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Earning an on-campus or online doctorate in leadership prepares professionals for rewarding careers in leadership roles. A career in organizational leadership spans a variety of work settings across sectors. Organizational leaders are responsible for strategy development and talent management to ensure the organization meets short-term tasks and long-term objectives. Leadership professionals work alongside upper management to develop the strategies needed to meet defined business goals.  

The curriculum for online PhD programs in Leadership varies from school to school – and often, the curriculum varies from student to student. But note that candidates learn/hone the skills required to lead an organization or company as a leadership professional. Most programs include an experiential component in the form of an externship or fellowship.

These terminal degree programs will include certain featured core coursework but allow students to focus on an area of interest related to this leadership degree, something that is applicable to the student’s career objectives. In addition, doctoral students are typically required to submit a dissertation that focuses on a relevant leadership concept. A dissertation includes original research and usually a formal presentation of the degree candidate’s findings.

Most online PhD programs in Leadership take somewhere from 3 to 5 years – depending on the degree candidate’s time commitment. Concentrations may include –

  • Organizational Design
  • Educational Law and Finance
  • Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations
  • Collaborative Leadership and Partnership
  • Leadership Theory and Practice

Take the time you need before deciding on the program you wish to attend because the selected program largely depends on your education and career objectives.

The University of Arizona Forbes School of Business & Technology offers a PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership that ranks among the most innovative of online PhD programs in Leadership in the marketplace. UA’s Doctorate of Leadership online program requires 62 credit units, of which 30 may be transferred and applied if eligible. This doctoral program offers a concentration in Standard Organizational Development & Leadership. Note there are several in-residence workshops required, and students must maintain a cumulative 3.0 GPA. Core classes include leading organizational change and human resources business strategy.

The Global Campus within the University of Arizona (which was formerly known as Ashford University) was established as an online school in 2020. The global campus, it is noted, differs from the University of Arizona’s online program. The Forbes School serves more than 6,200 students each year – all online.

PhD in Organizational Leadership

Johnson University offers a PhD in Leadership Studies that requires JU students to complete a minimum of 60-semester credits from Johnson University’s interdisciplinary curriculum. Johnson University’s Doctorate of Leadership online program offers concentrations in the Philosophy of leadership, Educational Leadership, Missional Leadership, Organizational Leadership, Ministry Leadership, and Theology of Leadership. recognizes Johnson University’s online PhD programs in Leadership among the leading program in the nation. Featured classes include critical inquiry, organization theory & design, or leadership & personal development.

Johnson University operates as a Christian institution of higher education that is located in rural Kimberlin Heights – in eastern Tennessee. Founded in the 1890s, Johnson University now also operates an online platform and satellite facility in Kissimmee, Florida, all of which serves 820 students each year. The Kimberlin Heights campus is located along the French Broad River, just north of where the Tennessee River begins.

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies

Thomas Edison State University offers a Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Organizational Leadership that can be completed entirely online – with one-to-one online mentoring included. Thomas Edison State University’s Doctorate of Leadership online program requires 48 credits, of which six may be transferred, if eligible. Most students enrolled in Thomas Edison State University’s online doctorate in leadership finish in under 32 credits, including classes in empirical entrepreneurship. Law, ethics, & global society, and organizational consulting, to name a few.

Thomas Edison State University (TESU), located in the Garden State’s capital city of Trenton, was founded in the early 1970s as a state college. The school’s urban campus and distance-learning platform serve approximately 17,000 students each year. TESU is organized into five schools/colleges offering programs in arts/sciences, STEM, business, nursing, and public service.

Doctor of Business Administration - Organizational Leadership

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a PhD in Organizational Leadership that requires students to complete a minimum of 60-semester units – all online with low residency requirements. Featured classes for Indiana Wesleyan University’s online Doctorate in Leadership program include statistical research design, stewardship, ethics & leadership, advanced global leadership, and organizational theory & design, plus a dissertation in leadership, to name a few. This Doctorate of Leadership online program can be completed in only 48 months, with one July session intensive required to graduate.

Established in the 1920s as a private evangelical institution of higher education known as Marion College, Indiana Wesleyan University now operates a seminary and more than a dozen educational facilities in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana. More than 13,550 students attend classes on all campuses, with about 3,000 students attending classes in Marion.

Ph.D. - Organizational Leadership

Regent University offers a Doctorate of Leadership online (Ph.D.) program in Organizational Leadership that is ranked among the leading Virginia online PhD programs in Leadership. Regent University’s Doctor of Philosophy degree program offers degree candidates academic concentrations in organizational leadership, ecclesial leadership, individualized studies, entrepreneurial leadership, and human resource development. Feature classes for Regent’s Ph.D. program include advanced analysis, exegetical research methods, group behavior, and contemporary perspectives in organizational leadership theory, plus dissertation coursework and presentation.

