Doctor of Philosophy in Ethical Leadership (Ph.D.): Higher Education Specialization


The Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Ethical Leadership with a specialization in Higher Education provides a foundation of integrated theory and practice grounded and integrated in the history, current issues, and future trends; leadership, organization, and administration; student populations, development, and equity; ethical governance, policy, and finance; and program assessment and data driven decision-making in the field of higher education. The program leverages the Ph.D. in Ethical Leadership to develop higher education leaders prepared for leading 21st century higher education institutions.

Graduates are prepared for administrative and faculty positions in postsecondary educational institutions and agencies, across institution types and diverse student populations. With an emphasis in ethical leadership, graduates are prepared to drive equitable change in higher education and society through the research, integration, and application of knowledge.


Career Landscape

  • Executives and managers, and directors and supervisors in post-secondary institutions
  • Directors and managers for non-profit organizations, management consultants, planners, and policy advisors
  • Learners aspiring to serve as presidents, vice presidents, deans, senior higher education administrators, or professors


Program Highlights

  • Maximum Accessibility – Fully online courses with intensive residencies to establish professional networking opportunities
  • Economic Benefit – An affordable price point well below our national competitors provides quality without financial burden
  • Pace of the Program – Full-time working professionals can complete the program within three (3) calendar years
  • Rolling Admissions – Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis for to ensure for convenience of start date
  • Ease of Application – A personalized admissions advisor is provided to every prospective student ensuring consistent and timely communication, while not requiring a standardized test (e.g., GRE, GMAT, etc.) to create ease for the applicant
  • Transfer Credits Accepted – Up to 18 credits beyond a master’s degree can be accepted accelerating program completion
  • Relational – Nationally renowned faculty members work with students to be adaptive to the complications of work, family, and personal obligations



Tuition per Credit Hour Technology Fee per Course Program Tuition
Tuition $700 $100 $44,000


Start Terms

The Doctor of Philosophy in Ethical Leadership offers six start terms throughout the year. Contact the Office of Graduate Admissions to learn more.

Admissions Process

Admission to the Doctor of Philosophy in Ethical Leadership with a Specialization in Higher Education program requires each prospective student to submit the following materials for evaluation:

  • A completed and signed university Application for Admission
  • Official accredited college and/or university baccalaureate and master’s transcripts

Program Student Learning Outcomes

  • Analyzing historical, current issues, and future trends in higher education to inform scholarship and practice
  • Critiquing the cultures and academic work of higher education and their relationship with institutional missions and student learning
  • Developing equitable programs, courses, and policies that reflect diverse student populations in institutions of higher education
  • Analyzing organizational and administrative functions within higher education institutions in order to practice ethical leadership and change
  • Applying ethical leadership in governance, policy, and finance that reflect the needs of students, institutions, and society
  • Conducting program assessment and evaluation and higher education research as equitable and ethical scholars
  • and practitioners


Education Requirements-60 credits
Higher Education Core Courses-15 credits

  • HED 801 Higher Education Foundations
  • HED 802 Academic Cultures & Issues in Higher Education
  • HED 803 College Teaching
  • HED 804 Economics & Finance in Higher Education
  • HED 805 Organization & Administration of Higher Education

Leadership Courses-21 credits

  • DEL 801 Interpersonal Leadership*
  • DEL 802 Moral Imagination & Decision-Making
  • DEL 805 Leadership in Action
  • ELI 801 Theory & Practice of Leadership
  • ELI 805 Globalization & Strategic Leadership*
  • ELI 807 Ethics & Governance
  • ELI 809 Innovation & Leadership*

Research Courses – 12 Credits

  • DEL 804 Assessment & Evaluation
  • RES 819 Research Methods
  • RES 820 Quantitative Research
  • RES 821 Qualitative Research

Doctoral Research Courses (Dissertation Research)-12 credits

  • DIS 900 Doctoral Research Proposal
  • DIS 901 Doctoral Research I
  • DIS 902 Doctoral Research II
  • DIS 903 Doctoral Research III


Residency Requirements

Residency courses provide an opportunity for students, community leaders, industry professionals, policymakers, and university administration and faculty to participate in structured face-to-face workshop style sessions facilitated at St. Thomas University over a three-day period. These sessions create added depth, collaboration, and community creating the foundation for an enhanced education experience. Residency courses are a hallmark of the blended approach to education. Residencies are key components of the following courses:

  • DEL 801 Interpersonal Leadership
  • ELI 805 Strategic Leadership & Globalization
  • ELI 809 Innovation & Leadership
  • DIS 900 Doctoral Research Proposal


Graduation Requirements

Candidates must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 to remain in academic good standing and must complete all required courses with a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 to graduate. Candidates must successfully complete and defend their doctoral research requirements.


Additional Information

Information relating to the program and courses is available by contacting the Ph.D. in Ethical Leadership with a Specialization in Higher Education Program Director, Katherine Friesen, Ph.D., at All graduate admissions inquiries should be sent to our Graduate Admissions Guru (information listed below).


Office of Graduate Admissions
Phone: 305-928-2865