Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

A doctorate in organizational leadership can help you pursue top management jobs. Check out our ranking for some of the country's best programs.
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Leadership and management occupations span a variety of industries and workplaces. Earning a doctoral degree in organizational leadership can prepare professionals to take advantage of specialized leadership roles.

Students interested in pursuing high-level, specialized career opportunities in leadership and other business roles should consider earning a doctoral degree in organizational leadership. Many graduates who hold this doctoral degree pursue advanced careers as training and development managers.

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While some careers in this field only require professionals to hold a bachelor's degree in educational leadership, those who pursue more advanced education can qualify for higher salary opportunities and more specialized job responsibilities. For instance, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), training and development managers earned median annual salaries of $115,640 in 2020.

This page highlights the best online doctorate in organizational leadership programs, including information about common courses in the discipline, concentration opportunities, typical admission requirements for the top online schools, career paths, and answers to a few frequently asked questions.

What Courses Will I Take in an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program?

Organizational Design

Students explore the dysfunctional and competitive aspects of procedure, leadership, workflow, and structures in systems that promote strategic advantages for innovative and effective organizations. Students can examine divisional, matrix, and functional organizations to cultivate creative advantages across organizational settings.

Educational Law and Finance

Students enrolled in this course focus on contemporary legal issues within primary, secondary, and postsecondary learning institutions. Additionally, the course teaches students how to forecast financial projections, negotiate effective and innovative financial solutions, and analyze the financial status of an organization.

Strategic Management of Nonprofit Organizations

With a focus on nonprofit organizations, this course examines ways to incorporate strategic practices and manage valuable organizational resources to keep track of the progress and success of a particular organization. Learners explore different techniques to enhance the sustainability, efficiency, and longevity of nonprofit organizations.

Collaborative Leadership and Partnership

During this course, degree-seekers develop their understanding of the philosophy behind partnerships and the different management techniques used in collaborative relationships across various organizational settings. Learners explore organizational stewardship along with servant leadership concepts, learning to work as part of a team from a leadership perspective.

Leadership Theory and Practice

Focusing on leadership theories across organizations and workplace settings, this course teaches students about the main components of leadership theory to help them analyze and evaluate leadership practices. Students learn more about the different types of leadership practice and what makes an effective leader across settings.

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program

The admission requirements for various online doctorate in organizational leadership programs vary based on individual school and degree. That said, requirements are typically similar. Online programs usually set similar requirements as campus-based programs, with the addition of minimum technology requirements.

Particularly competitive programs may require applicants to participate in an in-person or virtual interview — especially if a larger than usual number of students applied that year.

Graduate Transcripts

Applicants to doctoral programs usually need to hold a master's degree and provide official transcripts. These documents demonstrate the coursework and any specializations a student completed during their master's program.

GMAT or GRE Scores

Across graduate programs, many applicants are required to provide GMAT or GRE scores. Colleges and universities that require these scores usually set minimum score requirements for applicants. Students can have their scores sent directly to their target institutions.

Letters of Recommendation

Doctoral applicants are often required to provide letters of recommendation with their application. These letters should be completed by educational and/or professional contacts, rather than family members or friends. Typically, learners provide 1-3 letters of recommendation, detailing why they would be a good fit for the program.

Minimum GPA

Organizational leadership doctoral programs often require applicants to hold a minimum GPA to gain admission. These GPA requirements vary depending on the college or university, but typically range from 3.0-3.5. Many institutions allow conditional admission for applicants who do not meet minimum GPA requirements as long as they demonstrate other competencies.

Statement of Purpose

During the doctoral admissions process, applicants may need to submit a statement of purpose or essay. These documents explain what educational and professional goals a student may have, outlining how a degree will help them meet their goals.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Degree?

Career Outlook

Because an online doctorate in organizational leadership can lead to so many different careers, job outlooks for graduates will vary. Jobs focused on business practices will likely see faster growth in the coming years, while those more focused on academia and research may have slower growth rates.

Graduates can expect to earn salaries well above the national average, with many receiving six figure salaries. Some of the fields favored by graduates of an online doctorate in organizational leadership include human resources management, communications and public relations, financial management, and sales and marketing.

Career Paths

Graduates of a doctorate in organizational leadership program can follow a variety of career paths across numerous industries and workplace settings. These professionals hold some of the most specialized and advanced occupations in their respective fields, earning some of the highest salaries in the field.

