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Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

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No Residency

We have no residency requirements, no GRE/GMAT

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No Group Work

Allowing you to earn your degree anywhere

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100% Online Learning

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Home » Programs » Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

Our online PhD in Organizational Leadership program allows you to examine leadership in a multitude of dimensions. Upon completion of the program, you will have gained the knowledge to evaluate major theories and contribute to the body of knowledge in the field of organizational leadership. Fully accredited by Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), a leading accreditation association for business education, this program is aligned with best practices that contribute to continuous improvement of business education.

A challenging, fulfilling, in-depth study of leadership

NU’s Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership program offers a uniquely flexible and individualized approach to your education. With a class size of one, you’ll get valuable one-to-one interaction with our all-doctoral faculty. Plus, there are no entrance exam requirements, saving you time and money.

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The Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredits public and private schools, colleges, and universities in the U.S.

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*The Ph.D. OL program is accredited by ACBSP; however, the Health Services, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and Information Technology specializations are not.

As a leading accreditation association for business education, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) “develops, promotes, and recognizes best practices that contribute to continuous improvement of business education.” The Association emphasizes the importance of “learning how to learn,” balancing teaching and research activities to enhance the quality of classroom instruction and contribute to student learning. To learn more about the ACBSP, visit their website.

Course Details

Course Listing

Course Name

This course is the first step in transitioning from knowledge consumer to knowledge producer. Scholar-practitioners will learn to use business theory, advance scholarly inquiry, aid business practices, and form realistic program completion goals. Preparation will be done in the context of an examination of modern trends in business theory.

In this course, students have the opportunity to gain foundational knowledge in 15 different areas important to business and management including accounting, finance, law, ethics, marketing, global business, information systems, research, leadership, strategic management, operations management, human resources, organizational behavior, and micro and macroeconomics. This course serves as a foundation for success in future courses. 

Capacity building, an integral aspect of organizational leadership, involves investing in the right people for the right roles, and implementing the necessary systems to optimize their success. In this course, students will learn theories and best practices having to do with leadership’s role in building and maintaining organizational capacity.

The Theory and Practice of Organizational Leadership course focuses on theories of leadership as they apply to organizational success. In this course, students will learn about various theoretical and applied leadership theories and practices. Students will also identify theories and practices appropriate for their own use in their own organizations.

In this course, students gain a deep understanding of the complexity of organizational ethics and ethical leadership through critical analysis and research regarding ethical principles. Students will research and evaluate consequences of unethical leadership, and how to build and maintain a culture of ethics. Students will assess ethics as they pertain to the globalization of organizations.

Communication is never more important than during times of change. Leaders play an integral role in leading organizational change by helping others understand the need and purpose of change through effective communication. In this course, you will examine leadership theories which underpin communication strategies and practices to successfully manage organizational change.

Coaches and consultants (internal and external) have become an important part of organizational reality. In this course, students will examine coaching and consulting theories and application.  Students will also explore their skills in adapting their styles to particular organizational contexts, through both effective communication and astute analyses and recommendations.

Leadership strategies are often unique to a specific organizational sector (corporate, governmental, nonprofit, etc.). In this course, you will examine cross-disciplinary leadership theories and strategies for their appropriateness to particular sectors. You will also evaluate the role of leadership in organizational development, organizational culture, and organizational change.

In this course, you will engage in the process of scholarly literature reviews and academic writing. With an emphasis on how to (a) conduct effective literature searches, specifically in preparation for the dissertation, (b) develop a plan for writing comprehensive, critical, and synthesized reviews of research literature, and (c) critically review and write about underlying theory/conceptual frameworks, you will develop a foundation for future research. The overarching goal of this course is for you to conduct an exhaustive search of the peer-reviewed research literature in your topic area and identify potential areas of inquiry for your dissertation.

In this course, you will cultivate a statistical mindset through learning and nurturing skills needed to perform and interpret univariate inferential statistics.  The course will facilitate building your statistical confidence in assessing and performing statistics. The course will cover univariate parametric and non-parametric statistical tests, interpretation of statistical output, and introduce skills needed to select statistical tests based on quantitative research questions.

In this course, you will learn advanced statistical principles and how to apply them to quantitative research in the study of organizations. You will be provided an overview of advanced statistical concepts used in empirical research, including inferential analysis. Advanced computations will be performed using commonly used statistical software. The focus involves helping you build independent scholarly skills with an emphasis on understanding multivariate data; the use, comprehension, and evaluation of sophisticated statistical concepts, and presentation of statistical results.

