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Online Degree Overview

Doctor of Business Administration

South University 2020 Graduation
Whether you want to lead college business classes or executive board meetings, the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) online degree program at South University can help you prepare for your next career move. Utilizing real-world experiences, our dedicated, qualified faculty will teach you specialized business knowledge, research skills, and techniques for communicating about complex concepts. In this online DBA program, you’ll study current business research, analyze and practice research methods, and develop your own methodologies for teaching business concepts. As an online DBA student, you’ll gain valuable experience by participating in two in-person residencies and teaching an online course under the mentorship of a South University faculty member.

Focusing on teaching, scholarship, and service, the online DBA program not only mirrors the performance criteria for faculty in higher education, but also ultimately prepares you to make important contributions within the academic and professional business communities.

Admission Requirements

Admission Criteria for the Doctor of Business Administration Program are as follows:

Applications for the DBA program are accepted year-round. However, the Savannah campus DBA program only seats new students in spring quarter of each year.

  • Completion of an MBA degree from an acceptable accredited institution.


  • Completion of an undergraduate degree in business and a master's degree in a business field (such as organizational leadership, management, or human resources) from an acceptable accredited institution. The College Dean makes the final decision regarding accepted fields of study for admission to the program.


  • A cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 (on a scale of 4.0) on the earned master's degree. Additional coursework may be required to meet the Required Knowledge Base. Refer to section on Required Knowledge Base for further information.
  • Completion of an application for admission.
  • Submission (within 5*/10 weeks of class start date) of official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended.  *Effective March 22, 2022 - Students beginning classes at the Montgomery campus or High Point Off Campus Instructional Site will have five weeks to submit acceptable documentation. ​*Effective April 1, 2022 - Students beginning classes at the Richmond and West Palm Beach campuses will have five weeks to submit acceptable documentation.  *Effective May 31, 2022 - Students beginning classes at the Tampa and Orlando campuses will have five weeks to submit acceptable documentation. *Effective July 12, 2022 - Students beginning classes at the Austin and Columbia campuses will have five weeks to submit acceptable documentation. *Effective August 16, 2022 - Students beginning classes at the Savannah and Virginia Beach campuses will have five weeks to submit acceptable documentation.
  • Personal interview with a representative from the College of Business as designated by the Dean of the College of Business (may be conducted by teleconference).  

Submission of the following:

  • A 1,000-word Statement of Purpose Essay that targets the applicant's  academic and professional preparation for the South University DBA, along with future academic and professional goals. This statement must detail how the applicant's goals will be enhanced from earning a South University DBA and how the degree will be integrated into future career goals.
  • Résumé or curriculum vitae that clearly outlines academic and professional preparation for a doctorate program.
  • Three current academic/professional recommendations submitted directly to South University from the evaluator.  References submitted to South University by an applicant will not be accepted. These recommendations must present the applicant's ability to successfully matriculate the program and how the applicant will contribute to the overall quality of the program. Additionally, the recommendations must include an assessment of the applicant's ability to be successful as a professional in teaching, service and research.

Once all required admissions documents and information are submitted, the candidate's admission packet will be reviewed and evaluated by the program director. Applications will be reviewed on a weekly basis and applicants will be notified immediately.

Required Knowledge Base for the DBA Program

Applicants to the DBA degree program must demonstrate a master's level ability to integrate knowledge within critical knowledge areas with a grade of "B" or better. These knowledge areas must have been taken at an acceptable accredited institution and be equivalent to a 3 semester-hour, graduate level course:

Knowledge Areas:

  • Organizational Behavior and Communication
  • Statistics

Students meeting all other admission requirements except not having met the Required Knowledge Base areas will be admitted into the program; however, these graduate level knowledge areas must be successfully completed with a grade of "B" or better within the first two quarters of enrollment.

If a student does not complete the Required Knowledge Base areas within the required timeframe, he/she will be dismissed from the program.

The Required Knowledge Base course credits do not count towards the total number of credits for graduation nor do they count in the Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA); however, they do count in determining the maximum time frame (MTF) and the Incremental Completion Rate (ICR).

