20 Best Online Ph.D. in Leadership | Schools, Requirements, Cost

Leadership is vital to any family, organization, society, institution, and nation. Leadership is the representative of a body at any level. Today, leadership has become a course of many studies; hence, we will look at the best online Ph.D. leadership programs you can register for.

According to Forbes, leadership is both an art and a science. It can be learned and is not a gift, as many people claim. Although everyone would not have the same leadership skills, they can practice the same principles. These principles have universal results no matter where they are practiced.

This article will outline the best Ph.D. online leadership programs and the best places to get them. The table of content below clearly outlines what you’ll learn in this article.

What Is An Online Leadership Program?

An online leadership program is a program undertaken by students from any part of the world over the internet. In essence, students get to learn, interact and study despite being miles apart.

When it comes to leadership, students learn the course program over a number of months – each month depending on the school – with a dissertation each student will present at the end of the program.

Online PhD leadership programs have transformed the way we think about leadership. It has given students a more practical perspective about leadership and how to be effective leaders as well.

Why You Should Study Your Leadership Program Online?

Leadership is vast. Hence, you can’t learn all you need to from books or people around you. In most cases, different styles of leadership are practised in different parts of the world.

Undergoing a leadership program exposes you to other perspectives about leadership you may have never known. Also, you get to connect and meet leaders from other parts of the world. The experience is nothing short of fantastic.

In summary, before you choose a leadership program, ensure you fit the requirements so as to get admission. No matter what program you attend, your leadership knowledge will never be the same.

Also Read: 45 Leadership Scholarships 2023 [UPDATED]

20 Best Online PhD In Leadership In 2023

When it comes to studying leadership, there are few exceptional online programs. The following schools listed below are the best schools wherein you can study leadership at the PhD level online.

Hence, the schools include;

20. Johnson University

Johnson University’s original name was The School of the Evangelists. In 2011, they took up their current name. Their campus occupies 175 acres of land in Kimberton Heights, Tennessee, few minutes from Knoxville.

They possess a vast online campus with various options for adult and non-traditional students who require flexibility to access education. In Johnson’s University, they offer Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral degree programs.

Johnson University’s Online Ph.D. Program in Leadership Studies and Organizational Leadership will take four years to complete. The first year includes 18 credit hours dedicated to the Leadership Core Curriculum. The second-year consists of the Ethics and research curricula that accounts for 15 credit hours. The final year is made up of elective credit hours as with a deepening of research coursework, and the final year is primarily research-based.

This university is known for its affordable tuition and innovative learning opportunities. Students will be able to engage in faith-based leadership as well as gain the skills to work in a variety of organizations in leadership roles.

19. Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University is a core research university that began during the great depression. Many people have regarded their campus as one of the most beautiful campuses in the U.S.

The Graduate School of Education and Psychology offers Pepperdine University’s online Ph.D. in Leadership. The program is constructed in a blended format, 60% in-person and 40% online.

They usually have offline meetings every two weekends each term either in Irvine or West Los Angeles. This research-oriented program helps students reconstruct their own best practices in leadership based on qualitative and quantitative research and application.

All applicants should possess a master’s degree, with a GPA of 3.0 to be considered for the program. On average, every student can complete the program in 3.5-4 years’ time.

18. Vanderbilt University

When it comes to student numbers, Vanderbilt is doing well. Currently, their total enrollment edges to 12,600 students per year. The student body represents all of the 50 United States and more than 100 countries from around the world.

One beautiful thing is that they are one of the founding members of the Southeastern Conference. Vanderbilt has many notable alumni, including 26 former and current members of Congress.

Vanderbilt University offers a Ph.D. in Leadership and Learning in Organizations. This program inspires students to combine theory and practice as they work through this comprehensive program with support from leaders that are based throughout the country.

In the program, students will learn the basics that can spur change in any organization. It takes at least three years to complete this program. Students get access to peer-to-peer reviews and conversations in certain subject areas.

17. Regent University

Regent University offers a plethora of programs on campus as well as online. These programs offer associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. The US News and World Report ranked Regent number 11 for Best Undergraduate Program in the nation.

Regent University offers a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership in Individualized Studies. Historically, this makes them the first people to offer such a program online. They started this in 1995.

In this program, students have to do a short residency aspect. This course of study has a Christian worldview at its foundation and based on the best research practices.

Students can reinvent their course of study to align with their personal and professional career goals. Opportunities for students to make an impact on the field of organizational leadership through research and applied theory are all available.

16. Piedmont International University

Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools accredited Piedmont International University. Piedmont has won an award as one of the best online colleges in North America.

