Welcome to the SSM DBA program

DBA Studies are one of the most challenging, but academically also a highest rewarding level in Higher Education. The Swiss School of Management has developed outstanding Doctor Programmes. These programmes are having unique features adding significant value to Graduates beyond the rewarding Doctor Degree.

Multiple academic collaborations contribute to the exceptional programme quality. These start with the involvement of highly renowned and recognized academics as Directors of Studies. Both the University’s own Professors and Visiting Professors from a wide variety of international Universities support our Doctor candidates on individual base.

Today academia has no more borders. Therefore, knowledge and expertise of seasoned academics influenced structure and content of our Doctor Programmes from which candidates can select.

The Doctor of Business Administration will be awarded by the internationally recognized Swiss School of Management. The result is all about delivering studies of highest quality and multiple benefits to SSM’s Doctor candidates. Swiss School of Management is committed to impress and to express. Impress by value of the studies resulting in Degrees, which express the outstanding skills of those being awarded with these recommending themselves for top careers in industries, administration, and academia.

Doctoral Candidates are offered two major pathways. The first pathway is known as Professional Doctorates. The notion ‘professional’ should not be misunderstood. They are by no means only professional qualifications. Professional doctoral studies have been globally developed and are accepted as fully-fledged doctoral degrees. In contrast to PhD studies their objective is applied sciences: research in what is called the real world for application in it. Likely the most famous degree pathway here is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA).

For good reasons Universities around the globe have extended doctoral studies by these professional doctorates. The industry is very interested in such Graduates. These demonstrate through their, e.g., DBA Degree skills and capabilities going beyond any Master’s graduate. At the same time, these doctoral Graduates are practice-oriented. Consequentially they are the candidates of first choice for top-management positions. On the other hand and without any doubt, PhD studies have not lost their reason and attractiveness.

The Doctor of Business Administration addresses research in business, economy and management. The thesis can be placed in the student’s personal interest

and also in their personal work environment. At the end of these studies students are awarded with the Title of the Doctor in Business Administration (DBA).

Before this Degree is awarded the DBA thesis has to be written and defended in the viva. The thesis is about applied sciences. It consists of 50,000 words, which fulfils the criteria of independent research on superior level and consequentially demonstrates the internationally acknowledged standards of doctoral studies. Type and style of this research represents applied sciences, in which a robust theoretical understanding is evident.

The variety of topics is extensive and candidates can make their own choice upon approval of the Academic Board. The only request is that the chosen research relates to management, business and / or economy. Theory and empirically consistent research, which the thesis delivers, are expected on superior level. An individual Director of Studies will support each student’s thesis development and writing. Students will find personal support, but according to the individual nature of such studies on this high level, they are expected to work individually. Therefore strict limitations on extent and length of such support apply.


General Study Information


Duration of Programme

The DBA programme has a duration of 4 semester with an amount of 120 ECTS-Credits.

Begin of Study

Enrolments are generally accepted throughout the year. Intakes will be announces on the website or by writing. Individual academic achievements such as the portfolio of expertise and for example Intensive courses or tutor coaching services can be taken at any time.

Learning Structure

The programme of studies is aligned to international standards of Higher Education and fulfils the criteria of the process of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Europe accordingly. It consists of: Four taught Research Method modules being delivered in two blocks of physical student presence. (A distance learning version will be introduced as alternative form of study as well.) The Doctoral Thesis demonstrating independent empirical research as evidence of a candidate’s ability and capability to undertake applied defendable and empirical research on the highest level of academic studies.

Mode of Study

The DBA program is based on a practice oriented and part-time study model. Residential study, web- based-learning, blended learning, distance learning are combined with work-based-study supported by systemic coaching or supervised by faculty and teaching staff.


Each module is assessed by one assignment. It forms an essay addressing all Intended Learning Outcomes of the module. Students are requested to write a critical review (parts of it) of the existing and actual literature taken from peer-reviewed research publications.

Dissertation and Viva

DBA candidates are requested to submit a doctoral thesis, which fulfils the criteria of independent research following acknowledged standards of empirical research The thesis consists of 50,000 words (+/- 10%). The DBA candidate will defend their thesis through a summarising presentation.

