URI College of Business launches professional doctorate that offers highest level of academic and professional achievement

Media Contact: Tony LaRoche, 401-874-4894 |

KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 3, 2020 – Experienced business leaders seeking an intellectual challenge or an edge in advancing their careers have a unique opportunity starting next fall as the University of Rhode Island College of Business launches its new Doctorate of Business Administration program.

The doctoral program is geared toward established executives who have completed a Master of Business Administration degree or other master’s program and have extensive experience, including at least 10 years in their industry and seven years in a leadership role. As opposed to a Ph.D. program, the practitioner-scholars in the new program will maintain their roles in industry as they work toward the highest level of academic and professional success available. To allow that, URI’s three-year Doctorate of Business Administration program combines a hybrid of face-to-face and online learning that is flexible for busy professionals.

“The program is designed to turn experienced professionals into evidence-based managers who will be able to base their business decisions on solid academic research of real problems,” said Georges Tsafack, director of the new program and assistant professor of finance. “The design of the program is very efficient. We care about the cost in time and money to the students, so we’ve created a program with residencies that connect them to URI and allow them to network with others in their cohort, but also minimize the time they spend on campus because we know they are very busy.”

Practitioner-scholars enter the program with a real-world business problem and will learn through curriculum tailored to their professional experiences. Students will learn foundational concepts and theories, applied research expertise and the publication process to share their research findings. As they conduct research on their specific problems, they will work one-on-one with an academic researcher to find evidenced-based solutions.

“We have a deep knowledge of business theory and cutting-edge research that hasn’t necessarily been disseminated to industry,” said Christy Ashley, associate professor of marketing and the College’s director of doctoral programs and research. “This is a chance to teach those skills to practitioners who want to approach problem solving in a different way. We’re the only university in Rhode Island that has a Ph.D. program in business. That’s great for traditional Ph.D. students who want to develop theory or go into academia. But we’re uniquely positioned to share those skills with practitioners who want to further differentiate their skills based on this level of academic rigor.”

The program will welcome its first class in August with a four-day residency on URI’s W. Alton Jones Campus. In the retreat-like setting, students will meet members of their cohort and be introduced to the program, which encompasses 48 credits over nine semesters. The program includes three residencies a year – one four-day gathering and two weekends – where students will get intensive instruction and network with members of their cohort and incoming cohorts.

Between residencies, practitioner-scholars will take part in online courses, including structured, scheduled classes and self-paced learning. In the first two years, students will study theory development, conceptual models, qualitative and quantitative methodology, and the publication process for applied business research. As they conduct their research and complete their dissertation, faculty mentors will provide coaching and guidance.

“The great thing about the College of Business is that we have a lot of professors who have years of experience in industry and academics, and they know how to put both together,” said Tsafack. “We also have professors with very diverse research interests. That means whatever problem the practitioner-scholars are trying to solve they will always find somebody who can help, and not just one person.”

In creating the program, URI analyzed some of the more than 50 Doctorate of Business Administration programs at nonprofit universities around the country to assess best practices. There was also a need for such programs in the Northeast.

“There’s growing demand for these programs and we have strength in the areas needed to develop this program,” said Ashley, who helped develop curriculum for the program. “Our program will help strengthen our connections between the business community and programs in the College of Business. The type of people who pursue a degree at this level tend to be highly motivated, and connecting with them is something that will help our undergraduates and graduate students and help keep our research relevant.”

The College of Business has been a leader in business, research and outreach in Rhode Island since being founded in 1923. It has more than 2,000 undergraduate and about 300 graduate students across 10 undergraduate majors, seven graduate programs and three Ph.D. specializations. Programs at the undergraduate, graduate and Ph.D. levels – including the new Doctorate of Business Administration program – are accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. The new program is also part of the Executive Doctorate in Business Council.

For more information on the program and its curriculum or to apply, go to the Doctorate of Business Administration page on the URI website. Students with questions may contact Professor Christy Ashley at ChristyAshley@uri.edu or (401) 874-4172.