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Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

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DBA Degree Overview

If you want to reach your highest potential in business, the online and on-campus DBA degree program at the California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) in San Diego can help give you the experience, expertise, and confidence to make your mark. The doctor of business administration degree program delves deeply into subjects such as business practices, theories and methodologies, research design, applied research, collaborative research, and others, all with a focus on technology and quantitative analysis.

If you want to pursue advanced studies with elite business professionals, either online or on-campus, at our university in San Diego, California, the DBA program is a great place to start. At Alliant, we work hard to make it easier for you to achieve the higher education you need to be among the top business leaders in the country. 

Throughout the doctoral program, you'll receive hands-on training, learn valuable life skills, and experience real-world applications of business and international business principles. You'll also complete a competency practicum that we can help you secure, or if you're working, you can use your current company for this valuable work and professional experience, benefitting both you and your organization.


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Degree Highlights

Three-Year Program

The on-campus and online DBA program is focused and concentrated, and although you may choose to take longer, you can earn your doctoral degree or DBA in as few as three years. This is significantly shorter than the typical four or five years, and you’ll do this without sacrificing any of the the quality you would expect from a doctoral-level program. Take the next step in your career with our business administration program.

Doctoral Dissertation Development

Classes are small to allow focused attention from your professors as you work on your dissertation. As a DBA student progressing in the academe, you will be paired with a faculty mentor who will advise and guide you from the prospectus stage through the final defense of your dissertation and career path design. Your faculty mentor will help you through the entire dissertation process.

On-campus or Online DBA Program

Offered as a doctor of business administration online or on campus in San Diego, California, our DBA program includes two years of coursework, with one to two years of dissertation research. All courses are scheduled in an eight-week term format with one or two focused courses per term. The online DBA degree format gives you the flexibility to earn your doctoral degree.

Practical Training (CPT)

Practical training is required and intended to develop professional and applied practice related skills and expertise in the DBA student’s program through a variety of work and learning experiences which could involve supervised practical training and/or applied client projects. Learn More


A Message from the Program Director

Huiyu Qian, Associate Professor and Program Director, California School of Management and Leadership  



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Degree Specialization

Information and Data Science

This specialization is designed for students interested in understanding the complexities of the data revolution and gaining advanced knowledge & skills in data science. With an abundance of information and uses for data science, this core area of focus will be highly useful in a variety of industries. You will learn how to contribute to your field through quantitative analysis and research methods in applied perspectives. Ethical and societal considerations and uses for information and data science will also be examined.

Guided experiential practical training and/or internship opportunities available from Day 1 of the program will allow you to explore and sharpen your skills in a business setting and earn valuable resume building experience to boost your career.


A specialization in management prepares students for work in international strategy, leadership, and human resource management. The program is designed to cultivate foundational skills for students interested in academic research, consulting, and corporate positions in large organizations.

Coursework will focus on organizational development and theories. The curriculum will provide students with the knowledge to help organizations stay competitive and grow. Students will be trained to gain knowledge in emerging management theories, research issues, and developing solutions to complex managerial problems.

Internships provide students with a hands-on learning environment to sharpen their management skills, develop business relationships within their communities, and gain real world knowledge that can be applied in a corporate setting. Internships provide students with real world learning opportunities to use their skills. The internship programs focus on student involvement in learning outcomes. Gaining real life experience in management is an excellent way to capitalize on using acquired knowledge to bulk up resumes and showcase skills to potential future employers. 


A specialization in marketing supplies students with a broad knowledge of how marketing is used in a variety of arenas.

Students will gain an understanding of how marketing is used in organizational strategy for business and politics. The curriculum will include courses in managing growing organizations, human behavior, political strategy, social influencing, and organizational learning and adaptation.

Doctoral candidates will become versed in best practices for creating new applications for the evolving needs of complex global organizations. Coursework in research, theory, and application will provide the skills to impact management practices in corporations, non-profits, and politics.

Guided experiential practical training and/or internship opportunities are a large focus in the program and contribute to the professional growth of students. The internships put students in career roles with prospective future employers and add practical value to student resumes to help them get full-time employment.


Degree Information

Curricular Practical Training (CPT)

Students in the DBA ground program are required to participate in curricular practical training as part of their experiential learning throughout the program. Practical training is intended to develop professional and applied practice related skills and expertise in the student’s program through a variety of work and learning experiences which could involve supervised practical training and/or applied client projects. This is required throughout the academic program from start on Day 1 to program completion. Domestic students can contact the CSML Professional Development (CPD) Coordinator directly for guidance.  International students must apply for authorization for Curricular Practical Training to the Designated School Official (DSO).