During this course, as a  scholar-practitioner, you will build the skills essential for designing quantitative studies; analyzing the data collected in these studies, and interpreting the results of data analyses. You will explore designs and statistical techniques to use with their envisioned dissertation research.

During this course, you will examine qualitative methods for studying human behavior including grounded theory, narrative analysis, ethnography, mixed methods, and case studies. You will explore designs and methodologies to use with your envisioned research.

The Pre-Candidacy Prospectus is intended to ensure you have mastered knowledge of your discipline prior to candidacy status and demonstrated the ability to design empirical research as an investigator before moving on to the dissertation research coursework. You will demonstrate the ability to synthesize empirical, peer-reviewed research to support all assignments in this course. The Pre-Candidacy Prospectus is completed only after all foundation, specialization, and research courses have been completed.

Students in this course will be required to complete Chapter 1 of their dissertation proposal including a review of literature with substantiating evidence of the problem, the research purpose and questions, the intended methodological design and approach,  and the significance of the study. A completed, committee approved (against the minimum rubric standards) Chapter 1 is required to pass this course successfully. Students who do not receive approval of Chapter 1 to minimum standards will be able to take up to three supplementary 8-week courses to finalize and gain approval of Chapter 1.

Students in this course will be required to work on completing Chapters 1-3 of their dissertation proposal and receive committee approval for the Dissertation Proposal (DP) in order to pass the class. Chapter 2 consists of the literature review. Chapter 3 covers the research methodology method and design and to includes population, sample, measurement instruments, data collection and analysis, limitations, and ethical considerations. In this course, a completed, committee-approved Chapters 2 and 3 are required and, by the end of the course, a final approved dissertation proposal (against the minimum rubric standards). Students who do not receive approval of the dissertation proposal will be able to take up to three supplementary 8-week courses to finalize and gain approval of these requirements.

Students in this course will be required to prepare, submit, and obtain approval of their IRB application, collect data, and submit a final study closure form to the IRB. Students still in data collection at the end of the 12-week course will be able to take up to three supplementary 8-week courses to complete data collection and file an IRB study closure form.

In this dissertation course students work on completing Chapters 4 and 5 and the final Dissertation Manuscript. Specifically, students will complete their data analysis, prepare their study results, and present their findings in an Oral Defense and a completed manuscript. A completed, Committee approved (against the minimum rubric standards) Dissertation Manuscript and successful Oral Defense are required to complete the course and graduate. Students who do not receive approval for either or both their Dissertation Manuscript or defense can take up to three supplementary 8-week courses to finalize and gain approval of either or both items as needed.


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.

Degree Requirements

Program at a Glance

Total Credit Hours: 60 Credit Hours
Courses: 20 Courses
Recommended Completion Time: 38 Months
Next Start Date: Every Monday
Classroom Size: One

Program Learning Outcomes

At National University, you can earn your Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership online, when it’s convenient for you. And although you attend class online, you still receive the personal support and guidance you deserve thanks to our one-to-one learning model. We also have no residency requirements, no GRE/GMAT requirements, and no group projects. This offers the flexibility you need to fit higher education into your busy schedule.

Learning Objectives

Upon successful completion of National University’s PhD in Organizational Leadership program, you’ll be able to:

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

Career Potential

Leadership professionals with specialized knowledge and skills are in demand and can pursue a broad range of career opportunities. According to Emsi labor market analytics and economic data* some of the top occupations in the filed include:

  • General and operations managers
  • Human resources managers
  • Directors of diversity and inclusion
  • Computer and IT managers
  • Management analysts and consultants
  • Financial and marketing managers
  • Educational administrators
  • Business transformation specialists

Emsi also confirms some of the top employers for professionals who have earned this degree include Amazon, Boeing, and many others across a wide variety of industries including:

  • Management /Business Consulting (Guidehouse, Accenture, Deloitte)
  • Finance (Wells Fargo, Citigroup)
  • Healthcare (Anthem, Highmark Health, Humana)
  • Biotech/Pharma (Pfizer, Thermo Fisher Scientific)
  • IT/Computer (Microsoft)

Organizational Leadership at the master’s or PhD education level often leads to director-level positions responsible for senior management and organizational oversight responsibilities. There are also a variety of niched career fields that offer excellent opportunities for graduates with academic backgrounds in:

  • Organizational change
  • Leadership studies
  • Strategic planning
  • Project management

*SOURCE: Emsi Labor Analyst- Report. Emsi research company homepage at (Report viewed: 4/18/2022). DISCLAIMER: The data provided is for Informational purposes only. Emsi data and analysis utilizes government sources to provide insights on industries, demographics, employers, in-demand skills, and more to align academic programs with labor market opportunities. Cited projections may not reflect local or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Current and prospective students should use this data with other available economic data to inform their educational decisions.