Organizational leadership careers at the doctoral level are not entry-level roles; rather, they are advanced leadership roles, such as chief executive officers, chief human resources officers, and directors of revenue cycle management.

Postsecondary Teacher

College professors focused on educating the next generation of organizational leaders use their advanced knowledge to create syllabi, deliver lectures, run seminars, design assignments, and provide support to students.

Median Annual Salary: $80,560

Top Executive

Graduates of an online doctorate in organizational leadership program can use their skills and knowledge to pursue C-level positions. These professionals supervise other staff and consult with other executives to set high-level organizational goals and policies.

Median Annual Salary: $107,680

Organizational Development Consultant

Rather than working for a single organization, organizational development consultants share their expertise with multiple companies in a consultation role. They evaluate the current organizational structure, identify challenges and issues, and provide concrete, practical solutions to increase leadership effectiveness and improve organizational outcomes.

Median Annual Salary: $88,500

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers spend their days ensuring organizations run smoothly from an administrative perspective. They oversee the HR staff responsible for vetting and hiring employees, handling benefits and compensation packages, arranging training programs, and handling disciplinary issues. They work with other managerial and leadership staff to ensure organizational goals are met.

Median Annual Salary: $121,220

Organizational Developmental Director

These professionals look to get the best out of an organization's employees by coordinating development programs and handling leadership training programs. They ensure development goals are set and met, implement development policies, and identify current and potential employees who demonstrate leadership potential. They also oversee other organizational development staff.

Median Annual Salary: $118,340

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How Do I Choose an Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program?

Cost

CollegeBoard found that the average cost of a doctoral program at a public institution for the 2020-2021 academic year reached $11,440. Meanwhile, students enrolled at a private institution paid $44,910 during the same time period. Applicants should understand the true program cost before making any decisions, and pay close attention to the costs of online vs. campus-based study.

Program Format

Students planning to study online can choose from synchronous or asynchronous learning formats, with those seeking flexibility typically opting for asynchronous classes. Many schools also offer part-time and full-time programs to account for different scheduling needs. You may also be able to find an accelerated online doctorate in organizational leadership if you need to get through the program quickly.

Location

Some online doctorate in organizational leadership programs require degree-seekers to participate in occasional in-person residencies as part of graduation requirements. When this is the case, students should consider whether they need to attend a local school. Learners who select a program with no in-person components may decide to pick a school further afield.

Accreditation

Attending an accredited online doctorate in organizational leadership is important for later career success. Failing to attend an accredited program can cause problems transferring credits, acquiring other credentials, and even finding work. Prospective students should look for regionally accredited institutions and make sure they understand online college accreditation.

Student Support

Student support services can impact a learner's success in their program, so be sure to investigate what online student services are available at your prospective schools. Examples may include access to industry mentors, assistance finding internships or externships, disability services, technology support, and writing guidance.

Best Accredited Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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How We Ranked the Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

We are committed to helping students find the program that best fits their needs, and we know that is different for every student. To help students get started with their search, we feature the top online doctorate in organizational leadership programs in alphabetical order. To learn more about our different rankings, read our ranking methodology.

Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Concordia University-Chicago

  • River Forest, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $751

Out of State | $751

Credits to Graduate

61 for Ed.D./67 for Ph.D.

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

CUC offers an online doctorate in organizational leadership as a Ph.D. or Ed.D. Both programs focus on research-based decision-making and leadership theories. Graduates can pursue business or educational leadership roles. 

Applicants need a master's degree with at least a 3.0 GPA. CUC requires GRE or MAT scores. Prospective students need at least two years of professional teaching or administrative experience.

Average Tuition
In-state
$31,926
Out-of-state
$31,926
Retention Rate
62%
Admission Rate
75%
Students Enrolled
6,205
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
68% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Gonzaga University

  • Spokane, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,110

Out of State | $1,110

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Gonzaga's online doctorate in organizational leadership highlights personal leadership, global systems, and organizational complexities. The program emphasizes diversity and Jesuit values. Electives focus on diverse leadership approaches, such as social justice, technology, and feminism.

Applicants need a master's degree in any subject. Prospective students must also submit a writing sample 3-5 pages long. The writing sample may include graduate coursework, professional writing, or published scholarly work.