Regent University was founded in the 1970s as the Christian Broadcasting Network – with a name change in 1990. More than 10,250 students attend classes offered on the Virginia Beach location and online. The seventy-acre campus has been previously recognized to be among the most beautiful campuses in the southern United States. Regent’s first classes were offered to 77 students in Chesapeake in rented classroom space.

PhD Organizational Leadership

Is a Doctorate in Leadership Worth It?

When a student takes a serious look at the time, effort, and expense of earning an on-campus or online doctorate in leadership, the analysis must not omit some thought to help determine if the degree is worth it – based on your interests, experience, and future goals.

A Doctorate of Leadership online program is a smart choice if you are a professional looking to advance your career, with a secondary goal to grow personally and professionally.

Professional leaders tend to have similar qualities – especially that of an entrepreneurial mindset – a mentality and approach that inspires and leads to innovation. Many professionals who hold an online doctorate in leadership find careers in the engaging area of training and development – which is available in most industries.

Earning an online doctorate in leadership opens up job opportunities in a multitude of sectors, some of which include –

  • Organizational Design & Work Flow – explores the aspects of procedural workflow to create strategic advantages.
  • Nonprofit Strategic Management – explores viable strategic practices to monitor, sustain, and improve organizational growth & efficiency.
  • Higher Education in Law & Finance – explores contemporary legal and financial issues in coursework for schools and the primary, secondary and postsecondary levels. Classes include forecasting and corporate financial analysis in search of innovative financial solutions that affect positive change.
  • The Theory & Practice of Leadership Theory – explores the qualities that define an effective leader independent of the organization or sector. Student research and evaluate leadership practices against the theory.
  • Collaborative Leadership Across Organizational Settings – explores the managerial/collaborative techniques and philosophical theories that best manage partnerships and other multiple ownership entities. Degree candidates study the theories of organizational stewardship, working as a team member – but from a leadership perspective.

Why Should I Get My Leadership Doctorate Online?

Students and other working professionals with an interest in a high-level leadership career should seriously consider the many quality Doctorate in Leadership online or campus-based programs now available. Doctoral programs in leadership are offered with flexible formats designed to meet the needs of working professionals. Many schools offer online PhD programs in Leadership with a low-residency intensive, while others may be available entirely online, depending on the doctoral specialty selected.

Doctoral leadership degrees are versatile as well – offering a wide variety of industries and organizations in which the degree is in high demand. Leadership degrees create entrepreneurs who possess a competitive advantage, that is, an opportunity to affect change with a company, agency, or organization.

A leadership doctorate earned online or on-campus prepares professionals with the tools to effectively implement change – using motivational techniques and leveraging managerial strategies & tools. An organizational leader is responsible for helping to solve organizational challenges amid changing market demands by appropriately allocating company resources and managing available talent. With expertise in leadership theory and advanced research in change management, a doctorate in leadership degree can help open doors to many leadership positions.

Graduates with a Ph.D. in organizational leadership can pursue in-demand roles, such as training and development manager, among other leadership roles, which are discussed below.

What Can I Do with a Doctorate in Leadership?

Graduates who hold a Doctorate in Leadership online degree will find rewarding career options in upper-level management – across economic sectors and industries. Ultimately, students decide the direction and focus of their doctoral work, which may lead to these careers like the following –

Organization Management

Online PhD programs in Leadership provide graduates the managerial skills required to lead many different types of businesses and organizations – independent of their status as a public, nonprofit or private organization. Organizational management leaders are adept and influencing teams and employees to improve operations and the efficiency of the company’s resources. Leadership professionals are experts in implementing change to what is typically a change-resistant organization or person.

Human Resource Management

Organizational leadership programs feature coursework in the management of employees as well as other human resource tasks. Human resource leaders have the skills to manage employee recruitment, development, and other tasks for keeping the workforce productive and satisfied.

Training & Development

Organizational leaders are expert motivators with excellent skills in empowering others to reach for company objectives. Organizational leaders also specialize in the education of adult learners – working as lecturers, motivational speakers, educators, or instructional designers, to name a few. Leadership professionals may work as consultants for different firms or lead a department within a corporation.

Higher Education

Online PhD programs in Leadership prepare graduates for careers in postsecondary and other higher education institutions. Doctoral degree holders may work in the development, planning & implementation of postsecondary degree programs or an administrative role, such as a provost, dean, or director. These degrees also prepare grads for professorship positions teaching classes in leadership, basic adult ed, or ESL, to name a few.

How Much Can I Make with a Doctorate in Leadership?

A Doctorate in Leadership online degree program offers professionals a wide variety of career directions – across industries. It is for this reason salaries and compensation packages for leadership professionals at the doctorate level vary. The following represents a cross-section of the many careers for those who hold a Doctorate in Leadership, with data extracted from the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook –


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