PhD - Organizational Leadership


Overview of the PhD in Organizational Leadership Online Program

For lifelong learners who want to take their career into research and teaching, the Doctor of Philosophy with a major in Organizational Leadership will help you develop your skills in scholarly research, writing, and presentation. This rigorous program is an opportunity to dive deeper into the historical and contemporary literature around organizational leadership, to contribute to the conversation about theory and practice, and to explore how integrating your faith can make a lasting impact on the world around you as a leader.

Students in this program come from a variety of industries and education fields, including for-profits, non-profits, healthcare, government, faith-based organizations and more. This program emphasizes leadership through a global and multicultural lens, specifically valuing inclusion, integrity, interdisciplinary focus, international perspectives, and the impact leadership can have in your community and within the world.

  • Complete the program in as few as four (4) years
  • Online program with an in-person residency during the July session
  • Some optional opportunities to engage in synchronous sessions throughout the program


You’ll learn to…

  • Build skills for future opportunities in teaching, research, publication, and leadership
  • Work effectively with colleagues, establish an organizational mission, inspire others, and collaborate to achieve goals
  • Synthesize research and theory for practical application
  • Integrate your faith and multicultural perspectives into the theoretical and practical understanding of organizational leadership


Career Opportunities

  • Professor in Higher Education
  • Consultant
  • Executive-Level Organizational Leadership
  • Researcher


Faculty Highlights

Faculty for the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership program include:

  • Three Fulbright scholars
  • Experience in corporate leadership, coaching, and consulting
  • Global researchers, published authors in peer-reviewed journals, members of the International Leadership Association, and several ordained ministers



Indiana Wesleyan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC),, 312-263-0456. Other accreditations and associations of Indiana Wesleyan University are available at


Tuition & Financial Aid

Credit Hours Tuition
60 Total

$881 / credit hour

The total cost of the program, including tuition and any fees, will be determined prior to your enrollment. Payment for each course is due three weeks before the course begins. Course textbooks are not included in the costs listed above. Additionally, students will accrue other costs related to a required scholarship presentation, comprehensive exam, dissertation, and some Summer Institute expenses that are not included in the costs listed above.

The total credit hours and per-credit-hour costs listed above are effective for the core program. For prerequisite or other required courses if applicable, students will need to pay for appropriate tuition, books, and any additional fees. Costs may change if you withdraw from the program and restart in a future program at a later date.

Financial Aid

Financial aid is available in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, veterans benefits, and even employer reimbursement.

For information about financial aid, call 800-621-8667, ext. 2516, visit our financial aid website, or email


Full course descriptions may be viewed by clicking on the course titles below.


NOTE: If needed, additional terms to complete the dissertation will be done in DOL 922: Dissertation Continuation, at 1 credit hour per each term.

*Course sequence may be changed based on modality.


Below are the lists of requirements for the PhD in Organizational Leadership program. Click on each link to expand the requirements. If you have any questions about the admissions process, feel free to contact one of our admissions representatives at 1-866-498-4968.

Admission Requirements

The Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership is a selective program, and admittance is not guaranteed even though applicants meet all the admissions requirements. The requirements for admission to the program include the following:

  • A master's degree from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting body or by the Association for Biblical Higher Education, verified on official transcripts sent by the institution directly to Indiana Wesleyan University.
  • A graduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or higher from the master’s degree-granting institution at which a minimum of 24 credit hours was completed.
  • A minimum of five years of leadership experience in the workplace, in volunteer organizations, or in the classroom as a teacher or instructor.
  • Submission of all documents required by the Admissions Selection Committee and approval by the committee for admission into the program (see Application Procedures).

In reviewing applications, the admissions committee will be looking for evidence of the candidate's ability and commitment to grow as a leader, foster continuous improvement in his or her organization, and conduct scholarly research.

NOTE: The Admissions Selection Committee retains the right to waive admission requirements for special circumstances.