CSML CPT Application Process for International Students

  1. Obtain a job offer letter from your employer. The offer letter needs the following: 
    1. To be on company letterhead  
    2. Start and end date. (For example: CPT start date is 10/17/22, End date is 08/20/2023) 
    3. Include specific duties to perform, office location, direct supervisor name and contact number. 
    4. State that it is a part-time position 
    5. Include the following statement: “employer agrees to cooperate with the school in achieving the curricular purposes of the employment/training” 
  2. Complete the Application for CPT and the Advisor Verification Form for CPT. These forms are located on the student portal: 
  3. Email your offer letter and the 2 forms to your Program Director/Faculty Advisor at Alliant. 
  4. Once they have signed the forms, please follow up and email  The DSO is the one who will give you the authorization to start working. 
  5. Also, if it is your first time in the USA, you will need to go to the Social Security Administration office to obtain a social security number, this process can take 2 or more weeks. Your employer will need your social security number for you to work. So please start the process as soon as possible. For the address of local Social Security Administration offices, see: 


Alliant International University’s California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) for its doctorate in business administration (DBA), PhD in leadership, master’s in business administration (MBA), MS in data analytics degree, and BS in business administration (BSBA) programs.

ACBSP accreditation certifies that the teaching and learning processes offered within CSML programs meet the rigorous educational standards established by said accrediting body, which is a leading specialized accreditation body for business education across the country. ACBSP’s mission is to promote continuous improvement and recognize teaching excellence through its recognition of business education programs throughout the world.


Links and Downloads

School Performance Fact Sheet


Why Earn Your DBA Online at Alliant International University?

Our DBA graduate program is specifically designed for a working professional juggling career and studies together. Unlike many online programs that focus on preparing candidates for a career in academia, our program provides training for real-world business scenarios. Our curriculum focuses on developing the skills and knowledge needed for informed, and executive-level decision-making in our graduates careers, in order to pursue success in their careers. Furthermore, our program has received accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), a highly reputable and recognized specialized accreditation body for business education in the country. Such recognition attests to the quality and rigor of our program, and demonstrates our commitment for a top-notch educational experience.


Frequently Asked Questions


What is the difference between a PhD and a DBA?

A PhD is a highly specialized research degree that focuses on a specific discipline and prepares individuals for a career as a researcher or faculty member in academia. The aim is to provide in-depth training in research methods and techniques, as well as knowledge of the latest developments in the field.

On the other hand, a DBA is geared toward professionals who work in management roles and make evidence-based decisions. The DBA graduate program emphasizes the acquisition, appraisal, analysis, application, and assessment of information– all necessary to succeed as a management practitioner. While a PhD is typically seen as a stepping stone to a career in academia, doctoral students of DBA graduate school often find careers in a variety of professions, including business, healthcare, and government.


What scholarship and financial aid options are available?

Private and public scholarships can help you meet the cost of your higher education, and Alliant offers institutional scholarships for many of our students. Learn more about these scholarship opportunities here. Additional financial aid is available for those who qualify in the form of loans, grants, federal work study, and military aid. Learn more in our Financial Options Guide.


What are the steps to completing my dissertation in the DBA degree program?

Your formal dissertation research (DR) work will usually start when you have completed all your non-dissertation coursework or only have up to 5 courses remaining. You will need to first identify your dissertation chair to get enrolled in a DR course. There are 8 DR courses in total, which are required to be continuously taken while you are active in the program. In the first DR course, under your dissertation chair’s guide, you will be mainly working on your comprehensive exam, which is required by the program and is a good preparation of your dissertation proposal. The other dissertation committee member/Reader will be required to review your dissertation draft, attend and assess your proposal defense as well as final defense. Lastly, you will need to submit your final dissertation manuscript to the university library through the library clearance process.


When does the doctor of business administration degree program start?

The program is an eight-week term program and is open for enrollment during those enrollment periods. You can find a copy of our eight-week term academic calendar here.


Can I take the program on a provisional basis or without a formal application?

No. Applying for the DBA online or on-campus includes prerequisite courses, previous experience, and applicable test scores. In order to be eligible for this course, a complete application for admission, including all the required documents, must be submitted by the specified application deadline. Here's the outline for graduate admissions:


How long does it take to complete the DBA degree program?

The DBA degree is a 60-credit program and usually takes 18 terms or three to four years to complete.


What is the modality of this program?

DBA degree in California at our San Diego campus. You can also earn your degree online.



Why Alliant

At Alliant, our mission is to prepare students for professional careers of service and leadership and to promote the discovery and application of knowledge to improve lives. We offer an education that is accredited, focused on practical knowledge and skills, connected with diverse faculty and alumni, and aimed at the student experience.

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CSML is a business management school that trains you to have a competitive edge in the technology and quantitative fields. CSML offers management and leadership degrees where you can learn to guide and mentor the next generation of professionals and make your mark as an innovator in the modern business world.


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