A strong base of experience and education is necessary for doctoral studies with an emphasis on applied research. To be admitted to the Athabasca University (AU) online doctorate in business administration (DBA) program, you should have significant prior knowledge and experience in the area of management research you intend to pursue.

All applicants are carefully evaluated to assess ability to handle the requirements of the online DBA program. We ask for a wide range of information in order to assess your suitability for doctoral studies, and to match your expectations, learning, and experience with the capacities and goals of our program. The online DBA demands that you be committed to your studies and able to balance the demands of education, work, and family.

Our online DBA program is a very competitive program. Annual cohorts of about ten students are accepted into the program based on admission criteria and the availability of faculty expertise for supervising proposed research areas.

Admission Criteria

Applicants will have:

  • an MBA or equivalent master’s degree from an accredited university
  • five or more years of significant management and/or professional work experience
  • an acceptable university level course in statistics
  • English language proficiency

and provide:

  • an expression of research interests (500 – 1,000 words)
  • three reference letters: two business references + one academic reference OR two academic references + one business reference OR three business references. 

Transfer Credit

DBA applicants wishing to transfer from other accredited doctoral programs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. In all cases, they must meet the DBA admission requirements (above) and complete at least 50 per cent of their doctoral courses and all DBA dissertation requirements with Athabasca University.

Applicants must provide all materials as outlined in the admission requirements above with the exception that at least one letter of reference must be provided by an academic from the institution from which the applicant is transferring. Courses being considered for transfer credit must be from a fully-accredited institution. To apply for transfer of credit, applicants are responsible for all applicable fees and must submit the following documents:

  • Official transcripts showing the successful completion of the courses to be transferred; and
  • Course descriptions. The DBA Admissions Committee will review these documents to determine whether transfer credit will be permitted.

Carefully review the requirements for your application package below. Please note that the Admissions Committee reviews all completed application packages after the deadline has passed, near the end of March.

Your application package must include a completed online application form and the following six components:


Your resume should include the following information:

A list of current and past job positions (most recent first) that includes

  • company name and industry sector
  • position duration (month and year) and location

Description of duties and responsibilities that includes

  • managerial and supervisory experience, including project management
  • number of direct report
  • budgetary responsibilities

Formal education and training that includes

  • name of post-secondary institution(s) attended
  • degree(s) or program(s) sought or obtained
  • start and end dates (month and year)
  • academic achievements or awards
  • other training / educational experiences that relate to career and education goals (i.e. courses, workshops attended, etc.)

Additional information that includes

  • informal activities or life experiences that relate to career and graduate education goals
  • a list of memberships in professional organizations
  • a list of volunteer and community roles and activities


References must be submitted by individuals who will be able to attest to the depth and breadth of your managerial experience and suitability for doctoral level studies.

Submit three currently dated letters, one of which is from a current or previous employer. Where possible, one of the three letters should be from an academic who is in a position to judge your previous academic performance. If an academic reference is unavailable, the Admissions Committee will accept three business references. References submitted by relatives or friends will not be accepted.

Academic Reference Form »
Business Reference Form »

Important: In accordance with the Province of Alberta’s Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the information contained in letters of reference is not considered confidential. You may, upon request, view the information. It is your responsibility to notify your references of this fact.


Compose a 500 to 1,000-word expression of research interests essay. In your essay, please address the following:

(a) The topic you would like to research and any specific question(s) about it you are looking to answer through DBA study;

(b) A professional rationale that explains your interest in the topic and why you believe asking your research question(s) is important;

(c) Any background experience and knowledge you have relative to the topic, referencing professional involvement and any documented sources.


Official transcripts of your post-secondary educational achievements, including any professional designation transcripts, must be sent directly to the Faculty of Business from the respective institution(s) before the application deadline. These transcripts provide the basis for evaluating your educational history and for determining your capacity for graduate studies. Have your transcripts sent to:

Athabasca University, Faculty of Business
201-13220 St Albert Trail
Edmonton, Alberta
T5L 4W1

NOTE: For applicants with degrees obtained outside of Canada or the United States, your educational qualifications may require independent assessment. International transcripts can be assessed by:

International Qualifications Assessment Service (IQAS)
International Credential Assessment Service of Canada (ICAS)
World Education Services-Canada (WES)

Please contact Student Services at 780-488-2832 or 1-800-561-4650 to determine if this applies to you. Details regarding this service will be provided at that time.


Applicants without a high school diploma or a university degree from Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, U.S.A., United Kingdom, or English speaking West Indies must complete an English Language Proficiency Test.

Acceptable tests and required scores are as follows:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language TOEFL – paper based test (550); internet based test (79); computer based test (213)
  • University of Michigan English Language Examination Assessment Battery MELAB (80%)
  • Canadian Test of English for Scholars and Teachers CanTEST (band 4.5 in listening and reading and band 4.0 in writing and oral interview)
  • International English Language Testing System IELTS (6.5)

Test scores will only be considered if they have been obtained within the past two years and must be sent directly to the Faculty of Business from the testing institution before the application deadline.


The application fee for the online DBA program is two hundred dollars in Canadian currency ($200 CAD), and is non-refundable. Please enclose payment with your application.

Application deadline:
March 15, 2020 for the September 2020 program start.