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The Manchester DBA

5 years that will transform your life.

The Alliance MBS DBA is 'research in action' - an opportunity to gain a doctoral degree while you continue working. It offers you the chance to tackle an important, unresolved business and managerial problem in a rigorous and systematic way and to contribute to your organisation’s success while developing academic knowledge and theories.

Become an expert in your field

Research in action icon

Research in action
Gain a doctoral degree without putting your career on hold, and apply your learning for immediate professional impact.

Experts in all areas

Experts in all areas
Our research spans all areas of business and management – from banking and finance to healthcare and fairness at work.

Global perspectives

Global perspectives
Draw on different global perspectives to enrich your research – our research community represents over 35 nationalities.

Blended delivery

Blended delivery
A flexible combination of face-to-face teaching, online tuition, supervised research projects and self-study.

Dedicated support

Dedicated support
We’ll match you with an academic supervisor who shares your passion and has the right expertise to shape your research.

Study with the best

Study with the best
Our rigorous admissions process only admits the most motivated, experienced and committed senior talent.

Programme structure

The DBA includes two years of teaching and preparatory work, typically followed by a three-year research period.

In the taught stage you will:

  • Receive a thorough grounding in research methods, statistics and epistemology (the philosophy of knowledge), which is invaluable for developing your own research project
  • Study four elective courses
  • Start to develop your research proposal in consultation with your supervisor

The research stage usually takes two to three years to complete.

Once your research is complete, you will defend your thesis at the 'viva' to justify your assumptions, data and outcomes. Your research may be suitable for publication, in trade and academic journals, policy papers and books.

Residential workshops

Delivered on campus in Manchester, the workshops are a highlight of the programme and provide great opportunities for networking and collaboration with academics and fellow DBA students. For the rest of the programme you will work independently in your home country, maintaining regular contact with your supervisor by email, telephone and Skype.

Year 1

  • Two residential workshops (six days in October and six days in February)

Year 2

  • Two residential workshops (seven days in October and six days in February)

Annual conference

Throughout the programme you will be required to attend the annual DBA conference in Manchester. This four-day event takes place in July and provides further networking opportunities, plus the chance to gain experience in presenting your research.


Application checklist

One annual intake in October.

Normally five years. It is not possible to accelerate the taught element of the programme during the first two years.

The total fees for October 2019 entry are £61,000, payable over 5 years.

  • £3,000 Pre-payment upon acceptance of your place
  • Year 1 - £9,200 paid at registration
  • Year 2 - £12,200
  • Year 3 - £12,200
  • Year 4 - £12,200
  • Year 5 - £12,200

1. Fees are set for each year and are held for individual students provided there is no break in the continuous period of study.

2. DBA programme fees include: study guides, course textbooks, required readings and supervision.

3. Fees do not include accommodation. Our admissions team will be able to provide more information on local hotels.

4. You need to be fully aware of the costs involved with studying for a research degree and, if admitted onto the programme, must be able to cover such costs.

  • An Honours Bachelor’s degree (normally equivalent to a UK First Class or 2:1) and;
  • A Masters or MBA degree (a minimum final grade equivalent to a UK 65%; or B; or GPA of 3.0 out 4.0) and;
  • A minimum of 6 years’ full-time management experience, showing significant career progression
  • Evidence of spoken and written English language competency is not required, however we expect a good standard which is equivalent to IELTS: 7.0 or TOEFL: 623 paper-based (or 106 internet-based).


Your application should consist of the following:

  • A completed online application form
  • Evidence that you meet the entry requirements set out above (excluding English language competency).
  • A 3000-word Research Proposal. We recommend using the Research proposal guide below. We also recommend that you provide a personal statement outlining your general interests in studying a DBA, your personal motivations for doing so and any flexibility in your chosen area(s) of research.

Research Proposal guide

You will need to submit a detailed Research Proposal outline with your application. This should be structured as follows:

1. Title

2. Overview of the research (approx. 300 words)

In this section, you should provide a short overview of your research. You should also state how your research fits into the research priorities of Alliance MBS. Here you can refer to the research areas and priorities of a particular research grouping, supervisor, Division or Centre. You must also state precisely why you have chosen to apply to Alliance MBS and how your research links into our overall profile.

3. Positioning of the research (approx. 1500 words)

This should reference the most important texts related to the research, demonstrate your understanding of the research issues, and identify existing gaps (both theoretical and practical) that the research is intended to address.

4. Research design and methodology (approx. 1200 words)

This section should identify the information that is necessary to carry out the analysis and the possible research techniques that could deliver the information.

5. References

Dr Simon Hayward, CEO, Cirrus

"I have been delighted with how the DBA has benefited my professional life. My research led to the development of the Connected Leadership model, which we are now using with clients around the world to help develop leadership practices for the 21st century."

Dr Simon Hayward, CEO, Cirrus

Research topic: Factors affecting the transition towards distributed leadership