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CityU DBA aims to take shock factor out of study


The thought of completing a doctoral thesis that possesses originality and real-world significance can be daunting for some who are considering enrolling in a Doctor in Business Administration (DBA) programme.

But at City University of Hong Kong (CityU), the main aim is to take the shock factor out of the process of completing such a thesis. This is achieved by providing the right amount of support from the very beginning.

“We offer all our students a just-in-time support service, as opposed to the just-in-case variety. This is based on the idea that everything we offer students should have value to them now,” says Professor Doug Vogel, director for the CityU DBA programme.

CityU runs its student support system via an innovative approach to teaching and learning, integrating preparation with coursework from the initial research methodology course, so that knowledge is applied from the start, Vogel says.

It also uses a mentoring system, with each student being assigned a faculty member as mentor according to their areas of interest, to guide them in developing a structured study programme that will lead to a thesis proposal.

Business practitioners will be invited to act like professional supervisors, and, if needed, boost the level of professional content and the thesis project’s relevance.

Learning circles made up of students with similar research interests act as learning partners for cross-fertilisation and exchanging of ideas, developing learning efficiencies and support.

Each enrolled student is eligible to become a member of the DBA Community, an initiative by past DBA graduates to develop a network of professional support.

“Our DBA programme draws people with senior executive positions who are high flyers and want to go to the next level in making a difference in their own organisation. Students come into our programme with particular managerial issues that are concerning them in their own organisation. We adopt an interdisciplinary approach in working with each student, to develop a research project that will address their issues,” explains Vogel.

Students must complete four core subjects, including three methods in applied business research and two residential workshops, plus several electives from over 130 courses at master’s level, or four specially developed courses, including two independent studies relating to research writing, and a CEO forum.

The two residential workshops are aimed at keeping students up-to-date with the latest issues and interdisciplinary knowledge of the business world, while the CEO forums provide students with insights into the operations of large corporations in Hong Kong and the Asia-Pacific region, and help them build their business networks.

Course scheduling is designed to fit in with the busy calendars of senior executives, with many courses offered in intensive mode that involves three to four weekends of study, with a three-week break between each weekend.

Under an agreement with the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, students may take the advanced management programme at the US school. This course is to be undertaken at the students’ expense and a credit transfer is available after successful completion of the course.

Applicants must have a master’s degree in a business-related discipline and over 10 years of work-relevant experience. Non-native English speakers need a minimum TOEFL score of 580 (paper-based), 237 (computer-based) or 92 (internet-based), or an equivalent score.

“I know from my own experience of running a company that there are times when a senior executive can see what he or she should be doing, but they don’t have the research skills to do it. So we expect our applicants to come to the programme with an inquisitive mind and a desire to go beyond what they currently do as a manager,” explains Vogel.

The cost of the programme is HK$567,760 with students being required to pay tuition fees by the end of each semester, based on the number of credits taken in that period.