DBA Curriculum

The Penn State Smeal Executive DBA requires a minimum of 54 credits – 30 core, 6 elective, 18 culminating research project – and is designed to translate knowledge into practice. Smeal DBA students can expect to achieve the following through the program:


  • Foundation of research and intelligent consumption of knowledge
  • Integration of disciplinary knowledge for translation into practice


  • Define, address and solve problems using timely and actionable knowledge
  • Develop scaffolding to evaluate knowledge/cutting edge research in discipline (of each student) for solving problems

Core Courses

  • Accounting Research and Analysis (ACCTG 502) – 3 credits
  • Marketing Management (MKTG 556) – 3 credits
  • Seminar in Corporate Finance Research (FIN 588) – 3 credits
  • Seminar in Organizational Research Design (MGMT 591) – 3 credits
  • Seminar in Management (MGMT 548) – 3 credits
  • Applied Business Research (BA 560) – 3 credits
  • Seminar in Statistical Analysis (BA 511) – 3 credits
  • Business Analytics (SCIS 501) – 3 credits
  • Supply Chain Strategy (SCIS 502) – 3 credits
  • Qualitative Analysis in Business (BA 559) - 3 credits

DBA Areas of Specialization

Penn State Smeal offers 14 different opportunities to specialize – more than any other program – to allow students to customize their education to be as unique as their ambitions. Each area of specialization comprises 3-4 courses that are taught independently from the core courses.

  • Accounting Foundations 
  • Business Analytics
  • Business Architecture
  • Business Management Foundations
  • Business Sustainability Strategy
  • Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • Management Consulting
  • Marketing Analytics
  • Negotiation and Influence
  • Real Estate Law and Valuation
  • Strategic Leadership
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Supply Chain Risk Management
  • Taxation 

Culminating Research Project 

Students will engage in an original research project that aims to leverage and test existing theories to answer a research question relevant to their field. The project involves the collection of data (primary or secondary), analysis of that data, and in interpretation of the results, all documented in a final written product. Students will present their research to a committee that will evaluate on quality, originality, accuracy of research methods and analyses, and insightfulness of conclusions.