Virtual Residency Requirement for Online Students

The doctoral residencies are a requirement for online students in the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program.  These are a time for faculty, staff, and students to meet in a collegial learning opportunity. Residencies are designed as a time for students and faculty to work together collaboratively and to support the creation of a community of scholars.  Students will participate in faculty- and student-led presentations and will have the opportunity to network and share their experiences in the program. They will also be able to work collaboratively on their scholarship during the residencies, and opportunities to provide service to the academic community will be discussed.

The South University DBA has two residencies.  All DBA students in the online program are required to participate in these two residencies; these residencies are part of the completion requirements for the program.

Students attend the virtual Residencies I and II in either the fall or spring depending upon the enrollment date for the student. Residency I is expected to be completed before or during the MGT7100 course in the online program.  Residency II is expected to be completed before or during the MGT7205 course in the online program.

If a student fails to attend Residency I or II, he/she will not be able to progress beyond the course for which the residency is a prerequisite or co-requisite (MGT7100 for Residency I and MGT7205 for Residency II).


Students are made aware of the requirement of attending those residencies upon admission into the doctoral program. Attendance is required in order to progress in the program.  Should an emergency arise that prevents the student from attending the virtual residency, the student must immediately contact the DBA Program Director to receive instructions on how to proceed.

Special accommodations can be made for students who cannot attend a portion of the residency due to medical reasons, religious reasons, and active military deployment. Students who arrive late or fall ill during a residency should immediately contact the Program Director. Students who cannot attend a portion of the residency due to religious reasons, medical reasons, or active military deployment should contact the Program Director at least ten days in advance of the residency.

Other exceptions - There may be additional exceptions that are presented from time to time.  How these exceptions will be handled is at the discretion of the DBA Program Director based upon the guidelines set forth in this document.

Documenting exceptions - The Program Director will notify the Academic Counselor regarding any student being granted an exception. Documentation of the exception will need to be placed in the student's academic file in Image Now.  The Program Director will then notify the Academic Counselor of the result of each exception granted.

Course Requirements

Doctor of Business Administration: 72 Credits
Foundation: 4 Credits



*Residency Required for Fully Online Students Only

Research Methods/Statistics: 16 Credits
Teaching in Higher Education: 8 Credits
Dissertation: 20+ Credits

(may be repeated using course code BUS8100E 4 credit hours)

(may be repeated using course code BUS8105E 4 credit hours)

(may be repeated using course code BUS8110E 4 credit hours)

(may be repeated using course code BUS8115E 4 credit hours)

(may be repeated using course code BUS8120E 4 credit hours)


*Refer to the DBA Progressions Policy


Offered at Online Programs

Note: Not all Online Program offerings are available to residents of all U.S. states. Please contact an admissions representative for further information.

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree program at South University is designed to prepare students to seek employment teaching business courses in higher education or to practice their profession in business or consulting. The program is organized around three core areas: field specialization, research methods/statistics, and quality teaching instruction.

The program focuses on the discipline of organizational behavior, which is the study of human behavior in organizations. The discipline draws from the areas of industrial, organizational, and social psychology.

The Doctor of Business Administration program is delivered in two modalities: fully online and blended. Students enrolled in the blended modality meet face-to-face in the classroom and asynchronously online on alternating weeks over the 11-week quarter.

The primary objective of the DBA degree program is to prepare graduates to seek employment in faculty positions in academic institutions. Another potential value of the degree program is that graduates may have the opportunity for advancement and for enhanced performance in their positions as senior executives and consultants. The DBA degree program is designed to help candidates develop skills in applied research by improving their methodological and analytical proficiency. These skills can help graduates advance in their academic careers or in their careers as senior managers or consultants.

Students have the opportunity to study the current research in the field, analyze and practice the research methods appropriate to the topics within the disciplines of organizational behavior and leadership, and develop appropriate methodologies to teach the topics to future students through the methods used in the discipline.

Online students are required to complete two residencies as part of the degree completion. One residency will take place early in the program and another will take place near the completion of their coursework prior to the start of their dissertation.

