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Best Online Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

Professionals with experience managing a private or public organization can pursue an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership. Top programs in the field hold accreditation from the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs. Typical admission requirements include a master's degree and at least three years of relevant professional experience.

While earning an organizational leadership Ph.D. degree, learners often take classes in cultural perspectives of organizational leadership, leadership theory and practice, and strategic leadership and organizational change. Some programs offer concentrations in areas such as public administration. Graduates can become tenure-track postsecondary teachers.

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Questions About Organizational Leadership

What kinds of jobs can I get with an organizational leadership degree?

Organizational leadership roles include program director, college dean, CEO, and entrepreneur. Career advisors help degree-seekers choose a concentration aligning with their career goals.

How long does it take to get a Ph.D. in organizational leadership?

Some students earn their Ph.D. in organizational leadership online in three years. Part-time learners and those making dissertation revisions may need longer.

Is a Ph.D. in organizational leadership worth it?

Individuals may choose to pursue an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership for various reasons. Graduates can use the degree to qualify for more jobs. Others use their doctoral training to conduct original research.

Why Get a Degree in Organizational Leadership?

Professionals with an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership help their company or organization make long-term growth decisions. Graduates can also use the degree to enter careers in academia. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for postsecondary teachers to increase 12% from 2020-2030, faster than the projected growth rate for all occupations.

Students earning a Ph.D. in organizational leadership online often benefit from asynchronous curricula. This flexible learning style appeals to working students and those with families. However, some online programs require on-campus components, such as seminars.

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How Much Does an Organizational Leadership Degree Cost?

According to data from the Education Data Initiative, the average cost of a Ph.D. was $98,800 in 2021, including tuition, fees, and expenses. For the same year, the average costs of Ed.D. and Psy.D. programs were less than that of Ph.D. programs. The average student debt for doctoral degree-seekers exceeded $108,000. Learners may need loans to cover living expenses, especially if they pause their career while in school.

Learners in online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs can reduce student debt by attending in-state public universities. Public schools typically charge state residents the most affordable tuition rates. However, many out-of-state schools charge all online learners in-state tuition rates.

Additional Online Student Fees

When budgeting for online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs, prospective students should consider additional online student fees. Schools often charge these fees to cover the cost of online learning software and specialized resources. Many institutions also charge a one-time graduation fee. Other typical expenses for distance learners include a new computer, high-speed internet, and textbooks.

Some graduates pursue professional certification or state licensure, which require fees. Degree-seekers work with career advisors to identify necessary credentials. Many organizations offer certification discounts for members. Other membership benefits may include access to exclusive job boards.

How Much Do Organizational Leadership Majors Make?

Salary potential varies by career. Top executives earn a median annual salary of $98,980, according to the BLS. These professionals need extensive experience and an undergraduate or graduate degree. Top executives in the manufacturing and professional services industries earn median salaries more than double the overall median for the profession.

Postsecondary teachers earn a median salary of $79,640 per year, according to BLS data. However, each teacher's field and location significantly impacts their earning potential. For example, postsecondary education teachers in Alaska, New York, and Utah earn average salaries of more than $100,000 per year.

Courses in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership Ph.D. degree-seekers take core and research classes. Coursework prepares learners for the lengthy dissertation process. Students work with a dissertation advisor to select a topic before performing in-depth research. Learners write a dissertation, which they defend in front of a panel of professors. Candidates may need to revise their dissertation before receiving the degree.

The sample curriculum below features core and research requirements. Prospective students should compare prospective programs' course requirements and elective options. Curricula can significantly impact career outcomes. Program websites and admissions advisors can help applicants select the right program.

Best Online Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

  • Concordia University – Chicago

    River Forest, IL

    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

    Johnson City, TN

    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

    Boiling Springs, NC

    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

    Spokane, WA

    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

    University Park, IL

    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

    Fort Wayne, IN

    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

    Knoxville, TN

    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

    San Diego, CA

    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

    Fort Lauderdale, FL

    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

    Los Angeles, CA

    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.

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