Transfer Credits

Students may transfer up to nine hours of post-master’s credit from a college or university accredited by a regional accrediting body of the Association for Biblical Higher Education provided a grade of “B” or higher was earned in a post-master’s course meeting the following criteria of the transcript audit:

  • The course is clearly comparable to one of the Ph.D. program course offerings.
  • The course is at the 600 or higher numbering system and was not part of the master’s degree requirements.
  • The course has been completed within the past five years.
  • The course reflects current knowledge-base and best practices.
  • The course reflects higher order thinking, study, and assessment requirements of the scholarship of discovery.
  • The course has been evaluated by IWU faculty and approved to meet program requirements.

Graduation Requirements

To fulfill graduation requirements, students must have completed all of the following:

  • All credits required in the course of studies with a minimum GPA of 3.25. Dissertation credits are recorded as Credit or No Credit.
  • Grade of “B-” or higher in each course.
  • Successful completion of all required course work.
  • Dissertation successfully completed and defended orally. Dissertation must be completed within six years from the point of completing DOL 915.
  • Payment of all tuition and fees is required to receive a diploma.

Residency Requirements

Residency for the doctoral program is satisfied via two types of experiences:

  • Synchronous Saturdays: Courses taken during the January, April, and September terms will have three synchronous sessions (2nd, 4th, and 8th Saturdays of the term). Students utilizing the online modality will attend the Synchronous Saturdays each time utilizing technology-supported virtual classrooms. Students utilizing the blended modality will attend the first synchronous session each term onsite, usually at one of the University’s Indianapolis area education centers. Then, students in the blended modality will utilize the virtual classroom technology for the second and third Synchronous Saturdays of the term. Faculty may provide other synchronous opportunities during the term.

  • Summer Institute: Students attend on campus during one-week long Summer Institutes. All students regardless of modality are required to attend the Summer Institutes three times (usually in consecutive years) during the coursework portion of the program. Students are expected to be in attendance every day of each Institute and are not allowed an absence from required workshops, events, or class sessions that are scheduled during the Institute.

Attendance Policy

All doctoral courses are a blend of live and asynchronous online discussions. Students are expected to attend all required live academic residencies and synchronous sessions. Other synchronous opportunities may be provided. Online attendance is determined by participating in weekly asynchronous discussions. Students are expected to substantively engage in all interactive online discussions, tests, quizzes, and prescribed learning activities. Attendance is required every day of the Summer Institute for all students.

Complete the Online Application

This is your first step toward making your dreams come true for your future. Whether it's to advance your current career, start a new career path, or simply continue that lifelong love of learning, Indiana Wesleyan University is the place for you.

Online Application

Additional Steps to Apply

1. Transcripts

Official transcripts showing degrees conferred for both the baccalaureate and post-baccalaureate degrees are required. Indiana Wesleyan University will accept for its permanent file only those transcripts sent directly to IWU by the registrar of the attended institution(s) Official transcripts must exhibit the official seal and signature of the registrar. Transcripts that are stamped “student copy,” “issued to student,” or “unofficial” cannot be accepted as official.

2. Résumé

Submit a current résumé to include a career objective, previous undergraduate and graduate work, work experience, and special recognition or awards. The résumé should include the number of employees you have supervised in all leadership positions.

3. Recommendation Forms

Using this form, completed recommendations must be made by your current leadership team within the past three to five years (for CEOs, this may be the chairman of the board of directors or a peer at another organization), an academic professor or leader in higher education, and someone who can speak to your spiritual character.

4. Essay

The essay is an essential aspect of the admission process and will be carefully assessed in order to make an informed decision regarding your acceptance into the program. Please follow the guidelines and carefully address each question.


  • Title page, typed, double spaced and numbered with a minimum of 5 pages and maximum of 6 pages
  • Clear and convincing response to the questions.
  • Organization and presentation (i.e., readability and formatting).
  • Evidence of critical thinking that is clearly expressed
  • Use of appropriate vocabulary and grammar.
  • Evidence of scholarly (academic) writing skills that evidences an ability to analyze and integrate literature from the leadership field.

