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UNA EDBA Residency Weekend
Each EDBA cohort gathers regularly for Residency Weekends. (Gavin Richardson / Hville Blast)

Dustin Killen always knew he wanted to get a doctorate, but wasn’t sure the route he would take to get there. Now, he’s a student in the Executive Doctor of Business Administration (EDBA) program at University of North Alabama (UNA), and he’s getting closer to achieving his dream. Here is his story.

Meet Dustin Killen, a current UNA EDBA student

Dustin Killen lives in Florence, Alabama, and is just about to start a new job with a hospital there. His wife is a professor of kinesiology in UNA’s Exercise Sciences department.

Between work, travel and school, he doesn’t have time for much else, but plans to run his fourth marathon once some time opens up in his schedule. 

Deciding to do the UNA EDBA program

UNA EDBA
Dustin Killen at a recent UNA EDBA Residency Weekend. (Gavin Richardson / Hville Blast)

Killen knew for a long time that he wanted to get a doctorate, and had considered a PhD at one point. Since his wife was still in school and he was the main breadwinner for the family, the timing wasn’t right. 

When he learned that UNA was starting the EDBA program, he knew this would help him fulfill his dream of transitioning into an academic career after a few more years in industry. It also helped that it was literally in his back yard. 

He’s part of the second cohort of only 15 students. They just started their second year of this low-residency program this January.

The EDBA program prepares students to address real-world organizational issues and disruptive trends by developing applied executive-level research skills. This enables them to solve complex organizational problems and create innovative business solutions.

Expectations vs. reality

UNA EDBA cohort
Dustin Killen with his EDBA cohort. (Gavin Richardson / Hville Blast)

When I asked Killen how the program measured up to what he was expecting, he started with a sentiment that will be familiar to many students and ended on an appreciative note: 

“I underestimated just how tough it was going to be in terms of the amount of reading and writing. At the same time, it has really paid off in terms of the quality of the program. 

The program is heavy on statistics and data analysis, which I’m really interested in—that has really exceeded my expectations. 

Not to mention the quality of the faculty—they are top notch, every one of them. They’re eager to help, they give good feedback and they’re really helping me up my game.”

Admittedly on the quieter side, Killen said that being part of a cohort of like-minded people who are at the top of their game has forced him to step up by preparing for class discussions, reading the material and making sure he can contribute something meaningful.

Thinking of doing the UNA EDBA? 

UNA EDBA student
There’s a whole lot of learning going on as part of the UNA EDBA. (Gavin Richardson / Hville Blast)

Here’s what you need to know: 

  • What: a primarily online program with 10 on-campus residency weekends per year
  • Who: A cohort of 15 experienced leaders seeking to advance within an organization or transition into a consulting career or higher education
  • When: 3 years, beginning in January 2024
  • Cost: $33K per year, including everything you need for courses – books, laptop, etc. 
  • Scholarships: up to $25K total for eligible students, including Alabama residents, active/retired military and people working in higher ed or at UNA corporate partners

Here’s what Killen had to say to anyone who’s thinking about doing the program:

“It’s a very rewarding experience. I know that once I get through on the other end with my EDBA, it’s something I know I won’t regret. So really look into it, and if you want to do it, go for it.”

Spots are filling up fast for the January 2024 EDBA cohort. Learn more today

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North Alabama - Sanders College of Business and Technology
Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain
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