Acquire advanced knowledge and skills in a program designed for professional adults

This program is designed for working professionals who are emerging leaders in their field. The executive design allows students to complete the program in as little as three years by completing coursework and while working on their dissertation. The program is ideal for those who have completed a master’s degree at an accredited institution, with an option available for those who have reached all but dissertation (A.B.D.) status at another institution and wish to complete their doctorate at Alvernia.  

Courses are delivered in a hybrid format with four 3-hour in-person meetings per term, approximately every other week, with the balance of coursework to be completed asynchronously online. Each student will be assigned a faculty advisor to chair their dissertation committee and must identify two other committee members from their network to guide them through the dissertation process.

A.B.D. Provides Pathway to Doctoral Degree 

This is a pathway for the student who has not completed the dissertation requirements of another doctoral program. Our program features a dissertation completion approach customized to the individual student. Through a portfolio assessment of the competencies acquired from prior coursework, life experience, and scholarship, students may transfer in the equivalent for up to 45 credit hours in this 60-credit hour doctoral program.  

The A.B.D. pathway requires a minimum of 15 hours of coursework to be completed at Alvernia University. Transfer courses will be considered individually for applicants who began doctoral coursework at another institution but are not A.B.D. 


Estimated Program Length3 years
Credit Hours60
Course Length7 weeks
Transfer Credits AcceptedUp to 45
Cost per Credit$1,080
In This Section
Graduate Programs

Getting Started

Where You Can Get A Degree

The Ph.D. in Leadership program is available at the following Alvernia University campus:

Application Instructions

A new cohort starts each fall and spring semester. Along with your completed application accompanied by $50 non-refundable application fee, you’ll need to provide a few supporting materials. Because there’s lead time required for some items, here’s a step-by-step process that seems to work best for candidates:

  • While you wait for your transcripts to be processed, you can begin your online application, which lets you build, edit and save sections of your application along the way. 
  • Order your official transcript(s). Official transcript(s) indicating that the applicant has earned a Master's degree from an accredited college or university.
  • Personal Statement. One-page statement that summarizes the value of the program of doctoral study for your personal or professional growth and development.
  • Writing Sample. Upload a copy of your Master's thesis/paper or published work. Alternatively, you may provide a written response to the following question: What do you think is a major or current issue, in your area of expertise, that has a significant impact regarding the community?
  • Professional Resume.
  • Three letters of recommendation. Letters are accepted from professors, employers, or supervisors familiar with the applicant’s professional experiences.
  • Interview with the Ph.D. Program Director and Faculty member. After all the required application materials have been received, each applicant will be contacted to arrange for a personal interview.
  • Test scores (GRE, GMAT, or MAT) may be needed in consideration of an applicant with a Master's degree GPA below 3.25.
  • International applicants may have additional requirements and can review the application process for international students.
Financing Your Education

There are options to assist in financing your education and making the tuition affordable. Visit our financial aid page for a detailed overview of the process, including a link to complete the FAFSA application, as well as more information about the tuition payment plan and the tuition deferment program we offer. Alvernia’s Title IV code for the FAFSA is 003233. The Office of Student Financial Services is available to help with any questions you may have. Call 610-796-8201 or email

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Why Alvernia?
• A nationally ranked comprehensive regional university, Alvernia offers doctoral, master's, and post-baccalaureate programs to advance your career or prepare you for a new one.
• Flexible scheduling with evening classes and in-person, hybrid and online formats meet the needs of the busy adult learner.
• Programs are offered at a growing number of convenient locations in Reading, Pottsville, and Philadelphia.
• Alvernia is the ideal choice for graduate students because of a growing number of affiliation agreements with other local institutions and industry partners and dedicated advisors to help through every step of the educational journey.

Program Overview

Curriculum Overview

The Doctor of Philosophy curriculum is 60 credits. Alvernia University's Doctor of Philosophy has a common leadership core, research core and dissertation. In addition, there are three areas of concentration including: Corporate Leadership, Community Leadership, and Educational Leadership.

The Ph.D. faculty uses various course formats to help you learn, including case studies, lecture/discussion, group projects and simulation exercises to ensure what you gain in one course will reinforce and build on what you learn in others.

