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    Jun 13, 2024  
2019-2020 Catalog 
2019-2020 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Business Administration, DBA

This program is no longer being offered effect Fall 2020.

Program Information

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program is designed for professionals who want to further their career with the most advanced business degree program GGU offers. The DBA program addresses the learning needs and objectives of senior business managers, consultants and university professors. Its primary objective is to produce graduates who can contribute to the advancement of their professions and to the expansion of knowledge and awareness of contemporary strategic issues and practices.

Our curriculum has a three-tiered focus. Students examine current theories, practices, and issues in business; train in research methods; and study the relationships between business and social and global issues. We believe doctoral students must be adept in all these areas to be successful contributors to the expansion of knowledge and improvement of business practices. For the dissertation, students conduct original research on a topic of current importance and personal interest. The dissertation should impact and help illuminate the strategic issues they face in their professions.

The program encourages students to accept the added responsibility of a shared commitment to the advancement of their professions and to upholding the highest ethical standards in the private or public sector.

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the DBA program will achieve the program’s primary objectives through the development of:

  • A thorough knowledge of scientific and scholarly research methods and their applications in business settings
  • Advanced critical thinking, conceptual and analytical skills
  • A grasp of both the seminal theories and the latest practices in business and public sector management
  • Intensive knowledge of theory and practice in a chosen field of business or public management
  • The tools to perform original applied research that advances knowledge
  • An appreciation of cultural, ethical, and global issues and their impact on business theory and practices
  • The skills necessary for effective decision making in complex environments through integrating theoretic insights with practical knowledge

DBA vs. PhD

The DBA program has been designed with a focus on the “practitioner educational model,” which distinguishes Golden Gate University from other institutions. This focus is consistent with the position adopted by the Association of Business Schools, which can be summarized as follows:

  • The DBA is a professional practice doctorate and is concerned with researching real business and managerial issues via the critical review and systematic application of appropriate theories and research to professional practice. This may be contrasted to the PhD, which places more emphasis on the development of new knowledge and theoretical perspectives.
  • The DBA may often be interdisciplinary in approach and/or content.
  • It is further intended to provide opportunity for considerable personal development, such that the participant achieves a greater level of effectiveness as a professional practitioner or manager.
  • While the DBA, like the PhD, may have a program of complementary studies, it is not held to be a taught program as its primary mode of assessment is through the production of a dissertation/thesis.

Notwithstanding the above differences in orientation, the DBA is a true doctoral program designed to be equal in status and rigor to the PhD. It should thus share the same position as the PhD in any national postgraduate typology.


Our students are one of the program’s greatest strengths. Typical doctoral students at GGU attend part time. Without exception, they come from successful careers in top positions in the private, nonprofit and government sectors. They bring their experiences and knowledge to the classroom and, in turn, demand incisive instruction and intelligent, well-developed classroom discussions.


Faculty members who teach in our DBA program have doctoral degrees from leading universities in their fields and possess extensive practical experience. They bring a theoretical as well as a real-world view to their teaching and a commitment to dynamic, progressive education.


Offered at the San Francisco campus, the DBA program offers a state-of-the-art curriculum delivered by experienced, highly qualified professors. In keeping with our commitment to working adult professionals, we have one of the few accredited doctoral programs in the Bay Area that allows students to complete doctoral studies on a part-time basis and accommodate their work schedules by attending evening and weekend classes.


GGU seeks doctoral candidates with strong intellects, proper educational preparation, breadth and depth of managerial or professional experience and the capacity for disciplined scholarly investigation. While most applicants have a master’s degree in a business-related field, applicants with academic preparation in other fields are welcome to apply.

Doctoral candidates must be fluent in English and are expected to write at a level that meets the standards of scholarly publications. They are expected to understand contemporary practices in business and the economic, social and political context in which they are conducted.

