Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Program Guide

September 8, 2020

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A doctoral degree in organizational leadership provides students with the leadership skills needed to work in colleges and universities, private firms, and nonprofits.

Graduates often pursue advanced careers in management, including training and development and executive roles. Most careers in this field offer substantial salaries. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), training and development managers earn a median annual salary of $113,350.

Read on to learn about common courses, available specializations, and career opportunities.

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What Is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership examines the theories and methods that optimize performance in both employees and organizations. Organizational leadership programs explore ways to facilitate organizational learning, productivity, and performance within the workplace.

Should I Get a Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership?

The BLS projects that training and development manager jobs will grow by 8% between 2018 and 2028. While bachelor’s and master’s degrees in the field provide several benefits, a Ph.D. is the terminal degree in organizational leadership. As such, Ph.D. graduates are qualified to pursue the most lucrative careers in the field.

Ph.D. students delve into problem-solving and decision-making, integrity and ethics, and innovations and opportunities. Degree-seekers also learn to think strategically and holistically while promoting an organization’s vision and inspiring clients and staff.

What Will I Learn in an Organizational Leadership Doctoral Program?

Required courses vary from school to school. However, most curricula cover the same core topics. Most programs also require a dissertation and include an internship or practicum.

The following sections delve into common courses and concentrations in organizational leadership programs.


Innovation and Transformation

Learners enrolled in this course study the history of modern innovation. They also research and analyze historically innovative organizations.

Leadership Theory and Practice

In this course, students analyze leadership methods, learning how to employ them in different settings.

Educational Law and Finance

In this course, students investigate current legal issues within primary, secondary, and postsecondary education. This course also covers financial forecasting, loss mitigation, and assessment of organization financials.

Organizational Design

In this course, students analyze leadership, workflow, and creative solutions across disparate organizations.

Ethics, Ideology, and Personal Leadership

In this course, students use case studies to examine the responsibilities of ethical leaders in decision-making.


Global Consulting

This concentration prepares students to take on leadership roles in a variety of global environments. Learners develop cultural competence while honing the communication skills needed for global leadership.

Educational Leadership

This concentration blends traditional organizational leadership methods with curriculum development and educational theory. Graduates can pursue leadership roles in K-12 and postsecondary education.

Healthcare Leadership

This concentration explores the intricate relationship between healthcare administrators and healthcare workers. Learners study the complex organizational challenges across the healthcare industry. Topics include healthcare issues, trends, theory, and practice.

Global Sport Leadership

Designed to cultivate the next generation of leaders in professional sports, this concentration focuses on innovation in the field. Required courses include sports analytics and interpersonal relationships.

Missional Leadership

This concentration explores leadership in faith-based organizations. Career opportunities include the clergy and faith-based, nonprofit executive roles.

What Can I Do With a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership?

Students pursuing a doctorate in organizational leadership gain the skills needed for roles in several different industries. A Ph.D. in organizational leadership prepares graduates for careers as chief executive officers, training and development managers, and chief human resources officers.

Below are several common careers for graduates in this field.


Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers plan, direct, and coordinate programs to encourage employee growth and efficiency. Most industries need managers with specialized organizational leadership training.

Median Annual Salary:$113,350*

Postsecondary Teacher

Postsecondary teachers and professors foster academic and technical learning in college. Along with teaching, professors publish their own academic work and research. Professors may also offer career guidance to students while taking on leadership roles within their institution.

Median Annual Salary:$79,540*

Management Analyst

Management analysts gather organizational information and make recommendations to make organizations more efficient. These analysts develop solutions to address problems and communicate with managers to implement their recommendations.

Median Annual Salary:$85,260*

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers oversee the administrative infrastructure of an organization. They handle staff conflict and disciplinary issues and hire staff. HR managers seek to maximize productivity while helping meet budgetary goals.

Median Annual Salary: $116,720*

Chief Executive Officer

Top executives plan and execute the policies and strategies that allow an organization to meet its goals. These executives manage general activities, oversee financial and budgetary concerns, and identify ways to cut costs while improving performance.

Median Annual Salary:$104,690*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose an Organizational Leadership Doctoral Program

When selecting an organizational leadership doctoral program, prospective students should consider several factors. They should choose a program that offers courses and concentrations relevant to their future career path. Prospective students should also consider the program's length and format.

Working professionals who want to keep their jobs and save money should consider anonline doctorate in organizational leadership. Students looking to graduate quickly should research accelerated programs.

How to Get Into an Organizational Leadership Doctoral Program

Prospective students must typically hold a master’s degree in a related field. They must also submit official transcripts and letters of recommendation. Many doctoral programs also require GMAT or GRE scores.

Some doctoral programs in organizational leadership require a minimum GPA, usually 3.0. However, some colleges and universities admit students on a conditional basis if they have relevant professional experience or other strong qualifications.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership?

Most students pursuing a doctorate in organizational leadership graduate in 5-7 years.

Nevertheless, program length can vary substantially from school to school. Some schools offer part-time enrollment, while others provide accelerated programs. Fieldwork, in-person, and dissertation requirements can all affect the length of a doctoral program.

How Much Does It Cost to Get a Doctorate in Organizational Leadership?

Doctorate in organizational leadership program costs can vary substantially based on several factors. Residency status, school location, and whether you attend a public or private school can all affect tuition rates.

During the 2016-2017 academic year, the average graduate student paid approximately $18,420 in tuition.

Prospective organizational leadership students interested in saving money should consider an online program. Online students avoid paying for transportation and room and board. Furthermore, some schools allow all distance learners to pay in-state tuition no matter where they live.

Read More About Organizational Leadership on BestColleges

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