Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs


Updated January 26, 2024

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Earning an online Ph.D. in organizational leadership could lead to increased job opportunities. Here, we outline the best programs available. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Are you ready to discover your college program?

A doctoral degree in organizational leadership will help you develop advanced knowledge in leadership theory and practice, hone valuable research skills, and enhance your competitiveness in the job market.

Completing your Ph.D. online can mean you'll have a more flexible schedule and accessible pathway toward professional growth. Online students can often choose a part-time schedule that allows time to continue working.

The best doctorate program for you will vary depending on your career goals, budget, and academic preferences. We considered academic metrics like acceptance rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and affordability when compiling the best online doctoral programs in organizational leadership.

Featured Organizational Leadership Doctorate Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

We have compiled an alphabetical list of institutions that offer this degree program, enroll a student body of at least 1,000, and feature a graduation rate of at least 40%. Use the table below to compare average student population sizes and graduation rates.

Schools with Online Doctorates in Organizational Leadership
School Student Population Size Graduation Rate
Gardner-Webb University 3,178 59%
Southeastern University 9,365 49%
University of Massachusetts Global 5,237 57%
University of Southern California 49,318 92%
Vanderbilt University 4,013 93%
Source: NCES

Gardner-Webb University

Brought to you by Gardner-Webb's College of Education, the Ed.D. in organizational leadership prepares you to pursue leadership roles in various organizations. In the 63-credit program, you progress with your cohort through nine semesters, taking classes in cultural development, change management, and conflict resolution.

Classes run synchronously online for most of the program, except for three weekend on-campus residences each fall and spring semester and four-day residencies in the summer. The organizational leadership doctoral program concludes with a consultancy practicum project. The estimated tuition rates for the academic year total $5,400, plus fees and other expenses.

Southeastern University

In SEU's online Ph.D. in organizational leadership, you can study leadership models and teamwork dynamics within a Christian framework. You also contribute to academic journals and conferences and conclude the program with a doctoral dissertation.

The 60-credit organizational leadership program combines asynchronous and synchronous online courses, along with 3-5 day on-campus residencies. Classes run in eight-week sessions, and tuition costs $795 per credit. Southeastern University also offers a ministry leadership specialization.

University of Massachusetts Global

UMass Global features an Ed.D. in organizational leadership, along with three other online doctoral programs. Run through its School of Education, this 57-credit program offers courses in strategic thinking, collaborative relationships, and sustained innovation.

This three-year program, ideal for business leaders looking to take the next step in their careers, culminates in a dissertation. Classes typically run in eight-week sessions that combine asynchronous and synchronous elements. UMass Global charges a tuition of $1,051 per credit, plus fees.

University of Southern California

USC's online Ed.D. in organizational change and leadership emphasizes change, decision-making, and critical reflection. You have two tracks available: a three-year 43-credit track if you have a master's degree and a four-year 60-credit track if you don't.

USC offers three start dates each year, along with synchronous classes during the evenings and Saturdays. The Ed.D. program features two on-campus weekend immersions and concludes with a dissertation in practice exploring a practical problem within a real organization. USC's program tuition costs $2,244 per credit.

Vanderbilt University

Vanderbilt's online Ed.D. in leadership and learning in organizations equips mid-career business leaders with the skills to identify and resolve organizational challenges. This distance program, offered by the Vanderbilt Peabody College of Education and Human Development, features 54 credits and focuses on development, data analytics, and learning and design.

Vanderbilt's online classes run synchronously during the evenings, except for three two-day on-campus residencies. The program concludes with a dissertation tackling a real-world business problem, followed by a panel presentation. Tuition at Vanderbilt costs $2,245 per credit.

Why Get a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership Online?

  • An online doctorate program allows for more flexibility to balance coursework with other priorities.
  • Online programs often allow you to save money on tuition, housing, and transportation.
  • For working professionals, an online program expands access to top programs and faculty that are not locally available.
  • A Ph.D. in organizational leadership can bolster career options, advance your career, and increase earning potential.
  • Most programs allow you to tackle concentrations that mirror your academic and career goals.

