Images are unavailable offline.

Haskayne is introducing a doctorate in business administration, another graduate-level alternative to the MBA. Experts don’t see all the new offerings usurping the traditional MBA, however.


A monthly roundup of what’s happening at Canadian business schools.

To the growing list of graduate business degrees – notably the phenomenal growth in specialty master programs – add a new offering that is relatively rare in Canada: a doctor of business administration.

With strong roots in Britain and Europe, the DBA is scheduled to be offered by the University of Calgary’s Haskayne School of Business in January of 2019. An estimated cohort of 10 to 15 students (20 or so over time) will be recruited from the ranks of C-suite executives who want to blend theory and practice to tackle real-world business problems.

Story continues below advertisement

“Calgary is a big headquarters city and we have had lots of inquiries from people at the executive level interested in an advanced doctorate degree,” says Jaana Woiceshyn, who becomes director of the DBA program at Haskayne on July 1.

“We developed the program in the last three years in response to that kind of market demand,” says Dr. Woiceshyn, who currently runs the school’s academic PhD program.

DBA candidates continue to work while they study and take a mix of residential courses (about half a dozen three-day on-campus sessions over a year) as well as online courses and an independent research topic likely related to their corporate responsibilities. If completed in three years, the degree would cost about $100,000.

Dr. Woiceshyn says the new program fills a gap in the current menu of graduate business offerings. For example, a specialty business master is aimed at undergraduates (no matter their discipline) with no business experience while master of business administration students are typically in their late 20s who have worked for several years. By contrast, executive MBA candidates are usually in their late 30s to mid-40s, have worked for seven-to-10 years and seek a route to the C-suite. The DBA, by contrast, is for those already in executive positions.

Glen Schmidt, retired chief executive officer of Laricina Energy Ltd., and still an advisor to the Calgary company he founded, is a fan of the DBA and may sign up for it next year.

“It is a personal interest,” says the 60-year-old, of his enthusiasm for a program designed for business leaders to blend theory and practice on the job. “There are many PhDs who have technical [expertise] but when you augment business practice with the applied doctorate, you are focused on the macro issues at a more rigorous level of analysis.”

In his case, he says, the DBA “would enhance the quality of opinions and ideas that I might contribute because they have been more skillfully and deliberately shaped and focused.” He adds: “Then you are contributing.”

Story continues below advertisement

Haskayne estimates its program is one of three formal offerings in Canada (along with Laval University and a fully online program at Athabasca University) compared to more than 30, and rising, in Britain.

Like the DBA, the specialty business master has its roots in Britain and Europe but now is proliferating at North American business schools. Some analysts see signs that rising interest in one-year business master degrees (in high-demand topics such as data analytics, artificial intelligence and entrepreneurship) is encroaching on the traditional MBA.

“The MBA is not going to disappear but it does feel as though some business schools are building the Concorde when the world is choosing to fly [budget airline] Norwegian,” says Andrew Crisp, of London-based business school consultant CarringtonCrisp. “Yes, that top of the line, luxury experience is out there and there are people who will pay that and employers who will recruit from those schools,” he notes. “But actually there is this enormous market underneath where people are looking for value and different ways of learning.”

His firm recently issued a report, Tomorrow’s Masters, that forecasts “the market for non-MBA master degrees is likely to grow in diversity in coming years,” with data analytics and project management especially popular.

Citing data from a 2017 prospective student survey by the U.S. Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the globally-used test for business school applicants, Mr. Crisp’s report notes that 23 per cent of respondents were considering a non-MBA business master degree, up from 15 per cent in 2009. Moreover, about one-third of those taking the GMAT test now use the results to apply for a business master rather than an MBA.

Like Mr. Crisp, GMAC director of research Gregg Schoenfeld is not sounding the MBA’s death knell.

Story continues below advertisement

“The MBA is still a dominant player in the business graduate-level degrees,” he says, citing global growth of 6 per cent in MBA applications last year despite the growing diversity of specialty business master programs.

Given the specialty master is designed for those with little or no experience while the MBA serves those who have worked for several years, Mr. Schoenfeld says “there is a unique place for different candidates in the different business school pool pipelines.”

Canadian business professors honoured

The annual list of top-40 business professors under the age of 40, published by the U.S. business education website Poets and Quants, includes two from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management. They are Katherine DeCelles, an associate professor of organizational behaviour, and operations management professor Ming Hu, both cited by nominees for their passion and knowledge of their area of research.

Meanwhile, the Aspen Institute’s business and society program named 20 business professors worldwide, including two from Canada, for delivering courses that exemplify “extraordinary teaching” and contribute to improving business practice.

The Canadian winners are Tima Bansal, a professor of strategy at the University of Western Ontario’s Ivey Business School in London, Ont., and director of its Centre on Building Sustainable Value, and Dror Etzion, an associate professor of strategy and organizations at McGill University’s Desautels Faculty of Management and an associate member of the Montreal university’s school of the environment.

Follow Jennifer Lewington on Twitter @JenLewington or contact her at