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Top 1 to 2-Year DBA Programs Online: Accelerate Your Education

Taking your career to the next level doesn’t have to take years. Discover top programs and tips to move through your terminal degree quickly and efficiently. Learn more.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Ellery Weil

Last updated

Feb 14, 2024

At this point in your career, you know what it takes to be a savvy businessperson — you’ve certainly put in the hours to get here. But you’re not done yet. You know getting to the top of your field requires you to be the best not just in the boardroom, but in the classroom. And that’s exactly why you’re considering earning one of the most prestigious business degrees available: a Doctor of Business Administration, or DBA. Like a PhD, a DBA is a terminal degree, but while the former is an academic doctorate focused on research, the latter is a professional doctorate that prepares you to apply your academic expertise to the workplace.

“That’s great,” you may be thinking, “but I can’t put my career on pause for years at a time to go back to school.” With an accelerated online DBA program, you don’t have to. In fact, you can earn a 1-year DBA online, or a 2-year DBA online, saving you time and money without losing your current foothold in the professional arena. Moreover, with a 1 or 2-year DBA online, you’ll study from home and spare yourself the hassle and expense of relocating to campus. Keep reading to have a look at accelerated online DBA programs, strategies to speed them up, and tips to determine if they’re a good fit for you.

School Spotlights: 1 to 2-Year DBA Programs Online

The whole point of attending an accelerated program is saving time, so we understand how frustrating it can be that finding the right 1-year DBA online can time-consuming itself . The school that is the best fit for you will depend on your personal circumstances, experiences, and aspirations, but to speed things along and get you started, we’ve profiled four high-quality accelerated online DBA programs — all of which can be completed in 1 or 2 years.

Baker College

DBA students who want to earn a degree in a hurry — and aren’t new to doctoral studies — should consider the DBA-ABD program at Baker College. This fully-online program has an All But Dissertation (ABD) designation, meaning it can be completed in as little as one year without a heavy research requirement. This doctoral degree’s flexible online classes make it ideal for working professionals.

The program is designed specifically for those who have already begun an accredited, relevant doctoral program elsewhere – in fact, to apply for Baker’s DBA-ABD, you must hold at least 32 credits from an accredited doctoral program, as well as relevant professional experience.

Enrolled students have a faculty mentor assigned to them who supports them in completing their doctoral dissertation in a timely manner without compromising academic quality. Online students are given access to resources to complete their dissertation research without having to travel to campus.

Franklin University

The fully-online DBA program at Franklin University is a slightly longer-than-average accelerated online DBA, with a roughly 3-year completion time. However, the program is still facilitated at an accelerated pace compared to most DBAs — online or in person. Your classwork will only take you a period of two years to complete, and your third and final year is devoted to completing your doctoral dissertation.

Prospective students must hold a master’s degree from an accredited academic institution with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and must complete a doctoral-level English course (ENG 800) with a grade of “B” or higher before progressing to the rest of the program. Tuition for all domestic students is $748/credit, however students are eligible for federal student loans, as well as school-sponsored financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships.

Rutgers Business School

Rutgers is the flagship university of the New Jersey state university system. Their business school offers a primarily in-person 2-year DBA program. This program is designed with working professionals in mind, and classes are chiefly held over weekends to accommodate those with full-time jobs. While the DBA at Rutgers describes itself as a 2-year degree, some students take longer to complete it — although the school imposes an upper limit of four years to finish the degree requirements.

Applications to this degree program are highly competitive, so you will need to not only submit an online application with transcripts, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement, but also complete an interview with faculty. Although Rutgers is a state university, tuition is set at a fixed rate for all students. That said, international students also need to provide additional financial information.

University of Michigan-Flint

The University of Michigan–Flint is a satellite campus of the University of Michigan, and is primarily geared towards mature, nontraditional, and commuter students. They offer a fully-online DBA program which can be completed in three years of part-time study with synchronous online classes. Although this program is a professional doctorate, it has a strong focus on research, and is designed with an eye towards management professionals who are either looking to advance in their careers in the business world, or transition into academia.

