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

Alvernia University’s Ph.D. in Leadership program uses a robust interdisciplinary curriculum within a values-based framework to prepare students to lead organizations and communities in today’s diverse society. Designed for professional adults in a hybrid delivery format, the program provides scholar-practitioners the expertise to teach, publish, consult and lead.

The doctoral-level preparation comprises research methods and design, leadership and organizational theory, and a focus in three areas of concentration (corporate, community and education), equipping students with knowledge and skills in high demand in a dynamic global workplace.

With three semesters a year, the Ph.D. program can be completed at a faster pace than most traditional programs. Classes are delivered in a hybrid format, alternating in-seat and online, allowing for completion of a degree in less than 4 years. There is an opportunity to transfer up to 18 credits of doctoral level coursework with approval of the Ph.D. program director.

Getting Started

Where You Can Get A Degree

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

Application Instructions

Complete your graduate application.

  • Submit your transcripts.
  • Complete your financial aid paperwork.
  • Register for classes.
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 (60 Credits)

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 (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 (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 (12 Credits)

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
Abby Wells Fulbright Scholar Alvernia University
Leadership Ph.D. student named Fulbright Scholar
Abby Wells '19, the first Alvernia doctoral graduate to earn the United States-Israel Educational Foundation Fulbright Postdoctoral Research Fellowship, spent nearly two years in Israel doing research.