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Online PhD in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leaders coordinate, direct, and synchronize all levels of employees within an organization. Due to the multiple areas of coordination that leading an organization entails, organizational leadership is a multidisciplinary field, filled with the study of theories, leadership styles, interpersonal dynamics, ethics, and the impact of technology on organizational growth and development. All of these topics prepare students enrolled in online doctorate programs in organizational leadership for high-level managerial, executive, and administrative positions. These programs usually take between three and five years to complete. Students pursuing an online organization leadership PhD will take coursework in areas such as systems theory and globalization, after which they will take a comprehensive examination over the topics covered during coursework. Once students pass the comprehensive exam, they begin work on a dissertation, which is a research project over a relevant subject in contemporary organizational leadership. Once the dissertation is complete, students graduate from the program, taking with them a strong foundation in management and guidance. In utilizing their new skills, graduates will be prepared to assume leadership over organizations and even establish their own profit or non-profit organizations, while allowing for the delicate balance among individual, group and organization.

About Online PhD Programs in Organizational Leadership

The curriculum of online doctoral degrees in organizational leadership entails a thorough examination of contemporary theories and methodologies behind organizational effectiveness. In order to gain a deep understanding of the ways in which companies and organizations can reduce turnover rates and develop an effective workforce, online PhD programs in organizational leadership study projected demographic shifts, ethical approaches toward management, and diversity. Online doctoral programs in organizational leadership provide most of this curriculum over the internet, utilizing independent learning. However, most universities require an on-campus residency period, during which students will network with other students and receive in-person guidance from professors. These residencies keep students in touch with each other and with faculty, and help keep students on track with their dissertations. Despite the online component, online Ph.D degrees in organizational leadership require coursework in the same areas as their campus counterparts, as The Chicago School illustrates with the examples below.

Year One:

  • Research Methods. This course studies the methodology and tools used in social science research, ranging from electronic resources to data analysis.
  • Personality and Life Span in the Workplace. With a focus on diversity and the cultural differences that exist among people, this course examines the working adult as he or she grows from early adulthood to late life, and the importance of workplace adjustments in approaching the issues faced by middle-aged adults.
  • Systems Theory. The life of an organization is constantly shifting and changing. Employees and leaders alike need to keep with the change, and that is what systems theory is about – exploring the theories behind the various modes of organization and implementing those theories to keep up with the shifting systems within both profit and non-profit organizations.

Year Two:

  • Group and Team Leadership. As an exploration of both successful team leadership and dysfunctional team leadership, as well as the similarities and differences between the two, this course will study how group dynamics affect the team process.
  • Management Philosophy and Practice. As the world changes, so too do the philosophies and methodologies behind management. This course examines current and emerging trends that deal with the management, leadership and mentorship of organizations and employees, and how all three come into play within the workforce.
  • Emerging Theories of Leadership. This course studies the development of current leadership theories and ethics, and how they are – or are not – implemented into practice.

Year Three:

  • Ethical and Cultural Considerations. One of the most important aspects of leadership is being sensitive to the ethical and cultural issues that surround organizations. This course examines the impact of cultural dynamics on leadership, as well as the ethical decision-making a leader is expected to employ.
  • Organizational Diagnosis and Cultural Considerations. This course is a study of the relationship that exists between culture and organizations, as well as an examination of cultural development and its effect on an organization’s behavior.
  • Strategic Change Management. This course examines the tools that are used to facilitate change and the barriers that hinder organizational change and development, as well as strategies that serve to overcome those barriers.

Specializations and Concentrations:

Individuals seeking to earn their organizational leadership PhD online have a few options for specialization, depending on the direction in which they hope to take their careers. A concentration in entrepreneurial leadership is specifically tailored toward entrepreneurs in the global economy, and the issues such leaders face in areas like human resources, marketing and operations. Students can also choose to focus on human resource development specifically. Students that plan on establishing a career as consultants can pursue their online doctorate in organizational leadership with a specialization in consulting, which facilitates the development of the advanced communication and coaching skills necessary for providing guidance to organizations.

