the application of industrial and organizational psychology and management theory to the understanding of people in work environment. In this interdisciplinary specialization, students complete courses in the School of Business and the School of Psychology in order to develop competencies in theory, research, and applications of psychology related to human behavior in organizations. Students conduct advanced research related to the application of organizational and psychological theory to human resource management.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization prepares senior leaders of public administration, law enforcement, public safety, and emergency medical care and disaster preparedness agencies for executive leadership positions in the field of homeland security. This specialization focuses on rigorous research exploring advanced concepts and methods, and applying theory and emerging concepts through innovative approaches to complex problems. Students may choose from a variety of courses in terrorism, strategy, intelligence, emergency management, and critical infrastructure security issues.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization develops essential perspectives and skills for health service industry management issues. The specialization prepares students for problem identification and resolution, analysis and intervention as administrative issues, and recognition of the constraints and limitations to intervention and change in delivery systems. Students in this specialization will focus on the foundations of health services management, including an overview of the United States healthcare delivery system, financial management and economics, human resource management, quality management, and law, ethics, and policy.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization concentrates on research and development analyses used to manage and allocate financial resources and develop effective strategic planning for projection and ROI issues. Students will analyze financial and non-financial organizations — private, public, and corporate. The specialization focuses on international financial issues, quality concepts in financial management, and accounting for profit/nonprofit organizations.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization provides students with application of a broad accounting perspective and research based accounting knowledge, enabling the exploration of relationships among business activities, economic outcomes, business performance, and forensic analysis. Students will be able to meet the demand for advanced analysis of management and organization of business transactions and statements related to the assets, liabilities, and operating results of business enterprises, nonprofit organizations, and higher education instruction.

Specialization Courses – 9 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

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This specialization covers the essential elements required to understand and manage global organizations. Individuals interested in global management positions in industry, higher education, government and public entities, and business consulting would benefit from this program. The specialization provides students with comprehensive education and training in interdisciplinary global management subjects of leadership, government, diplomacy, economics, finance, marketing, and organizational effectiveness. Students study global business theory, decision-making, and problem-solving techniques related to global strategic planning.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

Learn More

Technology can be intimidating — yet beneficial — for many organizations. It is important for leaders to know how to take advantage of new technologies and ideas or be trapped in stagnation. The Information Technology Specialization helps prepare professionals to be champions of positive change through new ideas and new technologies.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks. 

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The Strategic Marketing Specialization at the doctoral level delivers a next-generation approach to strategic marketing, transcending traditional marketing management, and research methodology. This tertiary level specialization delivers benchmark training in the three pillars of global change leadership, marketing science, and innovation in marketing economics. Following the execution of strategic coursework, students will focus on real-world global product strategy, advanced digital marketing across the entire scope of the product life cycle. The specialization provides strategies for a sound, systematic, ethical, and legal approach to contemporary and emergent marketing practices. At the conclusion, students will be well prepared to lead the marketing workforce of tomorrow.

Specialization Courses – 15 Credit Hours Total. Each course is 3 semester credits and runs 8 weeks.

Learn More

Program Learning Outcomes

As a graduate of National University’s Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD-BA) program, you’ll be able to:

  • Develop business knowledge based on a synthesis of current theory
  • Defend theories, applications, and perspectives related to business to diverse audiences
  • Evaluate business practices that positively impact society
  • Evaluate the relationship between the global environment and business decisions
  • Formulate solutions to problems identified in extant business research


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Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.

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