Piedmont International University’s Ph.D. Program in Leadership communicated entirely online, except for a one-week residency. The program features flexibility, enabling students to participate while they continue working. Throughout the coursework, students learn to integrate their life experience with their research while studying the management of change and effective leadership.

This program is very affordable and has a high return on investment. It takes about three years to complete this program. The entire course of study is comprised of 60 credit hours.

Also, see: 13 Best PhD Organizational Development Online Program 2023

15. Drexel University

Drexel offers over 70 bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. They generally enrol over 26,000 students per year. Since 1996, they have offered a variety of degrees entirely online.

This university offers an online Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Management (EDD). This program is for students interested in demystifying the core aspects of leadership.

Students will research evidence-based theories that challenge antiquated leadership strategies and instead bring organizations to the forefront of contemporary collaborative discourse.

Students can engage on a full time or part-time basis, depending on if the students will be working full time while studying. These students can complete the coursework in 3-5 years. Participants will come through the program using the cohort model that enables peer support and collaboration.

14. University of Southern California

USC has over 20,000 students enrolled in their undergraduate programming, and nearly 27,000 students enrolled in their graduate and professional programming. Their campus is located where many described as the modern park.

The University of Southern California offers an online EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership designed for students interested in small-scale change.

Some of these students include those who are seeking leadership positions in private firms, government and non-profit organizations. The biggest beneficiaries will be students in leadership opportunities at colleges and universities.

This coursework is delivered online and as real-world experiences are gathered for more knowledge. Students learn how to be effective supervisors and inspire groups.

13. University of the Cumberlands

The University of Cumberlands includes more than 45 courses of study, with many additional minor options. Their total enrollment is 7,000 students.

The online PhD program in Leadership from the University of the Cumberlands is designed to support students to advance into a variety of leadership positions.

In this curriculum, the coursework focuses on the politics of decision making in an educational context, program planning, as well as assessment and reflection strategies.

Students will gain knowledge in ethical leadership in both community and professional settings. Each student chooses a speciality area to work on improving their knowledge base and create applicable discourse.

12. Liberty University

Liberty University is one of the most prominent Christian schools in the world. This University offers more than 550 academic programs through Liberty online.

Liberty University offers an online Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) degree program with a leadership focus. Each student can choose to infuse intensives into the online program.

The entire course of study is 60 credit hours and can be completed in 3.5 years. Hence, students can transfer up to 15 credit hours as they, please. The sequence of study teaches leadership in a business context, marketing, professional management, and human resources.

Students can pick a specialty that will serve their personal and professional goals. Any of the classes include; Organizational Design and Structure, Leadership Theory, Organizational Design and Structure, and Leading Organizational Change.

11. Indiana Tech

Indiana Tech has five distinct colleges with a wide array of course offerings. Moreso, their College of Professional Studies is extensive in reach and provides online and accelerated degree programs.

The Ph.D. Program in Global Leadership from Indiana Tech provides students with an opportunity to engage more deeply in leadership practices to advance their career opportunities.

Students will learn to conduct innovative research that is cross-cultural in reach while examining the duality between organizational leadership and culture.

The program was created to support working professionals from diverse backgrounds, and as a result, it is delivered online with plenty of spaciousness for flexibility.

Each student in the program will have the opportunity to contribute to the field by conducting original qualitative and quantitative research and developing theories accordingly that will support the field of global leadership.

10. Colorado Technical University

CTU is accredited regionally by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), and the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. They offer a number of programs that grant bachelor’s degrees as well as master’s and doctoral programs.

This university offers a Doctor of Management Program in Executive Leadership that is delivered primarily online. Students will have the opportunity to engage in the deep levels of research that respond to the methodologies of management and research.

Students can also pick electives that support their goals including global leadership, non-profit leadership, and project management. Many students find this program when investing in adding core leadership skills to their already existing professions, including consulting.

9. Saint Leo University

Saint Leo sits among the five largest Catholic schools in the nation. They are also one of the first universities in the country to offer online learning opportunities.

The Doctor of Education (EdD) in School Leadership at Saint Leo is delivered through the College of Education and Social Services. It is an online program that helps students who are interested in taking up leadership roles.

There is an on-campus residency requirement that meets in July. Graduates qualify to pursue careers as organizational leaders in K-12 schools. The program ensures students collaborate with their peers.

8. Creighton University

Ten distinct colleges and schools that makeup Creighton. Iver 8,000 students have enrolled annually in their many courses of study, including online learners. The majority of their students participate in volunteering services.

The Doctorate Program in Education focuses on Interdisciplinary Leadership. Students will engage in the science behind management, group dynamics, and facilitation.

Many graduates have achieved excellence in career paths, such as school administrators, educators, leaders in marketing and sales, and faith leaders.

This program can be achieved entirely online that enables students to have face-to-face interaction. Each student has to produce a research-driven dissertation.