Organizational Leadership Doctorate Degree Courses

The courses offered in an organizational leadership doctorate program can vary — but classes traditionally cover topics such as leadership theory, strategic leadership, and organizational behavior.

Organizational Leadership Concentrations

Most doctoral programs in organizational leadership allow students to choose an academic concentration that mirrors their academic and career goals.

These concentrations can vary among programs, so be sure to seek out programs that match your interests.

  • Human Resources

    This concentration dives deep into how organizations can develop and train employees while enhancing productivity and performance. Students with an HR concentration can anticipate classes such as HR development, HR ethics, and autonomous learning and HR development. You may also learn about compensation guidance and business financial strategy.
  • Educational Administration

    Whether you're seeking administrative roles in higher education or K-12, an educational administration concentration focuses on the unique challenges of leading an academic institution. Some common courses include education law and finance, accountability in educational leadership and policy, and faculty development.
  • Nonprofit and Public Administration

    This concentration is ideal for students seeking leadership roles in nonprofit settings. You'll focus on the unique challenges linked to leading nonprofits, including developing community partnerships, fundraising, and community engagement.
  • Global Consulting

    This concentration prepares you for leadership roles in a global context. Students tackle the unique challenges of leading diverse teams across geographic and cultural borders. You'll also focus on honing the communication and analytical skills required to solve complex organizational challenges.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership?

With a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, you can pursue a variety of career paths in academia, consulting, and executive leadership. The academic concentration you choose can have a significant impact on career options.

Those interested in academia often secure roles as professors or researchers in colleges and universities. Organizational leadership students pursuing roles in the private sector often employ their skills in corporate and nonprofit settings.

Earning a Ph.D. is a solid way to expand your career options and enhance your earning potential. Executives in corporate settings tend to make the most. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), CEOs earned a median annual salary of $246,440.

Graduates working for nonprofits teaching at a college or university tend to earn less. College professors earned a median salary of $80,840.

Organizational Leadership Careers
Job Average Annual Salary
Chief Diversity Officer $140,239
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) $246,440
Executive Director $100,090
Human Resources Manager $145,750
Nonprofit Director $64,000
Organizational Development Consultant $99,600
Professor $80,840
University Administration $99,940
Sources: BLS, Payscale

Frequently Asked Questions About Organizational Leadership Degrees

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

Determining whether a Ph.D. in organizational leadership is right for you depends largely on personal factors. That said, this degree has the potential to advance your career, increase your salary, and grow your expertise in the field of organizational leadership.

What is the difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership?

The primary difference between a Ph.D. and an Ed.D. in organizational leadership is their academic and professional focus. A Ph.D. program traditionally focuses on research and scholarships and has an expansive list of professional applications. An Ed.D. degree prioritizes practical application in an educational environment.

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

The length of your online Ph.D. in organizational leadership can vary depending on the program and whether you're a part- or full-time student.

Generally, online organizational leadership Ph.D. students can graduate in 3-7 years. Additionally, some programs offer accelerated pathways that allow you to graduate more quickly.

Are online Ph.D. programs respected?

So long as the school is accredited, online Ph.D. programs, including those in organizational leadership, are equivalent to campus-based programs, and the diploma you receive is the same.

Still, not all online programs are created equally. Be sure to look for programs at accredited institutions and review our rankings above for the best online Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs.

Do you need a Ph.D. to be a CEO?

You absolutely do not need a Ph.D. to be a CEO. That said, CEOs often come to the table with ample experience and specialized skill sets. Earning a Ph.D. in organizational leadership is one way to establish a set of leadership skills while enhancing your resume and expanding your professional network.

All rankings and school descriptions on this page were created and reviewed independently by the TBS Rankings Team.

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