Structure and Schedule

DBA Programme

The DBA Programme structure is aligned with inter- national standards of Postgraduate Education and fulfils the criteria of the process of Harmonisation of Higher Education in Europe (Bologna Process) ac- cordingly.

The doctoral programme will require the completion of five taught Research Methods modules as first stage. Only the successful completion of all five modules entitles students to progress to the second stage, the thesis level.

The course awards successful students 120 ECTS credits:

  • 30 ECTS credits by completion of five Re- search Methods Modules (6 ECTS credits per module), and
  • 90 ECTS credits through the Doctoral’s thesis

The modules are delivered interactively and are based on actual knowledge and research in this pathway. The “Research Methods” modules being taught via lectures/seminars with physical student presence. A distance learning version will be introduced as alterna- tive form of study as well.

The data collection, analysis of data and the Doctoral Thesis demonstrating independent empirical research as evidence of a candidate’s ability and capability to undertake applied defendable and empirical research on the highest level of academic studies.

This programme of studies is considered as relevant, rich and academically valid by adoption of highest standards of Higher Education. Superior professional standards have been embedded additionally. Learning objectives and module content are further closely re- lated to the Six Principles of the PRME Framework of the United Nations.

Workshop OUTLINES - Modules

Research Methods

Professional and academic research are vital necessities for modern management to forge ahead. Research is the process of asking the right and relevant questions, and of gathering and analyzing the necessary data in a systematic and methodologically sound manner. An important aspect of sound professional and academic research is to embed the research within the body of existing knowledge (applied research), and to add to it (generating new knowledge).

This module will guide you through the research process, from the formulation of the topic, to critically detecting and reviewing relevant literature, designing the research project and choosing appropriate methodologies, collecting and analyzing the data, and writing the report. Especially for those who are new to research, this workshop will offer a helicopter view of the approaches that researchers use to answer research questions. The other workshops will zoom in on specific parts of the research process, and on specific methodologies that can be employed.

Learning Objectives

  • Formulate research topic in clear terms.
  • Formulate research objectives and questions, and hypotheses and propositions.
  • Carry out a critical review of literature relevant to the topic at hand.
  • Essential skills in reviewing literature: search for recent and relevant articles in (electronic) libraries and on the Internet; using tools to structure the review; know how to use systematic referencing; summarize the review concisely.
  • Understand the key methodologies used in modern research. Understand the advantages and disadvantages of quantitative and qualitative approaches. Creatively combine various approaches to generate relevant data.
  • Have a good knowledge of the various methods of data collection.
  • Be familiar with statistical concepts like sampling, and hypothesis testing. Have an understanding of the main statistical (descriptive and inferential) techniques used to analyze data.
  • Know how to structure the report, and the main requirements of a high quality professional or academic report.
  • Be familiar with ethical considerations in research, including the concept of plagiarism.


The assessment will be based on one assignment. The assignment consists of two parts. In part one you will be asked to evaluate parts of a sample research proposal written by somebody else. In the second part you are invited to draft a rough plan for your own research project.

In the assignment you are asked to:

  • Clearly describe the topic;
  • Formulate research objectives and questions;
  • Identify and summarize at least five articles relevant to the study;
  • Design your research (in terms of approaches; methodologies; and strategies), and to motivate why the chosen design is effective in meeting the research objectives.
Quantitative Methods & Survey Design

Numbers play an important role in research. Statistical skills are critical to understanding a lot of what goes on in society. Many of us find statistics hard.

One reason is that understanding statistics requires mathematical skills. The mathematical skills needed seldom go beyond operations that all students are familiar with – adding, subtracting, multiplication and division. This module will introduce basic and advanced statistics in an intuitive way. Concepts are introduced using examples that students will easily recognize from daily life. Although we refrain from discussing advanced topics in statistics, the workshop paves the way to exploring more advanced statistics.

A second reason why some students have a fear of statistics is the gap that exists between understanding the statistical concepts on the one hand and applying the concepts to reality. This workshop introduces the student to descriptive and inferential statistics. All techniques will be illustrated with easy-to-understand examples.

In the process, this workshop will zoom in on important topics in survey design: sampling techniques; validity and reliability; and data cleaning.