Scholarly Essay

Included in the essay are the following three components:

  • The IWU Ph.D. program is designed to develop scholars in the field of Organizational Leadership.
    1. Articulate your current understanding of leadership, organizational leadership, and a significant leadership issue confronting contemporary organizations.
    2. This section should be no more than 2.5 pages.
  • The IWU Ph.D. program builds on the in-depth leadership experience of its faculty and students to build a collaborative environment for considering the theory and praxis of organizational leadership. Address the following prompts based on your current or most recent organizational and leadership experience.
    1. What is your organization and its organizational structure?
    2. What is your leadership role, length of tenure, and span of control?
    3. What is one guiding theory you leverage in your practice of leadership and the current challenges and opportunities you perceive in your leadership role?
    4. This section should be no more than 1.5 pages.
  • The program is a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Both the Ph.D. and Organizational Leadership components are important.
    1. Discuss why a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership is an appropriate and important degree to enhance your current role and prepare you for future roles. Be sure to give attention to both the Ph.D. and Organizational Leadership components.
    2. Why is IWU an attractive or suitable institution or program for your doctoral studies?
    3. This section should be no more than 1 page.
  • The IWU Ph.D. program generally requires 25 – 30 hours per week commitment to complete the courses, and 5 – 6 years to complete the entire degree (3 years for course work, then the comprehensive exam and dissertation).
    1. What is your plan for making necessary adjustments to your priorities and schedules to accommodate the time commitment?
    2. This section should be no more than 1 page.

The essay should be in APA format and include appropriate, scholarly citations demonstrating familiarity with current leadership literature. 


Materials should be mailed to:

Indiana Wesleyan University
Adult Enrollment Services
1900 W. 50th St.
Marion, IN 46953

For more information, call 866-498-4968 to speak with a Program Representative

Start Dates

A new cohort of students begins in January and July of each year. Applications and supporting documentation (current résumé, letters of recommendation, essay, undergraduate and graduate transcripts) are due by April 1 for the July cohort group and by October 1st for the January cohort group.

Applicants are encouraged to contact us and speak with a program representative with any questions.

*Early applications are considered.

Welcome Letter from the Department Chair

Thank you for taking the time to review the website information about our Ph.D. in organizational leadership. I know that applying for admission to a doctoral program is an important decision. It is a decision that may have implications for your job, your family, and for your personal time. The Ph.D. is a distinctive degree, and our program offers rigorous doctoral-level education for students seeking academic positions in research and teaching at leading universities. The degree may also be appropriate for those pursuing advanced leadership opportunities in business, government, healthcare, non-profit organizations and faith-based institutions. We have designed our program for working adults, but it will require a substantial investment of time and priorities. Those students who successfully obtain the Ph.D. are intellectually driven for advanced study, thrive on the challenge of self-directed learning, overcome obstacles, and experience personal transformation by becoming more in-depth critical thinkers who are able to find needed information, create new knowledge, contribute scholarship to the field of organizational leadership, and influence the people around them.

While the Ph.D. curriculum reflects current knowledge and best practices related to the discipline, an essential ingredient in our program is faith integration for spiritual formation. IWU is a Christ-centered academic community committed to changing the world by developing students in character, scholarship, and leadership. In addition to studying leadership, you will explore your own world-view and have the opportunity to become more fully the person and leader that God has designed you to be.

Entrance into the program is highly competitive, and I appreciate your decision to consider applying. Please reach out to a Program Representative if you have a question or to arrange a time to visit campus and meet with me or other faculty as you make your decision to apply. I wish you all the best as you consider the prestigious step of beginning your doctoral education and the transformational journey that we have designed our program to provide.

Dr. Mark Rennaker
Chair of the Department of Leadership Studies

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Is financial aid available?

