Doctor of Philosophy

PhD students in lecture hall


The PhD in Leadership has been recognized as one of the top online doctorate programs in organizational leadership degree programs in 2024 by Intelligent.com. The program is designed to provide advanced capabilities for scholars and practitioners alike in an area of immense interest in contemporary society. It is well recognized that organizational success or failure is closely connected to leadership. However, there is debate about what constitutes good leadership and how much it may vary depending upon the context or domain within which it is practiced. Similarly, there are a variety of mechanisms currently being employed to identify good leaders and to assist those in leadership roles to become better leaders with varying degrees of success.


Students in the program will be exposed to advanced bodies of knowledge in the attributes essential to good leadership and in the processes likely to identify and develop it. They will also gain a mastery of leadership theories and practices applicable to an array of professional contexts. In addition, students will learn advanced research methods both qualitative and quantitative, and progress to completing a dissertation that produces original scholarship.

The program can be completed with a concentration (area of focus) or otherwise. Students can choose to specialize in an area by completing 9 credits of coursework in that area. Concentrations are available in the following areas: Ministry; Justice; Technology; Politics; Healthcare Administration; International Relations; Sociology; Communications; Business; Public Administration. Those who are not interested in a concentration can complete the program by choosing courses from diverse areas without being limited to any one area. Students who opt for a concentration must complete their dissertation in a topic that fits within the concentration after approval by their chair. Students who choose not to do a concentration can write their dissertation in any aspect of leadership after appropriate consultation and approval by their dissertation chair.

4 Year Program
Available Residentially
Available Online


  • Synthesize, evaluate, and contextualize leadership approaches and theories
  • Choose and create an original, scholarly research project culminating in a written, presented, and orally defended dissertation that advances leadership theories and contributes substantively to the body of knowledge in the student's chosen concentration
  • Demonstrate a high level of comprehension of leadership theory through practical individual and organizational application
  • Analyze social, political, economic, religious, and organizational events relative to the influence of leaders and leadership approaches
  • Integrate scholarly research and leadership skills by putting theory into practice

Admissions Requirements

  • Completed application
  • Master's degree or equivalent from an accredited institution with a minimum 3.00 cumulative GPA
  • Official transcripts from previously attended institutions
  • No GMAT or GRE required

*For questions regarding the program or transfer credits, please contact Trudy Owens at owenst1@carolinaU.edu