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Best Online DBA Programs in California

If you’re ready to take your business career to new heights, you’ve come to the right place. Explore top online DBA programs, California-specific courses, and more.

Search hundreds of top schools for the doctorate YOU want.

Written By

Ivy Locke

Last updated

Feb 21, 2024

According to Columbia Southern University, earning a DBA provides graduates with increased credibility, outstanding promotion and career opportunities, and higher salaries. In fact, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those with doctorate degrees earn median weekly wages of $2,083, compared to their bachelor-prepared peers, who earn only $1,432 per week.

If you’ve considered earning your DBA before but worried it would require you to sacrifice your current career, family commitments, or other obligations, worry no more. One of the best things about earning a DBA now is that there are more online programs available than ever, which means you can pursue your education online while managing your current responsibilities.

To help you begin your search for the perfect program, we’ve compiled the best online business schools in California, state-specific courses, and resources to help you thrive during your DBA journey. Keep reading to take a deeper dive into what these programs entail and the careers they prepare you for after graduation.

Inside Online DBA Programs in California: School Spotlights

Are you searching for a reputable, high-quality online DBA program in California? If so, there are plenty to choose from — so many, in fact, that you might be feeling overwhelmed. To hone in on the right one for you, focus on key components like cost, curriculum, and concentrations. To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of three of the top online DBA programs for California residents.

Alliant International University

Alliant International University’s online DBA program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and is an excellent choice for those looking to further their education at a reputable institution. This program is designed to enable students to reach their highest potential in the business realm — its concentrated three-year curriculum allows students to do so in considerably less time than similar programs.

Alliant International University’s small class sizes make communication with professors and dissertation development assistance far more accessible — a major selling point for many prospective students. As part of the curriculum, students are required to take part in practical training (CPT) in order to develop practical and applied practice skills and expertise. This training can include everything from supervised practical training to applied client projects. Specializations options include management, marketing, and information and data science. 

Tuition is set at $1,031 per credit hour, however Alliant also offers several institutional scholarships to help offset the cost of attendance.

California Baptist University

California Baptist University offers a 56-credit DBA program that can be completed in approximately 36 months. The program aims to develop innovative leaders capable of landing executive-level positions and maximizing the impact of private, public, or non-profit organizations.

The program is designed for busy adults looking to upgrade their businesses acumen without sacrificing their current responsibilities. As such, rather than overloading students with complex curricula, the program allows students to focus on one online class every eight weeks. Notable courses include ethics in organizations and management; international business in global markets; and topics in human resource management.

Students pay $795 per credit hour plus fees.

California Miramar University

California Miramar University offers an online DBA program designed with working professionals in mind. This program prepares students to compete for executive-level positions by providing them with expert knowledge in innovative research, advanced theories, and evolving business trends. At $707 per credit hour, the total cost of this program comes out to $43,927.

Over the course of the program, students learn to critically analyze scholarly literature and empirical evidence of theories in their chosen concentration; gain the ability to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of various disciplines and concepts; and learn to create, execute, and evaluate tactical planning in actual business settings.

Students can from among four concentration options: Finance, Marketing, International Business Administration, and Strategic Management. Applicants who do not have a master’s degree are required to complete foundational courses in accounting, management, and finance before beginning the program.

California Miramar University also provides one-on-one tutoring sessions for those who require additional time and attention. 

DBA or PhD: Which Degree is Right for You?

On the surface, DBA and PhD in Business programs may seem similar. After all, they are both terminal degrees that prepare graduates with the expertise to work at the highest levels of their respective disciplines. Furthermore, they both involve rigorous coursework and culminate in a final capstone or dissertation project. That said, there are several key differences between the two. Let’s break these down so you can determine which is right for you below.

Deciding which degree is right for you will ultimately come down to your academic interests and professional aspirations. If you enjoy the theory of business management, leadership, and strategy and hope to pursue a career in academia, a PhD in Business will be right up your alley. Admission requirements vary, but typically include GMAT or GRE scores and an undergraduate degree — not necessarily in business. On the other hand, if you enjoy research only in so far as you can apply it to tangible problems in the business world, a DBA is right for you. Unlike PhD programs, DBA programs typically require students to have both academic and professional backgrounds in business and are often geared toward working professional with active careers in the field.

State-Specific Courses and Specializations

If you’re pursuing your DBA in California because you plan to work in the state, you could benefit from taking courses, or centering your research, on niche, state-specific industries and issues. For instance, California’s status as the country’s entertainment capital means you could benefit from earning your DBA with an emphasis or research focus in media management. Read more below.

Entertainment & Media Management

Entertainment and media are cornerstones of the California economy, making them both lucrative and popular niches among graduates of online DBA programs in California. Taking courses or focusing your research on these areas of interest can prepare you to pursue a career on the business and management sides of the music and film industries. Even courses that are not specific to entertainment lend themselves well to careers in the field. For example, California Southern University’s DBA course in Cultural Environment of International Business can empower you to work collaboratively with international teams on a film set, and beyond.

Technology & Innovation

California is a hub for technology and innovation, earning it a reputation as one of the most forward-looking states in the nation. As such, taking courses, specializing, or doing research in technology and innovation is a great career move — each can help fill existing gaps in your knowledge and prepare you for roles as a senior-level consultant, professor, or manager. DBA programs in California with technology and innovation concentrations provide graduates with exhaustive knowledge regarding technical and scholarly research methods and their application across business settings. At the International Technological University in San Jose, for example, students take courses like Innovation and Digital Transformation, and Strategy for Disruptive Innovation before completing a culminating project to demonstrate their understanding of and readiness for careers in this specialization.

