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Start Your Journey: DBA Program Admission

 DBA program admission

For business professionals looking for the next step in their career, a Doctor of Business Administration can help you elevate your expertise and position you as an expert in your industry. 

We'll guide you through everything you need to know about the Pepperdine University DBA program admission requirements so you can decide if this prestigious doctoral program is the right choice to help you meet your career goals.

What is a Doctor of Business Administration?

A Doctor of Business Administration, commonly known as a DBA, is an advanced business degree tailored for seasoned executives and business professionals. This doctoral degree is designed to go beyond the foundational knowledge provided by a traditional MBA. It equips business leaders with the skills needed to conduct rigorous research that directly impacts and improves business practices and decision-making processes in real-world scenarios.

Unlike a PhD, which is often more theoretical and focuses on contributing to academic knowledge, a DBA is rooted in practical application. It allows professionals to dive deeper into the intricate aspects of business, blending their professional experience with advanced academic inquiry. The DBA program is ideal for those looking to gain a competitive advantage in the business world, as it emphasizes the application of business theory to solve complex and real-world business challenges.

A DBA program provides executives with an opportunity to enhance their business knowledge and leadership skills. The DBA program at Pepperdine University is structured to challenge and expand the existing business knowledge of its participants, enabling them to emerge as thought leaders ready to drive innovation and change in various business settings.

Who Qualifies for a DBA Program?

A Doctor of Business Administration is specifically designed for those at the peak of their professional journey, targeting individuals who have not only excelled in their careers but are also looking to deepen their expertise in the business realm. To qualify for this advanced degree program, candidates are expected to bring a wealth of experience and a solid educational background to the table.

Professional Experience

Ideal candidates for a DBA degree have a significant amount of professional experience, generally at least 10 years in executive-level positions. This experience ensures that doctoral students bring real-world insights and challenges to the academic setting, enriching the learning experience for themselves and their peers. A DBA candidate's professional background usually involves a track record of success in managing complex projects, leading teams, or making strategic decisions in significant management or executive leadership positions.

Academic Qualifications

In addition to professional experience, academic qualifications play a vital role. DBA program applicants are expected to hold a business-related master’s degree, which provides a foundation in advanced business and management principles. This could be an MBA or a related degree that has prepared them for high-level decision-making and leadership within organizations. Alternatively, candidates with other types of advanced degrees, such as a JD, MD, or a doctoral degree in a field other than business, are also considered, particularly if they have relevant business experience.

The DBA program is an opportunity for seasoned professionals to further explore advanced topics in business administration and apply this new knowledge to enhance their leadership and management skills. For these individuals, a doctoral degree in business administration is not just another degree; it’s a path to achieving greater depth in their understanding of business theories and practices, coupled with the ability to apply research and insights directly to their current and future roles in the business world. This program is for those who are not only looking to ascend to the highest levels of executive leadership and management positions but also to contribute significantly to the field of business through scholarly research and practical application.

 DBA program admission

Pepperdine University DBA Program Admission Requirements

The admissions requirements for Pepperdine University's prestigious DBA program are broken up into a two-phase process designed to select highly qualified and motivated individuals. For prospective students, each component of the admissions process offers an opportunity to showcase their strengths and suitability for the program.

Phase 1

Personal Statement

In your personal statement, articulate clearly why you are pursuing a DBA. Reflect on your professional experiences, your future career goals, and how this degree aligns with them. Be genuine and specific. Discuss how a doctorate will enhance your understanding of complex business issues and contribute to your growth in organizational leadership. Emphasize any unique experiences or perspectives you can bring to the program.


Your resume should highlight your professional journey, including significant accomplishments, leadership experiences, and any progression in your career. Tailor your resume to emphasize skills relevant to a DBA candidate, such as strategic decision-making, team leadership, or innovative problem-solving. Ensure it is concise, well-structured, and showcases your most impactful professional achievements.

Research Topic Proposal

This is a critical component where you propose a potential research topic. It should reflect your area of interest and demonstrate your ability to think critically about business problems. Choose a topic that is not only of personal interest but also of relevance in the business world. Show how your research could contribute to solutions in a particular area of business or management. Your proposal should display your capability in scholarly writing and research.

Intellectual Contributions

Submitting works like published articles, reports, or case studies, though optional, can strengthen your application by demonstrating your ability to contribute intellectually to the field. Choose contributions that highlight your expertise in business-related areas or showcase your ability to address complex business problems through research and analysis.

Online Application

The online application is where you compile all your application materials and personal information. Be thorough and accurate in filling out the application. Double-check for any errors or omissions before submission. Make sure all required documents are attached and clearly labeled.

Phase 2 (For Select Candidates)

For select candidates who successfully navigate the first phase of the application process, Phase 2 presents an opportunity to further demonstrate their suitability for Pepperdine University's DBA program.


Official transcripts from all previous institutions are required to verify your academic history and performance. Ensure that you request transcripts from each institution well in advance to avoid delays. Check that they reflect all your academic achievements, including any honors or distinctions.

