A Q&A with Dr. Rick Callaway, program director for SMU’s new Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree. Dr. Callaway has been instrumental in launching this new degree program as well as lending his expertise to teaching in the MBA program for the last five years.

Tell the SGPP community a bit about yourself. What is your background? I grew up in La Crosse, Wisconsin and earned my BA at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. I received my MBA and PhD in Business from the Kelly School, Indiana University. I’ve spent most of my time in academia, including positions at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, but I’ve also worked as a consultant and financial analyst for a Fortune 500 company.

Personally, what do you think is the biggest difference between Saint Mary’s DBA and other programs out there? The curriculum is the biggest difference. If you were to look at a list of the courses offered in most DBA programs, you would have trouble distinguishing a school’s DBA program from its MBA program, other than the research courses required for the DBA. We’ve developed a unique curriculum that builds on the skills and knowledge gained while earning a MBA, and challenges students to research relevant issues in business and to devise solutions to pressing problems. Another difference between Saint Mary’s DBA and other programs is that Saint Mary’s students begin working on their dissertation proposals in the second year as an integral part of coursework. Many doctoral students have difficulty in making the jump from taking classes to writing a dissertation – I know I did. Our program is designed so that students are preparing to perform research, contribute to conferences, and write scholarly articles from the very beginning.

How will the DBA change the landscape of the local business community? I hope we see the DBA follow the same course it has in Europe where companies send senior managers to the program, and those managers research and write their dissertations on challenges facing their own companies. Being trained as a practitioner researcher will give business leaders and executives an enhanced problem solving skills, and deepen their professional networks to include national and international scholars. It is a great example of applied business research.

What are some of the benefits of students proceeding to a DBA from a traditional MBA? For students thinking about an encore career beyond their current position, the DBA offers a pathway to teaching in the academy, or consulting as an academically qualified professional. The MBA has almost become a requirement in order to advance in many companies. As more and more individuals earn MBAs, the DBA offers a way for a person to stand out from the crowd. The enhanced research, writing and thinking skills the students gain through the DBA program differentiate them from their MBA counterparts.

What has been your favorite class to teach at SMU and why? It would have to be the MBA Capstone class. Students in the class serve as consultants to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations, both here in Minnesota and in foreign countries, and address the challenges facing these organizations. It is very rewarding to see our students apply all that they have learned throughout their coursework to assist their clients.

For more information on the new DBA visit: http://www.smumn.edu/dba

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