May 29, 2024  
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin 
2023-2024 Academic Bulletin [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Leadership PhD

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Degree

The Leadership PhD program is an online program designed for mid-career leaders who want to take their leadership to a higher level. Guided by faculty experts and embedded in an interdisciplinary learning community of leadership professionals, participants explore the intersection between leadership character, leadership theory, action and experience. Participants are required to engage in testing theory through active experimentation and research. The program is built around the idea that in order to improve leadership practice, developing the inner landscape of leaders is as important as developing the conceptual and practical tools of leadership.

The program uses a flexible learning structure that is learner-driven, life-embedded, and competency-focused. It employs a learning model that values the power of learning communities and harnesses the benefits of networking with others from a variety of leadership settings. These and many other experiences are encompassed within a learning community and do not require a move of their families or a break in their careers.

The Leadership PhD program is designed to be completed in 4-6 years while working full-time. All work is expected to be completed within 7 years. For more information regarding the program, please see the Department of Leadership webpage.

Program Delivery: This program is offered only as an interactive online asynchronous program (see School of Distance Education  definitions). The online courses typically follow fixed enrollment with semester start and end dates. Participants interact with each other and with instructors throughout the courses. They are also part of a learning group which meets monthly for mutual support and accountability, and to engage in significant sharing and evaluation of learning related to competency development. The program also requires on-campus attendance of a two-week orientation during the summer of their first year of coursework (LEAD 630). In subsequent years, participants attend the on-campus annual Leadership Conference and Roundtable (LEAD 600, typically 3 days). Additionally, participants will have the option of attending other planned learning events designed to support them in specific areas of their program (e.g., research boot camps, innovation workshops, writing retreats, etc.) organized in connection with the Annual Conference. Students are also encouraged to come to campus for graduation.

Total Credits - 60

Core - 14-15

Research and Publishing

PhD participants demonstrate proficiency in qualitative and quantitative social science research methods through the research competencies which includes a PhD dissertation. Depending on previous documentable research experience and in consultation with their advisor participants select the appropriate research method courses for their course plan.

Throughout the program PhD participants participate in appropriate collaborative scholarly activities leading to the presentation of research at scholarly conferences and the submission of an article manuscript to a peer-reviewed journal.

Dissertation - 16


The PhD in Leadership is earned through the development of at least 15 competencies which are developed by the participant in the context of his or her work and life and documented in a professional portfolio. Participants develop their portfolio throughout the course of their program. When the portfolio has been signed off by their Leadership & Learning Group, the participant registers for LEAD895, writes a synthesis paper, and presents the portfolio in a formal presentation to a faculty panel.

Specialty Concentration (Optional) - 12

Participants seeking to develop a concentration in their doctoral leadership program may do so under the guidance of a qualified faculty advisor with appropriate academic or professional expertise to guide and assess the specialized coursework and the competencies in the area of the desired concentration. Participants need to fulfill the following requirements within their course of study in the Leadership Program to receive a specific Specialty Concentration:

  • A minimum of 12 course credits in the area of the concentration.
  • Three competencies in the area of the concentration.
  • A dissertation study and/or publication in the area of the concentration.

Concentrations (such as creativity and innovation or health-care leadership) will be noted in the transcript of the participant.

Maintaining Active Status

In addition to other university requirements, active status in the Leadership program requires the participant to maintain:

  • Monthly interaction with Learning Group. Participants register for LEAD 605 (0 credits) each semester.
  • Continuous progress. Appropriate progress in fulfilling the LLP.
  • Contact with the advisor.
  • Continuous registration every semester.
  • Yearly registration and attendance at the annual Leadership Conference and Roundtable.
  • Satisfactory financial arrangements with the university.
  • Employment must be maintained throughout the program.
  • Evidence of progress through regular competency evaluations.

Admission Requirements

  • A sample of your best writing (e.g., published article, organizational document, research paper, etc.).
  • A successful interview with two or more members of the Leadership faculty.
  • Minimum of five years of professional work experience in a leadership setting is expected.
  • A Masters degree or equivalent is expected for admission.
  • GRE scores are not required for admission. However, an applicant may choose to take the GRE test and submit scores to Andrews University for consideration in potential scholarship awards.
  • Current, full-time employment or business/ministry owner. This environment must provide a “laboratory” for developing and demonstrating growing expertise in the competency areas and for preparing the portfolio.

These program admission requirements have been designed to be aligned with the Graduate Admissions section of this bulletin. Those interested in applying for this program will also want to read that section as there may be additional admission requirements.

Applicants must commit to participate in:

  • First year only: The Leadership Orientation (LEAD 630).
  • Monthly: Regularly scheduled Learning Group meetings, typically on a monthly basis (LEAD 605).
  • Every summer: Attending the Annual Leadership Conference and Roundtable event (LEAD 600).
  • Regular online communication: The participant must be responsible for keeping abreast of program announcements and updates sent by faculty and staff to participants (e.g., e-mail, website, etc.).

Credit for Prior Learning and Education

Credit for Prior Learning*

Applicants with considerable leadership experience may consider discussing options for Academic Credit for Prior Learning. For more information, visit the Credit for Prior Learning section of the bulletin, contact an advisor (or program faculty), and contact the Andrews University Credit for Prior Learning Coordinator. Applicants may also find significant personal leadership experiences that allow them to fulfill a portion of required competencies. 

Credit for Prior Education*

Applicants with previous post-masters and/or doctoral coursework may be allowed to use these courses to fulfill a portion of the program requirements. 

*Credit for prior learning and education are granted on a case-by-case basis.

Student Learning Outcomes

The PhD in Leadership requires documented theoretical knowledge, practical application, and reflection in a portfolio that includes the following core areas:

  1. Successful participants will demonstratereflective praxis within their personal development as a leader. This will include areas such as worldview, ethics, values, & spirituality. 
  2. Successful participants will demonstrate reflective praxis in developing interpersonal leadership. This will include areas such as communications, mentor/coaching, & social responsibility. 
  3. Successful participants will demonstrate reflective praxis in developing their leadership within organization(s). This will include areas such as resource development, legal and policy issues, organizational development, creativity, innovation and change, & evaluation and assessment.
  4. Successful participants will demonstrate growth and maturity in leadership scholarship and develop proficiency in social science research methodologies. This will include areas such as reading and evaluating research, conducting leadership research, & reporting and publishing their scholarship. 

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Programs by Degree