Associate Dean Lisa Victoravich

In 1908, the world’s first MBA program began at the Harvard School of Business with an enrollment of 33 students. One-hundred-ten years later, the MBA is the most popular postgraduate degree in the U.S. Business schools have developed entire portfolios of MBA programs—delivered across a variety of platforms—to accommodate diverse student populations with varying needs. It is expected that individuals entering the business arena will be armed with advanced learning that enables them to readily address both long festering and emerging business problems.

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest academic degree universities award. Until recently, the only avenue by which to earn a Ph.D. in business at an AACSB-accredited school was to enroll in a full-time program, thereby exiting the workforce for four to five years. While these programs offer strong foundations in conducting high quality research, they tend to a focus on the theoretical within one discipline. Additionally, these programs typically have high barriers to entry and high opportunity costs. As a result, traditional Ph.D. programs in business often attract students with minimal work experience, many of whom are coming straight out of MBA or other masters programs.

Recently, AACSB, the accrediting body of business schools worldwide, noted that traditional doctoral education, which prepares graduates for careers in academia as tenure-track professors, overlooks the range of professional possibilities within and beyond higher education that could benefit both business schools and the business world. The onus is on academia to innovate doctoral education in order to bridge the ever-widening academic/practice gap.

While some academics may not have expected this programmatic addition to the traditional paradigm, the Executive Ph.D. has arrived, combining the rigor of traditional business Ph.D. programs with the relevance of practical business issues. Executive Ph.D. programs enable students to continue their careers while pursuing their education and immersing themselves within a world-class cohort of peers lead by renowned faculty who are experts in their field.

The Daniels Executive Ph.D.—the first and only program of its kind in the western United States—will provide students with the necessary skillset to disseminate and conduct high quality cross-disciplinary research that addresses the challenges faced by modern-day organizations. The three-year program will operate within a framework of leadership, globalization, ethics and innovation. As well, students all over the world can earn the degree which is offered in a blended format with on campus immersions to enable strong student-faculty interactions.

In the first year of the program, students work in a small cohort and will build a quantitative and qualitative skillset while being exposed a breadth of cutting-edge cross-disciplinary research grounded in theory. In the second year, students work directly with faculty to execute a research project from thought to finish. The final year of the program will conclude with students working closely with their committees to make significant contributions to their fields in the form of action-oriented, research-based dissertations.

Business leaders with a passion for lifelong learning must no longer end their higher education with an MBA. The development of the Executive Ph.D. allows today’s business leaders to attain both professional and academic success at the highest possible level.

Lisa M. Victoravich is an Associate Dean and Program Director of the Executive PhD Program. She also serves as the Director of Undergraduate Programs and an Associate Professor in the School of Accountancy. Prior to joining the University of Denver, Lisa received her PhD at Florida State University. She previously worked as a CPA for Ernst & Young in the Assurance Services Practice.