Career and Salary Outlook for California DBA Graduates

Earning a DBA in California will open you to a world of opportunities. DBA graduates enjoy higher income levels as well as a variety of career prospects in various fields. With that in mind, take a look at our list of five of the most popular career paths for graduates of online DBA programs in California.

Business Teachers Postsecondary

Postsecondary business teachers teach college-level courses such as finance, accounting, business administration and management, marketing, labor and industrial relations, and operations research. Some also spend their time conducting research. These professionals prepare students with the knowledge required to succeed in business and help propel the business educational sector forward.

OccupationMedian90th Percentile
Business Teachers, Postsecondary$116,960$217,910

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

OccupationBase (2020)Projection (2030)Change in EmploymentPercent ChangeAverage Annual Openings
Business Teachers, Postsecondary5,3005,7004007.5540

Source: Projections Central

Chief Executive

Chief executives determine an organization’s goals then create and implement policies to meet them. They coordinate with the company’s board of directors and lower-level managers alike to plan and direct operational activities. They also oversee major employment decisions, help motivate employees, drive substantial changes, and spearhead acquisitions, mergers, joint ventures, and expansions.

OccupationMedian90th Percentile
Chief Executives$212,360$212,360

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

OccupationBase (2020)Projection (2030)Change in EmploymentPercent ChangeAverage Annual Openings
Chief Executives47,40047,100-300-.63170

Source: Projections Central

Economist

Economists are responsible for conducting research, generating reports, and analyzing and assessing fiscal and economic policy issues. They offer personalized, actionable advice based on their unique understanding of the economy, consumer behavior, and trends in recent data. They often work within companies or organizations to provide financial guidance and assistance. The most common economist specializations are micro/macro, industrial/organizational, public finance, international, labor, and econometrician.

OccupationMedian90th Percentile
Economists$113,030$228,490

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

OccupationBase (2020)Projection (2030)Change in EmploymentPercent ChangeAverage Annual Openings
Economists1,7002,10040023.5170

Source: Projections Central

Management Analyst

Management analysts study organizations and recommend ways they can improve their organizational efficiency. These professionals are responsible for assessing employment and financial records, interviewing personnel, and meeting with management to drive process improvement changes. Leveraging their insider experience and knowledge, management analysts work closely with organizational managers and leaders to help streamline operations to facilitate enduring success.

OccupationMedian90th Percentile
Management Analysts$85,010$167,680

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

OccupationBase (2020)Projection (2030)Change in EmploymentPercent ChangeAverage Annual Openings
Management Analysts127,000148,50021,50016.914,500

Source: Projections Central

Training & Development Manager

Training and development managers are human resources specialists tasked with helping improve the productivity of a given organization or business. They are responsible for everything from generating training materials implementing that training, as well as supervising and updating development programs. They work in a wide range of industries to help retain employees, foster talent, and more. Their objective is ultimately to create a more positive company culture.

OccupationMedian90th Percentile
Training and Development Managers$130,980$230,200

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

OccupationBase (2020)Projection (2030)Change in EmploymentPercent ChangeAverage Annual Openings
Training and Development Managers5,6006,7001,10019.6650

Source: Projections Central

Read more for a list of affordable DBA programs.

Resources & Support for California DBA Students Online

Earning a DBA entails a great deal of personal commitment and academic discipline. Like most students, this means you’ll likely require access to resources and support in order to succeed. Therefore, taking the time to find these resources before enrolling in online DBA programs in California is essential. To help you get started, we’ve compiled the following list.

  • The American Management Association
    The American Management Association is an organization designed to provide businesses and professionals with a wide array of management development resources and educational services.
  • CosmoLearning
    CosmoLearning is a non-profit educational website that offers students an array of courses, documentaries, and other educational materials. It is designed to offer top resources to students of all sectors and disciplines. Explore the business management section.
  • DBA Chronicles
    The DBA Chronicles is a woman-led company that provides DBA students with blogs, podcasts, and other helpful resources to help them through their course of study.
  • Emerald Publishing
    Emerald Publishing is one of the world’s leading digital-first publishers that provides students access to meaningful research. The company works with thousands of business schools and universities to help foster spirited debates and positive change in the business sector.
  • The Encyclopedia of Management Theory
    This two-volume set covers topics such as management, leadership, the public and perception, human resources, entrepreneurship, technology/innovation, and much more.
  • The Institute for Social Research
    The Institute for Social Research is an international association consisting of over 750 research organizations and academic institutions. This organization provides students with training on data access, methods of analysis, and curation within the social science sector.
  • OneSearch
    Earning a DBA requires you to complete a dissertation or capstone project, which in turn requires a lot of research. OneSearch is a helpful database that allows students to search multiple databases simultaneously.
  • Finaid.org
    Finaid.org is a government-funded website that offers a wide range of financial aid resources for students of all education levels and concentrations. In addition to useful resources, such as FAFSA applications and access to loan applications, the site also offers its own scholarship database.
  • The Center for Evidence-Based Management
    The Center for Evidence-Based Management is the leading source of evidence-based practice in leadership and management. It offers resources and support to consultants, managers, teachers, academics, and organizations.
  • The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast
    The Harvard Business Review IdeaCast is a business-centered podcast hosted by the executive and senior editors of the Harvard Business Review. The podcast addresses a variety of topics in business and management, including leadership, strategy, decision-making, creativity, and more.