The scope of globalization, complexity, and competitiveness evident in business today are creating a need for higher levels of executive insight and expertise beyond that provided by masters-level business programs. The Graziadio Business School’s practice-oriented Doctor of Business Administration degree for business executives (also referred to as the Executive DBA program) is designed to provide intellectually curious business executives with the knowledge, competencies, and learning community to develop deep, research-based insights into important contemporary business challenges and opportunities. The program will guide students to leverage contemporary theories and analytical methods, combined with their many years of executive experience, to diagnose business and organizational problems and to develop new insights for improving and shaping future business practice. The program’s core philosophy is consistent with the values and principles that shape Graziadio Business School’s approach to high-touch, student-centered learning. The program is strongly committed to developing values-centered, “best for the world” leaders and reflective, thoughtful human beings through rigorous applied research and evidence-based decision making that seeks to positively impact business practice and society.
Key Features of the Executive DBA Program
The DBA curriculum and schedule have been designed to be conducive with the demands and responsibilities of business executives. The program is intended to be completed in 3 years, with the option for students to extend up to 2 years to complete their required dissertation research. Annual program milestones are used as “gates” for advancement to the next stage of the program.
Courses are delivered through a hybrid/blended learning modality, with three one-week on-campus residential sessions required in the first two years plus attendance at an annual, University-hosted DBA conference. The on-campus residential sessions will be complemented with synchronous online interaction and asynchronous virtual directed instruction via videoconference and other online learning technologies. Student advising and support services are provided in person during the residential sessions, and via phone, email and videoconferencing when students are off-campus.
Residential class sessions
Residential sessions are scheduled once per trimester and will typically occur in October, February, and June. New concepts and methods are presented and discussed during these sessions; application and reinforcement are continued throughout the trimester through online instruction and assignments. Residentials will be six full days, and most will require arrival the day before the session begins. Pre-work, on-campus, and post-course assignments are designed to facilitate appropriate understanding, reflection, and application of the course content and learning outcomes. Pre-residential work is assigned in advance of the face-to-face session and is designed to allow for a more robust discussion in class.
During the student’s first year in the program, the DBA Academic Director assigns each student to a faculty member who is pursuing an active research agenda on a topic related to the student’s research interests. The student will assist the faculty with their research with the intent of learning the process of applied research. The faculty mentor may or may not become their major advisor. The research apprenticeship may or may not result in a publication for the student.
The annual DBA conference is a gathering of all DBA students, other doctoral students within Pepperdine University, and students from other DBA programs nationally and abroad. Its purpose is to provide an opportunity for students to present their ideas for peer review and comment and to hear details about other scholars’ research (including guest keynote faculty). The DBA conference is intended to advance the doctoral research culture, provide opportunities to evaluate student progress on their research, and foster the ongoing development of a community of scholar-practitioners within the DBA program. The academic director and program faculty will use the conference to evaluate student learning and research progress, creating a learning environment for students to become comfortable and proficient in doctoral research discourse. This “internal” conference opportunity will also give students the confidence to submit and present their work at regional, national, and international conferences in their field of study.
Standards and Measures of Achievement for Executive DBA Students
Students must successfully complete all 55 units of coursework, maintain a 3.0 grade point average or better throughout the program, and meet the criteria for successful completion of their research.
In year one, students will be required to present a brief synopsis of their research topic and collect feedback from faculty and peers. Once the topic has been approved, students will advance to the preparation and delivery of a comprehensive literature review.
In year two, students will complete a doctoral research proposal under the supervision of their primary research advisor or Research Chair. Students must obtain approval to proceed to the empirical stage of their research from a Doctoral Research Committee that includes their Research Chair, additional faculty advisor(s), and other subject matter experts. The Doctoral Research Committee will deliver feedback to revise and resubmit the proposal, or will pass the student to the empirical stage of the research process.
In year three, students will conduct the data collection and data analysis phases of their research. Preliminary findings will be shared at the DBA conference to allow students to incorporate feedback into their dissertations or publishable papers. Following completion of the research, a successful oral/viva examination and sign-off on the completed research manuscript(s) (dissertation or two publishable research papers) by the student’s Doctoral Research Committee are required for graduation.
The final body of work (dissertation or two publishable research papers) will be judged by a rubric that evaluates a) its contribution to practice and appropriate theory to support it, b) the logic flow that starts with a well-defined research question, adequate supporting literature, an appropriate research design including research methodology and appropriate data analysis, and conclusions, and c) the ability of the student to articulate the implications of their research for business and managerial practice. Final faculty review will be conducted by the Research Chair and Doctoral Research Committee who must achieve consensus approval of the body of work for successful completion of the degree.
Leave of Absence
Students may petition the DBA Program Committee for a leave of absence, which must be submitted prior to the beginning of the term the student is requesting, stating the reasons for the leave and the projected time of return. Leaves of absence are limited to three years from the date of leave, after which time the student must re-apply to the program.