Welcome to the University of Cumbria Graduate School.

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

The University is committed to providing excellence in academic practice together with a supportive and stimulating environment in which to conduct your studies.

Research Student Admissions are now accepting UK, European and International DBA applications for the next intake starting in October 2022 for the academic year 2022/23. If you have any questions about applying to the university’s DBA Programme please email: rsa@cumbria.ac.uk

Please find more information on the university’s admissions policies during Covid-19 here: http://www.fresh-science.com/coronavirus/

About the DBA Programme

The University of Cumbria Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) offers an opportunity for doctoral-level study, alongside significant personal and professional development. The DBA is specifically designed for practicing managers, leaders, change agents and organisational consultants who aspire to enhance their knowledge, understanding and application of management, leadership, collaboration and organisational strategy beyond the Master's degree level.

The DBA programme seeks to enhance participants' capabilities and aspirations, hone their critical thinking, strategy-development and problem-solving skills, and to equip them with expertise to conduct independent research on current and future challenges and opportunities facing organisations. Blended learning via taught modules, tutorials and seminars, and the critical application of relevant and rigorous research methods, will enable participants to learn how to lead change more effectively, to make better strategic decisions and to enhance organisational accountability and sustainability in fast-evolving, diverse global-local contexts.


The DBA will enable you to:

  • Design and conduct an investigation into a management, leadership, strategy and/or collaboration question (or a more specific professional issue), the outcomes of which make a significant and demonstrable contribution to both relevant knowledge, theory and professional competence and practice.
  • Critically assess, select and implement appropriate research methodologies and methods within complex business, management, leadership or more specific professional contexts
  • Synthesise, interpret and rigorously apply relevant theoretical frameworks and research findings in relation to complex business, management and leadership contexts and issues
  • Develop high-level analytical and conceptual skills, facilitating questioning and critical debate about established theoretical orthodoxy and challenges to such orthodoxy
  • Engage in and manage a process of high level critical reflective personal and professional development leading to the enhancement of your own professional practice and performance within a professional work context or a specific domain
  • Improve the effectiveness of your organisation and those who work in it, as well as enhancing the engagement of other key stakeholders.

DBA Programme Structure

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) is based on a sustained, self-directed applied research project, supported by a collegial team of academic advisors, and reviewed and evaluated via seminars, workshops and taught modules (encompassing formative and summative assessment), submission of a thesis and an oral defence.

Each module of the DBA programme offers flexible, blended delivery that maximises the benefits of face-to-face learning, digital support, online group seminars and tailored individual tutorials.

The DBA will be undertaken on a part-time basis and will typically take 4-5 years to complete. The first years of the DBA will comprise three taught modules. The second year will include a yearlong module on the development of the DBA project/thesis concept and proposition, and one taught module at the start of the year. The third, fourth and fifth years of the DBA will involve researching and completing the final 50,000-60,000 word thesis, which will undergo an oral defence by viva.


Overall DBA Structure:

Year 1 modules:

  • Understanding Dynamic Business Contexts (30 credits)
  • Critical Thinking for Leadership & Collaboration (30 Credits)
  • Developing an Applied Research Strategy (30 Credits)

Year 2 modules:

  • Advanced Research Methods (30 Credits)
  • DBA Proposal & Plan (60 credits)

Years 3, 4 & 5:

  • DBA Thesis (360 Credits)

Programme Registration Details

We strongly recommend that applicants submit their applications as early as possible (for EU and International applicants at least three months before the start date).


Registration Point

We have currently are offering one registration point each academic year: October.

Apply for the October 2022 cohort by Monday 18 July 2022.

Please find details on how to apply below.

Entry Requirements

A 1st or 2:1 honours degree, or Merit or Distinction Master’s degree, or equivalent in a relevant discipline from a recognised university in the UK or comparable university overseas.

By exception, applicants will be considered with additional evidence of substantial relevant professional experience instead of relevant academic qualifications. This will include business or organisational management or leadership, or related organisational consultancy, appropriate to the proposed research. Applicants will typically have a minimum of five years’ experience; however each application will be considered individually.


Language Requirements 

Where English is a second language, evidence needs to be provided that applicants have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (with at least 6.0 in each part), or an equivalent English language qualification recognised by the University.

How to Apply

Doctoral study offers rare time and space for broader, meaningful engagement with the more challenging issues from your experience, both personally and in organisational life. It provides opportunity for extended conversations with the academic team in a friendly and supportive environment that will allow your deeper thinking, often not yet fully formed, to be explored and brought into a research journey.

This is a process that is sometimes deeply personal, and drawn from your real world experience in practice. Many say that this is a unique time for maturing intellectually, an opening up, and particularly valuable when undertaken with fellow doctoral students who are also engaging with deeper enquiry.

To apply for the DBA Programme you must submit an application form and 2,000 word (± 10%) pre-interview essay to Research Student Admissions at: rsa@cumbria.ac.uk

The essay is an important part of the application process for the DBA and we strongly advise you to ensure that at a minimum it covers the following points:


  • Your personal and professional motivations for applying
  • Your initial idea(s) for a question or specific professional issue to investigate
  • How the programme aligns with your previous qualification(s), and your professional experience (including any relevant wider community engagement work)
  • What benefits you think will be realised by successfully completing the programme
  • Why we should offer you a place on the programme
  • Your reasons for choosing the University of Cumbria DBA

Application Deadline:

Apply for the October 2022 cohort no later than Monday 18 July 2022.
All EU and international applicants are encouraged to submit their applications at least three months before if possible.


Download a DBA Application Form

Download the DBA Programme Specification

European and International Applicants

Information for overseas applicants can be found on our international pages. (Link to http://www.fresh-science.com/study/international-students/)


You can also find visa & immigration information on the UK government website. (Link to - https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration)

Tuition Fees

Information on tuition fees for the DBA degree programme are available here: http://www.fresh-science.com/study/student-finance/postgraduate/

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