Applicants are expected to hold either a master’s degree from an accredited program, or exceptional professional experience to be considered. Applicants with a master’s degree rather than exceptional professional experience should still have 10 years of relevant professional experience in business, management, consultancy, or academia.

Strategies for Accelerating Your Online DBA Program

Whether you’re applying for a 1-year DBA online, a 2-year DBA online, or even a traditional program with flexible coursework, you have several options to complete your program more quickly. To accelerate your DBA without rushing through your work, try the following strategies.

Combine Research and Coursework

Research, including an original doctoral dissertation, is a crucial part of any DBA program. However, if you have enough time in your schedule, you can begin your dissertation research while completing your DBA coursework so that when it comes time to write your dissertation, you’ll already have made progress on the research elements that bog other students down.

Leverage Professional Experience

Your DBA program may allow you to apply your professional experience towards your degree – whether this means receiving credit for certain courses for relevant experience, applying with advanced standing, or bypassing admissions requirements like a master’s degree, leveraging your professional experience can help you get ahead. As a bonus, you may also be able to leverage your current employment to help finance your education, an option at schools like the University of Pittsburgh.

Maximize Course Load

DBA course loads can vary, although many require students to enroll in a minimum number of credits per term. However, if you can handle the workload, taking more than the required number of credits per term can allow you to meet your program’s requirements ahead of schedule, leaving you more time to write your dissertation, and/or graduate from your program early.

Utilize Transfer Credits

Do you already have experience in a doctoral program? Then don’t let it go to waste. If you took courses in another accredited DBA program, but were unable to complete it for whatever reason, you can still use the credits you earned by transferring them toward your current degree. Many programs honor the work you’ve already done and allow you to pick up where you left off.

Compare & Contrast: Accelerated vs. Traditional DBA Programs

Not sure if a 1-year DBA online, accelerated 2-year DBA online, or traditional program (online or in person) is best for you? While it’s a good idea to look at individual programs, you should also think about the bigger picture. Here are some key points of comparison to see how accelerated and traditional programs measure up.

Admission Requirements

Generally speaking, both traditional and accelerated DBA programs have competitive admissions requirements. Many, including the DBA at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, require both a master’s degree and several years of relevant professional experience. However, accelerated DBA programs are designed for transfer students, and often require applicants to have earned a given number of credits at the doctoral level at an accredited institution.

Community & Cohort Experience

Both traditional and accelerated DBA programs tend to have relatively small cohorts, with an average of 13 students in a class. The increased pressure you may experience in an accelerated programs can lead to greater bonding within your cohort as you form study groups and rely on one another to overcome challenges. However, the less strenuous pace of a traditional program means you may have more opportunities to socialize informally with your peers.

Curriculum

The curriculum in and of itself is similar in both accelerated and traditional online DBA programs. In addition to a core curriculum of advanced business topics, you’ll choose from among your program’s unique elective options, before completing your doctoral dissertation. To accelerate the completion timeline, however, 1 and 2-year DBA programs typically offer fewer elective options. Some accelerated DBA programs, which are designed for transfer students, also have fewer coursework requirements.

Duration of Program

A traditional DBA program takes an average of 3 to 4 years to complete. Accelerated in-person and online programs, on the other hand, can be completed in as few as 1 or 2 years. However, it’s important to remember that an accelerated program involve a heavier workload to accommodate for this faster pace.

Financial Considerations

It’s no secret that the cost of graduate school depends largely on how much time you spend there. So, the fewer years you spend in school, the less tuition you’ll have to pay. Given that the average DBA program can cost between $50,000 and $100,000, it makes sense to take the lower costs of an accelerated program into account. However, you should be aware of other factors that may impact your bottom line, including the availability of grants and scholarships; your ability to hold a job while you study; and the lack of relocation costs associated with an online degree.

Flexibility for Working Professionals

As a professional doctorate, a DBA is often hailed as a top choice for working professionals. Whether the traditional or accelerated route is best for you will depend on a variety of personal factors, as both have their advantages. If you’re enrolled in an accelerated 1-year DBA online, or 2-year DBA online, you can advance in your career more quickly by earning qualifications faster. However, your course load will likely be more demanding, making a traditional DBA program a good option if you worry about being able to keep up with your professional workload.