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Inaugural Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) class graduating

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

The first four graduates from the University’s highly innovative Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) programme will graduate this week. Two students from each of the Programme’s streams – Dunedin, which has both domestic and international students, and the Shanghai stream taught in China – are graduating.

In what is thought to be an Otago first, a “virtual graduation ceremony” will be held this Friday afternoon for DBA graduands currently based in China, and Vancouver. Meanwhile Christchurch-based graduand James Wilkes was due to graduate in person in Dunedin on Saturday before the ceremony was postponed.

Launched at Otago in 2016, the DBA is designed for business professionals who are looking for a challenge. Students all continue to work full-time and resolve critical problems for businesses and industries through the application of research and theory in a practical business environment.

Programme Director Dr Sarah Carr says the course was developed in 2015 and she has been heavily involved since its inception.

“I’ve been here since day one. I started off organising the programme, but fell into teaching it, and eventually managing it as well.”

She’s had 15–16 trips to China to teach the Programme, and normally visits China about four times a year, but with the current global pandemic she hasn’t been there at all this year.

Dr Carr says currently there are about 120 students undertaking the Otago DBA, with approximately 70 in China and 50 in New Zealand.

“We’re expecting people to do things at the doctoral level, but it isn’t a traditional PhD.

“The fact that the Chinese programme is taught in Chinese or in English with Chinese translations is a major departure for the University, and it’s been about a very personal approach.

“They’re all working full-time and it’s about working with them and being flexible to adapt, and as a university support the students to achieve their desired outcomes.”

“It’s very applied research. It’s saying here’s a problem, now let’s try and find a solution. It’s about introducing students to applied research methods that they can use to make a difference in the workplace.”

Dr Carr says that the next New Zealand DBA class begins at the start of January.

“The programme has been a major success for the Otago Business School, attracting a high calibre of students and maintaining exceptional success rates.”

The DBA is awarded on the basis of submission of a thesis and the completion of coursework consisting of six papers. The coursework is an integral and constitutive part of the thesis research of the degree.

It may be completed within three years of full-time study or six years of part-time study.

The programme is offered through a combination of distance learning and on-campus workshops in English from the University of Otago, Dunedin campus, and in English with Chinese translation from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China. Candidates studying through Shanghai Jiao Tong University must attend a one-week orientation workshop in Dunedin at the beginning of their first academic year. All candidates must attend a four-day residential school, at an approved location, at the end of specified papers in the coursework component, Dr Carr says.

For more information, contact:

DBA Programme Manager
Otago Business School
Dr Sarah Carr
Tel +64 3 479 8573

Kerry Dohig
Communications Adviser (Otago Business School)
Tel +64 3 479 4336
Mob +64 27 232 2047

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