Organizational Leadership PhD Programs

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. Further on, a PhD in Organizational Leadership candidate tackles 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.

Making Do With a PhD in Leadership

Organizational Leadership PhD 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. Programs provide professional development for individuals who want to lead educational institutions, human services organizations and corporations.

Globalization, technological advances, and changes in the economy all contribute to the need for business professionals to continually develop their leadership skills. Doctorate in leadership and management programs may be one way to develop new knowledge, while earning a credential displaying this expertise.

There are a variety of educational organizations, including elementary, secondary and higher education as well as adult education where a graduate might work. Other possibilities could include leadership roles in healthcare administration, corporate administration, human services and non-profit administration. Some job titles might include Principal, Superintendent, Dean, Professor at a university or a School headmaster.

What Is Organizational Development?

Organizational development is a specialized area of managment specifically geared toward strategic organizational change. As such, PhD in Organizational Development programs are usually designed to prepare students to be managers who can adapt to and lead change. Courses may focus on systems thinking and organizational strategy, as well as how to lead and manage large-scale transformation. They often cover performance, employee motivation, and HR management. Contact schools to learn about specific course offerings.

Types of Doctor of Organizational Leadership Programs

Most doctorate of Organizational Leadership programs are designed so students can develop the skills and knowledge to teach, consult, or lead.

There are several types of academically equal Doctorate in 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.

Organizational Leadership Doctoral Programs & Degrees

Program NameDegree

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Development and Leadership


Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Behavior


Doctor of Philosophy in Business Adminstration degree with a specialization in Organizational Leadership


Doctor of Strategic Leadership


Doctor of Philosophy in Strategy and Innovation


Doctor of Management in Executive Leadership


Doctor of Business Administration in Organizational Leadership


Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership


PhD in Organizational Leadership

Most PhD in Leadership programs are grounded in research and mastery of advanced theory. 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

Often designed for students who wish to become scholars, or managers who want to become better leaders in management, the first part of the Leadership PhD is often devoted to rigorous coursework. Classes 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.

PhD in Organizational Leadership General Courses:

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

PhD in Organizational Behavior

A PhD in Organizational Behavior is designed for the student who wants to acquire people management skills needed in today’s complex organizations. The focus is on leadership in teams, groups, and organizations. An example course might cover both the process and structure of management and often involve exercises and simulations that practice the skills needed to succeed as a manager. It prepares students for careers as researchers and teachers. Program graduates will be comfortable working either in disciplinary departments or in professional schools.

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.

A 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. Finally, doctoral research courses help students write, research, and present a 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.


For chief executives, those with an advanced degree and extensive managerial experience will have the best job prospects.i

EdD in Organizational Leadership

This Doctorate in Organizational Leadership degree is designed for the leader practitioner in an educational setting. In some universities, it is a 54-credit, four-year program beyond the Master’s degree.

Doctor of Education 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 educational 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.

PhD Organizational Leadership Salary

Professionals with an Ed.D degree who may work in post-secondary higher education institutions might expect to earn between $64,414 and $77,908 annually. Some professionals will use their degree to lead large organizations as a CEO. Individuals that pursue principal or superintendent roles might earn between $92,020 and $133,565. (source:

PhD in Organizational Leadership Programs

Many regionally accredited universities offer traditional and online PhD Organizational Leadership programs. This stamp of approval usually indicates that an institution meets or exceeds standards for the quality of faculty, curriculum, and student services.

Also, some individual programs may be professionally approved. The Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP) is one such accreditor.

To start your search, compare PhD Organizational Leadership programs below or use the menu to refine your results. Then read program descriptions to see whether the PhD, DBA, or DM degree in leadership is your best option. Contact schools directly!

For more information or guidance about starting a doctorate career, please contact us by filling out the contact form below.