Leadership Studies Doctoral Program (EdD)

Program Features

Xavier University's doctoral program in Leadership Studies offers an interdisciplinary degree program designed to develop authentic leaders who use their expertise and skills to promote positive organizational identities, theory-based leadership practice, and ethical organizational culture and change. The program emphasizes cultivating the whole person and their role in facilitating change and building leadership capacity within individuals, organizations and communities.

The 60-credit-hour program prepares students to employ the methods of social science to understand the complexities of leader-follower relationships in organizations and communities, with an eye toward discerning and directing authentic action toward common goals.


The following deadlines have been established for applicants seeking to commence studies in the Spring (January), Summer (May) or Fall (late August) semesters:

  • Summer semester: April 1
  • Fall semester: April 1
  • Spring semester: October 1

All prospective applicants are encouraged to review the program website for additional information. You are also encouraged to attend an information session or contact the Program Director prior to submitting an application.

To be considered for admission as a degree-seeking student in Leadership Studies, please submit the following to the Office of Graduate Admission:

  • Completed application. Apply online where you can register for an account. Start your application by selecting "Leadership Studies Doctoral Program (EdD)."
  • One official transcript of all undergraduate and graduate work from regionally accredited colleges or universities. (Must be sent directly from awarding institution.)
  • Miller Analogies Test (MAT), Graduate Record Examination (GRE), GMAT, or LSAT score. (Older scores are acceptable as long as you can document official results.)
  • A personal statement (1,000-word minimum) addressing how you believe the Leadership Studies doctoral program will help you reach your short- and long-term professional goals.
  • Current resumé reflecting educational and work history, professional and volunteer experience.
  • Three letters of reference from individuals addressing your academic/professional potential for doctoral study.
  • Applicants must have an advanced degree (e.g. master's, JD, or PhD) with an overall minimum GPA of 3.0 from an accredited institution, without exception. Applicants whose prior study was outside the United States must have completed the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor's degree and a master's degree.

Applications from individuals with degrees in any discipline are encouraged, and no prior coursework in leadership is required. Admitted students may be required to take a master's-level research course (Xavier's EDFD 507/08 suffices), if a comparable course is not reflected on previous transcripts, as a prerequisite for courses in the doctoral program's Leadership and Research cores.

Applicants who submit all required materials by the posted deadline will be reviewed by the Program Director, and those who meet stated requirements will be invited for an on-campus interview. Admissions decisions are communicated in writing via the email address applicants provide.


All applications for Financial Aid must be submitted through the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Students are encouraged to inquire about eligibility for financial assistance in the form of federal loans, grants and graduate assistantships. Not applying for financial assistance concurrent with program application may delay enrollment once an admissions decision has been reached. Some forms of financial assistance require a minimum of 6 credit hours of enrollment per semester.

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Program Structure, Cognate Options and Policies

The Leadership Studies doctoral program is a 60-credit hour program that includes:

  • Leadership Core: 15 credit hours
  • Research Core: 15 credit hours
  • Cognate: 15 credit hours in a specialized area of application and practice
  • Dissertation: 15 credit hours of dissertation advisement

Cognate credits may be taken in one or more of a growing number of specializations, including: Human & Organizational Development, Community & Non-profit Leadership, Health Services, Higher Education or K-12 Administration. Download the Leadership Studies program flier.


Students may take up to 6 credits each semester, consisting of a combination of leadership, research and cognate courses until they have met the core and cognate requirements. After that, students are required to enroll in at least 1 credit hour of dissertation advisement each semester in order to maintain continuous enrollment in the program until their dissertation is completed and they have met the 15-credit-hour requirement for dissertation advisement.


Students who have completed post-master's coursework equivalent to a doctoral program at accredited institutions may apply to receive some credit toward a portion of the fulfillment of the EdD leadership, research or cognate courses. Courses graded on a pass/fail basis, or the equivalent, will not be accepted as transfer credit. Petitions for transfer of credit will be evaluated individually and will only be granted with the recommendation of the Dean, Associate Dean, department chair or program director. At the appropriate time in the program, a qualifying assessment will be required before dissertation preparation may commence.


