73 Credit Hours


The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Leadership degree is multidisciplinary in scope, and online or on campus in delivery, with one required on-campus residency in the first year. It is designed for students seeking an advanced degree leading to organizational leadership positions. It integrates research, theory and practice, and provides a breadth of knowledge across the leadership field with in-depth research and study in pivotal areas. Five tracks are available for students to choose an area of specialty: Organizational Management, Ministry Administration, Education Innovation, Military Leadership, and Criminal Justice

Comprehensive Examination, Dissertation, and Oral Defense

The PhD in Leadership student will submit and pass a comprehensive examination upon completion of 55 hours of courses prior to moving forward on the dissertation research for his or her concentration.

The PhD dissertation is a formal treatise that advances a proposition based on scholarly research. At CU, a dissertation focuses on a topic in or related to the chosen concentrations of Organizational Management, Ministry Administration, or Educational Administration. Included among the criteria of a successful dissertation are the following: appropriate topic, valid research question, original research, sound methodology, coherent argumentation, critical evaluation, effective style, conformity to deadlines, and contribution of scholarship.

The presentation and oral defense of the written dissertation will be scheduled through the committee chair.

Program Learning Outcomes

  • Synthesize, evaluate, and contextualize leadership approaches and theories
  • Choose and create an original, scholarly research project culminating in a written, presented, and orally defended dissertation that advances leadership theories and contributes substantively to the body of knowledge in the student's chosen concentration
  • Demonstrate a high level of comprehension of leadership theory through practical individual and organizational application
  • Analyze social, political, economic, religious, and organizational events relative to the influence of leaders and leadership approaches
  • Integrate scholarly research and leadership skills by putting theory into practice

Admissions Requirements

  • A master’s degree or equivalent from an accredited college or university
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • A current resume
  • Official transcripts from all previously attended schools
  • Completed application with Carolina University
  • Writing Sample or Purpose Statement: Submit an academic writing sample from previous studies or compose a purpose statement (3-5 pages) and submit it as an email attachment to admissions@carolinau.edu. For the purpose statement, discuss what has influenced your desire to be a doctoral student in the Ph.D. in Leadership program (include such aspects as your relevant work experience, previous academic preparation, personal and professional interests, capacity to self-initiate your learning, and other appropriate information). Discuss how you believe this Ph.D. Program will enable you to become a more effective professional and principled leader in your field.

Degree Requirements

  • The maximum time limit to complete the program is seven years or 150% of the credits, whichever the student reaches first.
  • A minimum of 37 credit hours must be completed at CU.
  • Up to 50% of the required credit hours can be transferred.
  • Graduation is contingent upon the completion of 73 hours of prescribed courses with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 and no more than one C. Students must complete all coursework, pass the written comprehensive examination, and successfully write, present, and defend their dissertation.
  • Understand the School of Leadership Leave of Absence policy


Leadership Core (31 Credit Hours)

Research Core (15 Credit Hours)

Concentration Courses (9 Credit Hours; Choose One Area)

Organizational Management

Educational Administration

Ministry Administration

3 Credit Hours

Dissertation Courses (18 Credit Hours)