Why This Matters


    While there are CEOs who build their companies from start-ups and don’t require a college education, almost half of executive positions do. And with 26% of positions requiring only a master’s degree, a doctorate can make you more competitive in the job market.


    While job growth expectations are going to vary widely for CEOs and other top-level leadership positions depending on the industry, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that 63 careers require a doctorate or other professional degree. Most of these jobs are expected to experience average or above-average job growth.


    The BLS estimates that an average weekly salary of $1,743 per week is earned by those who hold doctorate degrees, while the highest-paid CEOs can make upwards of $200,000 per year or more.

Our Research

Most of the programs on our list award a Ph.D. in organizational leadership, but there are programs that award degrees such as a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership with an Emphasis in Organizational Development and a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership. All our options are delivered in either an online-only or hybrid format.

Regional accreditations are very important for a doctorate degree because they verify the authenticity and quality of the program. All the programs on our list are accredited by bodies such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).

  • 62 hours to write this article
  • 135 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 194 education programs we compared

The Top 50 Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership Programs

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What You Should Know About This Degree

Doctorate in organizational leadership programs focus on how to successfully build, manage, and lead a team to meet the company’s larger goals. Similar degrees such as Doctor of Business Administration or Doctor of Management can also provide this training and experience but may focus more heavily on specific areas.

Any program you’re choosing should be accredited either nationally or regionally. Specific accreditations to look for include the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU), and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

While it can take time to build the education and experience needed to obtain an executive-level position, many of these positions are in industries expected to experience above-average job growth. There is also a smaller applicant pool for these positions.
There are no specific certifications for chief executives, but depending on your industry, you may need to have a teaching or medical license or be certified in specific technology.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching online doctorate in organizational leadership programs:

  • Am I eligible for this program? Doctorate programs usually require a relevant master’s degree with a certain GPA, as well as years of work experience. Competitive programs may want to see a CV with published work, a portfolio, and letters of recommendation.
  • How long does it take to complete this online degree? How long it takes to complete an online doctorate in organizational leadership program depends on the number of credits required, whether you’re attending full-time or part-time, and whether a dissertation is required. The programs on our list range from 48 to 100 required credits and take an average of two to three years to complete if you’re attending full time.

Application and document submission deadlines are very important to keep track of. Also, since scholarships and grants are harder to find for doctorate-level positions — and often more competitive — you may want to talk to the financial aid office about the possibility of a teaching or research assistantship to help offset costs.