Online Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

The best leaders use communication and collaboration to help their organizations achieve strategic visions. But changes in the economy, technology, and culture often require organizational change that may not always be easy to perceive or achieve. Today's leaders need a firm foundation in systems, critical data analysis and strategy, communications, and interpersonal relationships to weather this constant change. Many choose to hone these skills in online organizational leadership doctoral programs.

Why a Ph.D.?

Demanding and rigorous, the typical doctoral program takes at least three years to complete. Students are generally required to complete at least 12 hours of foundational courses and between 12 and 15 hours of coursework in the concentration. Most schools also mandate at least two classes in research methods and design. Just about every academic institution requires students who enroll in these programs to complete a comprehensive examination and doctoral dissertation prior to graduation.

Inside an Organizational Leadership Doctoral Degree Program

The typical doctoral program will include foundational courses in human development, systems, change management, and leadership theory; classes in capacity building and strategic leadership may also be required. Core courses will include organizational learning, leadership models, and collaboration; other courses may include training and development, legal issues, human resources and conflict resolution. Depending on the candidate’s chosen specialty, elective course work in advocacy, fundraising, public policy, and justice may also be required.

At the doctoral level, students are expected to study and demonstrate understanding of a variety of research methods. The typical program will require at least one class, and many demand two in order to thoroughly cover both quantitative and qualitative methods. Students are tested on their understanding of different research methods during the comprehensive examination, which is typically taken at the end of the second year. Candidates then choose a method, and then apply their research skills in their dissertations; these are presented and defended during the last year of the program.

What’s Next for Organizational Leadership Doctoral Degree Holders?

Graduates of doctoral organizational leadership programs have a wide array of employment options, since the skills of the field are needed in so many places. Many return to their former organizations and take positions with even greater responsibility; they become financial officers, human resource managers, and vice presidents of communication. Others choose to use their hard-earned research skills to conduct and publish scholarly research. Many go on to teach at the university level.

In any event, with the Ph.D. in hand, these professionals can expect a good return on their tuition investment. According to theBLS, the median annual salary for executives is just over $100,000.