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Guide to AACSB-Accredited Online DBA Programs

Your DBA is only worth as much as the program you earn it through. Keep reading to learn about AACSB accreditations and the top programs that have earned it.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Taylor Cromwell

Last updated

Feb 26, 2024

As a business leader, you know that change is a constant in the business environment. You also know you must continually seek to learn new skills to stay ahead of the curve. Pursuing an advanced degree, such as an online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), is a great option for anyone looking to hone their skills in academic research, boost their salaries and career potential, and perhaps pursue an executive leadership role or faculty position. 

While you’ll find numerous benefits of pursuing your DBA degree online, it’s important to keep in mind that not all programs are created equal when it comes to quality, reputation, and return on investment. That’s where the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) comes in. Focusing your program search specifically on AACSB-accredited online options ensures you’ll graduate with a credential from one of the top global institutions that meets rigorous standards for faculty, curriculum, student services, and more.

In this guide, we’ll break down what AACSB accreditation standards look like, spotlight profiles of standout accredited online DBA programs, and answer some of your most pressing questions. Use this guide to kickstart your research into AACSB-endorsed DBA pathways that make the most of your time, efforts, and tuition investment.

School Spotlights: Top AACSB-Accredited Online DBA Programs 

With any advanced degree, you’ll want to take the time to dive deep into program offerings, research opportunities, and faculty credentials. The programs below earned AACSB’s distinguished accreditation, so you can be sure that they offer strong academics grounded in ethical business practices and experiential, career-advancing coursework. 

Marshall University 

Marshall University’s online DBA program is a three-year, cohort-based, hybrid program that is designed for busy working professionals. In addition to being AACSB-accredited, the program is also a member of the Executive DBA Council. 

The curriculum is designed to help students identify and solve real business problems while using a practice-based research model. You’ll have the option to choose from concentrations in accounting, health care management, and management/entrepreneurship. Your coursework will include literature reviews, designing and performing research studies, analyzing data, and drawing relevant conclusions that affect economic development and business innovation. Beyond your proposal and dissertation on a topic area, you’ll be required to gain real-world experience through attending two academic conferences.

Marshall’s DBA is one of the most affordable programs in the country, with basic tuition costs and fees running around $60,000 for the three-year program. 

This program is an ideal choice for anyone who wants to become a business school faculty member, business executive, market analyst, business consultant, and more. 

University of Dallas 

University of Dallas boasts the first and only AACSB-accredited Doctor of Business Administration program in Texas. The rigorous research-based program prepares experienced managers and academics to expand their business knowledge and abilities in leadership, innovation, and customer engagement. The curriculum is designed to bring a rigorous approach to solving existing managerial and organizational problems — and find solutions to the challenges of the modern workplace.

Courses are taught by accomplished scholars with extensive managerial and organizational consulting experience. Through a blended classroom and online approach, this program allows you to collaborate with a cohort of senior-level business executives. Classes combine online learning with traditional classroom instruction during monthly in-residence weekends (Fridays and Saturdays).

In three years, you’ll be able to complete the doctorate program and pursue a variety of careers from academic to executive leadership or consulting. The 62-credit-hour program costs about $1,650 per credit. 

University of Michigan-Flint

University of Michigan-Flint’s AACSB-accredited online DBA helps experienced professionals contribute original research insight into real organizational issues. If you’re a mid-level manager or executive that wants to grow in leadership roles or transition to academia, this degree could be a great fit for you.

The program is fully online, meaning it’s accessible and flexible for busy business leaders. You can complete the course at a part-time pace in three years while maintaining your career. Tuition for the DBA program is approximately $80,000 for 49 credits.

The curriculum is designed to offer students training in evidence-based decision-making, theory application, and research methods. You’ll learn how to address strategic issues with actionable insights and enact positive change in your organization. 

Whether you are looking to tackle leadership opportunities in your current field or pursue a new career path, this degree will equip you to work in positions like a top executive, management analyst, or postsecondary teacher.

University of Missouri-St. Louis

University of Missouri-St. Louis offers the first and only AACSB-accredited DBA program in the state. Like the programs above, the online DBA is offered in a three-year, cohort-based model with limited visits to campus. You’ll pay $1,680 per credit for the 60-credit program. 

As a student, you’ll meet face to face with your cohort two weekends each semester while collaborating with faculty and fellow students online for the rest of the program. Course modules guide students through framing original research questions, designing methodologies, and conducting studies aligned to workplace priorities. The first two years cover business and management topics, while the third year is spent focusing on your dissertation research.

Successful candidates for this program include anyone with an MBA or post-baccalaureate degree that’s seeking to advance their professional career, do consulting work, or attain a clinical faculty position — generally with 10-20 years of management experience. 

University of Rhode Island 

University of Rhode Island’s AACSB-accredited DBA program is known for its convenience, customizability, and value. 

