Earning a doctoral degree gives job candidates a competitive edge. Doctoral graduates also make more money. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics , individuals with a doctorate earn a median weekly salary of $1,883, while master’s degree graduates only earn $1,497. 

People who want to work in organizational leadership can benefit from advancing their education. For example, human resource managers earned a median annual income of $121,220 in May 2020. While the BLS reports individuals only need a bachelor’s degree for some human resource manager positions, many require at least a master’s degree. However, a doctorate allows individuals to qualify for raises or top-level positions. 

Similarly, becoming a training and development manager only requires a bachelor’s degree, but most employers prefer their leaders to earn a more advanced degree. During the same period noted above, these professionals earned a median annual income of $115,640

Thanks to online learning, individuals can work towards future career goals while maintaining their current goals and responsibilities. Most virtual programs follow an asynchronous format, meaning individuals can watch pre-recorded lectures and engage in discussion boards during any time of day. These learners also save time and money on commuting.  

Keep reading to learn about the schools where you can earn a low-cost online doctorate in organizational leadership.

Featured Programs


To develop this ranking of the most affordable online doctorate of organizational leadership programs, we began with compiling a list of accredited colleges and universities offering this degree. We then applied a tuition filter to rank the schools by affordability using tuition data from College Navigator.

Affordable Online Doctorate in Organizational Leadership

#1 — Carolina University

Winston-Salem, NC

  • Tuition : $15,225 for tuition and fees
  • Delivery Format : Asynchronous

This four-year doctor of philosophy in leadership at Carolina University incorporates theories, research, and practice into its curriculum. Learners have the ability to choose a specialty area. For example, individuals who want to work at a faith-based organization can choose the ministry concentration. Carolina University also offers specializations in organizational management and educational administration.

While learners can complete this degree entirely online, the school does require prospective doctoral students to attend a one-week, in-person residency. Here, attendees learn how to write a successful dissertation and utilize the American Psychological Association writing style. Individuals also get to meet their professors and peers in person.

According to the school’s site, 96% of attendees receive at least one type of financial aid.

#2 — Wilmington University

New Castle, DE

  • Tuition : $1,941 per course
  • Delivery Format : N/A

Wilmington University offers a customizable doctorate in organizational leadership. Learners choose between a strategic leadership or workplace learning and talent development concentration. They can also work closely with an academic advisor to design their own concentration.

Learners advance through the program in a cohort to get to know their fellow degree candidates. Individuals can complete the required 18 courses that total 54 credits in as few as three years.

This program emphasizes hands-on experience. Program participants work with local organizations through a consulting project and an applied research dissertation project. As a result, students graduate with tangible experience to add to their resumes.

#3 — Johnson University

Kissimmee, FL and Knoxville, TN

  • Tuition : $8,100 per year
  • Delivery Format : N/A

Johnson University offers a Ph.D. in leadership studies. As a Christian university, this school tailors the program to fit the needs of aspiring ministry leaders.

Courses teach individuals how to lead using biblical, theological, and ethical principles. Most of the courses also focus on contributing to the field with high-quality research.

Learners choose from one of six concentrations. For example, those who want to work in a school setting can choose the educational leadership track. The organizational leadership track best suits people who want to work for a business, and the missional leadership track serves students who want to work at a church.

#4 — Indiana Wesleyan University

Marion, IN

  • Tuition : $881per credit hour
  • Delivery Format : Synchronous and Asynchronous

Indiana Wesleyan University offers a Ph.D. in organizational leadership. Students finish this 60-credit program in as few as four years. While individuals complete the degree entirely online, the program does require an in-person residency during July.

This versatile degree prepares learners to teach and research leadership topics. Graduates often work in educational roles as college professors or consultants. Others become professional researchers or company executives.

The courses cover topics like statistical research design and advanced leadership theory. This program also requires a dissertation.

To gain admittance, individuals must possess at least a 3.0 graduate GPA and five years of leadership experience.