Average Tuition
In-state
$44,280
Out-of-state
$44,280
Retention Rate
94%
Admission Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
7,537
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Governors State University

  • University Park, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $477

Out of State | $955

Credits to Graduate

60 credits

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

GSU's doctorate in interdisciplinary leadership focuses on leadership for education settings. Coursework covers topics like research, finance, and strategic management. Enrollees choose from three concentrations: K-12 superintendent, higher education administration, or nonprofit leadership.

Applicants need a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. GSU requires GRE scores. Most enrollees hold a background in business, education, or nonprofit management.

Average Tuition
In-state
$7,512
Out-of-state
$15,024
Retention Rate
52%
Admission Rate
46%
Students Enrolled
4,789
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
31% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Indiana Institute of Technology

  • Fort Wayne, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $897

Out of State | $897

Credits to Graduate

66

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Indiana Tech's online doctorate in global leadership focuses on cross-cultural perspectives. Students complete a research core and a global leadership core. The program offers concentrations in higher education administration, organizational leadership, and business administration.

Applicants need a master's degree from an accredited college. Prospective students submit a personal essay detailing their program interest and their professional goals. Applicants under consideration must complete a phone or in-person interview with the program director.

Average Tuition
In-state
$26,990
Out-of-state
$26,990
Retention Rate
68%
Admission Rate
60%
Students Enrolled
2,223
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
36% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Indiana Wesleyan University-National & Global

  • Marion, IN
  • 4 years
  • Online

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $881

Out of State | $881

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

IWU's doctorate in organizational leadership highlights global approaches. Students strengthen skills for teaching and organizational leadership. The program combines research, theory, and multicultural perspectives on leadership. Learners complete most courses online and attend annual campus residencies held during the summer.

Applicants need a master's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students also need at least five years of professional experience. This may include teaching or volunteering.

Average Tuition
In-state
$8,453
Out-of-state
$8,453
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,410
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
97% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

BestColleges.com 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.

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Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Johnson University

  • Knoxville, TN
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $675

Out of State | $675

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

Designed for working adults, JUTN's online doctorate in organizational leadership emphasizes Christian ethics along with leadership strategies. The program offers six concentrations, including educational leadership, organizational leadership, and ministry leadership.

Applicants need a master's degree. Most candidates hold a 3.0 GPA or higher. JUTN requires three recommendation letters, including one letter from a pastor, one from an employer, and one from a college professor.

Average Tuition
In-state
$15,480
Out-of-state
$15,480
Retention Rate
74%
Admission Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
1,037
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Northcentral University

  • La Jolla, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online

 100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $1,241

Out of State | $1,241

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs

NCU's online doctorate in organizational leadership focuses on business leadership, preparing students for teaching, consulting, and management careers. The program offers frequent start dates to accommodate working students.

Applicants need a master's degree in any subject. Those without an academic business background may need to take additional courses as part of their curriculum. Applicants with significant professional business experience may test out of some required business courses. 

Average Tuition
In-state
$11,064
Out-of-state
$11,064
Retention Rate
Not provided
Admission Rate
Not provided
Students Enrolled
11,223
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
Not provided
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

Southeastern University

  • Lakeland, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $795

Out of State | $795

Credits to Graduate

60

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

SEU's online doctorate in organizational leadership explores topics such as leadership models, organizational systems, and teamwork dynamics. Candidates complete core courses, research methods courses, and electives. Enrollees also complete a dissertation. The program uses a hybrid format that includes online courses and occasional weeklong campus residency sessions.

Applicants need a graduate degree and a 3.0 GPA. SEU requires two recommendation letters, an admissions essay, and a doctoral writing sample.

Average Tuition
In-state
$25,620
Out-of-state
$25,620
Retention Rate
65%
Admission Rate
48%
Students Enrolled
9,894
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $2,035

Out of State | $2,035

Credits to Graduate

43 with master's degree, 60 without master's degree

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

USC's doctorate in organizational leadership focuses on organizational change and leadership in education settings. Graduates often pursue leadership roles at colleges and universities, nonprofits, and government agencies.

Applicants need a bachelor's or master's degree. Students with an applicable master's can enter the program with advanced standing, completing fewer credits total. Bachelor's degree-holders with significant professional experience can enter the traditional program track.

