PhD & Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs

What is a PhD in Organizational Leadership?

The PhD in Organizational Leadership degree is a research-based, terminal degree in business and management, ideal for managers or supervisors who are interested in becoming better organizational leaders.

The degree usually includes specific academic requirements such as statistics, psychology or organizational behavior. Students may start off with coursework in systems design, strategy, technology, and ethics.

A PhD Organizational Leadership candidate may be required to select an issue for independent research.This project is usually based on the student’s program emphasis. To that end, many universities offer unique areas of study. Risk management, educational leadership, servant leadership, and business leadership are a few examples.

Doctorate Organizational Leadership Degrees

Why Consider a PhD Organizational Leadership Program?

PhD organizational Leadership programs may help students decide on and form policies that could help a company in the private or public sector meet its goals. At the executive level, leaders are planners, directors, and coordinators. They not only analyze issues, but also may help to solve some of the crucial concerns of their enterprise. Globalization, technological advances, and changes in the economy all contribute to the need for business professionals to continually develop their leadership skills. 

What Is Organizational Development?

A PhD in Organizational Development program may help students to develop expertise in a specialized area of management—one that is specifically geared toward strategic organizational change. It is usually designed to prepare students to be managers who can adapt to and lead change. As a result, courses may focus on systems thinking and organizational strategy, as well as how to lead and manage large-scale transformation. Courses often cover performance, employee motivation, and HR management.


For chief executives, those with an advanced degree and extensive managerial experience will have the best job prospects (According to

Popular Organizational Leadership Doctorate Programs

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Doctor of EducationUniversity of La VerneEdD
Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership Gardner-Webb UniversityN/A
Leadership StudiesNorth Carolina A&T State UniversityPhD
Organizational Learning and LeadershipBarry UniversityPhD
Management, Doctoral ProgramFlorida State UniversityPhD
Applied Economics and Management - DoctorateCornell UniversityPhD
Leadership Development ProgramsUniversity of PittsburghPhD
Doctor of Business Administration - Organizational Leadership Northcentral UniversityDBA
Ed.D in Organizational Leadership: K-12 Leadership (Qualitative Research)Grand Canyon UniversityEdD
Master of Science - DNP Executive LeaderPurdue University GlobalN/A
Ph.D. Organizational LeadershipThe Chicago School of Professional PsychologyPhD
Ph.D. in Organizational LeadershipRegent UniversityPhD
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Types of Doctorate Organizational Leadership Programs

Most PhD Organizational Leadership programs are designed so students develop the skills and knowledge to teach, consult, or lead. There are several types of academically equal PhD Organizational Leadership Programs to choose from. Some programs take a management or business point of view. Others may draw more from fields such as education and psychology. The variance is often due to the university’s mission and which departments house the Leadership PhD.

PhD in Organizational Leadership

In some universities, a full-time student might complete their PhD in Organizational Leadership within three years. This may equal roughly 60 credits, although you can expect that program lengths and credits will vary. Applicants may be required to have some leadership experience along with a masters degree from an accredited university.

Organizational Leadership PhD Courses

Most PhD in Leadership programs are grounded in research and mastery of advanced theory. Often designed for students who wish to become scholars, or managers who want to become better leaders, the first part of the PhD is often devoted to rigorous coursework. These may cover leadership theory, personal growth, interpersonal dynamics and worldview. In their seminars, students may develop the skills to put these issues into practice through engagement with other leaders and faculty. Also, students may take courses that help them build survey and research skills to prepare for data collection and analysis. At a glance, some general courses that may be offered in a Leadership PhD might include the ones listed as follows.

  • Advanced global leadership
  • Innovation and entrepreneurship
  • Statistical research design
  • Adult Learning
  • Team-building
  • Strategic change management
  • Psychological theories of motivation
  • Organizational interventions

Doctor of Management- Executive Leadership

The Doctor of Management (DM) is the terminal degree for management professionals. Applicants to some programs may have a Master of Science in Management or MBA. The DM degree program may prepare students to think and act strategically. Also, it may help to enhance their abilities to make a positive impact in their chosen area of management expertise.

Doctor of Management in Leadership Courses

In some universities, students in a DM degree program may be required to complete about 96 credits. Some of these may be core courses that cover topics such as management theory and principles of consulting, as well as how to apply strategy to decisions and think through scenarios. Other courses are likely to focus on self-insight, how to lead change, and advanced career strategies. The doctoral research courses help students write, research, and present their contribution to a chosen area of management expertise.

Doctor of Business Administration: Organizational Leadership

The Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Organizational Leadership is a top-level, applied-research degree in business. In some schools, a DBA is a 60-credit program that a full-time student might complete in over two years.

Doctorate in Leadership Courses

One of the hallmarks of a DBA degree is its format. Students usually take a foundation course first. This may cover topics such as crisis management, innovation, disruptive technology, and time management. Then in their core courses, students might explore marketing, finance, operations, and information systems. Aside from that, students take seminars in their major. For example, they might explore topics such as change management and sustainability. These often help build key leadership skills as well as the ability to make complex decisions.

Finally, research and doctoral studies courses are oriented to prepare students with solid written skills for their dissertation. This final project is one where students explore a business challenge and apply research and strategy to help determine best practices for its resolution.

EdD in Organizational Leadership

A Doctorate in Organizational Leadership degree is designed for the leader practitioner. In some universities, it is a 54-credit, four-year program beyond the Master's degree.

Doctor of Organizational Leadership Courses

Most often, the EdD in Organizational Leadership program format starts students off with core courses. These may focus on the integrity of leadership. For instance, they could highlight the ethical aspect of decisions, and stress a “know thyself” point of view. Other courses may focus on how to coach, mentor, and develop new leaders within organizations. They may also focus on how to engage communities and stakeholders with strong communication skills.

In addition to the core courses, programs might embed leadership habits and mindsets. These might help students develop confidence and initiative. The final phase of the EdD degree is usually a student-identified independent, action research project. In it, candidates typically identify a complex issue and develop a meaningful solution to it through inquiry and measurement. 

Top States for Employment: General and Operations Managers
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York18,820$84,620

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: General and Operations Managers
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT$169,5809,050
Trenton, NJ$150,9102,420
New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA$141,460150,300
Midland, TX$140,7201,970
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV$138,16070,000

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top 53 Graduate Schools with PhD in Organizational Leadership Programs

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