Students who take two courses per semester can complete the required course sequence in 7.5 semesters (a little over 2 years). An additional 18-24 months should be anticipated to complete the dissertation requirement, making degree completion possible in 3.5-4 years. Students who prefer to take only one course per semester can complete the degree in 6-7 years. Students are not locked into either course sequence, and are permitted to double up or take a hiatus at any point in their progress toward degree completion, provided they maintain continuous enrollment in dissertation advisement after completing the required courses.

Sample Courses

Developing Leadership Capacity: This capstone course in the doctoral Leadership Core integrates knowledge of leadership theory and practice through a systematic exploration of techniques for assessing and developing leadership capacity in individuals, groups, organizations and communities. Students will master state-of-the-art strategies for developing integrated leadership development programs targeting identified populations based on diagnostic assessment and interpretation of existing leadership capacities.

Ethical, Spiritual, and Character-based Leadership: Traditional justifications underlying leaders' deviation from ethical norms of behavior are interpreted through multiple philosophical lenses rooted in the moral psychology of leadership. Individual character strengths and virtues are explicated, as well as character flaws and the processes of self-deception that lead to leadership failure and leader derailment. Practical strategies for assessing and developing character strengths and overcoming character flaws rooted in unconscious dynamics of self-deception provide a framework for overcoming habitual patterns of destructive leader behavior and build leadership capacity in individuals, organizations and communities.

Dissertation: This is the culminating scholarly activity required for completion of the doctoral degree in Leadership Studies. Work on the dissertation commences with the selection of a faculty advisor to supervise the development and completion of an approved doctoral research project. A successful defense of the final dissertation is required for graduation. Fifteen total hours of dissertation advisement are required but may be spaced out over multiple semesters.

Tuition and Fees

All for one

Xavier is ranked #1 for its excellent academic reputation among top competitors in the region. Students get the most out of their education, from rigorous classroom studies to experiential learning in the real world.

Structured Program

The Leadership and Research Cores provide a common foundation for all LEAD doctoral students, while the Cognate and Dissertation components allow students to tailor their program to targeted areas of interest and application in organizational, business, community, non-profit, higher education leadership or K-12 administration (including credit for principal and superintendent internships). Each of the four curricular components awards 15 credit hours for a total of 60 credits.

Structured Program

Leadership Core

Students gain a comprehensive, progressive foundation in leadership theory and empirical knowledge pertaining to diverse organizational contexts, psychosocial dimensions and ethical principles that inform core areas of leadership practice. These include: comparative leadership theories, strategies for leading organizational change, frameworks for understanding organizational cultures, and techniques for developing leadership capacity among individuals, groups, organizations and communities.

View Core Outcomes


Students explore the application of core leadership theories and principles in select domains of leadership practice, including an integrated understanding of organizational metaphors, the reciprocal nature of adult learning and development, organizational communication, and global perspectives on national culture. Students select courses tailored to their own areas of interest and career aspirations from multiple areas of leadership application that may include internships, international travel and/or independent study.

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Leadership Studies Doctoral Program (EdD) at Xavier University

The faculty of Leadership Studies offers an interdisciplinary doctoral program that confers a Doctor of Education (EdD) in Leadership Studies. The doctoral program in Leadership Studies is an interdisciplinary degree program designed to enhance the leadership capacity of working professionals from a variety of organizational and community contexts. The degree shapes leaders equipped 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. Graduates of this program are prepared to advance their careers in all types of business, community, educational, health care, governmental and non-profit organizations. Program alums have demonstrated increased capacity for: leadership that is ethical, reflective, scholarly and effective in a variety of organizational arenas; designing and conducting scholarly research; and the application of content knowledge in specialized cognate areas of practice.

Xavier University's College of Professional Sciences prepares undergraduate and graduate students intellectually, morally and spiritually for careers and professions of service. CPS challenges students to strive for academic excellence and life-long learning through promoting collaboration and community partnerships, and incorporating research, scholarship and innovation.

Xavier University is a private university located in Cincinnati, Ohio, providing a liberal arts education in the Jesuit Catholic tradition. Founded in 1831, the University is the sixth-oldest Catholic university in the nation. It has been ranked among the top 10 master's-level universities in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report for the past two decades. The Princeton Review names it one of the "Best 385 Colleges in America."