As the capstone to the DBA program, all students develop a dissertation proposal to research an emerging issue in the practice of business. The research projects are structured as independent study.


Every student will choose a Dissertation Advisor, and together they will select three more Advisory Committee members with the relevant topic and methods expertise needed for the student to complete the research. With help from their advisor, the student will develop their research ideas, build toward the dissertation proposal, and plan for disseminating their research.

In the dissertation proposal, the student will demonstrate a broad knowledge of the topic, methods for investigation, and a realistic research timeline. The goal is to conduct high-quality, original, applicable research that develops new knowledge within the business discipline.

Successfully defended proposals will satisfy the Dissertation Research requirement in the fall semester of the third year. Based on the resulting research and feedback obtained by the student’s dissertation committee, they will prepare the final dissertation. Students are expected to reach candidacy 6 months before they receive their degree.


To obtain the DBA degree, each student must pass the oral defense and obtain approval of the final written dissertation document by the committee. The defense will be open to the University community, and a copy of the dissertation should be made available to the Graduate Faculty of the Belk College at least three weeks prior to the public defense.

The committee and Dean of the Graduate School will grade the dissertation on a Pass/Unsatisfactory basis by the Advisory Committee. The dissertation defense is the final examination.