About Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

Swiss School of Management offers a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) program based on blended and online learning principles. The program is highly structured and internationally accredited by IACBE. Due to the blended learning aspects, there are no admissions deadlines. Individuals can start, pause, and finish whenever they want. Each DBA candidate receives a lot of support from a dedicated supervisor and a mentor, and access to digital libraries and live (digital) events. Joining the DBA program at Swiss School of Management gets you access to our International Expert Group. Our DBA program is relevant, rich, academically valid, and in line with national and international standards. It fulfills the criteria of the process of harmonization of higher education in Europe and the learning outcomes of the European Qualification Framework EQF-Level 8. The programs are internationally accredited by IACBE, amongst others. To see the differences between a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA), please read this article: PhD and DBA at Swiss School of Management.

Program Highlights

120 ECTS Credits by coursework
European Qualification Framework EQF-Level 8
International accreditation provided by IACBE
High quality, intensive supervision and digital support
Blended learning principles as a standard
Focus on Business and Academic trajectories
10-step overview of the DBA at SSM

The DBA at SSM is designed in such a way that students finish in two years. Extension years are usually not granted. The program is chopped into three phases: Coursework, Research lab, and Doctoral thesis. During those phases, students are guided and coached by their mentor and supervisor.

Individual study plan

The first step for applicants is drafting their initial research proposal. This is a 10-page document answering the most important aspect of the intended research. SSM supplies a template for candidates to use to speed up the process. Candidates do not have to think about structure, we have provided it already. It is wise to start with the initial research proposal as soon as possible and complete this step within two weeks after enrollment. The candidate’s supervisor will review and give feedback on it. During the application process, applicants write an essay of 1,000-2,000 words with the core of the initial research proposal. The template of the initial research proposal that the student must use can be found here.

General Study Information
Duration of Program

The DBA program has a duration of 4 semesters and requires the acquisition of 120 ECTS-Credits.

Begin of Study

Enrolments are generally accepted throughout the year. Intakes will be announced on the website or via email. Individual academic achievements, such as the portfolio of expertise, intensive courses and tutor coaching services, can be taken at any time.

Learning Structure

The program of studies is aligned to international standards of Higher Education and fulfills the criteria of the process of Harmonization of Higher Education in Europe. It consists of 5 taught Research Method modules, which are delivered in two blocks. Attendance is required (a distance learning version will be introduced as an alternative form of study as well.) The Doctoral Thesis demonstrating independent empirical research is evidence of the candidate’s ability and capability to undertake applied, defensible, empirical research on the highest level of academic studies.

Mode of Delivery & Study

The DBA program is based on a practice-oriented and part-time study model. On site study, web- based learning, blended learning, distance learning are all combined with work-based study, which is supported by methodical coaching or supervised by faculty and teaching staff.


Each module is assessed through one assignment, which consists of an essay addressing all the Intended Learning Outcomes of the module. Students are requested to write a critical review (parts of it) of the existing and actual literature taken from peer-reviewed research publications.

Dissertation and Viva

DBA candidates are requested to submit a doctoral thesis, which fulfills the criteria of independent research following acknowledged standards of empirical research. The thesis consists of 50,000 words (+/- 10%). The DBA candidates will defend their thesis through a summarizing presentation.

Structure and Schedule

The DBA Program structure is aligned with international standards of Postgraduate Education and, accordingly, fulfills the criteria of the process of Harmonization of Higher Education in Europe (Bologna Process).

The doctoral program will require the accomplishment of five taught Research Methods modules as the first stage. Only the successful fulfillment of all five modules entitles students to progress to the second stage, the thesis level.
The successful students will acquire 120 ECTS credits throughout the course:

  • 30 ECTS credits through the fulfillment of 5 Research Methods modules (6 ECTS credits per module)
  • 90 ECTS credits through the Doctoral thesis

The modules are delivered interactively and are based on actual knowledge and research in this pathway. The “Research Methods” modules are taught via lectures and/or seminars and require students' attendance. A long-distance learning version will be introduced as an alternative form of study as well.

The data collection, the analysis of data and the Doctoral Thesis demonstrating independent empirical research are an evidence of the candidate’s ability and capability to undertake applied defendable and empirical research on the highest level of academic studies.

This program of studies is considered relevant, rich and academically valid thanks to the adoption of the highest standards of Higher Education. Additionally, superior professional standards have been embedded. Learning objectives and module contents are further closely related to the Six Principles of the PRME Framework of the United Nations.

Core Courses

Professional and academic research are vital necessities for modern management to forge ahead. Research is the process of asking the right and relevant questions and of gathering and analyzing the necessary data in a systematic and methodologically sound manner. An important aspect of sound professional and academic research is to embed the research within the body of existing knowledge (applied research) and to add to it (generating new knowledge).
This module will guide you through the research process, from the formulation of the topic to critically detecting and reviewing relevant literature, designing the research project and choosing appropriate methodologies, collecting and analyzing the data and writing the report. This workshop will offer a helicopter view of the approaches that researchers use to answer research questions especially for those who are new to research. The other workshops will zoom in on specific parts of the research process and on specific methodologies that can be employed.