Program Distinctions

The South University DBA program is designed to be unique through the combination of the following items:

  • Focuses on teaching, scholarship and service and as such mirrors the performance criteria for faculty within higher education.
  • Includes instruction in quality methods of teaching in higher education through study and classroom observation.
  • Includes a traditional preliminary exam and dissertation experience similar to PhD degree programs.
  • Integrates management research paradigms as an organizing structure within content courses.
Program Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:

  1. Apply critical thinking skills to analyze and apply contemporary theory of organizational behavior and leadership within their discipline and make contributions to the business administration knowledge base.
  2. Comprehend and apply the concepts, principles, and methods of researching business topics, and develop research designs using scientific investigation and systematic inquiry in an area of management. Emphasis will be placed upon directing research for peer reviewed journals, business practices, and consulting assignments.
  3. Demonstrate a thorough understanding and practice of teaching and managing courses in higher education.
  4. Demonstrate excellent oral and written communication related to the academic and professional environment. Students will demonstrate these skills in their coursework, instructional activities, and the dissertation.

Career Outlook

The Doctor of Business Administration online program is built to prepare you to:

  • Seek faculty positions in academic institutions
  • Pursue advancement in positions of executive or senior management responsibility
  • Engage in business and management consulting roles

Online Classroom

Haven’t experienced online learning before or wondering what it’s like to earn your degree online at South University? While the mode of learning is different from the traditional classroom experience with added convenience and flexibility, we hold the same high standards of academic excellence in the online classroom. 

South University’s online programs combine a curriculum designed for student outcomes and a classroom designed for flexibility and engagement. Our online classroom learning platform, Brightspace, provides you with a host of features to enhance your learning experience, including:

  • Advanced media content
  • Personalized navigation
  • Simplified online learning atmosphere
  • Access to digital books
  • Emailing and instant messaging options

We provide more than just an online classroom, bringing a range of campus experiences and services online. In addition, the online classroom is accessible on the go via mobile devices and with tools like the Pulse App. Pulse helps you stay connected and on track with your course by providing a number of features such as course calendars, readings and assignments, feedback and grades, and announcements.

Read more about online requirements here. 

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Success Stories

Outstanding Education for Remarkable Careers

We're committed to helping our graduates make impact in their professional and personal lives. We applaud our business and technology alumni and the difference they make. 

Jennifer Hunter Atkinson null
Jennifer Hunter Atkinson Grad Alumni
Class of '16
Bachelor of Business Administration-South University, Savannah

“South has undoubtedly played a pivotal role in steering my life into a direction I’m proud of. Through the last two years, I have gained tremendous support from my professors and I feel part of a community that challenges me to achieve personal and professional goals.”

Jefferson Reid 2012
Jefferson Reid Grad Alumni
Class of '12
Bachelor of Business Administration-South University, Savannah

“I wanted to stay in project management, but I knew my associate’s degree in aviation technology wouldn’t allow me to get where I wanted to be. A business degree was most relevant to the experience I had gained in the workforce. South University professors do a good job of teaching the concepts and then combining them.”

Annette Tornberg 2013
Annette Tornberg Grad Alumni
Class of '13
Associate of Science in Business Administration-South University, Online Programs

“I feel that if I did not go back to school to further my education, my job search would not have come to this conclusion. I attended college twice in my twenties, but dropped out due to lack of enthusiasm. Going back to school and completing it online is why I am now finally employed. Don’t give up. You are never too old to learn.”

Lauren Elsberry null
Lauren Elsberry Grad Alumni
Class of '12
MBA in Healthcare Administration-South University, Atlanta

“This program has helped make me better. It improved my time management. It improved my organization. I think because of its accelerated pace, it created those unexpected benefits. The classes I have taken in the AMBA program are relevant to my new position. I know my degree was something they looked at. South University has a good reputation; people have heard of it.”

Endora Todd 2004
Endora Todd Grad Alumni
Class of '04
Bachelor of Business Administration-South University, Montgomery

“The organization serves a unique population of students who see value in small class sizes, individual attention and support before, during and after graduation”