Online EdD Programs in Organizational Leadership

Modern organizations need leaders with the knowledge and confidence to make keys decisions, accomplish goals, enact change, and strategically handle any issues that arise in the process. Effective leaders must efficiently manage both the organization as a whole and the individuals within, helping to foster development among employees while steering everyone towards the same large-scale objectives. In most cases, these professionals are responsible for the overall operations of an organization and its resources, faced with finding solutions to systemic challenges and producing the best possible results.

Online Doctor of Education (EdD) programs in Organizational Leadership help current and aspiring leaders learn the advanced theories and skills needed to drive success and innovation in today’s workplace. Unlike other EdD programs, which focus exclusively on preparing students for roles in education, the Organizational Leadership specialization has applications in a wide range of settings, from colleges and universities to private businesses, nonprofits, or government organizations.

Curriculum for Online EdD Programs in Organizational Leadership

While some online EdD programs offer a dedicated curriculum in organizational leadership, others offer organizational leadership as a specialization option along with other EdD concentrations. To help students identify doctoral programs with a similar curricular focus, categorizes programs based on their actual curriculum. Therefore, this page contains both online EdD programs in Organizational Leadership, as well as programs with a concentration or specialization in Organizational Leadership, and any similar programs. Online EdD programs that do not offer training in broad organizational leadership, such as those in Educational Leadership with a specialization in Organizational Leadership, are not included on this page.

For students interested in organizational leadership in education specifically, please see our Online EdD Programs in Education Administration and Leadership page, which contains a comprehensive directory of organizational and educational leadership programs.

Exact requirements vary by program, however, an EdD in Organizational Leadership typically entails anywhere from 40 to 70 course credits and requires roughly three to five years to complete. Some programs also offer degree tracks that allow students to further specialize within the field of organizational leadership. As with most EdD programs, coursework is generally split between core courses, specialization courses, electives, and dissertation-related study.

Core courses in an online EdD program in Organizational Leadership tend to focus on the fundamentals of management theory and practice. While actual courses will vary by program, here are some examples of topics typically covered:

  • Leadership Theory: In this course, students explore the foundational theories of leadership, such as Great Man Theory, Trait Theory, Contingency Theory, Situational Theory, and Behavioral Theory, and how they can be applied to the effective management of modern organizations.
  • Ethics of Leadership: What it means to be a role model and the responsibility that comes with being a leader to others. Students examine the philosophy of ethical leadership, looking at the importance of concepts like trust, integrity, fairness, and leading by example.
  • Leading Diverse Organizations: This course focuses on issues surrounding diversity in the workplace, and how to best manage and promote collaboration among employees of different races, genders, abilities, sexual orientations, or cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.
  • Assessment and Evaluation: This course examines different approaches to measuring the effectiveness of strategies, programs, or employees, and how to use this data to best improve performance in order to attain certain goals.

Once they have completed their core coursework, students typically begin taking specialization courses that focus on specific issues in organizational leadership. Again, course titles and content vary by program, but examples of these types of courses include:

  • Organizational Communication and Conflict Management: Students look at the different types of communication that occur in business environments, from mass communication (between organizations and the public) to interpersonal communication (between individuals in the organization), as well as how to handle interoffice turmoil tactfully.
  • Facilitating Organizational Change: This course explores the stages a company or organization goes through as they evolve, and how to best institute both short- and long-term changes with maximum effectiveness while mitigating employee resistance.
  • Creativity and Innovation: In order to stay ahead of the curve, organizations must come up with novel approaches to changes in the marketplace. This course examines the process of innovation, from conceiving an original idea to implementing or creating something new, and the risk involved in going against the norm.
  • Advocacy and Social Justice: Exploring the role leaders and organizations play in their community and society at large, and how they can be a force for positive change, inclusion, and equality. This course is particularly valuable for students interested in working in the nonprofit or government sectors, advocating for underserved groups or policy change.

Along with these core and concentration courses, many online EdD programs in Organizational Leadership give students the opportunity to round out their curriculum with electives. These may be courses closely related to their degree focus, or from an entirely different department at the school. In most cases, students choose electives that align with their personal and professional areas of interest, exploring topics that are relevant to their chosen career path. Here are two examples of electives that may appeal to students:

  • Entrepreneurship: How to start and manage a successful new business, from initial ideation, to funding, to navigating the risks inherent in this type of venture. Students learn how to develop a business plan, pitch to investors, hire key employees, and manage a small team through the early growing pains of launching a start-up.
  • Instructional Design: For students interested in careers in education or corporate training, this course explores the process of developing and instituting effective teaching plans, looking at both the psychology of learning, and the various materials used to deliver instruction.

In addition to their coursework requirements, EdD students typically must complete a dissertation over the course of their program. This capstone research project serves as the culmination of their doctoral studies, and focuses on a real-life issue in the field of leadership or challenge facing a particular organization. In most cases, students work under the supervision of a faculty mentor, researching and designing a potential solution to their problem, which is then presented in an extensive multi-chapter document. EdD candidates often take courses specifically associated with the dissertation process, as well as earn credits through their independent work on the project.

To learn more about EdD dissertation requirements, check out our Dissertations and Research Requirements for EdD Programs page. For more general information about online EdD programs, please refer to our Structure of Online EdD Programs and Admission Requirements for Online EdD Programs pages.

Career Paths for Graduates of EdD Programs in Organizational Leadership

As mentioned before, there are a wide range of career paths one might pursue with an EdD in Organizational Leadership, both in and outside of academia. Graduates can work in education leadership, as principals or administrators for example, but also might pursue management positions in other fields, such as business, government, or corporate training. Below are a few possible career options for graduates of Organizational Leadership EdD programs:

  • Human Resources Manager/Director: The most important resource in any organization is its staff, and it is the duty of the human resources department to make sure every employee is well taken care of and equipped to do their job. Human resources managers oversee the HR department, and in effect, all administrative functions of an organization. Depending on the setting, they may be responsible for staff recruitment, employee benefits, payroll, training, and more, as well as making sure their employer is acting in accordance with all federal and state labor laws and regulations.
  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO): As the highest-ranking person in an organization, chief executive officers are responsible for making key decisions about strategy and development, as well as managing other executives and senior employees. They might lead existing companies or nonprofits, serving as the face of the organization and answering to its board of directors, or start their own business, striving to build a profitable entity from the ground up. In either case, their focus is primarily on setting and achieving company-wide goals, guiding an organization’s vision and directing its members towards success.
  • Training and Development Manager: These professionals oversee staff training and development efforts in a company or organization, either as an employee themselves or an outside consultant. They are responsible for assessing the areas where employees could use further education or coaching, and then designing training programs that both address these gaps in knowledge and align with the organization’s overall goals. Additional responsibilities may include onboarding new hires, developing training materials, or managing training staff and budgets.
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator: These professionals help manage students, faculty, and academic services at public and private colleges and universities. They can work in the admissions office, overseeing the application process and promotional efforts for the school; in student affairs, managing extracurricular programs, athletic events, or academic advising; or even as a dean or provost, in charge of faculty research or an individual school or college within the university.