Bachelor’s Degree & Master's Degree

You need to provide proof of completing both a bachelor’s degree and a graduate degree from an accredited institution. This confirms that you have the foundational knowledge necessary for the advanced study a DBA entails. Along with your transcripts, include any certificates or diplomas. If your degrees are from non-English-speaking countries, ensure they are translated and evaluated if required by the admissions committee.

Time Management Plan

A time management plan demonstrates how you intend to balance your professional, personal, and academic commitments while enrolled in the DBA program. Be realistic and detailed in your plan. Show how you will allocate time for coursework, research, and other program commitments, as well as how you will manage your professional and personal responsibilities.


The interview allows the admissions committee to assess your communication skills, your passion for the field, and how well you align with the program's objectives. Prepare to discuss your professional experiences, research interests, and why you chose Pepperdine’s DBA program. Be ready to answer and ask insightful questions, showing your engagement and understanding of what the program offers.

Research Proposal

A detailed 3-page research proposal lets you showcase your ability to develop a research project, including your knowledge of the subject and methodological approach. Your proposal should clearly articulate your research question, the significance of your study, the methodology you plan to use, and how it contributes to the field. Make sure it is well-structured and follows academic writing conventions.

Letters of Recommendation

While optional, letters of recommendation can provide the admissions committee with additional perspectives on your abilities, character, and potential as a DBA student. Choose recommenders who know you well professionally and can speak to your qualifications for a DBA program. Inform them about the program so their letters can be as relevant and specific as possible.

How to Choose the Right DBA Program

Choosing the right Doctor of Business Administration program is a pivotal decision for professionals aiming to elevate their expertise in business administration. This process involves a careful assessment of various factors to ensure that the program aligns well with your career goals, academic interests, and personal aspirations.

Consider the Program Curriculum

The curriculum is a cornerstone of any DBA program. It's crucial to look for a program that provides a comprehensive blend of theoretical knowledge and practical application. The ideal curriculum should cover a wide range of advanced topics in business administration, equipping you with the skills to tackle complex business challenges. Programs like Pepperdine University's DBA, which balances academic rigor with real-world application, can offer a more holistic educational experience.

Evaluate Faculty Expertise and Mentorship

The quality of mentorship and the depth of knowledge faculty members bring to the program can significantly influence your learning and research experience. When choosing a DBA program, research the faculty's academic and professional backgrounds. Ensure that the program offers access to faculty who are not only academically accomplished but also have a strong connection to the business world and can provide valuable real-world insights.

Assess Cohort Dynamics

The dynamics of your cohort matter immensely in a DBA program. Being part of a diverse and experienced group of professionals can enrich your learning experience, offering various perspectives and networking opportunities. Look for a program that attracts a mix of high-caliber professionals from different industries and backgrounds. This diversity can lead to a more stimulating and enriching academic environment, where you can learn as much from your peers as you do from your courses and faculty.

 DBA program admission

FAQs About the Doctor of Business Administration Program at Pepperdine University

What is the difference between an Executive DBA and an MBA?

An MBA (Master of Business Administration) is a graduate degree focused on providing a broad understanding of business practices, aimed at individuals seeking to advance into management roles. In contrast, a Doctor of Business Administration is a doctoral-level degree intended for seasoned executives, focusing on deep, research-based study and the application of theory to complex business issues. While the MBA emphasizes practical business skills, the DBA is geared towards high-level strategic thinking and academic research, often leading to roles in academia, consulting, or top executive positions.

What are the unique benefits of the DBA program at Pepperdine University?

In addition to advanced research skills and heightened expertise, the DBA program at Pepperdine University stands out for its values-centered approach, blending academic excellence with ethical and sustainable business practices. The program's unique structure, which includes one-on-one coaching and mentorship from faculty who are experts in their fields, ensures a personalized and in-depth learning experience. This approach not only fosters professional growth but also prepares you to lead with integrity and make a meaningful impact in the business world.

What should I expect from the experience of studying for a doctorate?

Studying for a doctorate is a rigorous and intellectually challenging journey that demands dedication and a deep commitment to research. You should expect to engage in extensive study and analysis within your chosen field, contributing original insights or theories. This process often involves balancing coursework, research, and possibly teaching responsibilities. It's a period of intense academic growth, requiring you to manage your time effectively and often work independently, while also collaborating with peers and faculty. The experience—while certainly demanding—is highly rewarding, offering the opportunity to become an expert in your field and to develop skills that are valuable in both academic and professional settings.

Get Started Today!

Pepperdine University Graziadio Business School’s Executive DBA program is unique in its approach, combining a strong foundation in applied research with a values-centered curriculum. The program offers a rich academic experience led by experienced faculty. As part of a small, accomplished cohort of executives, you will engage in a learning journey that’s not only intellectually challenging but also deeply rewarding, shaping you into a thought leader ready to make impactful contributions to the business world.

For more information on additional requirements for DBA program admission, application deadlines, and more, click here.