The admission decision is made by a faculty committee and is based on the applicant’s total accomplishments and skills. Specifically, admission to the program requires:

  • Educational preparation: A master’s degree from a regionally accredited US institution or comparable foreign institution will usually meet this requirement. A minimum grade-point average (GPA) of 3.5 in the master’s degree is required. We will consider candidates who only have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.5 GPA.
  • Experience: Applicants with responsible managerial or professional work experience will be given preference. A professional resume is required.
  • GMAT or GRE examination: applicants are required to take the GMAT or GRE examination (within 10 years prior to application to the program) and have the test score results forwarded to the university.
  • English language proficiency: If the applicant’s native language is not English, he/she must supply evidence of English language proficiency, such as a score of 550 or higher on the TOEFL or other evidence.
  • Recommendations: Three written recommendations attesting to the applicant’s ability to succeed in a doctoral program are required.
  • Statement of purpose: A statement of purpose of approximately 1,000 words is required. This statement should address the applicant’s goals and reasons for seeking the doctoral degree.

The admission decision is based on the full range of the skills and accomplishments as shown in the application materials. Strength in one of the above areas can offset weakness in another area.

Application Procedure

The application for admission to doctoral studies should be submitted to the Office of Enrollment Services, 536 Mission Street, Golden Gate University, San Francisco, CA 94105-2968. The application must be accompanied by a nonrefundable application fee. All documents become the property of the University and are not returned. The initial screening of complete files is performed by the director of the DBA program. An interview, in person or by telephone, may be asked of prospective students who pass the initial screening. The admission decision is made by the faculty committee, which oversees the academic policies and standards of the DBA program.

Documents which must be submitted in support of the doctoral application include:

  • Official transcripts, forwarded directly by all colleges and universities previously attended
  • Official test score results (see above for requirements)
  • A professional resume
  • A statement of purpose (approximately 1,000 words)
  • Three letters of recommendation

Applications are accepted at any time during the year and students begin the program in any trimester. Applicants must ensure that all documents are received by the University not less than two months prior to the start of the trimester in which they want to begin the program.

Transfer Credit

Acceptance of transfer credits is dependent on the approval of the Office of Enrollment Services and the director of the DBA program. Transfer of credit is limited to 12 semester units of doctoral-level work, subject to the following restrictions:

  • The transfer credits must be pertinent to the work of the DBA program.
  • All transfer credit must be a “B” (3.00 in a 4.00 grading system) or better grade (“B-” is not acceptable) and must be completed in a doctoral program at a regionally accredited institution or comparable foreign institution.
  • Graduate credit will not be allowed for correspondence or extension work.
  • Any transfer units completed after admission to the DBA program must be approved by the director.

Requirements for the Doctor of Business Administration

To be awarded the degree students must successfully complete a minimum of 60 semester units beyond the preparatory graduate courses listed. Included are 12 semester units of foundation courses, 28 semester units of business core courses, 8 semester units of electives and a minimum of 12 units of dissertation research. Although research papers, reports and examinations may be required in doctoral seminars, the major assessment points in the DBA program are the qualifying examination, taken after the foundation curriculum is completed, and the dissertation research. Students must receive a passing score on the qualifying examination and successfully complete all required courses before they are allowed to present a dissertation proposal and officially advance to candidacy. To fulfill the degree requirements, the student’s dissertation must be completed and defended successfully within seven years of entry into the program.

Graduate Writing Proficiency Requirement

Students admitted to the doctoral program must meet the Graduate Writing Proficiency Requirement  within the first twelve units of the program by successfully passing the Graduate Writing Proficiency Exam or by completing ENGL 201 Graduate Writing  with a grade of “B” or better.

General Proficiency Requirements

Qualifying Examination

After the foundation curriculum course work is completed, a qualifying examination is required. This integrative examination will test the student’s mastery of the skills and disciplines of doctoral level research methods and analysis.

Electives - 8 units

Students must choose two of the following DBA seminars from business areas closely related to their dissertation research topics, in consultation with the DBA director:

Dissertation Research - Minimum of 12 units:

Students may register for DBA 899 Dissertation Research  only after having first completed all required doctoral seminars and having passed the qualifying examination. Successful completion of the dissertation is the final step in the program.