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Best Online PhD Programs in Organizational Leadership

Some of the best online doctoral programs in organizational leadership help develop students' leadership skills and provide unique learning features. Examine some of these top degree programs in detail, as well as potential career options in the field.

Best Online PhD Programs in Organizational Leadership

Online Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) or Doctorate of Education (EdD) in Organizational Leadership programs aim to help students further develop their leadership skills. A few of the best of these programs provide students with small class sizes, unique culminating projects, flexible formats, and other stand-out features. Examine some of these top programs below.

1. Gonzaga University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Spokane, WA$17,045

Gonzaga University offers a PhD program in leadership studies that requires a total of 60 credits with 30 credits of coursework in on-campus immersions and 30 credits of courses completed online. Students in the program must do a dissertation and can usually complete the program in 4 to 5 years. The program boasts small class sizes of 12 to 15 students and is taught by faculty with unique backgrounds.

2. Johnson University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Knoxville, TN$9,930

Johnson University has an online PhD in Leadership Studies that offers a concentration in organizational leadership, missional leadership, educational leadership, and philosophy and theology of leadership. The program can be taken full- or part-time, requires a dissertation, and offers optional face-to-face research summits on campus. The program is a candidate for Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) accreditation and is a part of the Center for Global Studies consortium that consists of multiple Christian-based institutions.

3. Concordia University- Chicago

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
River Forest, IL$9,180

Concordia University in Chicago has an online PhD or EdD in Leadership that offers a specialization in organizational leadership. These programs require 61 to 67 credits and a dissertation. Students must choose from the practitioner track (EdD) or a researcher track (PhD) in regards to the research course requirements. The university provides students with an 11 to 1 graduate student-to-faculty ratio and boasts a 90% graduate student placement rate within 6 months of graduation.

4. Indiana Institute of Technology

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Fort Wayne, IN$10,116

Indiana Institute of Technology provides an online PhD in Global Leadership that requires students to complete a dissertation and a residency once per year. Students also have the option to complete a global travel experience to learn about different cultures and further develop their research skills. The curriculum for the program also allows students to select a leadership concentration in higher education administration or organizational management.

5. Piedmont International University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Winston-Salem, NC$6,810

Piedmont International University offers an online PhD in Leadership that has concentrations in organizational management, educational administration, or ministry administration. The program totals 60 credits, can be completed in 3 years, and utilizes asynchronous coursework, which lets students complete classes at their own pace. Students must complete a 1-week residency the first year of the program. Students in the leadership program paid $475 per credit hour for the 2020-2021 academic year and 96% received some sort of help paying for school.

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online Doctoral Programs in Organizational Leadership

Online doctoral degree programs in organizational leadership are typically available as PhD or EdD degrees. Many of these degree programs are in general leadership subjects, such as leadership studies, and may offer a specialization in organizational leadership, ministry leadership or higher education leadership.

These doctoral degree programs may range from 60 to 67 credits and some programs may be taken full- or part-time. Most full-time programs take 4 to 5 years to complete, while part-time programs may take up to 7 years to complete. However, some full-time programs may allow students to complete the program in as few as 3 years.

Usually, these degree programs require some on-campus residencies and/or on-campus coursework, but there are some programs that can be completed fully online. Students in doctoral programs in organizational leadership are also typically required to complete a dissertation. Learn more about online doctoral programs in organizational leadership below.

PhD vs. EdD in Organizational Leadership

PhD and EdD degree programs in organizational leadership are fairly similar. Both types of programs may require some online work and some on-campus work, as well as a dissertation. Both programs can usually be taken full-time and still allow for students to work a full-time job.

Most of the differences between these two degrees comes in the focus of the coursework. These programs may discuss the same or similar topics, but PhD programs tend to focus on research and helping students become experts capable of teaching organizational leadership, while EdD programs help students apply research to solve real problems and become leaders in their field. Graduates with a PhD in Organizational Leadership may also take more research-based positions and may work in a wide range of industries, whereas those with an EdD in the field may work in more leadership-based positions in education or related areas.

Common Courses

Course topics and titles vary amongst programs, but may include subjects like organizational theory, management philosophy, transformational leadership, law, and more. Some common course topics for these degree programs include:

  • Leadership Theory- As the name implies, students in these programs examine various emerging and classical leadership theories, from classical to emerging theories and explore how these theories apply to different settings and situations, as well as study topics in interpersonal interactions, evaluating leadership, and analyzing policies.
  • Ethics- Courses in ethics help students examine issues of character and how organizational leaders may handle various situations. Students also discuss ethical decision making and other topics like ethical responsibility, politics, and issues with power.
  • Organizational Culture- These courses are designed to help students explore the sociocultural perspective of organizational leadership. Students may examine organizational values, how leaders determine the work culture, and/or research concerning identity and language.
  • Research- Students in these degree programs typically take one or more courses that explore different aspects of research methods in organizational leadership. PhD students may take more research-based courses than EdD students, such as qualitative and quantitative research courses, but both programs usually include a course that discusses the principles of research and/or research-based decision-making.

