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Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Campus grounds outside ISB

Apply for the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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The degree of Doctor of Business Administration 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.

The thesis should give evidence of the candidate’s ability to carry out research, that the candidate has shown originality and independence and that the candidate has made a significant contribution to applied knowledge in the particular field. It is expected that some of the work in the thesis will be worthy of publication.

The programme is offered through a combination of Distance Learning and on-campus workshops in English from the University of Otago, Dunedin, 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.

*Approved locations for residential schools shall normally include Dunedin, Shanghai (for candidates studying through Shanghai Jiao Tong University), and any further specified locations, subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce). For each year, the approved locations shall normally be confirmed prior to the opening of enrolments for individual papers.

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Contact Details

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

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Subject Area


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Programme requirements

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

– for candidates studying through
the University of Otago, Dunedin

Three compulsory 20-point papers

and three elective 20-point papers selected from

(not all elective papers will necessarily be offered each year)

– for candidates studying through
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

Six compulsory 20-point papers

Note: Every paper must be passed with a grade of at least B+, and a confirmation presentation must be satisfactorily completed as part of the residential component of BDBA 906 or BDBC 906 Research Methodology II, before a candidate may proceed to the thesis component

Thesis – for all candidates

Preparation and submission of a scholarly work, based on research investigation, which demonstrates academic prowess and the integration of an industry report with business theory. It may include a professional business case, reporting improvement or development of a specific business area.

Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

  1. Admission to the Programme

    1. Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
    2. Every applicant must either
      1. be a graduate with a bachelor’s honours degree and a postgraduate diploma, or a master’s degree in a business discipline, or
      2. in exceptional cases, have alternative equivalent qualifications acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
    3. Candidates will be selected on the basis of their previous academic record (normally with a grade average of at least B+), their graduate experience and academic achievements, their commitment to the field of business, evidence that they are committed to ongoing education, and reports from three referees.
    4. Every applicant will normally have at least ten years of experience as a professional in business and demonstrate evidence of leadership in their field.
    5. Every applicant must present evidence of ability for advanced level of academic study.
    6. Initial admission to the programme shall be provisional; it shall be confirmed after successfully completing the coursework component, with no grade below B+ and after a research proposal has been satisfactorily presented at the Oral Confirmation Seminar as part of the residential component of BDBA 906 or BDBC 906 Research Methodology II.
    7. If admission to the programme is not confirmed, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) may approve provisional admission of up to one further year or the candidate shall be required to withdraw from the programme.
  2. Structure of the Programme

    Every programme of study shall satisfy the requirements set out in the DBA Schedule.

  3. Duration of the Programme

    1. A candidate shall normally satisfy the requirements of the degree within 36 months of full-time study or 72 months of part-time study.
    2. The minimum period of full-time study shall be 36 months, and the maximum period shall be 48 months. Exceptions may be permitted only with approval from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
    3. No programme shall exceed the equivalent of six years of full-time study from the date of first admission.
    4. The coursework must normally be completed in 12 months of full-time study or 24 months of part-time study.
    5. The thesis may be completed by either full time or part-time study as approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
  4. Progress reports

    1. Once confirmation has been granted, progress reports signed by the candidate, supervisors, and the DBA Programme Director shall be submitted at six-monthly intervals to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
    2. If progress is unsatisfactory, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) may, after appropriate consultation, terminate the candidacy or recommend the award of another qualification or determine which papers shall be credited towards another qualification.
  5. Supervisors

    1. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) shall, on the recommendation of the DBA Programme Director appoint at least two supervisors, or one supervisor supported by a departmental advisory panel, to oversee the work of the candidate.
    2. The primary supervisor must be an appropriately qualified member of the academic staff of the University of Otago.
    3. In the case of a dispute between a candidate and a supervisor, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) shall have discretion to replace the supervisor.
    4. External advisers may also be appointed and approved by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
  6. Withdrawal from the Programme

    Where a candidate withdraws from the programme, whether voluntarily or otherwise, after completing some or all of BDBA901-912 or BDBC901-906, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) may recommend the award of the Postgraduate Certificate in Business Research if the candidate has completed at least 60 points of papers or the Postgraduate Diploma in Business Research if the candidate has completed 120 points of papers.

  7. Submission of the Thesis

    1. Two copies of the thesis embodying the results of the research (one soft-bound and one digital) shall be submitted for examination, in accordance with the regulations governing Presentation of Theses (section 14 in the Examination and Assessment Regulations).
    2. Theses may not exceed 100,000 words of text, excluding appendices, footnotes and bibliographies.
    3. A candidate may not present a thesis which has previously been accepted for another degree.
  8. Examinations

    1. Coursework
      The coursework shall be examined by one examiner, internal to the Division of Commerce, and externally moderated in line with the Division’s Doctoral Level External Assessment Procedure. In appropriate cases, examiners with special expertise in Chinese business shall be appointed instead of or in addition to the normal categories of examiners.
    2. Thesis examination
      1. The thesis shall be submitted to three examiners appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) and the DBA Programme Director in consultation with the supervisors.
      2. One examiner shall be from outside New Zealand, one shall be from within New Zealand but external to the University, and one shall be internal to the University. In appropriate cases, consideration will be given to appointing one or more examiners who have special expertise in Chinese business.
      3. An examiner shall not be a member of the supervisory team or departmental advisory panel.
      4. The thesis examination shall be supervised by an independent Convener appointed by the Senate on the recommendation of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce).
      5. The supervisor shall make a report on the work of the candidate which may be released to the Convener of the examiners.
      6. Each examiner shall supply a written report on the thesis, together with a preliminary recommendation for an examination result.
      7. An oral examination on the topic of the thesis and on the general field to which the topic belongs will normally be held as part of the DBA examination. The candidate must demonstrate mastery of the thesis in the oral examination in order to be eligible for the award of the degree.
      8. The oral examination shall be conducted by at least two examiners, one of whom is external to the University.
      9. At the discretion and invitation of the Convener, the supervisors and DBA Programme Director may be present at the oral examination.
      10. After consultation with the examiners, the Convener may approve the attendance of others at the oral examination.
  9. Examinations Result

    1. Coursework
      A candidate who fails to achieve at least a B+ grade for any papers within the coursework component may, on the recommendation of the examiners, be permitted by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) to enrol again and be re-examined in the papers concerned. No paper may be attempted more than twice.
    2. Thesis
      1. The Convener of examiners shall report to the Senate the recommendations of the examiners.
      2. The examiners may recommend that a thesis:
        1. be accepted as submitted, and the degree be awarded;
        2. be accepted, or be accepted with minor editorial corrections, and the degree be awarded;
        3. be accepted and the degree be awarded after amendments have been made to the satisfaction of the Convener of examiners in consultation with the internal examiner;
        4. be revised and resubmitted for examination;
        5. be rejected and referred to the appropriate authority within the University for consideration of the award of another degree;
        6. be rejected with no right of resubmission.
      3. Where the examiners cannot agree on a result, the Convener shall so report, and the Senate shall arrive at a decision after consulting a referee from outside the University.
      4. A candidate shall be permitted to revise and resubmit a thesis for examination once only.
      5. Once the final result has been decided, the student shall submit two hardbound copies and a digital copy of the thesis.
  10. Variations

    On the recommendation of the DBA Programme Director, the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Commerce) may, in exceptional circumstances, approve a course of study or assessment which does not comply with these regulations.