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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 the workplace. 

Available Programs

This program is designed as a four- to five-year sequence, which begins with intensive coursework and culminates with the dissertation. Courses in the program reflect the emerging new knowledge and skills and are taught as interdisciplinary, thematic units. 

PhD Leadership Studies degree plan and course descriptions

Students in the PhD program may choose to also earn an MBA in management. This can be accomplished by taking an additional 18 hours of coursework in the MBA program. All students seeking to earn an MBA must meet the admission requirements for the MBA program. 

PhD/MBA degree plan and course descriptions

Areas of Study

The sequence of courses is designed around four broad areas. The four-course leadership sequence progresses from theories of leading individuals and small groups and small groups through leadership in international organizations. The applied courses improve practitioner skills in the areas of communication, management and legal/ethical issues. The policy development courses introduce students to seminal arguments for and against a variety of societal issues. The leadership research sequence provides students the needed skills to conceive, design and conduct their doctoral dissertation. The leadership electives are taken in the last year of study concomitant to work on the dissertation. The areas of study include:

The Complexity of the Leadership Task

  • Leadership Theories
  • Intra-organizational Leadership
  • Inter-organizational Leadership
  • Global Leadership
  • Synthesis of Leadership and Research Theories
  • Leadership Theories Synthesis for Leadership
  • Readings in Leadership

Applied Courses for Leaders

  • Communication
  • Management
  • Legal and Ethical
  • Policy Development at the Leadership Level

The Complexity of Leadership Research

  • Intermediate Research Methods
  • Advanced Research Methods
  • Experimental Design and Statistics I
  • Experimental Design and Statistics II
  • Research Synthesis for Leadership
  • Applied Leadership Research

Leadership Electives

  • Special Topics

Cohort Model

The PhD program is a cohort program, which includes approximately 15-25 participants taking courses together. The cohort model provides individuals with opportunities to work collaboratively to meet the demands of the program.


This  program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). ACBSP is a leading specialized accreditation association for business education, supporting, celebrating and rewarding excellence on a diverse global scale.


All of the full-time leadership studies faculty members hold doctoral degrees. In addition, they have extensive professional experience from the business, 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 School of Business Faculty.

PhD Leadership Studies also offered at the following locations


Rio Grande Valley


Admission and Academic Requirements