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5 Best Online Doctorate in Leadership Programs

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Business & MBA Editor
Tammie Cagle is a writer, editor, entrepreneur, and certified academic life coach. Tammie received her bachelor’s degree from Texas A & M University-College Station and her MBA from Marylhurst University.

Earning an online doctorate in leadership prepares professionals for rewarding careers in organizational leadership roles. These degrees can be sought out online or on-campus. A career in organizational leadership spans a variety of work settings across sectors.

Organizational leaders are responsible for strategy development and talent management. They ensure the organization meets short-term tasks and long-term objectives. Leadership professionals work alongside upper business management. They develop the leadership strategies needed to meet defined business goals.

Online Doctorate in Leadership Programs

The curriculum for online PhD programs in Leadership varies from school to school. Often, the curriculum varies from student to student. Candidates hone the skills required to lead organizational systems as a leadership professional. Most online programs include an experiential component like an externship or fellowship.

These terminal business leadership degree programs will include certain featured global leadership core coursework. They allow students to focus on an area of interest related to this leadership degree. These areas is apply to the student’s career objectives.

Doctoral students may submit a dissertation that focuses on a relevant leadership knowledge and concepts. A dissertation includes original research. It is a formal presentation of the degree candidate’s findings.

Most online PhD programs in Leadership take somewhere from three to five years. This depends 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 Theories and Practice

Take the time you need before deciding on the leadership 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 leadership programs 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 online 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 organizational leadership program. The Forbes School serves more than 6,200 students each year – all online.

Degree Website

PhD in Organizational Leadership

Johnson University offers a PhD in Leadership Studies that requires JU students 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 graduate programs in Leadership among the leading program in the nation. Featured classes include critical inquiry, organization theory & design, or leadership & personal development.

This 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.

Degree Website

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 organizational 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.

Degree Website

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 online organizational leadership degree 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.

Degree Website

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 online courses for Regent’s Ph.D. leadership program include advanced analysis, exegetical research methods, group behavior, and contemporary perspectives in organizational management 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.

Degree Website

PhD Organizational Leadership

Is a Doctorate in Leadership Worth It?

Students should consider the time, effort, and expense of a doctorate in organizational leadership. Their analysis must not omit some thought to help determine if the terminal degree is worth it. It should center on their interests, experience, and future goals.

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership programs are for professionals looking to advance careers.
A secondary goal is to grow.

Professional leaders tend to have similar qualities – especially that of an entrepreneurial mindset. They also own a mentality and approach that inspires and leads to innovation. Many professionals hold an online doctorate in leadership. They find careers in training and organizational development. This is available in most industries.

Earning a doctorate in organizational leadership online degree opens up job opportunities in many sectors. Some of which include –

  • Organizational Design & Work FlowIt explores the aspects of procedural workflow to create strategic advantages.
  • Nonprofit Strategic ManagementIt explores viable strategic practices to track, sustain, and improve organizational learning, growth, and efficiency.
  • Higher Education in Law & FinanceIt explores contemporary legal and financial issues in coursework for schools. This includes the primary, secondary and postsecondary levels. Classes include many topics and stress critical thinking. Students study forecasting and corporate financial analysis that affect positive organizational change.
  • The Theory & Practice of Leadership – It explores the qualities that define an effective leader. This is independent of the organization or sector. Doctoral students conduct research and test leadership practices against the theory.
  • Collaborative Leadership Across Organizational SettingsIt explores managerial/collaborative techniques and philosophical theories. These components best manage partnerships and other ownership entities. Degree candidates study the theories of organizational stewardship. They work as a team member – but from a leadership perspective.

Why Should I Get My Leadership Doctorate Online?

Many students and other working professionals have interest in a high-level leadership career. They should consider a quality doctorate in organizational leadership program. There are campus-based and online programs now available.

Doctoral programs in organizational leadership have flexible formats. They meet the needs of working professionals. Many business schools offer online PhD programs in Leadership with a low-residency intensive. Others may be available online, depending on the doctoral specialty selected.

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

A leadership doctorate earned online or on-campus prepares professionals to affect organizational culture. It has the tools to lead change. This degree uses motivational techniques and leveraging managerial strategies and tools. An organizational leader helps to solve organizational challenges amid changing market demands.

They distribute company resources and manage available talent. This degree offers expertise in organizational 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. They can become training and development managers. There are also other leadership roles, discussed below.

What Can I Do with a Leadership Doctoral Degree?

Graduates holding a Doctorate in Leadership online degree find rewarding upper-level management careers. These roles span economic sectors and industries. Students decide the direction and focus of their doctoral work. This can lead to these careers like the following –

Organization Management

An online PhD program in Leadership provide graduates the managerial skills. These lead many different types of businesses and organizations. These roles are independent of their status as public, nonprofit or private organizations. Organizational management leaders are adept and influencing teams and employees. They improve operations and the efficiency of the company’s resources. Leadership professionals are experts in implementing change in a change-resistant organization or person.

Human Resource Management

Organizational leadership online programs feature coursework in the management of employees. They also deal with other human resource tasks. Human resource leaders have the skills to manage employee recruitment. They deal with development and other tasks keeping the workforce productive and satisfied.

Training & Leadership Development

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

Higher Education Administration

An Online PhD in Education Leadership program prepares graduates for the future. They work in careers in postsecondary and other higher education institutions. Doctoral degree holders work in the development, strategic planning & implementation of advanced degree programs. They could hold an administrative role, such as a provost, dean, or director. These education doctoral degrees prepare grads for professorship positions and higher education leadership. They may teach classes in strategic leadership, basic adult ed, or ESL.

How Much Can I Make with a Doctorate in Leadership?

A Doctorate in Leadership online degree program offers professionals many career directions. They work across industries. Salaries and compensation packages for leadership professionals at the doctorate level vary. The following represents a cross-section of careers for leadership doctoral degree holders. The data extracted from the BLS’s Occupational Outlook Handbook –

  • Chief Executive Officer – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $185,950.
  • Compensation & Benefits Manager – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $125,130.
  • Human Resources Manager – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $121,220.
  • Training & Development Manager – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $115,640.
  • Top Executives – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $107,680.
  • Administrative Services Manager – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $98,890.
  • Postsecondary Business Professor & Teacher – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $88,010.
  • Management Analysts/Consultants – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $87,660.
  • Operations Research Analyst – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $86,200.
  • Corporate Trainer & Development Specialist – median annual wage as of 5/2020 was $62,700.

Leadership Doctoral Program Honorable Mentions

  • University of the Cumberlands
  • Southeastern University
  • Concordia University Chicago
  • Nova Southeastern University
  • University of Southern California
  • Northcentral University
  • Eastern University
  • Colorado State University
  • Colorado Technical University


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Ready to start your journey?

Ready to start your journey?