Learning Objectives

  • Formulate research topics in clear terms.
  • Formulate research objectives and questions, hypotheses and propositions.
  • Carry out a critical review of literature relevant to the topic at hand.
  • Essential skills in reviewing literature: search for recent and relevant articles in (electronic) libraries and on the Internet; using tools to structure the review; know how to use systematic referencing; summarize the review concisely.
  • Understand the key methodologies used in modern research. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Creatively combine various approaches to generate relevant data.
  • Have a good knowledge of the various methods of data collection.
  • Be familiar with statistical concepts like sampling, and hypothesis testing. Have an understanding of the main statistical (descriptive and inferential) techniques used to analyze data.
  • Know how to structure the report, and the main requirements of a high quality professional or academic report.
  • Be familiar with ethical considerations in research, including the concept of plagiarism.

The assessment will be based on one assignment. The assignment consists of two parts. In part one you will be asked to evaluate parts of a sample research proposal written by somebody else. In the second part you are invited to draft a rough plan for your own research project.
In the assignment you are asked to:

  • Clearly describe the topic;
  • Formulate research objectives and questions;
  • Identify and summarize at least five articles relevant to the study;
  • Design your research (in terms of approaches; methodologies; and strategies), and to motivate why the chosen design is effective in meeting the research objectives.

Numbers play an important role in research. Statistical skills are critical to understanding a lot of what goes on in society. Many of us find statistics hard. One reason is that understanding statistics requires mathematical skills. The mathematical skills needed seldom go beyond operations that all students are familiar with – adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. This module will introduce basic and advanced statistics in an intuitive way. Concepts are introduced using examples that students will easily recognize from daily life. Although we refrain from discussing advanced topics in statistics, the workshop paves the way to exploring more advanced statistics.
A second reason why some students have a fear of statistics is the gap that exists between understanding the statistical concepts on the one hand and applying the concepts to reality. This workshop introduces the student to descriptive and inferential statistics. All techniques will be illustrated with easy-to-understand examples. In the process, this workshop will zoom in on important topics in survey design: sampling techniques; validity and reliability; and data cleaning.

Learning Objectives

  • Ability to design a survey (sample; questionnaire)
  • Understand basic descriptive statistics
  • Understand the concepts used in inferential statistics
  • Understand which statistical tests and techniques can be used in a variety of settings
  • Be able to perform, interpret and report statistical tests.

Students will be assessed through one assignment.
The assignment will challenge the candidate to draft a plan of analysis, for his or her research, based on a draft of the data collection instrument to be used in the research.

This workshop is designed to help qualitative researchers with all aspects of their qualitative research project from the beginning to the end. It discusses the key philosophies underpinning qualitative research and design – with a focus on research in management – and assesses the key advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches.
We will zoom in on aspects of research design for qualitative studies. The core part of the workshop elaborates qualitative research methods that have been touched upon in the workshop on research methods: action research; case study research; ethnographic research; grounded theory; interviews; participant observation; and document analysis. All techniques will be examined to discuss the various approaches of that technique, along with strengths and weaknesses, using examples.
In a separate block, the workshop will discuss the analysis of qualitative data, which is fundamentally different from analyzing quantitative data. After an overview of the various methods and techniques that can be used when analyzing qualitative data – including the use of dedicated software – the principles of hermeneutics, semiotics and narrative analysis will be taught and trained.
In a concluding block, the workshop will address issues of write-up and publication, with a focus on the differences from writing up non-qualitative studies.

Learning Objectives

  • Familiarize the participants with the fundamentals of qualitative research
  • Understand the pros and cons of qualitative research as compared to quantitative research
  • Have a sound understanding of the various methods and techniques in qualitative research
  • Ability to use the various methods and techniques of qualitative research
  • Obtain the various skills needed for carrying out qualitative research: formulating and asking questions; listening; summarizing; analyze qualitative data; write-up.

This course will not make use of software dedicated to analysis of qualitative research. The use of Nvivo is the topic of an elective course.

The assignment will be based on the application of various methods and techniques of qualitative research to one’s own research (even if the study will be mainly quantitative).

The module will introduce you to essential tools for doing research at doctoral level. The toolbox offers a rich set of tools. The focus will be on STATA. The STATA package is one of the main packages used by researchers doing serious research. A fully operational permanent license for the latest version of STATA is included in the study fees.

Candidates are requested to submit and defend a doctoral thesis.
The topic of the thesis has to be one of the following broad field of research:

  • Strategic Management
  • Functional Areas of Business
    • Finance
    • Human Resource Management
    • Marketing
    • Production and Operations Management
    • Logistics Management
  • Business Environment
  • Public Policies
  • Specific Sectors of the Economy


Completed Master’s degree (or equivalent) or long-term professional experience (work-based entry route) and evidence of particular competences on an individual case; evidence of English and/or German language proficiency.
If you need more information, feel free to reach us at
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