Learning Objectives

  • Ability to design a survey (sample; questionnaire)
  • Understand basic descriptive statistics
  • Understand the concepts used in inferential statistics
  • Understand which statistical tests and techniques can be used in a variety of settings
  • Be able to perform, interpret and report statistical tests.


Students will be assessed in one assignment.

The assignment will challenge the candidate to draft a plan of analysis, for his or her research, based on a draft of the data collection instrument to be used in the research.

Qualitative Methods

This workshop is designed to help qualitative researchers with all aspects of their qualitative research project from start to finish. It discusses the key philosophies underpinning qualitative research and design – with a focus on research in management – and assesses the key advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches.

We will zoom in on aspects of research design for qualitative studies. The core part of the workshop elaborates qualitative research methods that have been touched upon in the workshop on research methods: action research; case study research; ethnographic research; grounded theory; interviews; participant observation; and document analysis. All techniques will be discuss the various approaches of that technique, along with strengths and weaknesses, and examples.

In a separate block the workshop will discuss the analysis of qualitative data, which is fundamentally different from analyzing quantitative data. After an overview of the various methods and techniques that can be used when analyzing qualitative data – including the use of dedicated software – the principles of hermeneutics, semiotics and narrative analysis will be taught and trained.

In a concluding block the workshop will address issues of write-up and publication, with a focus on the differences from writing up non-qualitative studies.

Learning Objectives

  • Familiarize the participants with the fundamentals of qualitative research
  • Understand the pros and cons of qualitative research as compared to quantitative research
  • Have a sound understanding of the various methods and techniques in qualitative research
  • Ability to use the various methods and techniques of qualitative research
  • Obtain the various skills needed for carrying out qualitative research: formulating and asking questions; listening; summarizing; analyze qualitative data; write-up.

This course will not make use of software dedicated to analysis of qualitative research. The use of Nvivo is the topic of an elective course.


The assignment will be based on the application of various methods and techniques of qualitative research to one’s own research (even if the study will be mainly quantitative).

Essential Tools

The module will introduce you to essential tools for doing research at doctoral level. The toolbox offers a rich set of tools. The focus will be on STATA. The STATA package is one of the main packages used by researchers doing serious research. A fully operational permanent license for the latest version of STATA is included in the study fees.


Candidates are requested to submit and defend a doctoral thesis.

The topic of the thesis has to be one of the following broad field of research:

  • Strategic Management
  • Functional Areas of Business
    • Finance
    • Human Resource Management
    • Marketing
    • Production and Operations Management
    • Logistics Management
  • Business Environment
  • Public Policies
  • Specific Sectors of the Economy

General Entry Requirements


Candidates with Master’s Degree

Candidates need to have completed a significant research project, dissertation or thesis, at university level. Candidates must be in possession of a cognate Master’s Degree; i.e., it has to be awarded by an officially acknowledged Higher Education Institution.

Equally admitted are Graduates not having a Master’s Degree, but another cognate Degree being directly comparable to a Postgraduate Degree, which is equivalent to level 7 of studies. This regulation acknowledges differences, which may internationally exist on national levels.

All applicants from countries in which the official language is not English or German are required to submit official evidence of English or German language proficiency.

Acceptance by the Department

Meeting our academic requirements does not guarantee entry. You must demonstrate an ability to research independently, and possess a high level of theoretical understanding.

Acceptance is subject to staff availability for supervision. A committee decides whether your qualifications suffice for admission as a doctoral candidate. The department’s committee usually meets at regular intervals.


Quality Assurance on National Level of Further Education


SSM is certified to the standard of Swiss Further Education by EduQua.

EduQua is a Public Private Partnership with e.g. the Swiss Federation for Adult Learning and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs for Quality Assurance in HE in Switzerland (SQS).

Certificate of Accreditation and excerts from online data base of EduQua are displayed on the following pages.


Application and Enrolment


How to apply: step by step from Application to Enrolment

1. Application and Biographical Information (Portfolio)

To apply for a DBA programme, please submit first the application form and provide us your biographical data. For this purpose, use the student portfolio form at next. The student portfolio is used to assess whether an applicant is eligible for a Doctorate. In case of acknowledgement, the candidate receives a letter of acceptance. You can download the forms at our website or use the application form which you will get at the Office of Admissions.