A: Financial aid is available in the form of grants, loans, scholarships, veteran’s benefits, and even employer reimbursement. For information about financial aid, call 800-621-8667, ext. 2516, visit our Financial Aid website, or e-mail

Q: Is there an application fee?

A: No application fee is required to apply to the program. However, if a student is accepted to the PhD program, a $200 non-refundable deposit is required to confirm acceptance of the admissions offer. The deposit will be applied toward tuition.

Q: How long does it take to complete the program?

A: The lock-step, integrated coursework is designed to be completed in approximately 36 months. Upon completion of the coursework, the student will complete a comprehensive exam, which includes documentation of a scholarship requirement, a leadership philosophy paper, and an oral exam. Following successful completion of the comprehensive exam, a student will submit the dissertation proposal, write the dissertation, and then defend the dissertation. Therefore, the length of time needed to complete the program will depend on how long the student takes in completing the comprehensive exam and in completing the defended dissertation. Many outstanding students require 5 – 6 years to complete all coursework, the exam, and the dissertation. The dissertation must be completed within 6 years after coursework is completed.

Q: How much time will I have to invest each week in coursework?

A: Time requirements to complete coursework may vary from student to student. Factors such as reading (and comprehension) speed, research ability, writing efficiency, and APA skill can affect the amount of time needed to do assignments. Students should anticipate a 25 – 35 hour per week time commitment while taking 6 Credit Hours in the summer term. Students should anticipate a 20 – 25 hour per week time commitment while taking 4 Credit Hours in the other terms each year.

Q: Is there a foreign language requirement?

A: No. The University does recognize the global nature of commerce and the need to be able to communicate with customers, suppliers, and alliance colleagues from other countries and differing cultures. However, we do not require foreign language capabilities.

Q: Is it possible to arrange an interview as part of the application process?

A: Applicants are encouraged to interview with faculty in person or via telephone or e-mail interaction. Appointments can be scheduled by calling a program representative.

Q: What is the cost of the program?

A: In addition to the per-unit tuition charge and the cost of books, there is an Educational Resource Fee and a Graduation Fee. If selected for admission, there will be a required deposit that will go toward your tuition. Students are charged a fee for each Summer Institute of their program. Summer Institute also will include travel, food, and housing expenses. Additionally, students will incur costs for completing a scholarship requirement, the comprehensive exam, and the dissertation. See the Tuition & Financial Aid page for more information.

Q: When will I be notified whether I'm admitted?

A: Applicants will be notified by e-mail by late May for July entry or by late November for January entry about the admissions committee decision. You will then have up to 21 days to accept the admissions offer and make the $200, nonrefundable deposit. If you do not meet the deadline for accepting the admissions offer, the offer will be rescinded.

Q. When do courses begin?

A. For July entries, the first two courses begin online in early July and focus on required readings in the first week of the term that prepare students for the Summer Institute in mid-July during the second week of the term. For January entries, the first two courses begin in early January and focus on required readings during the first week of the term that prepare students for the first Synchronous Saturday in mid-January during the second week of the term. Optional, new-student orientation sessions occur for both July and January entries.


The members of the Organizational Leadership faculty bring a combination of leadership, teaching ability, and scholarly experience to the classroom and dissertation process. You will learn from professors who have been leaders in business, industry, entrepreneurial companies, higher education, public schools, and nongovernmental organizations. Your experience here will take you far beyond basic leadership theory to implement innovative best practices in your own life and work.

Click on a faculty member's name below to learn more about that individual.

almarie donaldson; Ph.D.

Associate Professor

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boyd johnson; Ph.D.

Professor, DOL

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james freemyer; Ed.D.; M.A.; M.S.

Professor, DOL

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joanne barnes; Ed.D.; M.S.

Dean, Graduate School; Professor

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mike linville; Ed.D.; M.A.

Associate Professor, DOL

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patricia johnson; PhD

Associate Professor, DOL

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tim beuthin; Ph.D.; M.Div

Professor, DOL

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