Best Online PhD in Organizational Leadership

Organizational Leadership Doctorate Programs: Overview

A PhD in organizational leadership online program offers a course of study that highlights leadership theory, strategy, technology, ethics, and communication.

Through various areas of emphasis, students may develop the skills and expertise to lead organizations and teams, to consult, or to teach. Some students might choose to tailor their degree so it aligns with current managerial needs such as risk and change management. Programs may also highlight educational leadership, servant leadership, or business leadership.

online phd in organization leadershipwritten by Rana Waxman

Why Consider a PhD Leadership Online Program?

Students who pursue their PhD leadership online are often busy adults, managers, and supervisors who seek career advancement. Most programs answer questions such as, “What are the qualities of a good leader?” or “How can I lead more effectively?” These are great questions to ask if you want to be a more effective manager, director, supervisor, executive, or administrator. And, exploring these issues through an online PhD Organizational Leadership program often means less disruption to a current professional life.

Explore Leadership from Various Points of View

While each PhD leadership online program may explore leadership from a distinct point of view (psychology, business, education, spirituality), the goal is often the same. To foster well-rounded leaders who are prepared to head teams and organizations. These leaders will also need to think strategically and help their enterprise meet its objectives.

Take PhD in Leadership Online Courses

No two PhD Leadership online programs are the same. This means that a school's syllabus may be a great way for you to make up your mind on where to pursue your degree. Below is a glance into some general courses that may be offered in a PhD in Organizational Leadership Track.

  • Leadership Theory
  • Group Behavior
  • Organizational Culture
  • Personal Authenticity
  • Governance and Ethics
  • Employee and Team Motivators
  • Global Perspectives
  • Performance Management
  • How to Implement Change in Organizations

Schedule Flexibility

Some PhD in Leadership online programs offer a great deal of flexibility. Students often complete their coursework on their own timetable. Beyond the self-paced set-up, students might choose the number of courses they want to complete per quarter or semester.

Network with Other Leaders

It is not uncommon for online doctoral programs in organizational leadership programs to include brief residencies. In these intensives, sometimes held on weekends, students interact, receive feedback, and share insights with faculty and classmates. These sessions may help candidates further develop their research plans.

So, while the online coursework lays the theoretical basis, the in-person seminar may help keep students on track in their program. Online students may be able to opt for virtual residencies in some cases as well.

Popular Schools with Online Organizational Leadership Doctorate Degrees

ProgramInstitutionDegree Awarded
Doctor of Education in LeadershipCity University of SeattleN/A
Doctor of Education in Organizational LeadershipCalifornia Coast UniversityN/A
PhD in Leadership and ChangeAntioch UniversityPhD
Ph.D. Organizational SystemsSaybrook UniversityPhD
LeadershipTHIERRY Graduate School of Leadership, ThePhD
Management and Human BehaviorCalifornia Pacific UniversityPhD
Doctor of ManagementUniversity of Maryland Global CampusPhD
Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational LeadershipNational UniversityPhD
PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership Standard SpecializationThe University of Arizona Global CampusN/A
Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership: Behavioral Health (Quantitative Research)Grand Canyon UniversityN/A
Master of Science - DNP Executive LeaderPurdue GlobalN/A
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Types of Doctorate Degrees in Leadership and Management

Many of the PhD leadership programs entail about 60 course credits. Full-time students, may be able to complete these requirements in about three years. That said, program lengths, courses, and credits vary between graduate schools. To that end, the PhD is one of several academically equivalent doctorate in Leadership and Management degrees. Some programs incorporate more psychology and education courses while others emphasize business administration and management. Most programs require future students to have a masters degree (e.g. Master of Science in Organizational Leadership) and a certain amount of work experience. But, each program may appeal to learners from different industries and academic backgrounds.

Online DBA in Organizational Leadership

The online Doctor of Business Administration in Leadership is an applied research degree in business administration. Often, the DBA degree leads students through core business courses that typically cover organizational theory, information systems, marketing, fiscal leadership, and operations. Also, an emphasis is often placed on business strategy such as how to innovate or stay competitive.

Students also may take part in seminars. These might cover change management and sustainability. Other Doctor of Leadership courses may address applied business analysis research to prepare students for their dissertation.

Online Doctor of Management in Executive Leadership

The online Doctor of Management (DM) degree in Executive Leadership is often built around core leadership criteria through core courses. These may span topics such as strategic change and the management of individuals and teams. It may also cover how to help an organization accomplish its goals. In addition to tools for team building and networking, students may also acquire more proficiency in human resources, finance, and IT. Like the DBA degree, students in online DM degree programs prepare an independent research project. Usually, the goal is to apply theory and research to a specific issue in leadership to bring light, solve a problem, or to prove a point.

Online PhD in Business Management

The online PhD in Business Management is a research-focused degree in management and leadership. Students in this type of program may explore advanced management theory, business principles, ethics, economics, and marketing. Also, they may learn current best practices for strategic management.

For the leadership track, courses usually address theory and practice in the global environment as well as leadership as personal practice and systems thinking. Aside from a comprehensive exam that tests their knowledge, a dissertation is required.

Online PhD in Organizational Systems

The online PhD in Organizational Systems is a research-based degree that focuses on systems design and transformation plus subjects like management, leadership development, and organizational learning. A PhD in Organizational Systems may put the spotlight on social justice and human rights.

Like other doctorate degrees in leadership, it may help students develop the skills to manage organizations, work with complex issues, and lead a team in a time of transition. 

Online PhD in Organizational Development

The online PhD in Organizational Development and Leadership is a research degree for managers. This area of study often dives into research and measurement (such as performance, dynamics, change).

Careers with a PhD in Leadership

An online PhD in Leadership may prepare graduates to seek upward mobility in their current career or to transition into a new venture. Per the BLS, top executives are employed in nearly every industry.

The median annual wage, according to The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for chief executives was $181,210 in May 2016. Some associated career paths include Chief Nursing Officer, Operations Vice President, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO), according to ONet.

Top States for Employment: Chief Executives
StateEmploymentAnnual Mean Wage
New York2,830$120,610

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Top Salary Metro Areas in the United States: Chief Executives
Metro AreaAnnual Mean SalaryEmployment
Providence-Warwick, RI-MA$207,440500
Stockton-Lodi, CA$207,150280
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach, FL$207,090Not Reported
Manchester, NH$206,690140
Winston-Salem, NC$206,580300

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Accredited Online PhD Organizational Leadership Programs

Regionally accredited traditional and online universities offer PhD Organizational Leadership online degrees. Also, some individual programs may be accredited by a professional accreditor.

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) is one of the accrediting agencies. Accreditation is a stamp of approval, and it may speak to whether an institution meets or exceeds standards for quality of faculty, curriculum, and student services.

Top 46 Online Graduate Schools with Online PhD in Organizational Leadership Programs 

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