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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.

The Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

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Gonzaga University 

Spokane, WA

About this school

Founded in 1887, Gonzaga offers undergraduate and graduate programs steeped in the Jesuit educational tradition and Catholic faith. Gonzaga's online doctoral program in leadership studies focuses on three dimensions of leadership: the leader as a person, the leader in organizational systems, and the leader in the world. The multidisciplinary curriculum prepares students to lead and serve in the public and private sectors.

The 60-credit program includes foundation courses that emphasize leadership and organizational theory and research classes that build qualitative and quantitative analytical skills. Learners also study contemporary and servant leadership before completing a dissertation. Online students must attend two four-day, on-campus immersions.

Applicants must submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, and a personal statement. Preferred candidates hold a master's degree and demonstrate strong written and verbal communication skills.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

Governors State University 

University Park, IL

About this school

Founded in 1969, GSU hosts around 5,500 students annually through nearly 90 academic programs. GSU's online doctor of education in interdisciplinary leadership integrates multidisciplinary coursework in finance, research, communication, and international studies.

The 60-credit program includes core classes in strategic planning, collaboration, and sustainability; ethics of leadership; and change, diversity, and global issues. After completing core coursework, learners can choose from concentrations in higher education, nonprofit and social entrepreneurship, or superintendency.

The higher education specialization focuses on emerging trends in higher education, theories of teaching and learning in adult education, and business and financial management in colleges and universities. Nonprofit and social entrepreneurship classes emphasize public relations, policy and finance, and law related to nonprofit organizations, while superintendency courses cover topics like collective negotiation, curriculum and assessment, and district improvement planning.

Applicants must hold a master's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit a personal and professional statement, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation. They must also complete an interview.

School Type
Public Nonprofit

Indiana Institute of Technology 

Fort Wayne, IN

About this school

Established in 1930, Indiana Tech hosts nearly 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students through five academic schools and colleges each year. Designed for working professionals, Indiana Tech's Ph.D. in global leadership emphasizes interrelationships between culture and organizational leadership.

Students complete 60 credit hours of core, specialization, and research coursework. Degree-seekers must also participate in at least one on-campus residency each year. The global leadership core explores leadership theory, communication, and ethics.

After completing core coursework, students can pursue a specialization in organizational management or academic administration. The organizational management concentration focuses on organizational behavior, international business, and management. The academic administration concentration emphasizes policy, accountability, and contemporary issues in higher education.

Applicants must submit transcripts, a writing sample, and a resume. They must also complete an admission interview.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

Johnson University 

Knoxville, TN

About this school

Established in 1893, JUTN infuses Christian faith into its more than 70 academic programs. The school's online Ph.D. in leadership studies focuses on individual and personal systems, organizational systems, global systems, and research.

Learners complete 60 credits of coursework, including 18 leadership core credits, six ethics credits, 18 research credits, and 15 concentration credits. The program offers concentrations in educational leadership, organizational leadership, philosophy and theology of leadership, and missional leadership.

Regardless of their concentration, all students analyze the foundations and frameworks of leadership, creating and reflecting upon their own personal leadership philosophies. Learners culminate the degree with a research project that contributes to the field of leadership studies.

Applicants must submit transcripts documenting a minimum 3.0 GPA, an essay, a writing sample, and three letters of reference.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

Nova Southeastern University 

Fort Lauderdale, FL

About this school

Nova Southeastern University formed out of the merger of Nova University and Southeastern University of Health Sciences in 1994. Today, NSU offers more than 240 academic programs, including an online doctor of education in organizational leadership.

This program prepares students for executive and leadership roles. The 55-credit curriculum includes qualitative and quantitative research tracks. All learners study topics like leadership, communication, and technology; organizational behavior and human development; and change management. Students culminate the degree with a dissertation.

Doctoral students must attend at least one on-campus summer institute. The intensive conference unites scholars, teachers, students, and leaders, offering networking and collaboration opportunities for students. Applicants must submit transcripts, a statement of goals, and two letters of recommendation.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

University of Southern California 

Los Angeles, CA

About this school

Founded in 1880, USC is a private research institution that houses 23 academic schools, colleges, and units and serves more than 48,000 students annually. The school's online doctor of education in organizational leadership emphasizes three themes: leadership, problem-solving, and reflection.

In this program, learners with a master's degree must complete 43 credits of coursework, while degree-seekers without a master's degree must complete 60 credits. All students complete a culminating dissertation and reflective self-assessment.

Students must also attend annual on-campus immersion sessions. Each immersion incorporates collaborative learning exercises, bringing together degree-seekers and faculty to foster essential leadership skills.

Applicants to the organizational leadership doctoral program need a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution with a minimum 3.0 GPA and professional leadership experience. Candidates must also submit three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, and GRE or GMAT scores.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

University of the Cumberlands 

Williamsburg, KY

About this school

Established in 1888, Cumberlands hosts 17,000 students annually and offers academic programs taught through a Christian lens. Cumberland's online executive Ph.D. in leadership prepares students for executive roles in elementary, secondary, and higher education. Students also gain the knowledge and skills needed for leadership positions within community organizations.

The 66-credit program covers topics like strategic administration, curriculum and culture, and professional research. Required classes include program planning and assessment, teaching and learning online, and the politics of organizational decision-making.

The program also allows students to explore specialty content in fields such as business, criminal justice, health science, and religion. All degree-seekers must attend on-campus residency sessions one day each month. Applicants must submit a writing sample and transcripts indicating a minimum 3.5 GPA.

School Type
Private Nonprofit

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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.

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.

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.

A 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 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 a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program?

A Ph.D. in organizational leadership 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 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.

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 a Ph.D. in organizational leadership.

Top Executives

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.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


Training and Development Managers

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.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


Administrative Services Managers

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.

Median Annual Salary


Projected Growth Rate


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