Admissions Requirements

Some online doctoral programs in organizational leadership may offer multiple start dates for flexibility, so students will need to check for the specific admissions deadlines when applying to a program. Typically, applicants to these programs are required to have a master's degree. Some programs may require this degree to be in areas like behavioral science, psychology, or another organizational-related field. Some programs may also have a minimum GPA requirement and/or require or prefer applicants to have a few years of work experience. It is also fairly common for these degree programs to require test scores from the GRE or GMAT exams.

Online doctoral programs in organizational leadership commonly allow students to apply online. Students may need to submit their official transcripts, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and/or a resume. Some programs may also include a cohort registration form with the application and/or require students to submit their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) information.

How to Choose an Online Doctoral Program in Organizational Leadership

Students looking to enroll in a doctoral degree program in organizational leadership should examine their schedules, needs, and preferences to determine the type of program format that will be the best fit. For example, students may need to decide between a full- or part-time program, one that takes 3 years to complete versus one that takes 4 years to complete, and/or a program that accepts work experience transfer credit from other institutions. Students should also carefully compare any on-campus requirements to ensure that they have the time and resources to complete in-person work. Some other considerations for choosing an online doctoral program in organizational leadership are discussed in more detail below.

Accreditation

Students applying to any online degree program should prefer an accredited school and/or program over one that is not accredited. This is because accreditation indicates that the school and/or program has been evaluated and meets specific academic standards that have been set by an accrediting body to ensure the quality of educational programs.

Typically, the schools that offer online doctoral programs in organizational leadership are accredited by regional accreditation bodies. For example, these schools may be accredited by groups like the Higher Learning Commission or the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

Although less common, there are some PhD in Organizational Leadership degree programs that may have program-specific accreditation from groups like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). Program-specific accreditation helps indicate an additional level of educational quality that is specialized to the field of study.

Cost of Program

When calculating the cost of these online degree programs for comparison, students should be careful to find the graduate tuition rate and note any differences with in-state versus out-of-state residency status.

Some of the online doctoral programs in organizational leadership may cost as much as $995 per credit hour, but students also have to consider any additional fees when calculating the total cost of the program. Schools may have additional service fees, enrollment fees, and/or course fees. Students may also need to check for any additional costs associated with on-campus residency portions of the program.

Job Opportunities in Organizational Leadership

The need for organizational leadership is prevalent across many different industries and fields. Graduates with a doctorate in the subject are qualified for advanced leadership positions and may work in fields like education, healthcare, social service, business, and more. Graduates may take on positions as:

  • General or operations managers
  • Executive leaders
  • Consultants
  • Postsecondary business teachers
  • Entrepreneurs
  • Criminal justice professionals
  • Government personnel
  • University administrators
  • Management analysts

Top Executives

In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that top executives, which includes titles like general and operations managers, city managers, superintendents, and chief executive officers, made a median annual salary of $104,980. The job outlook for top executives from 2018 to 2028 was 6%, which is about as fast as average, per the BLS.

The job duties for top executives varies greatly by job title and organization, but in general, these professionals help ensure that the organization is running smoothly and doing everything it can to reach organizational goals. This may require executives to help develop policies, manage budgets, oversee staff, meet with other executives and management, and figure out ways to improve policies and practices.

Postsecondary Administrators

Postsecondary administrators may include jobs in student affairs, admissions, or the registrar's office. These administrators made a median annual salary of $94,340 as of 2018 and had a job outlook of 7% from 2018 to 2028, according to the BLS. This job outlook is faster than average.

Postsecondary administrators' job duties will also vary depending on the department and role, with positions like deans and provosts carrying the most responsibility. These administrators typically oversee the activities of their particular department or area, which may require them to meet with students, develop academic policies, plan events, and more.

Management Analysts

As of 2018, the BLS reported that management analysts made a median annual salary of $83,610. The BLS also noted that these analysts had a job outlook of 14% from 2018 to 2028. This job outlook is much faster than the national average for all occupations.

Management analysts may also be called management consultants. These professionals help managers find ways to make their organization more efficient. This may require conducting interviews in an organization, examining information and data concerning performance, and coming up with creative solutions to problems. Management analysts may present their findings and suggestions in reports and then follow up to see how changes are being implemented.