Also, see: How to Get a PhD in Computer Science Online in 2023: Schools, Programs, Cost

7. Capella University

Capella University offers 142 undergraduate and graduate degree programs, as well as 25 certificate programs. Their online courses are extensive, with over 1,600 unique options.
Each year, over 36,000 students get admission into their different programs. Higher Learning Commission accredited this institution.

Capella University offers an online Ph.D. in Business Management with a specialty in Leadership. This program is delivered in a format with classes primarily offered online. The only exception remains three on-campus residencies through the course of the program.

This unique program requires 11 core courses and five specialization courses. Each student has to participate in comprehensive exams and also be required to write a dissertation.

A bulk of the coursework depends on critical thinking, reflection, and statistical thinking. The program structure follows a quarter system, enabling students to participate in 1-3 courses per 10 week quarter.

6. Saint Thomas University

Saint Thomas has awesome online learning opportunities through ST Online. Moreso, they have offered extensive study options abroad dating back to 1946, with a program in Havana, Cuba.

The online PhD in Leadership and Innovation is delivered at St. Thomas University. The beautiful part of this program is that it is exclusively designed to the unique needs and interests of each student. I

Integrated dissertation work starts in the program’s first year, giving students a clear focus, solid support, and vision for their work. The dissertation is defended entirely online, as is their coursework.

The program comprises 60 credit hours and can be completed in 36 months. Students will learn many leadership skills that apply to agencies and organizations today.

5. Xavier University

Each year, Xavier enrolls over 7,000 students in their school. These students go-ahead to study different programs of their choice in an enabling learning environment.

Xavier University’s Leadership program helps build leadership capacity among working professionals in many communities and organizational contexts. Many classes are run on campus, however many classes have a remote learning component that enables students to study with more flexibility.

Students can partake in assignments off-campus and work either in collaborative groups or individually. There is a course management system wherein students can access to facilitate assignment submissions and communication.

4. Walden University

The Higher Learning Commission accredited Walden University. This accreditation grants students access to federal financial aid, as well as individual state financial aid upon unique circumstances.

Walden University offers a PhD in Management with a Specialization in Leadership and Organizational Change. The program helps optimal flexibility despite being online.

The entire course of study takes up to 86 credit hours, 43 of which can be transferred in from another college or university. The core courses make up 20 credits, as do the specialty courses. Students have up to eight years to complete the program but can work within a timeline effective for them.

3. Indiana Wesleyan University

Indiana Wesleyan University’s campus has won awards for its new construction, and it sits on 345 acres of land in Marion, Indiana.

For an online Ph.D. program in Organizational Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University, the flexibility comes from a hybrid format of delivery. This challenge builds leadership skills within anyone.

Most leadership classes are online, but some require face-to-face attendance in Indiana. Students can all connect to the weekly classes online. It takes about 40 months to complete this program.

2. Colorado State University

The US News and World Report rank CSU regularly among Public and Private National Universities.

The online Ph.D. program in Education and Human Resources Studies from this university offers an option to specialize in Higher Education Leadership. This program teaches students to be creative and effective leaders in colleges and universities.

These students will discover the best research practices to build on their skills and knowledge and relate them to higher education environments. These students will study diversity and inclusion as they apply to higher education. The program is 90 credit hours in length and students can complete it in 5 years’ time.

1. Grand Canyon University

The Higher Learning Commission holds its regional accreditation. Grand Canyon offers over 200 degree programs, including bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs. This university carries out most of its classes online.

Grand Canyon University offers an online Ph.D. program in organizational leadership. Hence, students will knock themselves into the research and practice of creating soluble and sustainable organizations that can transform communities. Leadership is the science that will teach those formulas.

Graduates of the program will know how to manage global and diverse workforces while enforcing corporate responsibility among many other skills. In summary, the entire program is 60 credit hours in length, and each class should take eight weeks to complete.


Are there online phd programs in leadership?

Yes, there are online Ph.D. programs, and this content focuses on leadership.

Is an online PhD program worth it?

All online Ph.D. programs are great. Your choice of subject area is what makes the major difference.

Can I do PhD after MBA?

Yes, you can do a Ph.D. after your MBA.

What can I do with PhD in leadership?

You can venture into Education, perform consultation for companies, train political and corporate leaders, etc.


Leadership has taken many organizations from zero to heroes. It has helped many timid people gain their confidence back. Leadership is important, and we can’t run the world without it.

As vast as leadership is, the principles and core perspectives can be captured. Hence, teaching these aspects has led to leadership programs like this.

As the world gravitates online, we’re gradually seeing more programs like this emerge in other areas. But for now, you need to learn leadership, and you need it now.


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