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Leadership PhD Program Overviews

Doctoral programs in leadership are often tailored towards those already in leadership positions, with applicants often being chief executive officers, company presidents or program directors.

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Essential Information

Doctoral-level leadership programs (3-5 years) are interdisciplinary in nature, emphasizing fundamental leadership concepts like organizational change, diversity, globalization, and leadership ethics. Ph.D. candidates gain fluency in models used to understand social systems. Many programs cultivate rigorous research habits and teach models of leadership that incorporate teamwork and accountability. The degree usually culminates in a dissertation, which is overseen by an advisor or advisement committee.

Applicants typically need to hold at least a bachelor's degree to be admitted. Program specializations may include management, advanced communication, group psychology and human behavior.


Find schools that offer these popular programs

  • Actuarial Sciences
  • Business and Commerce, General
  • Business Statistics
  • Customer Service Management
  • eCommerce
  • Logistics, Distribution, and Materials Management
  • Management Science
  • Office Management
  • Operations Management
  • Public and Nonprofit Organizational Management
  • Purchases, Acquisitions, and Contracts Management
  • Transportation Management

Ph.D. in Leadership

Applicants will be expected to submit college transcripts, standardized test scores, letters of recommendation, a resume and a personal statement. The strongest applicants will be currently employed in a leadership position.

Coursework in these programs usually takes on two phases: intense, original research with the goal of publication, and collaborative work aimed at building practical leadership skills. Here are some classes that might appear in the curriculum:

  • Globalization
  • Human issues
  • Management
  • Advanced communication
  • Group psychology and human behavior

Career Options

Most of the time, those who matriculate into these programs are already leaders in an organization. Some may even be heads of organizations who do not stand to gain anything materially from completing such a degree but only wish to improve their own skills. Here are a few common job titles for those enrolled in these programs:

  • Chief executive officer (CEO)
  • Senior consultant
  • President
  • Entrepreneur
  • Director

Doctoral leadership students can often choose to specialize in certain areas of focus, with more general curriculum going over topics such as globalization, human issues, and management. Often doctoral students in this field already hold leadership positions and gain only further knowledge and credentials from the program.

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