Leadership Core

Leadership Core (18 credits)

  • PHD 706: Leadership: Advanced Systems Theory and Research
  • PHD 709: Organizational Analysis: Culture, Theory and Change Strategies
  • PHD 711: Moral and Ethical Foundations for Decision Making
  • PHD 724: Theories in Organizational Structure and Strategic Leadership
  • PHD 725: Leadership: Diversity and Social Justice in Complex and Global Organizations
  • PHD 801: Negotiations and Conflict Resolution for Contemporary Leaders
Research Core

Research Core (18 credits)

  • PHD 701: Research Colloquium (6 credits)
  • PHD 704: Quantitative Research: Design & Analysis
  • PHD 710: Qualitative Research: Design & Analysis
  • PHD 850: Designing and Conducting Mixed Methods Research

Select one of the following three advanced research courses as appropriate:

  • PHD 851: Instrument Design and Analysis
  • PHD 853: Advanced Quantitative Research: Design & Analysis
  • PHD 855: Advanced Qualitative Research: Design & Analysis

Dissertation (12 credits)

The dissertation is the culmination of the doctoral program and as such must reflect a high degree of scholarly competence for students. Students will be required to first submit and defend their dissertation proposal. Students will advance to full dissertation after they have successfully defended their proposal. The full dissertation must report, in an accepted scholarly style, an original investigation of a research problem or theory of significance in the student’s area of concentration.

The final product will demonstrate the candidate’s ability to conduct original qualitative, quantitative or mixed research design in an area related to leadership in educational, public, or private organizations. The dissertation will take place over a minimum of three semesters. The student will meet periodically with their dissertation committee to obtain feedback and guidance regarding progress throughout the three dissertation semesters.

Students will register for the following:

Qualifying Exam (0 credits, academic plan registration number PHD 900)

Dissertation (12 credits, academic plan registration numbers PHD 910, 912, 914, 916)
Students must complete Qualifying Candidacy Examinations (commonly called the Comprehensive Exam) before registering for the dissertation. 

Dissertation Defense (0 credits, academic plan registration number PHD 980)

Elective Courses by Track

Elective courses for Corporate Leadership Concentration:

  • PHD 727: Developing Human Resources in Organizations
  • PHD 803: Leadership and Spirituality
  • PHD 812: Leadership and Communication Theories
  • PHD 815: Economic Development of Organizations
  • PHD 821: Organizational Policy and Finance
  • PHD 828: U.S. Presidents as Leaders
  • PHD 860: Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • PHD 870: Leadership for Sustainability


Elective courses for Community Leadership Concentration:

  • PHD 727: Developing Human Resources in Organizations
  • PHD 805: Development and Evaluation of Organizational Policies and Programs
  • PHD 815: Economic Development of Organizations
  • PHD 818: Federal, State and Local Government Relations
  • PHD 821: Organizational Policy and Finance
  • PHD 828: U.S. Presidents as Leaders
  • PHD 860: Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • PHD 870: Leadership for Sustainability


Elective courses for Educational Leadership Concentration:

  • PHD 727: Developing Human Resources in Organizations
  • PHD 731: Advanced Supervision and Leadership Theory
  • PHD 807: Curriculum, Culture and Instructional Leadership
  • PHD 821: Organizational Policy and Finance
  • PHD 825: Educational Policy and Leadership
  • PHD 830: Current Issues in Education
  • PHD 860: Dissertation Proposal Seminar
  • PHD 870: Leadership for Sustainability
Experiential Learning Opportunities
  • Students in the program present at international conferences, publish in peer-reviewed journals and co-author books with faculty mentors.
  • As part of the unique Sustainability Immersion Program, students have the option to participate in a one-week leadership program that immerses them in the community in which the experience is located.  Students gain firsthand knowledge of what it takes to successfully collaborate across a community to create real change.  This program is regularly run in New Brunswick, Canada.
Accreditation Statements
  • Alvernia University's Ph.D. in Leadership program is accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
  • Alvernia is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Career Outlook

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in the range of jobs available with a Ph.D. in Leadership is projected to grow up to 12 percent from 2021 to 2031, faster than average for all occupations. The median annual wage in those professions in 2021 ranged from $74,000 to $179,000.

  • Institutions of higher education
  • Institutions of secondary education
  • Corporations
  • Nonprofit organizations
  • State/local government
  • Tenured/tenure-track college faculty
  • VP/dean/associate Provost
  • Superintendent/principal/school administrator
  • CEO/COO/manager
  • Executive director/director/program manager
Why Pursue a Ph.D. in Leadership?
Alvernia University's Ph.D. in Leadership program is designed to help you pursue your passions. Learn more in this video.
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College of Business, Communication, and Leadership
Developing High Performers. Inspiring Action. Delivering Value.

Get to Know Your Faculty

For more information about Alvernia’s Ph.D. in Leadership program contact the Graduate Admissions Office at 610-796-5187 or Or reach out directly to Dr. Travis Berger, CBCL Dean, at

alicia sprow

Alicia Sprow, Ph.D.

Coordinator of Master of Arts in Leadership program

  • Faculty