KSU Coles College of Business Earns Accolades for 
Innovative Doctor of Business Administration Program

John Tabellione

Friday, March 4th, 2016

AACSB International, the global accrediting body and membership association for business schools, has recognized Kennesaw State University Coles College of Business for its innovative Doctor of Business Administration program (DBA). 

The accolades are celebrated as part of AACSB’s Centennial Anniversary and its Visioning Initiative: the inaugural “Innovations That Inspire” awards, which spotlight a variety of ways that member schools are working to innovate and diversify the business education environment. 

Launched in 2009, the KSU DBA program was the first AACSB-accredited doctoral program designed to provide a research doctorate specifically for busy, experienced business professionals. The program delivers the rigor of a traditional doctoral program in a non-traditional format, with classes taught on weekends. While the majority of DBA graduates pursue positions in academia to fill the doctoral faculty gap in universities, many others have leveraged their DBA degree in industry, and with world-renowned corporations such as IBM, Eli Lilly, and Hewlett-Packard. 

Students take discipline-specific courses taught by top publishing scholars from KSU and other institutions. Global scholars bring additional expertise in specific research areas within the field, allowing KSU graduates specialized preparation in critical areas such as international business, entrepreneurship, family business, accounting, auditing, and sales.

“The launch of our DBA program in 2009 was an innovative response to the international shortage of business faculty that was felt then and continues to be experienced today,” said Kathy Schwaig, Dean of the Coles College of Business. “We created a unique delivery model that allows experienced business professionals to receive an intense research education that prepares them for a career in higher education, or allows them to continue their business career with doctoral credentials.” The DBA program has also contributed significantly to the recent reclassification of KSU to a research university, graduating 20 DBA doctoral students last year or half of the needed 40 to be classified a research institution.

In late 2015, AACSB member schools were invited to share ways in which they have challenged the status quo. The result: nearly 300 innovations being submitted from over 200 institutions across 35 countries that exemplify some of the ways business schools are taking a forward-looking approach to education while also establishing cutting-edge ties with industry.

“It is my pleasure to recognize the Coles College of Business for its role in spearheading ingenuity within the business education landscape,” said Thomas R. Robinson, president and chief executive officer of AACSB International. “As AACSB celebrates 100 years of improving quality management education worldwide, it is important for those within and outside of the industry to be reminded of the vision, leadership, and innovative thinking business schools bring to the table. Through our Innovations That Inspire recognition, the Coles DBA stands as a testament to how business schools are driving positive impact within their communities and society at large, through their groundbreaking practices and continuous focus on excellence.” 

The mission of the KSU DBA program is to provide highly experienced professionals with the skills needed to conduct theoretically grounded and scientifically based research, which will serve to prepare them for teaching and research positions in academia, government, or industry. 

The program objectives are as follows:

  • Develop graduates who are intellectually informed and can apply newly acquired analytical skills needed to conduct business and research
  • Expand second career options that build upon an individual’s past experience and academic achievements to prepare for future job opportunities
  • Leverage the latest educational technologies to provide students unique access to leading global scholars
  • Create the most innovative doctoral program in the world to produce world-class scholars and educators with significant professional experience who can have substantive impact on business and business education through their research and teaching

Torsten Pieper, Academic Director, KSU DBA Program, added, “The KSU DBA program has the same standards of rigor and academic quality as a traditional doctoral program. Our students’ dissertations deal with real-world problems that are explored using cutting-edge methodologies and state-of-the-art research designs.  Through this approach, our graduates develop insights that are both scientifically robust and practically relevant to decision-makers in industry.” 

Unlike in traditional doctoral programs, classes in the KSU DBA are taught during intensive, full-immersion weekend residencies nine times per year. This unique format enables KSU DBA students to maintain their jobs while pursuing a research doctorate. In between residencies, students typically work on reading assignments, methods exercises, and research papers under the guidance of their main professors.

The impact of the KSU DBA program has been significant in that the program has admitted over 132 students in seven cohorts, including 61 graduates as of December 2015. Seventy-five percent of graduates seeking academic posts have been placed in tenure-track positions at AACSB-accredited schools. Others have accepted clinical faculty opportunities, or plan to utilize their DBA degree in in their business careers. 

Appointments at business schools within Georgia include Columbus State University, Savannah State University, University of North Georgia, Dalton State College, and Oglethorpe University. Multiple placements have been made at several renowned universities outside Georgia, including Marshall University, University of North Florida, Clemson University, and Florida State University. 

In the area of research impact, graduates of the program have had an average of two peer-reviewed journal publications in the first three years after graduation, and many have published articles during the program. The scholarly outlets include leading journals in accounting, management, entrepreneurship, and marketing, including: Accounting Horizons; Journal of Family Business Strategy; Industrial Marketing Management; Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice; Journal of Business Ethics; Journal of Management Studies.

About John Tabellione

John Tabellione is an award-winning, professional business writer, complemented by over twenty-five years of strategic communication responsibilities as a Marketing, New Business Development and National Account Sales Executive in consumer goods and commercial industries. 

Experience with Fortune 500 companies, as well as with smaller firms and non-profits, encompassing a variety of products, including those of Georgia-Pacific, Kimberly-Clark and Stanley Works. 

John has a B.A. in English from Fairfield University and an MBA in Marketing from the University of Hartford. In addition, he has studied Russian at the Defense Language Institute at Syracuse University, and Italian language and culture at Kennesaw State University.