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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.

Top 10 Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs
Concordia University – Chicago River Forest, IL
East Tennessee State University Johnson City, TN
Gardner-Webb University Boiling Springs, NC
Gonzaga University Spokane, WA
Governors State University University Park, IL
Indiana Institute of Technology Fort Wayne, IN
Johnson University Knoxville, TN
Northcentral University San Diego, CA
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale, FL
University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

Featured Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Degrees

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.

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Concordia University – Chicago true View School Profile River Forest, IL 49% 69% 66% Concordia University Chicago is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

A private Lutheran university founded in 1864, CUC offers an online leadership PhD program with a specialization in organizational leadership. Successful candidates develop an ethical framework for making decisions strategically, as well as forecasting the future needs of an organization.

Doctoral students may obtain a doctor of education in leadership with 61 credits or a doctor of philosophy in leadership with 67 credits. Foundation courses include philosophical and theoretical foundations of leadership, organizational change, and policy analysis. Completion of the program requires a dissertation and a comprehensive exam.

Applicants must possess a master's degree with a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA. Students must submit GRE or MAT scores from the last three years.

East Tennessee State University true View School Profile Johnson City, TN 45% 46% 55% East Tennessee State University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

With a history that dates back to 1911, ETSU now provides a robust selection of online programs -- including a doctor of education degree in educational leadership. Students may pursue a higher education leadership or school leadership concentration.

All doctoral candidates identify a dissertation topic and write a paper based on their research with the guidance of the dissertation committee. Students must also complete a qualifying exam to earn their doctoral degree.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's or master's degree and possess a minimum 2.5 undergraduate GPA to qualify for admission.

Gardner-Webb University true View School Profile Boiling Springs, NC 53% 67% 49% Gardner-Webb University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Founded as Boiling Springs High School in 1905, Gardner-Webb offers an online educational specialist degree (EdS) in executive leadership. The program offers a traditional approach to curriculum design, replacing individual courses with integrated modules.

The program consists of 42 credits of study taken over six semesters. Successful completion of the doctoral program enables graduates to obtain state licensure as a superintendent.

Applicants must hold a master's degree from a regionally accredited school and possess a minimum 3.0 GPA for all graduate-level coursework. The program also requires applicants to possess three years minimum experience in administration and hold a principal-level license.

Gonzaga University true View School Profile Spokane, WA 86% 46% 29% Gonzaga University is regionally accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU).

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.

Governors State University true View School Profile University Park, IL 60% 48% Governors State University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Indiana Institute of Technology true View School Profile Fort Wayne, IN 36% 67% 35% Indiana Institute of Technology is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Johnson University true View School Profile Knoxville, TN 63% 59% 36% Johnson University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Northcentral University true View School Profile San Diego, CA 34% 100% Northcentral University is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).

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.

Nova Southeastern University true View School Profile Fort Lauderdale, FL 58% 49% 49% Nova Southeastern University is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

University of Southern California true View School Profile Los Angeles, CA 92% 29% 18% University of Southern California is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC).

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.

University of the Cumberlands View School Profile Williamsburg, KY 33% 40% 85% University of the Cumberlands is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

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.

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs Ranking Guidelines

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

The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:

The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.

To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):

1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]

  • Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
  • Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
  • Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
  • Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
  • Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
  • Considers range of electives within that discipline
  • Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline

2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]

  • Considers education background of the faculty
  • Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
  • Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
  • Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
  • Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources

3. Reputation [weight = 20%]

  • Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
    • Faculty
    • Curriculum
    • “Freshness” of academic knowledge
    • Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
    • Suitability of graduates for the workplace

4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]

  • Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
  • Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants

5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]

  • Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
  • Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business

6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]

  • Considers the following of the online classes:
    • Types of online technology used to deliver content
    • Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
    • Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
    • Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
  • Considers the following of instructors:
    • Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
    • Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
    • Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
    • Ratio to number of students in a class
  • Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees

Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.

To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:

  • Accreditation
  • Public or private status
  • Acceptance rate
  • Retention rate
  • Graduation rate
  • ACT/SAT requirements
  • Cost in-state / out of state
  • Undergrad, grad, or both offered
  • Region
  • State
  • City

Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!

If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.

Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!

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.

$104,690 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.

$113,350 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.

$96,940 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.

Questions About Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Degrees

true 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.

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