PhD in Leadership Studies

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Leadership Studies is an interdisciplinary program designed for those who have advanced to more complex leadership positions. Emphasizing the study of research methodology, ethics, teamwork, communication and strategy, the program will help you develop into an extremely sophisticated leader ready to assume executive level responsibility and strategic visioning roles.

The PhD in Leadership Studies enhances the leadership skills of dedicated professionals in a wide range of fields, including education, business, and health care administration. The program combines theory and application in order to graduate "practitioner-scholars" who can provide enlightened leadership in communities and at the workplace. 

Leadership Studies degree plan and course descriptions:

Admission Requirements

The PhD in Leadership Studies program admits new students in the fall. To be considered for priority admission, all application materials must be submitted by May 15.

Regular Admission

  1. Completed OLLU application forms
  2. Nonrefundable $40 application fee
  3. Official transcripts from all previous colleges and universities attended at the master's degree and undergraduate levels
  4. A master's degree with a minimum of 36 credit hours in an appropriate field from a regionally accredited college or university. Leveling work may be required
  5. Preferred grade point average of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale in all previous master's degree work
  6. Official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) either from a testing center or as recorded on an official transcript.
  7. At least three letters of professional recommendation from individuals who can attest to the applicant's leadership qualities and potential
  8. A complete résumé
  9. A personal statement is required.
  10. Must take the following assessment tests at the University Assessment Center:
    • NEO Personality Inventory – Revised (NEOPI-R)
    • Watson-Glaser critical thinking skills inventory
    • Writing Assessment
  11. Interview with Department of Leadership Studies Faculty arranged by the Leadership Department and is by appointment only
  12. Applicants whose primary language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), as stipulated in the OLLU Admission Information for International Graduate Applicants

Admission Procedures

  1. All completed admission files will be submitted to the PhD Admission Committee who will review the completed applications.
  2. All applicants will be notified of their admission decision no later than two weeks after the admissions deadline date.

International Students

An international student seeking admission into the graduate program for a PhD in leadership studies should refer to page 36 of this bulletin for additional information on credentials needed for admission.

Conditional Admission

Conditional acceptance is granted on the merits of each case. In some circumstances, applicants who do not meet all of the requirements for regular admission may be admitted conditionally, providing they fulfill the conditions listed in their letters of conditional acceptance within the period of specified time. If conditional acceptance is given because of missing official credentials, the period of time to provide those documents will not extend beyond the first term of attendance.

Academic Requirements

Doctoral students will be expected to complete the following requirements in addition to required coursework:
  1. Comprehensive examinations — each student is required to pass successfully all written and oral comprehensive examinations. The first comprehensive exam occurs after 18 credit hours. Students may not continue beyond 30 semester hours until they have passed this exam. The candidacy comprehensive exam is taken after 48 semester hours. Upon passing the candidacy exam, students may form a dissertation committee and register for dissertation credits.
  2. Dissertation — a dissertation is required as part of the doctoral program. A student must register for at least nine semester hours of dissertation courses. If a student has not completed the dissertation by the end of the three-course sequence, the student must register for one credit hour of dissertation credit for each semester until completion.
  3. Time limits — the interdisciplinary program is designed as a four-year cohort experience. Students are expected to complete the doctoral program in the time limit prescribed. Exceptions may be approved by the chair of the Department of Leadership Studies. Students will not be permitted to complete the program after 10 years from the time of first enrollment. Students who take longer than seven years from time of first enrollment to complete all coursework and the dissertation may need to repeat some of their courses.


All of the Leadership Studies Department full-time faculty members hold doctoral degrees. In addition, they have extensive professional experience from the business, education, public service, military and nonprofit fields. They bring the combination of academic and professional experience to the classroom to develop leadership skills in students that carry across all disciplines. View Leadership Studies faculty members

Contact Us

Office of Graduate Admissions