After the completion of coursework, students pursuing an online PhD in organizational leadership will take a comprehensive exam – sometimes referred to as a competency exam – over all of the topics that they have studied, including the theories behind leadership and systems, as well as the impact of cultural considerations on the function of an organization. After taking the comprehensive examination, students begin work on their dissertations, which is a thorough, written research project on an area in organizational leadership. Past dissertations in the field of organizational leadership include Leadership Effectiveness in Global Virtual Teams by Timothy R. Kayworth and Dorothy E. Leidner, and A Correlation of Servant Leadership, Leader Trust, and Organizational Trust by Errol E. Joseph and Bruce E. Winston. As both the national and global atmospheres are constantly changing and developing, there are always newly emerging research topics for online organizational leadership doctorate students to tackle.

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Organizational Leadership

Pursuing an online doctorate in organizational leadership is an excellent career move for a motivated individual with strong leadership skills and a desire to keep up with the ever-shifting dynamics of organizational growth and development. Having an online organizational leadership PhD will give a graduate the cutting edge over competition for high-level management positions. However, online PhD programs in organizational leadership are not for everyone. Individuals that have no desire to establish careers in leadership, academia or consulting will not benefit from obtaining an online PhD in organization leadership, nor will individuals that dislike high levels of responsibility and accountability. With online PhD programs in organizational leadership, most of the research can be done at home and with the use of libraries and electronic resources, as there is usually no laboratory requirement. This makes online doctorate degrees in organizational leadership an excellent choice for independently motivated individuals that work or have other daily obligations. However, most accredited schools have a on-campus residency requirement at least twice during the enrollment period, which may be difficult for working students to attend. For students that cannot dedicate the time to travel to campus, night classes may be a better alternative.

Application & Admission Requirements

Online PhD organizational leadership applicants are expected to have a strong background in behavioral science, organizational disciplines, or related fields. Top schools expect applicants to complete a Masters degree in one of those fields prior to enrollment, and prefer completed coursework in the areas of psychology and statistics. Most schools request that applicants have three or more years of work experience. Experience in managerial offices or within an organizational structure is also recommended, and can help make an online PhD organizational leadership applicant stand out. The best schools typically examine academic achievement, resumes, completed coursework, and a personal statement of leadership or a similar writing sample. Some programs require an interview as a last step in the application process.

Career Options & Job Market

Upon degree completion, many people with a PhD in organizational leadership work as consultants. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that this field is experiencing growth, with consulting services as the fastest growing industry. There is a lot of competition for high-level executive positions, but individuals that have graduated from organizational leadership PhD programs online will have a lead on other job candidates. The competition is worth it, as managerial positions average a salary of $105,440 annually. Another career option for graduates that have achieved their organizational leadership doctorate degrees online is a career in academia, as a professor of business or a related field. Post-secondary business teachers average an annual salary of $85,470, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, with projected growth within the field.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

While online courses are generally less expensive than campus courses, the fees for credit hours, travel, books and other expensive can add up quickly. The cost of online credit hours varies by school. The Chicago School changes $1115 per credit hour for their doctoral program in organizational leadership, while The Regent School charges $820. Both schools require a completion of at least 60 credit hours to complete the program. These fees do not include the costs of the residency requirement, books and other fees. Because of the cost of postgraduate education, seeking financial aid is an important part of the application process for most students pursuing organizational leadership doctorate degrees online. There are a lot of excellent scholarship and fellowship opportunities for online organizational leadership doctorate students, some of which are listed below.

Essential Advice

  • Professional associations are a great way to gain knowledge about your field of choice. In order to gain exposure to great resources for business professionals, professors, and other potential fields within organizational leadership, join an association.
  • If you have any questions regarding online PhD degrees in organizational leadership, call the admissions department of online universities. They are there to help you understand the application, program requirements, and school policies.
  • Contact professors that teach the courses required for organizational leadership PhDs and ask about their research in order to get and understanding of what they do and what they will expect from you.
  • Try to gain leadership experience, either within your career or within an extracurricular activity. It’ll boost your resume and make your application for online doctoral programs in organizational leadership stand out.

Featured Programs

Click for course information:

  1. University of Phoenix

    Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership
  2. Grand Canyon University

    Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Higher Education Leadership
  3. University of Phoenix

    Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership with a specialization in Information Systems and Technology
  4. Grand Canyon University

    Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Effective Schools
  5. Grand Canyon University

    Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Behavioral Health

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