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Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership 2021

Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership 2021

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An online doctorate in organizational leadership prepares graduates to effectively lead and implement change in organizations by leveraging various management, motivational, and technological tools and strategies.

Organizational leaders effectively react to organizational challenges, plan interventions, manage talent, and allocate company resources. An online Ph.D. in organizational leadership gives students advanced expertise in areas like learning theory, change management, leadership theory, and research.

Graduates with a Ph.D. in organizational leadership can pursue in-demand roles, such as training and development manager. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for training and development managers to increase by 8% from 2018-2028.

This guide ranks the best online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs. We also cover important information for prospective students, such as common courses and potential careers and salaries for graduates.

What Is an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Degree?

Online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs explore the research methodologies, psychological theories, and sociological theories that professionals use to select the best strategies for helping companies succeed. Students develop a global world view, strategies for communicating with diverse populations, ethical practices, and a socially just mindset.

An online Ph.D. in leadership expands upon students' abilities to delegate tasks, challenge the status quo, promote creative thinking, and stimulate growth in employees. The best candidates for an organizational leadership doctorate have several years of experience and a master's degree in a related field.

Choosing an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program

When researching the best online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs, students should consider factors like cost, program length, and on-campus requirements to ensure they choose the right program for their needs.

What Else Can I Expect From an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program?

A Ph.D. in organizational leadership online is an interdisciplinary degree that emphasizes concepts in psychology and sociology. Students can often tailor the degree to their interests and goals through specializations in areas like human diversity and ethics, interpersonal dynamics, and research strategies.

Organizational Leadership Curriculum

  • Leadership Theories: This course explores modern and historical leadership theories and their applications to the public and private sectors to help students hone their leadership styles. Topics may include motivation science, behavioral approaches to leadership, and leadership ethics. Students typically examine leadership techniques in multiple work environments using case studies.
  • Business Ethics: This course focuses on how managers consider ethics and values when making business decisions. Students learn how to analyze moral problems in business, apply appropriate ethical principles to business decisions, and identify exemplary actions. They also learn how to develop an enterprise perspective and critically assess personal ethics.
  • Inquiry Methods: Students earning an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership often take inquiry methods courses to develop advanced strategies for data collection and analysis. They learn how to establish connections between research questions and data analysis methods, design and implement research projects, and apply methods of empirical data from incumbents or documents.

Organizational Leadership Careers

An online Ph.D. in leadership is an interdisciplinary degree that prepares graduates for leadership positions across multiple industries. The following list outlines several popular careers and potential salaries for graduates who hold an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership.

Top Executives

Median Salary: $104,690 Projected Job Growth: 4%


Top executives develop company-wide strategies that help an organization meet its goals. Typical duties include setting the tone for an organization's company culture, developing policies and procedures, managing activities that influence products or services, and consulting with other managers or board members. Top executives also negotiate contracts and analyze financial data.

Organizations may consider candidates with a bachelor's degree and extensive experience, but the most competitive applicants hold an advanced degree and extensive professional experience.

Training and Development Managers

Median Salary: $113,350 Projected Job Growth: 7%


Training and development managers create innovative ways to improve the skills and knowledge of employees. They may oversee training sessions, assess employee training needs, and manage development budgets. Training and development managers might also select training materials from vendors and evaluate the effectiveness of programs.

Employers typically look for candidates with at least a bachelor's degree and relevant professional experience. Applicants with a Ph.D. in organizational leadership and professional experience have an advantage in this competitive job market.

Administrative Services Managers

Median Salary: $96,940 Projected Job Growth: 6%


Administrative services managers plan, coordinate, and execute initiatives that lead to organizational efficiency. These professionals may oversee administrative staff, create departmental deadlines and goals, suggest strategies for improving operations, and monitor facilities to maintain compliance with organizational policies.

While employer requirements vary by organization, applicants typically need at least a bachelor's degree and professional experience. Candidates with an advanced degree have a competitive edge in the job market.

Organizational Leadership Professional Organizations

Online Ph.D. in organizational leadership students and graduates can take advantage of professional organizations. Many organizations offer benefits such as professional development, networking, and continuing education opportunities. The following list outlines several popular organizations for organizational leadership professionals.

  • Organization Development Network Established in 1968, the OD Network offers a global community of leaders who share resources, including best practices in the field. Members include corporate consultants, entrepreneurs, and professionals in academia. Members have access to conference discounts, digital journals, job boards, and volunteer opportunities.
  • National Management Association NMA emphasizes leadership excellence. Core principles include organizational integrity, inspiring company-wide managerial responsibility, and commitment to civic responsibility. NMA serves leaders in multiple industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, government, communications, and utilities.
  • American Leadership Development Association ALDA is dedicated to the improvement of leadership in professional environments and society. The organization develops innovative methodologies, practices, and solutions for modern challenges. Members have access to a global network, a magazine, digital resources, and networking opportunities.

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

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Gonzaga University 

Spokane, WA Apply Now

About this school

A private Catholic university, Gonzaga offers an online doctoral program in leadership studies based on the Jesuit tradition of educating the whole person. The program develops working professionals in business, healthcare, education, law enforcement, and government. The program focuses on three leadership dimensions: the leader as a person, the leader in organizational systems, and the leader in global systems.

Gonzaga also offers an online doctor of educational leadership, with in-person courses required during the summer. The program focuses on three main areas: preschool to grade 12 leadership, educational leadership among Indigenous populations, and leadership in Catholic schools.

