DBA/PhD - Doctoral Programme

Gordon Institute of Business Science University of Pretoria

Course Introduction

As businesses across the continent rise to the opportunities and challenges that managers and leaders face in starting, building and running businesses, we rely continually on theories and models of practice that often were created under very different circumstances and for different audiences. It's time for us to generate thought leadership that assists countries, businesses and leaders to make better business decisions. Our doctoral programmes are dedicated to developing the knowledge, skills and attributes that enable our students to contribute to creating thought leadership about business in Africa.​ The GIBS DBA is accredited through the Association of MBAs, making the degree the only internationally-accredited business doctorate in South Africa.

The programme is designed to meet the needs of the mature, self-motivated scholar. It provides a blend of individual and peer interactive learning challenges that stretch and test potential. As an outcome, the successful learner should be equipped to create scientifically grounded knowledge and contribute to positive business results through intellectual leadership.​​

I trust that the information on this website will guide you in making your decision to be a part of this vibrant and ​growing community of scholars.​​

  • Phd
  • On Campus
  • Gauteng
  • Start Date: 01/01/2018
  • ZAR 41,500

How This Course Will Benefit Your Career

The GIBS Doctoral Programme develops scholarship on management and business in dynamic, emerging market contexts. We expect of our students to challenge the false dichotomy between theory and practice in their research, and to develop work that addresses the practical imperatives of growth and development in Africa, while contributing to a global body of knowledge. The core of the programme is a research thesis, but to develop scholars and the quality of students' work, a series of on-campus seminars is offered throughout the lifespan of the degree. The preparatory phase consists of a week-long compulsory orientation seminar in January and a series of interventions through the remainder of the first year. Through those interventions, students will: ​Participate in a series of compulsory seminars that introduce critical concepts; Engage in online discussions of scholarly work; Help craft (and submit) a scholarly paper; and Participate in the research of MBA students. At the end of the first phase, applicants choose whether they want to pursue a DBA, which is biased towards practice and will require evidence of usefulness to practice, or a PhD, where students have to demonstrate how their engagement with the local context has enabled them to develop or advance theory in the broader, global conversation in their field. These are differences in emphasis, but as per the graphic below, we expect that the outcome of both will be a theory-rich exploration of a practical issue.The first phase concludes when applicants successfully defend their proposal. The proposal defence process is public and will be attended by other doctoral students and faculty on the Doctoral Programme. Proposal defences take place three times per year: March, July and October. With regard to the preparatory phase, after the week-long orientation in January, students need to attend six seminars (offered on Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday during a contact block) and at least three Professional Development sessions (offered every Wednesday during a contact block), although attendance at as many seminars as possible is recommended. Professional Development sessions attendance is strongly encouraged. Attendance of the seminars will only be granted to those students who have conducted adequate pre-work. If students do not demonstrate that they have engaged adequately with the readings for a seminar, they will not be asked to attend and will not get credit for that seminar. The qualitative and quantitative research methods courses and research design course are compulsory, but applicants may choose to attend any other three of the seminars on offer, and any three of the professional development sessions. The first three professional development sessions are also compulsory. The seminars are clustered into week-long contact sessions, every second month. Substantial work is conducted online and students participate in online discussions on an ongoing basis. The seminars are geared throughout towards the application of knowledge in the proposal development process. The structure of the course enables an applicant to concentrate on the residential requirements of the preparatory part of the programme, for example, if travel is expensive. Alternatively, students may, on the basis of either their interests or peak times at work, choose to spread out the work over a longer period.

Where and when

Start DateLocation


26 Melville Rd,Johannesburg,2196,Johannesburg

Gauteng,South Africa


What are the admission criteria?

A successful doctoral candidate has the following attributes: A track record of consistently high academic achievement; An alert, enquiring mind; Good written English skills and an enjoyment of written communication; A logical mind, supported by strong numeric and analytical skills; An ability to focus on both detail and the big picture; Good energy and stamina – must be able to carry a high workload; Personal effectiveness in managing self and time; Broad and deep experience in business; A problem-solving, innovative approach to challenges; and Clear personal goals and strong achievement motivation. Doctoral study is not for everyone and it is important that you assess yourself against the above idealised profile and satisfy yourself that there is a good fit. While not all candidates will be alike and not all will fit the profile in all respects, it is unlikely that you will succeed in your doctoral studies unless you measure up well against a significant number of the attributes of a successful doctoral candidate. Requirements for admission to the doctoral degree include the following: An MBA degree from a recognised tertiary institution which gives entry to the DBA and PhD, or a Master's degree from a recognised tertiary institution in a related field (e.g. Statistics, Psychology, Economics, etc.) which gives entry only to PhD; Familiarity with basic statistics; A compelling 10-page research proposal; References from two referees, emailed directly to the GIBS research director at researchdirector@gibs.co.za by 12 September 2016; and A recent GMAT result (since 2011) or completion of psychometric testing arranged at GIBS. Details are provided under the section dealing with the application process. For non-South African residents who apply for admission, please note the following two requirements: A study permit is required for registration at the University of Pretoria. Please enquire at the International Office, University of Pretoria at isd@up.ac.za or +27 12 420 6610; and SAQA accreditation is required if your academic qualifications are awarded from an institution outside of South Africa. Please go to the following website to apply: http://www​.saqa.org.za/show.asp?id=2890. We will select the students: Who best meet the academic criteria above; Whose proposed research best meet the strategic orientation of the programme – to better understand the challenges of management and business in such an underdeveloped, but dynamic context as Africa; and Who are most likely to contribute to the intellectual life of the cohort through a combination of rigorous thinking and intellectual generosity.​

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