#5 — Southeastern University

Lakeland, FL

  • Tuition : $795 per credit hour
  • Delivery Format : N/A

At Southeastern University , students can earn a P.h.D in organizational leadership. Learners complete most of the program requirements online, but they must attend periodic one-week intensive classes on campus in Lakeland, FL.

To graduate, learners must complete 60 credits. A large portion of the coursework focuses on quantitative research methods. In addition, program participants select one elective course from a list of approved classes. The elective courses cover topics like organizational culture and design and negotiation and conflict resolution.

To gain admittance, individuals must possess a regionally accredited graduate degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

#6— Franklin University

Columbus, OH

  • Tuition : $748 per credit hour
  • Delivery Format : Asynchronous

Learners can earn a doctor of education in organizational leadership from Franklin University . This program only takes three years to complete, and this time estimate includes the dissertation completion. Additionally, students may transfer up to 24 credits to count towards the requirements.

This fully online program features multiple research-based courses. Students discover how to apply statistics and qualitative and quantitative research methods in practice.

Franklin University also allows students to select a focus area. Individuals who want to work as leaders in the education field can select the higher education leadership or the PK-12 educational leadership concentration. For people who aspire to work in business, the organizational leadership concentration will help meet their career goals.

#7 — Nova Southeastern University

Fort Lauderdale, FL

  • Tuition : $1,460 per credit hour
  • Delivery Format : N/A

Nova Southeastern University offers a doctor of education in organizational leadership without any dissertation requirements. This program teaches learners how to implement effective leadership policy and facilitate high achievement standards at an organization.

Contrary to Ph.D. programs, this doctor of education degree focuses less on research and more on hands-on leadership. The courses cover relevant, on-the-job topics like strategic planning, critical thinking for decision making, and diversity dynamics.

Learners complete a minimum of 55 credit hours to graduate. Additionally, this program only accepts individuals with at least a 3.0 cumulative graduate GPA.

Types of Affordable Doctoral Degrees in Organizational Leadership Online

PhD in Organizational Leadership
Ph.D.s—or Doctor of Philosophy programs— in organizational leadership are among the most common types of terminal degrees in this field. These offerings are heavily research-based and emphasize theories of management and leadership in organizations. Ph.D. students are required to take specific courses that teach them how to conduct quantitative and qualitative research in organizational leadership as well as how to interpret and analyze existing research in the field. They are also required to complete and present a doctoral dissertation that focuses on a specific topic in organizational leadership. Ph.D. in organizational leadership programs are usually offered through a university’s school of business.

EdD in Organizational Leadership

The other most common type is the EdD, or Doctor of Education, in Organizational Leadership. The curricula for these programs are similar to that of Ph.D. in organizational leadership, but the approach differs. Whereas Ph.D. programs underscore theories of management, EdD programs focus on practical applications and problem-solving in the field. Though EdDs also require that students analyze and conduct research in the field, the research component may be less intensive, and it is often complemented by experiential learning and project-based study through practicums and internships.

Featured Programs

Frequently-Asked Questions

Q: What is a doctoral degree in organizational leadership?
A: A doctoral degree in organizational leadership is a terminal degree in a specific sub-field of leadership dealing with transforming an organization’s operations through strategic goal-setting, problem-solving, and employee training. These degree programs typically require 60 credit hours of coursework along with a research-based project or more commonly, a doctoral dissertation. Most students complete their organizational development doctoral degree within three to four years.

Q: What types of jobs are available for those with a doctoral degree in organizational leadership?
A: Doctoral degrees prepare graduates for the highest-level occupations in the field. Ph.D. and EdD holders are qualified to work in a variety of work environments, including corporate settings, non-profit agencies, research facilities, and academia. Common job titles include executive program director, president, CEO, dean, human resource director, organizational development director, and entrepreneur.

Q: Are there affordable online doctoral programs in organizational leadership that can be completed entirely online?
A: Yes, it is possible to earn an affordable online doctorate in organizational leadership without ever stepping foot on an actual college campus. However, it is important to check with the specific school you’re interested in attending to ensure that the program you select is 100% online. Some online programs still require residencies for the purposes of orientation, workshops, intensives, labs, and dissertation presentations.

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