Concordia University Wisconsin announces two Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programs, the first PhD offerings in the university’s history. Learners may apply to CUW to earn a PhD in either Business Administration or Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI).

The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) sent word late last week of CUW’s accreditation approval, following a rigorous review of application materials that included an on-campus site visit in December 2023. The HLC accreditation process guarantees the program, faculty, and curriculum meet a high standard of excellence and academic rigor. Concordia’s exemplary faculty, its history of providing individualized student care, and its commitment to Christ-centered pedagogy ensure those who enroll will receive an educational experience that far surpasses other programs.  

“Our HLC review team shared that our carefully crafted dissertation process stood out as a highlight of these programs,” said Vice President for Academics Leah Dvorak, PhD. “Students are well supported by faculty throughout every step of the dissertation.  They know exactly where they are, where they need to go, and what they need to do.  In addition, every student whom the HLC interviewed could describe CUW’s mission and could explain how that mission is woven into the fabric of our academic programs.”

The PhD distinctive

A Concordia PhD requires an elite level of scholarship due to the intensive research focus of the programs. The PhD is for people who want to be experts and trendsetters in their field. Research conducted by a PhD candidate focuses on generating new knowledge, often resulting in novel theories and original contributions to the field. As such, a PhD program is ideal for aspiring professors or individuals looking to pursue careers in high-level research fields.   

The Business Administration PhD is housed in Concordia’s Batterman School of Business, while the LICI PhD is housed in the School of Education. Each academic school also offers a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) and a Doctorate of Education in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI EdD), respectively. While similar to the new PhD offerings in that they require high-level scholarship, the DBA and EdD programs focus on the implementation and application of already-existing research and theories. A DBA or EdD candidate’s research is often practical and evidence-based, designed to address pressing challenges faced by companies or organizations. In short, the EdD and DBA programs serve learners who want to be experts and trend-implementers.

An overview of CUW’s PhD programs

The LICI and business PhDs build on the success of already-existing doctoral programs.

PhD in Business Administration

  • 60 credits, including dissertation.
  • Online program with two 3-day, on-campus residency requirements and optional Zoom meetings along the way.
  • Research advisor assigned in the first month of the program.
  • All-but-dissertation completion plan transfer option for students who wish to complete a PhD started at another institution.


  • 60 credits, including the dissertation and four colloquium (seminar) courses:
    • “The Christian Leader Journey Colloquium”  
    • “360 Thinking and Analysis Colloquium: Thinking Critically About Research”
    • “Education and Learning Colloquium”
    • “Psychology and Human Behavior Colloquium”
  • Online program with two brief residencies on CUW’s campus

Terminal degrees at CUW

The PhD additions now bring CUW’s terminal degree total to eight. Altogether, the Mequon campus offers doctoral degrees in the following areas:

  • Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
  • Doctorate of Education in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI EdD)
  • Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)
  • Entry-level Doctor of Occupational Therapy (OTD)
  • Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD)
  • Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration (PhD in Business)
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI PhD)

Want in?

Those interested in pursuing their PhD at CUW can apply immediately for the possibility of beginning courses already this summer. Cohorts will launch each summer and spring.