Canadian business education is about to graduate to the next level.
A program under development by Athabasca University is expected to result in the launch of a Canadian first – the country’s only doctorate of business administration.
Scheduled to be in place by January 2005, the DBA will be offered by the university’s St. Albert-based Centre for Innovative Management.
“We believe people are looking for what comes next in business education,” said Peter Carr, the centre’s executive director.
“This is a step above the Executive MBA. What we’re seeing now is that for people who’ve done the MBA, it has had a major impact on their careers, and now they’re looking at doctoral studies to take their career even further.”
Carr called the DBA a more effective way of creating a high level of knowledge and research on international business issues.
“This is particularly important, given the turbulent international environment that we have today,” he said.
“International issues are now more important than they’ve ever been to business organizations.”
“From an economic development perspective, programs such as this proposed DBA are an important foundation for building a diverse knowledge-based economy,” said Economic Development Edmonton spokesperson Jim Rudolph. “For Greater Edmonton, it will help improve the region’s overall business acumen and skill.”
Alberta Human Resources and Employment Ministry projections show above-average demand for people with MBAs and business management training for the 2002 to 2006 timeframe, said Rudolph.
“By extension, obviously this points to a demand for an even greater level of education, which the DBA would provide.
“With the increasing complexity of modern business and economics, certainly having a higher level of education in business administration will help our overall business climate to continue to advance,” added Rudolph.
The degree, a joint initiative of Australia’s Deakin University and Athabasca, both online learning institutions, arose from discussions at the World Alliance on Distance Education. It also fits in the centre’s gameplan of becoming a global provider of online graduate business education.
“Our sense is that a professional doctorate would be financially successful and fill a clear gap in the market,” said Rudolph. “In the United Kingdom, DBAs started about 10 years ago. In Australia, I think it was eight years ago. It’s something that in other parts of the world there is a clear demand for. We’re confident that will happen in Canada too.”
The Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) Sharon Ritchie, a business member on the centre’s advisory board and a graduate of the MBA program, is strongly behind the DBA.
“With the increase in MBAs within the employee marketplace, the next level of strategic learning is a DBA that can make a difference in our quest for continued diversified growth,” said Ritchie, a Toronto sales and market manager for RBC.
“In today’s business environment, it’s critical that our staff are continually learning and developing their skillsets in order to differentiate RBC in the marketplace. Our customers are becoming more knowledgeable and it is essential that our staff continue to develop their skillsets to meet our clients’ needs. I believe our staff are among the best in the industry, as they are committed to providing optimum service by leveraging continual learning.”
But before the program becomes a reality, it still requires the necessary government approvals.
“We have a long way to go, but we’re optimistic,” said Carr, pointing to planning that is at the advanced stages. “We’ve met with the people from Australia, we’re working on the mechanics of the program, and there is a lot of enthusiasm from our academic team here at Athabasca.”
Potential DBA studies include supply-chain management, international human resources strategies, sustainable development and corporate responsibility.
The centre expects an initial intake of as many as 30 students, with a similar number registered through Deakin. The degree will take a minimum of three years to complete and students will be allotted a maximum of eight years to finish.
The centre, Canada’s largest for post-graduate business education, is a major player on the MBA level. It has captured 25 per cent of the Canadian MBA market and 15 per cent of the world online market. Last May, it rolled out Canada’s first project management MBA.