Doctorate in Business Administration

Turn experience into knowledge to make a real impact on your business

If you’re ready to become a thought leader in your field, deepening your business understanding with theoretical perspective, then the Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) will allow you to create even greater impact. 

This four-year blended doctoral programme gives you the opportunity to carry out research alongside your current role. You’ll live and learn the skills to dive deep into your chosen specialism, so you can take the leap into the academic world of research. You’ll develop the skills and approaches to re-energise your organisation with original insights and fresh perspectives. 

Detailed programme

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The DBA is a four-year programme made up of two stages – a learning stage and a research stage.  

Learning stage

The objective of the first stage is to develop your research skills. Over 18 – 24 months, you’ll take part in five week-long, campus-based modules that cover the entire research cycle. In these intensive sessions, you’ll develop the skills you need to complete your doctoral journey. You’ll be supported by our online learning platform, where you can discuss content and ideas with colleagues and submit your assignments. 

You attend all five modules – and dedicate time to preparing beforehand, studying afterwards and completing assignments, papers and exams. At the end of the learning stage, you’ll take part in a formal presentation of your research proposal. 

Research stage 

In the second stage of the programme, you put your research proposal into practice and develop your thesis. You’ll collect and analyse data, draft your results – and, with the help of your supervisors, present your work to different audiences. You’ll also need to present your research to your supervisory committee in two doctoral seminars.  

At the end of this stage, you’ll take part in a PhD defence at either Ghent University or KU Leuven. You can present your thesis in different ways. It can either be made up of different papers, or be presented in book format with content for three high-level papers. 

Why this programme

  • Develop the skills and knowledge to carry out innovative, ground-breaking and impactful research
  • Gain academic expertise in a topic relevant to your business
  • Join a community of international academics and professionals from industries all over the world – with plenty of opportunities to build connections and further your research
  • Put together your own tailored package of research, business and teaching electives to meet your needs and ambitions
  • Earn a Certificate of Management Research from Vlerick and a Joint PhD degree from Ghent University and KU Leuven  

Who should attend

The DBA is for experienced professionals who want to:

  • Deepen their business understanding from a theoretical perspective
  • Engage in academically robust, practice-based research
  • Create new knowledge – and make an even greater impact on their organisation, sector or even society
  • Become part of a diverse community of academics and professionals from over the world
  • Obtain a PhD degree from two top institutions 

Fees and financing

The tuition fee for the DBA is €60,000: 

  • First year: €5,000 non-refundable commitment fee + €15,000 
  • Second year: €20,000  
  • Third and fourth year: €10,000 per year 

The DBA is designed to be flexible and fit around your schedule – so if needed, you can have more time to complete your qualification. The fee for each extra year is €6,500.  

Your fees include: 

  • Four years’ tuition  
  • All course materials  
  • A voucher towards your personal growth package – so you can attend conferences at Vlerick and other institutions 
  • Access to business and research databases and specialised collections 
  • Use of campus facilities 
  • Vlerick Alumni network membership 
  • Online subscription for the Financial Times  
  • Food and drink on campus during course weeks 

The fees do not include travel or accommodation. 

To join the DBA programme, you need: 

  • A Belgian Master's degree or equivalent higher education degree 
  • To have graduated with distinction 
  • At least 10 years’ managerial experience – with some experience at executive level 

You also need to: 

  • Submit an initial research topic that relates to our expertise and is academically challenging 
  • Explain your motivation for joining the programme 
  • Submit a GMAT/ GRE test score gained no more than five years ago (unless you’re eligible for an exemption) – or show you’ve achieved a second distinction during your studies 
  • Prove you’re fluent in English 
  • Get support from at least two supervisors, one from the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration at Ghent University and one from the Faculty of Economics and Business at KU Leuven – we’ll help you find them 

Start your journey 

We accept admissions on a rolling basis – and discuss applications during our monthly doctoral committee meetings.  

The DBA is a significant commitment – which is why you go through two stages before you begin the full programme. This gives you the opportunity to experience academic research before committing to the full four years. 

1. Eligibility stage 

First we assess if you meet the admissions requirements – and learn more about your ambitions. 

Here’s what you need to do: 

  • Fill in the eligibility form online, and upload your: 
    • CV 
    • Diplomas and transcripts 
    • GMAT/GRE report (if applicable) 
    • English Language Proficiency Exam score (if applicable) 
  • Write ashort essay with your research title, topic and motivation. Include two references to academic papers – you can find these on open source databases like Google scholar, Bing scholar, Base, Core and DOAJ.

If you meet the criteria – and we think the programme is a good fit for you – we’ll set up an in-depth interview with our academic director. We’ll also help you identify and get in touch with potential PhD supervisors. They’ll talk to you, suggest relevant academic papers for you to read – and help you to refine your research topic. 

The DBA doctoral committee will then discuss your file – and if you’re eligible, you’ll be accepted onto the programme. 

2. Commitment stage 

Once you’ve been accepted and paid your commitment fee, you can access our online resources immediately and start working on your initial research topic with your supervisors.  

After the first course in September, you’ll write a paper on your research idea – and get feedback from the course leader, DBA team and your supervisors. At this point, we’ll ask you to confirm your commitment to the four-year programme – and to pay the remaining fee for the first year. 

Success stories

Luc Wynant

I have been a lawyer in a corporate environment for almost 30 years, working with private equity and venture capital. Over time, I’ve started to see interesting patterns emerge in management buyout situations. The DBA has allowed me to trace these patterns – and also apply and generalise them. 


David Veredas

David Veredas

Professor of Financial Markets

David Veredas makes sure you understand finance and sustainability – and think critically about them.

Veroniek Collewaert

Veroniek Collewaert

Professor of Entrepreneurship

Veroniek Collewaert explores – and improves – relationship dynamics between investors and entrepreneurs.

Katleen De Stobbeleir

Katleen De Stobbeleir

Professor of Leadership

Katleen De Stobbeleir is inspired by leaders who stand up and speak – and she is passionate about those who have the courage to sit and listen.