This program offers a flexible model, so you can continue your professional and life commitments with minimal disruptions. It blends synchronous online learning (remote learning sessions during specified time periods) and asynchronous online learning (self-paced learning) with three face-to-face residencies each year.

The total cost for the three-year program is $83,175; tuition includes learning materials and residency expenses, including lodging and meals (but excluding travel).

The curriculum is designed to serve as a general foundation for business research that you can tailor according to your own professional experience. With the help of an academic researcher, you’ll learn the tools and methods to find evidence-based solutions for your business problem. You’ll explore topics like theory development, conceptual models, and qualitative and quantitative methodologies, then working to develop your own research and dissertation. 

Why Does AACSB Accreditation Matter?

Earning an AACSB-accredited DBA degree signals your education meets international benchmarks for quality, rigor, and continuous improvement among the top business schools globally. The distinction signifies that a program aligns with industry best practices, has high-caliber faculty, and prepares skilled business leaders and academics.

In this section, we’ll break down key reasons AACSB accreditation elevates the reputation of accredited institutions, the value of issued degrees, and how it can shape career prospects for graduating DBA students. 

Alignment with Industry Standards

AACSB accreditation signifies that a business school is committed to strategic management, learner success, thought leadership, and social impact. The curriculum you’ll find in an accredited DBA program will focus on current industry best practices and standards — including accounting, finance, marketing, and other related fields. This ensures that graduates will be prepared to enter executive roles with capabilities to execute at a pace with, or even ahead of, industry standards. 

Eligibility for Financial Aid

Accreditation ensures that online students are eligible to receive federal financial aid, which may include loans, grants, and work-study opportunities. 

Additionally, many scholarships require students to attend accredited schools to ensure funds are being used toward an education that meets a certain level of academic rigor. If your school isn’t accredited, you may lose scholarship awards you’ve earned.

Employment Opportunities

AACSB accreditation carries weight in business school and in the job market. Earning a degree from an accredited program signals to hiring managers in the industry that you have the required business skills and acumen needed for success. 

DBA graduates are in a great position to pursue a tenure-track faculty position in a university and/or further their career as a consultant, business owner, C-suite executive, economist, and much more. 

Faculty Quality 

When you study in a DBA program, the education you receive will be shaped by respected experts from all corners of the business world. AACSB-accredited schools offer world renowned research expertise with practical knowledge and experience. At Penn State’s Smeal College of Business, for example, this includes prolific researchers, editors of leading journals, consultants to top companies, keynote speakers at industry conferences, and honorees and award winners. 

Global Recognition

AACSB accreditation is known worldwide as the longest-standing, most recognized form of specialized accreditation; it’s the gold standard for any business school. Only 6% of the world’s schools offering business degree education have achieved AACSB accreditation, giving it higher significance on a global scale. 

Additionally, AACSB-accredited schools also focus on social impact, with a focus on global prosperity and creating impactful leaders of the future. 

Answering Your FAQs About AACSB-Accredited Online DBA Programs

We’ve covered the basics about online DBA programs and provided insights about top-rated programs, but you’re likely to still have a few questions. Keep reading to explore more FAQs, gaining insights and links to helpful resources. 

Are AACSB-accredited programs more challenging?

As the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga explains, AACSB accreditation ensures that a program offers a challenging and robust curriculum. You can be sure that the curriculum in a program aligns with higher qualitative and quantitative rigor to meet industry guidelines. 

Does AACSB provide any additional support to students other than accreditation?

AACSB doesn’t work directly with students, but it verifies institutional policies that benefit learner empowerment. You can explore their website to learn more about business schools, career pathways, and other helpful resources for your educational journey. 

Do professors in accredited DBA programs have to meet higher standards than those in non-accredited programs?

Yes, accredited schools mandate that certain proportions of faculty hold top credentials like doctorates/terminal degrees and demonstrate currency in business practices. Programs that do not offer this level of accreditation can set their own standards, which often results in less qualified professors. 

How often are AACSB-accredited programs reviewed or reassessed?

AACSB is continually reviewing and reevaluating its accredited programs. Reaccreditation occurs every five years, ensuring standards around faculty, student, and curriculum quality are continually maintained.

What are the admission standards for AACSB-accredited DBA programs?

Admission to any doctoral program — whether it’s a PhD or DBA — requires the applicant to hold a master’s degree. However, according to the AACSB, the DBA also requires a significant amount of professional experience. This guarantees that applicants have a substantial business background that will prepare them for their rigorous doctoral program.

What role does AACSB play in ensuring up-to-date curriculum and industry relevance?

AACSB’s focus is to ensure that business schools are offering value — both to students and to society as a whole. “In today’s increasingly dynamic environment, business schools must respond to the business world’s changing needs by providing relevant knowledge and skills to the communities they serve,” the organization explains in its latest accreditation report. A key component of accreditation is showing that the curriculum integrates recent disciplinary developments and emerging business practices.