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Best Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

University of the Cumberlands

  • Williamsburg, KY
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

 Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit

In State | $375

Out of State | $375

Credits to Graduate

66

Program Information

Program Accreditation | N/A

UC's online doctorate in organizational leadership highlights education leadership and curriculum development. The program prepares graduates for executive management roles in K-12 schools, colleges, and community education organizations. The program runs mostly online. However, students must attend one on-campus class each month. 

Applicants need a master's degree and a 3.0 GPA. Applicants typically need a master's in a relevant subject, such as business management or education administration.

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,875
Out-of-state
$9,875
Retention Rate
69%
Admission Rate
80%
Students Enrolled
16,966
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
91% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

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

Curriculum requirements for online doctorate in organizational leadership programs vary depending on the college or university. Across all programs, however, learners develop the skills needed to succeed and lead in the industry after graduation.

Doctoral programs typically include core coursework along with elective courses. Many doctoral programs also feature concentration opportunities, allowing degree-seekers to focus on a particular area of the field that interests them. 

Students at the doctoral level are usually required to complete a dissertation. Dissertations are written projects where learners focus on a particular concept in their field, conduct original research, and present their findings.

The majority of online doctorate in organizational leadership programs take between 3-5 years to complete, depending on whether a learner enrolls full time or part time. Most consist of 50-65 credits, depending on the program. Outside of classwork, students may participate in a fellowship or externship as part of graduation requirements. 

In addition to a Ph.D. program, some schools may offer an Ed.D. in organizational leadership for individuals seeking top-tier educational positions. Students who pursue these programs typically possess at least five years of related experience and enjoy the process of leading employees and making their organizations more profitable, efficient, and effective.

Common concentrations include the following:

  • Educational Leadership

    This concentration prepares graduates to pursue leadership roles in curriculum development settings, K-12 schools, colleges, and universities. Throughout their program, learners combine concepts related to organizational leadership with educational theories and common issues encountered in educational contexts.
  • Missional Leadership

    Learners are trained specifically for faith-based leadership roles; they focus on spirituality, faith, and community within organizational contexts and settings. Graduates can pursue roles as senior pastors and nonprofit CEOs.
  • Healthcare Leadership

    In this concentration, students explore the relationship between healthcare workers and administrators, with a special focus on addressing organizational challenges across healthcare settings. Course topics include healthcare theory and practice, healthcare issues and trends, and healthcare engagement.
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership

    This concentration examines business and leadership from an international perspective. Students learn new methods to develop the economy and promote innovation within business, with a focus on using entrepreneurial strategies to bring about positive change. Participants also learn to understand and weigh risks in a variety of situations.
  • Global Consulting

    This concentration prepares students to pursue specialized leadership roles working on a global scale, such as military leaders. Throughout the program, degree-seekers develop their intercultural communication skills and their ability to understand different cultures, determining the correct approaches for leadership. Course topics focus on ethical interventions, team building, and consulting principles.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

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

The length of a doctoral program can differ vastly depending on the school. Most degree-seekers need at least five years to satisfy the requirements of their degree, while some learners may need up to seven years to graduate. Students may be able to take heavier credit loads and earn their doctoral degree in closer to three or four years.

What can you do with a Ph.D. in leadership?

Earning a Ph.D. in leadership allows graduates to explore a variety of specialized career options that typically feature high salary opportunities. Some common career paths for graduates include training and development managers, management analysts, operations research analysts, and chief executive officers.

What is a doctorate in strategic leadership?

Doctoral-level strategic leadership programs allow degree-seekers to focus on structure, communication, leadership, and team building. These programs prepare students to review organizational lifecycles and derive new methods for leadership development. Learners also focus on understanding how to develop a product from an idea.

How much can you make with a doctorate in organizational leadership?

Salary opportunities vary for doctoral degree-holders in organizational leadership depending on the career path they pursue. Common career options include chief operating officers, chief human resources officers, and continuous improvement managers. Professionals in management careers earned a median annual salary of $109,760 in 2020, according to the BLS.

How much does it cost to get a doctorate in organizational leadership?

Program costs for a doctoral degree in organizational leadership vary depending on the college or university. For example, public schools tend to be less expensive than private schools. Learners should anticipate spending between $20,000 and $60,000 to earn their organizational leadership degree at the doctoral level.

Feature Image: VioletaStoimenova / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com 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.

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