The Application form will ask you to provide biographical and academic information, to detail your educational and extracurricular activities. Information must be complete with exact dates given on each entry. Please fill in the form carefully and as far as you can, so that your application can be edited as soon as possible. All Documents has to be submitted in electronic version (PDF or jpg-Format) to the Office of Admissions.

2. Letter of Acceptance

SSM will notify you of the results of your application. Await the decision! In the case of acknowledgement, the student receives a letter of acceptance.

3. Educational Agreement and Study Fees

After receiving the letter of acceptance, please fill in the educational agreement. As soon as the study contract has been signed and submitted (an electronic versions / pdf-file can be submitted via email), the application fee and the study fee have been paid for at least the first semester, the student receives a confirmation of enrolment and can start with study.

4. Begin of Study

Together with your student counsellor, an individual study plan can be prepared or discussed at a personal meeting or at an introductory seminar at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment Documentation


In order to be enrolled into the DBA programme at the University students must submit the following documents in either one of the following languages: English, German:

  • Passport or ID-Card (photocopy or scan as pdf file)
  • Certificate from an accredited secondary school, High School diploma, VWO, Baccalauréat, Maturité Fédérale, German Abitur or equivalent.
  • University degree certificates (Bachelor, Master etc.)
  • Official Transcript of Records (educational records) / Curriculum (a certificate issued by his University / Faculty which contains all the marks that the student received for each discipline during his University studies, in each semester, and the ECTS numbers for each discipline)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Evidence of English or German language proficiency (Toefl, Goethe Institute, Cambridge, or equivalent))

Please note: The original documents or original translations shall be submit on request or have to be given to your student counsellor.

Documents in other languages must be translated into one of the aforementioned languages and legalized by a notary public in the country of origin.

If necessary school and university certificates and documents are required in certified form (Apostille), plus the following:

  • Passport photography (jpg or other file format)
  • A non-refundable application fee
  • Application form Portfolio – dated and signed in original (available on our website or at the office of admissions)


Short Facts Overview


Qualification Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Structure Five taught research methods modules being delivered in two blocks of physi- cal student presence, three semester of data collection and analysis, and the final thesis. (A distance learning version will be introduced as alternative form of study as well.)
ECTS-Credits 120 ECTS Credits
Begin of Study Enrolments are generally accepted throughout the year. Intakes will be announces on the website or by writing.
Duration of Programme 2 Years / 4 Semester. Extension of study will be granted on request.
Requirements Completed master’s degree (or equiva- lent) or long-term professional experi- ence (work-based entry route) and via decision of special competence in the individual case. Evidence of English or German language proficiency.)

DBA Programme


The DBA will expand your professional skills as well as practical experience in your company.
A higher level of education makes you indispensable as an employee and opens doors for new challenges and tasks. In addition, you strengthen your so-called market value which usually entails better financial benefits.

Embedded in the realities of global business, the DBA equips you with knowledge, real-world skills, and business and management best practice. It is also about your potential – it will develop your skills, enhance your career opportunities and expand your professional networks. Whether you are seeking promotion or looking for a new career direction, an DBA demonstrates that you are an aspiring employee who is prepared to invest in your career.

Getting a higher salary after graduation, landing a top management position or even becoming your own boss are just a few of the extra advantages of the DBA.


Tuition Fees


The tuition fee for the doctoral programs is Euro 35,000.

The tuition fees can be paid in instalments, in accordance with a step-by-step plan consisting of 20 steps that will give structure to your study. Broadly speaking, candidates are expected to pay in three instalments as per payment plan below:

Payment Plan:

  • Application fee:       €      200.-
  • Enrollment fee:       € 12,000.- (before start of the program)
  • First Instalment:      € 12,000.- (at the beginning of the second academic year)
  • Second Instalment: € 11,000.- (at the beginning of the third academic year)

Application Procedures




NOTE: Do not fill in by hand and scan.
Hand written forms will not be accepted.

Application have to be sent
to the following address:
Swiss School of Management
University of Washington Rome Center
Piazza del Biscione 95
00186 Rome, Italy
Phone:  +39 06 4004 93 20


Apply for the DBA Program

DBA Application

Fill out the application form for the SSM program and send it back to us at to begin the process of applying.

Note: Application will not be reviewed until all documents have been received electronically and the application fee has been received.