May 23, 2024  
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024 
National University Volume 86B-2 Catalog - April 2024

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership, PhD

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Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

Description of Program

The Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership (PhD-OL) program is a research-based program designed to prepare leaders for positions in the private and public sectors by enhancing knowledge and competencies appropriate to a wide variety of leadership roles. A Ph.D. requires original ideas about a specialized topic, as well as a high degree of methodological/scientific rigor (Nelson, & Coorough, 1994). As is traditional in higher education, a Ph.D. is only awarded for a piece of work that will actually make a difference to the theoretical context of the field – the Ph.D. dissertation is a new contribution to the body of knowledge.

Click here for potential career opportunities within the PhD-OL.

Learning Outcomes

The program learning outcomes of the Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership degree are:

  • Evaluate theories of organizational leadership for their academic and practical value
  • Assess an organization’s potential for positive change
  • Formulate strategies to solve contemporary organizational issues
  • Contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of organizational leadership

Basis for Admissions

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership program will be determined by the degree used to meet the basis for admission. In order to enter the doctoral program, applicants are required to have a conferred master’s degree from a regionally or nationally accredited academic institution. There are two options for entering the doctoral program in the School of Business and Economics.

  1. Direct Entry – Individuals may immediately begin the doctoral program with a previously completed master’s degree in one of the following:
    • A generalized business area such as business management or business administration,
    • Specialized business area (e.g. Master of Finance, Master of Human Resources Management) AND an undergraduate degree in business
    • A previously completed master’s degree in any field AND an undergraduate in business.
  2. Evaluation Track – Individuals not meeting the direct entry requirements are required to take SKS-7001 - Doctoral Comprehensive Strategic Knowledge Studies  as part of their degree plan.

Students in the Evaluation track will begin their degree plan with

  followed by SKS-7001 - Doctoral Comprehensive Strategic Knowledge Studies  and upon successful completion of SKS-7001 take the remaining courses in their degree plan.

Students who feel that they have the business background and knowledge are allowed to take a test-out exam that covers the major business areas. The student must score 70 or above on the exam and can be taken no later than two weeks prior to the beginning of SKS-7001 - Doctoral Comprehensive Strategic Knowledge Studies  course. This can be discussed with your enrollment or academic and finance advisor.

Degree Requirements

The University may accept a maximum of 12 semester credit hours in transfer toward the doctoral degree for graduate coursework completed at an accredited college or university with a grade of “B” or better.

The PhD-OL degree programs have the following graduation requirements:

  • A minimum of 48 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed through the University
  • Grade Point Average of 3.0 (letter grade of “B”) or higher
  • Satisfactory completion of the PhD-OL Pre-Candidacy Prospectus
  • University Approval of Dissertation Manuscript and Oral Defense completed
  • Submission of the approved final dissertation manuscript to the University Registrar, including the original unbound dissertation manuscript and an electronic copy
  • Official documents on file for basis of admission: a conferred master’s degree from an accredited academic institution
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credit hours accepted by the University
  • All financial obligations must be met before the student will be issued their complimentary diploma

Dissertation Completion Pathway

The University’s mission is dedicated to assisting students in achieving their academic aspirations and helping them become valuable contributors to their community and profession. To support our mission, the University now offers a dissertation completion pathway for students who have successfully completed their doctoral coursework and achieved doctoral candidacy at a previous institution but were unable to complete their dissertation.  The University’s Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) offers a unique opportunity for students to complete their doctorate in one of the doctoral programs offered at the University (excluding the PhD in MFT, DMFT, and DNP). Students successfully meeting the entrance and application requirements will complete a minimum of 23 credit hours to earn their doctorate.

Click below for more information on the Dissertation Completion Pathway .

Fundamental Competencies

All PhD-OL students are required to demonstrate competency in these areas:

Graduate-Level Research Methods Competency – PhD-OL students are required to complete BUS-7100 BUS-7320 , and BUS-7380  at the University

Graduate-Level Statistics Competency – PhD-OL students are required to complete the following two Statistics courses at the University: BUS-7105  and BUS-7106  

Computer Competency - Doctoral students are required to have computer skills necessary for completing a dissertation

  • Students must be able to prepare documents using advanced word processing skills (e.g., creation of tables and figures, headers and footers, page breaks, tables of contents, hanging indents)
  • Students must use computer programs for the statistical analysis of data (e.g., SAS)
  • Students must produce a computer-based presentation (e.g., PowerPoint) for their dissertation oral examination.

Time to Completion

The University allows 7 years to complete all doctoral programs of 60 credits or less.

The median time to completion for this program is 49 months.

Time to completion varies depending upon the pace in which a student completes courses and the number of transfer credits accepted. As most students are working adults, balancing educational, professional, and personal commitments, our academic and finance advisors will work with you to develop a program schedule that works best for your needs.

Students following the preferred schedule designed by the Dean for this program, and applying no transfer credits, can expect to finish in as little as 40 months.

Dissertation Process

Faculty assist each Doctoral candidate to reach this academic goal through a systematic process leading to a high-quality completed dissertation. A PhD-OL dissertation is a scholarly documentation of research that makes an original contribution to the field of study. This process requires care in choosing a topic, documenting its importance, planning the methodology, and conducting the research. These activities lead smoothly into the writing and oral presentation of the dissertation.

A doctoral candidate must be continuously enrolled throughout the series of dissertation courses. Dissertation courses are automatically scheduled and accepted without a break in scheduling to ensure that students remain in continuous enrollment throughout the dissertation course sequence. If additional time is required to complete any of the dissertation courses, students must re-enroll and pay the tuition for that course. Continuous enrollment will only be permitted when students demonstrate progress toward completing dissertation requirements. The Dissertation Committee determines progress.

Course Sequence

The PhD-OL program may be completed in 60 credits. Additional credit hours may be allowed as needed to complete the dissertation research. If granted, additional courses will be added to the student degree program in alignment with the SAP and Academic Maximum Time to Completion policies. Students who do not complete their program in accordance with these policies may be dismissed.

The PhD-OL is a 60-credit program comprised of 21 Foundations credits, 15 Research credits, 9 Elective credits, 3 Pre-Candidacy Prospectus credits, and 12 Dissertation credits.

Required Foundational Courses must be taken first and in sequence.


The PHD-OL allows students to select courses from a broad range of electives to fit their personal and professional goals. Students must complete a minimum of 9 credit hours at the 7000 or 8000 level for the elective requirements. Students may choose from courses across the University.

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