The doctoral program in Leadership Studies is an interdisciplinary degree designed to enhance the leadership capacity of working professionals from a variety of organizational and community contexts, preparing them to provide purposeful, character-based leadership rooted in an understanding of the ethical, spiritual and authentic dimensions of leader identity, collective action and responsible influence.

The program prepares students to employ the methods of social science to understand the complexity of leader-follower behavior in organizations and communities, with an eye toward discerning and directing authentic action toward common goals.

Students grow in their ability to: (a) reflect on this complexity using the tools of theory and research to discern the meaning of leadership in a variety of social institutions; and to (b) understand the critical individual, interpersonal and contextual factors affecting leader-follower relationships and organizational effectiveness. The program enhances leaders’ ability to more effectively read the leadership landscape around them, identifying both the types of leadership being exercised by others, as well as the forms of leadership that will prove to be transformative within the organizations and communities they serve.

Purpose Statement

The purpose of Xavier University’s doctoral program in Leadership Studies is to instill a sense of individual and collective discernment, reflective purpose and visionary efficacy regarding the leadership opportunities and challenges that exist within both local and global organizations, institutions and communities. The program equips students with leadership expertise that is theoretically, ethically and empirically grounded. Graduates will be prepared to produce extraordinary outcomes from the purposeful activities in which members of the organizations they serve are collectively engaged.

Character-based approaches to leader identity will be highlighted that emphasize the contribution of higher-order qualities of being, required to produce extraordinary outcomes, by all members of an organization, regardless of role, status of position. Students will gain content knowledge, self-insight and professional skills required to continually enhance leadership capacity in themselves and others. Leader identities and will be further enhanced through specialized courses in a selected area of disciplinary knowledge, providing expertise relating to targeted domains of practice and application.

Program Structure

The curriculum consists of two core elements plus a cognate domain followed by a dissertation:

  • Leadership Core (15 credit hours)
  • Research Core (15 credit hours)
  • Cognate Domain (15 credit hours)
  • Dissertation (15 credit hours)

The Leadership and Research Cores provide a common foundation for all doctoral students, while the Cognate Domain and Dissertation afford individuals an opportunity to tailor their program to targeted areas of application in education, health care, non-profit, organizational and community leadership.

1. Leadership Core Objective: To impart a comprehensive, progressive foundation of leadership theory and empirical knowledge pertaining to diverse organizational contexts, psychosocial dimensions and ethical principles that inform core areas of leadership practice, including: effective strategies for leading organizational change, shaping organizational cultures and techniques for developing leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.

Leadership Core Outcomes:

1.1. Master comparative leadership theory. Students will acquire a working knowledge of comparative leadership theories rooted in an understanding of the multifaceted nature of leadership, the limitations of adopting a single operational perspective, and the importance of developing purposeful fluidity as practitioners and researchers.

1.2. Understand the individual, interpersonal and contextual factors affecting leadership practice. Students will gain perspective on the psychological, social, contextual and cultural factors that determine or influence effective practice and development of leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.

1.3. Explore ethical, spiritual and character-based dimensions of leadership. Students will explore the moral, spiritual and character-based dimensions of leadership with respect to their historical, ethical and pragmatic significance for leader identity, socially-responsible purpose and global influence in organizations and communities.

1.4. Develop functional expertise in core areas of leadership practice. Students will master essential leadership knowledge, skills and techniques required to shape organizational culture, implement change and develop leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.

Research Core Objective: To equip working professionals with the social research skills needed to bring empirically valid knowledge to the practice of leadership.

Research Core Outcomes:

2.1. Master social science research methodologies. Students will acquire conceptual knowledge and functional expertise pertaining to the qualitative and quantitative methods of social research that inform the creation, interpretation, investigation and application of empirically valid theories and practices in the field of leadership studies.

2.2. Master qualitative and quantitative data analysis. Students will develop skills of qualitative and quantitative date analysis sufficient to analyze, interpret and understand the implications of data collected using social scientific research methods.

2.3. Master Elements of Proposal Development & Execution. Students will acquire the capacity to plan, organize, propose and execute social scientific research in laboratory and applied settings employing principles of effective design, data management and ethical conduct.

Cognate Domain Objective – To assimilate integrated content knowledge pertaining to a targeted area of leadership practice, while deepening insight, understanding and awareness respecting the application of core leadership principles, theories and skills to specific populations and organizational contexts. The cognate domain is anchored to the Leadership Core by both a foundational and a capstone course.

Cognate Domain Outcomes:

3.1 Impart Specialized Content Knowledge Affecting Leadership Applications. Students will acquire specialized content knowledge respecting a selected domain of leadership practice, including an integrated understanding of institutional context, mission, structure, populations served, cultural norms and traditions of leadership practice.

3.2 Explore Targeted Leadership Practices & Applications. Students will explore the relevance, significance and appropriate application of leadership theories, skills and practices to a targeted practice domain in the context of a selected interdisciplinary field of expertise.

3.3 Enhance Applied Leadership Insight and Awareness. Students will deepen their insight and understanding relative to their own leadership identity and/or the nature of the challenges and opportunities that exist within particular organizational or community contexts.