Both programs require previous professional working experience and a master's degree from a regionally accredited university.

Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
46%
Online Enrollment
29%

Governors State University 

University Park, IL Apply Now

About this school

Located 30 miles south of Chicago, GSU offers an online doctor of education in interdisciplinary leadership for those seeking advanced leadership roles in education.

Doctoral candidates choose from three concentrations: higher education, not-for-profit/social entrepreneurship, or superintendent. Completing the doctoral program requires successfully delivering a capstone dissertation project and passing written and oral examinations.

Admission into the superintendent concentration requires students to hold a master's degree in educational administration or principalship. Other admissions requirements include a 3.0 cumulative GPA from a completed master's degree and a combined GRE verbal and quantitative score of 1000, with a 4.0 on the analytical writing section.

Percent Receiving Loans
60%
Online Enrollment
48%

Indiana Institute of Technology 

Fort Wayne, IN Apply Now

About this school

Indiana Tech's online PhD in global leadership provides students with a holistic understanding of global leadership and demonstrates values such as responsibility and ethical consciousness. Students must complete a minimum of 60 credits, including a research core of 18 credits and a global leadership core of 18 credits.

Students choose from one of two specialization options: organizational management or higher education administration. The degree program culminates with an original dissertation investigating a significant problem in the student's area of specialization.

Strong applicants must possess applied leadership practice and evidence of global experience or background. Students must also attend campus residency weekends in Fort Wayne once per year.

Graduation Rate
36%
Percent Receiving Loans
67%
Online Enrollment
35%

Johnson University 

Knoxville, TN Apply Now

About this school

A private Christian university founded in 1893, JU offers an interdisciplinary PhD in leadership studies. The program focuses on the biblical, theological, and ethical foundations of leadership. Specialization tracks include educational leadership, organizational leadership, missional leadership, or philosophy and theology of leadership.

Courses include leadership studies and theory, applied ethics, and an introduction to global studies. Students complete a candidacy paper and then conclude the program with a dissertation and defense.

Doctoral students may participate in optional research summits that offer the chance for face-to-face interaction and networking. Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited institution.

Graduation Rate
63%
Percent Receiving Loans
59%
Online Enrollment
36%

Northcentral University 

San Diego, CA Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1996, NCU offers a PhD in organizational leadership. Students learn the major theories of the leadership field while contributing research to the body of leadership knowledge. Successful graduates can assess an organization's potential for change and formulate strategies for solving modern-day organizational issues.

NCU also offers a doctor of philosophy in education in organizational leadership, which focuses on education, and a doctor of philosophy in business administration, which focuses on developing leaders in the business world.

Applicants must hold a master's degree from an accredited institution. The 60-credit program features start dates every Monday.

Percent Receiving Loans
34%
Online Enrollment
100%

Nova Southeastern University 

Fort Lauderdale, FL Apply Now

About this school

Founded in 1964, NSU offers an online doctor of education degree in organizational leadership. The program prepares graduates to serve in such roles as C-level executives, program directors, and sales team leaders.

Doctoral students that do not wish to complete a dissertation may complete a strategic research project instead. The research project requires students to identify a complex problem they wish to investigate and develop solutions over the course of two semesters.

Applicants must hold a master's degree with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 to gain admission. While coursework delivery takes place completely online, all students must attend one summer institute during their course of study.

Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
49%
Online Enrollment
49%

University of Southern California 

Los Angeles, CA Apply Now

About this school

Located in the heart of Los Angeles, USC offers an online doctor of education degree in organizational change and leadership. The curriculum revolves around three central themes: leadership, problem-solving, and reflection.

While coursework takes place completely online, doctoral students must attend an annual immersion weekend held on campus. The program culminates with a dissertation in practice that demonstrates the proper application of learned theories and techniques.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Applicants also must show a minimum of six years of proven leadership experience and demonstrate a high level of writing ability by completing an EdD writing assessment, GRE, or GMAT.

Graduation Rate
92%
Percent Receiving Loans
29%
Online Enrollment
18%

University of the Cumberlands 

Williamsburg, KY Apply Now

About this school

With a history dating back to 1888, UC now enrolls nearly 17,000 students annually in its on-campus and online programs.

UC's online PhD in executive leadership provides students with a pathway to obtain professional positions at the highest levels of academic leadership. The program develops students who understand how to implement organizational changes in numerous educational settings, including elementary schools, universities, and community organizations.

Each semester, students must attend one residency class day per month at one of UC's Williamsburg or Northern Kentucky campuses.

Admission requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 from the student's master's degree and any subsequent graduate study. Applicants must also hold a master's degree in a field related to their degree of doctoral study.

Graduation Rate
33%
Percent Receiving Loans
40%
Online Enrollment
85%
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End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs Ranking Guidelines

We chose these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program?

A Ph.D. in organizational leadership typically requires 45-60 credits and takes 3-5 years to complete.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership?

Graduates with a Ph.D in organizational leadership can pursue upper-level management and executive roles across multiple industries.

How Much Do You Make in Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership professionals can pursue a variety of lucrative roles, such as training and development manager. According to the BLS, these professionals make a median annual salary of $113,350.

What Is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership involves developing strategies for organizing and managing company talent in order to complete tasks and reach an organization's goals. Professionals in this field work closely with employees and upper management to ensure all needs are met.

What Is a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership?

A Ph.D in organizational leadership is a terminal degree that trains students to become subject matter experts in change management, talent management, and leadership.

Header Image Credit: katleho Seisa | Getty Images

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