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To that end, we’ve simplified and streamlined our application process, so you can get enrolled in your program right away. Because we accept and review applications year round, you can begin class as soon as next month, depending on your program and location of choice.

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Weekly Course Starts
Our course structure is built to make earning your degree accessible and achievable by offering a rigorous, yet flexible program that works with your schedule.

Finish Your Dissertation!

Dissertation Completion Pathway (DCP) is a 100% online pathway helping students “All But Dissertation” finish their doctoral degree.

  • Block transfer of credit from your previous institution
  • Flexible monthly start dates
  • Highly trained faculty providing feedback each week on your dissertation
  • Strategic support and targeted resources to help you finish

Why Choose National University

  • Four-Week Courses
  • 190+ Degree Programs
  • Online or On-Site
  • Year-Round Enrollment
  • Military Friendly

We’re proud to be a Veteran-founded, San Diego-based nonprofit. Since 1971, our mission has been to provide accessible, achievable higher education to adult learners. Today, we educate students from across the U.S. and around the globe, with over 230,000 alumni worldwide.

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“National University has impacted my career. You can immediately apply what you learn in class to your business.”

-Francisco R., Class of 2016

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We know your life may not happen on a 9-5 schedule, so we offer courses online or on-site at locations across California.

Frequently Asked Questions

A Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Organizational Leadership is a research-based degree that prepares students for leadership roles in various organizations. The program provides students with advanced knowledge and skills in leadership, organizational behavior, change management, and other topics. It typically requires students to complete coursework, research, and a dissertation on a topic related to organizational leadership. Graduates are prepared for leadership positions in a variety of fields and can pursue careers in business, government, or non-profit organizations.

The length of a PhD program in Organizational Leadership can vary depending on your course load and personal circumstances. This program will take around 45 months (just under 4 years) to complete. Students also complete a dissertation in their chosen field.

If you’re looking to level up your career and become a top-tier leader, a doctorate in Organizational Leadership is the perfect choice. This program will equip you with all the skills and knowledge you need to succeed in leadership roles across a diverse range of industries. With a doctorate in Organizational Leadership, you’ll be ready to take on any challenge and make a real impact in the world. Graduates can work as top-level executives, management consultants, HR directors, and organizational development specialists, and more. This degree can also open up opportunities for those interested in teaching and research in academia.

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The Key Grant Scholarship

Do you qualify for a needs-based scholarship? Learn more about the NU Key Grant Scholarship and other scholarship opportunities to unlock the door to your dreams!

The Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP)

As a leading accreditation association for business education, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) “develops, promotes, and recognizes best practices that contribute to continuous improvement of business education.” The Association emphasizes the importance of “learning how to learn,” balancing teaching and research activities to enhance the quality of classroom instruction and contribute to student learning. To learn more about the ACBSP, visit their website.

Program Disclosure

Successful completion and attainment of National University degrees do not lead to automatic or immediate licensure, employment, or certification in any state/country. The University cannot guarantee that any professional organization or business will accept a graduate’s application to sit for any certification, licensure, or related exam for the purpose of professional certification.

Program availability varies by state. Many disciplines, professions, and jobs require disclosure of an individual’s criminal history, and a variety of states require background checks to apply to, or be eligible for, certain certificates, registrations, and licenses. Existence of a criminal history may also subject an individual to denial of an initial application for a certificate, registration, or license and/or result in the revocation or suspension of an existing certificate, registration, or license. Requirements can vary by state, occupation, and/or licensing authority.

NU graduates will be subject to additional requirements on a program, certification/licensure, employment, and state-by-state basis that can include one or more of the following items: internships, practicum experience, additional coursework, exams, tests, drug testing, earning an additional degree, and/or other training/education requirements.

All prospective students are advised to review employment, certification, and/or licensure requirements in their state, and to contact the certification/licensing body of the state and/or country where they intend to obtain certification/licensure to verify that these courses/programs qualify in that state/country, prior to enrolling. Prospective students are also advised to regularly review the state’s/country’s policies and procedures relating to certification/licensure, as those policies are subject to change.

National University degrees do not guarantee employment or salary of any kind. Prospective students are strongly encouraged to review desired job positions to review degrees, education, and/or training required to apply for desired positions. Prospective students should monitor these positions as requirements, salary, and other relevant factors can change over time.