Strategic Leadership Studies


Admission Criteria and Degree Requirements
All applicants must first satisfy the general application requirements of The Graduate School as described for prospective graduate students.


The School of Leadership Studies requires applicants to have a master's degree from an accredited institution. The school welcomes applicants from any area or discipline, but applicants should have completed an introductory statistics course and an undergraduate financial accounting course. Other background course work may be required depending upon the student's concentration, such as school leadership courses for the Educational (K-12) Leadership concentration.


To Apply
For information about the application process, an online application form and application instructions, go to All application materials are uploaded through this website.


Required Materials
A master's degree from an accredited institution is required for all applicants. In addition, the School of Leadership Studies requires all prospective applicants to have and submit evidence of the following:


  • GRE or GMAT scores.
  • official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended.
  • a brief (250 words) statement of purpose that identifies the applicant's reason for applying, intended field of concentration, and long-range career aspirations.
  • three (five preferred) years of full-time equivalent work experience.
  • a current resume that details your relevant job experience.
  • three personal evaluations submitted according to instructions found at
  • At least one personal evaluation must be from a current or former direct supervisor.
  • up to two scholarly samples that demonstrate an applicant's ability to conduct research.


Top candidates will be invited for a personal interview as part of the final admission decision.


Application Deadlines
Applications are reviewed two times a year. The application deadline is March 1 for fall admission and October 1 for spring admission. Incomplete applications are not considered. Applicants are responsible for assuring all materials have been received. Students normally matriculate in the fall semester, but flexibility is allowed based upon prior course work and student work schedules.


James Madison University offers an innovative doctoral program in Strategic Leadership Studies with three specialty concentrations:



This program emphasizes business principles, accountability, and leadership theory and applications, which are all areas of reform that national groups have touted as important for new educational, nonprofit and higher education administrators. Students will be instructed in management principles and in the broader visionary perspectives necessary for effective leadership. The program emphasizes practical applications grounded in sophisticated research skills needed for data-based, innovative decision-making in current and future practice.


The leadership course work encompasses models, theories and processes, which are tested through application to situations faced by practicing leaders. The capstone leadership course requires an externship. In addition to leadership course work, students enroll in clusters of courses centered on research methodology including: measurement, statistics, and accountability; business administration, managerial finance and accounting for decision-making and control; and, a specialty concentration of educational leadership, post secondary education, or nonprofit and community leadership. Students in all concentrations study strategic management, advocacy and volunteerism and advanced leadership dynamics.




Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership

Required Courses


Courses Credit Hours
LEAD 600. Introduction to Leadership Studies and Ethics 3
LEAD 710. Advocacy and Volunteerism 3
LEAD 890. Advanced Leadership Dynamics 6
MBA 690. Strategic Management 3
Foundation courses: Research Methodology and Evaluation 12
Foundation courses: Business and Organizational Foundations 15
Concentration courses 12
Dissertation 12



Foundation Courses


Research Methodology and Evaluation Credit Hours
PSYC 605. Intermediate Inferential Statistics 3
PSYC 606. Measurement Theory 3
PSYC 608. Multivariate Statistical Methods in Psychology 3
PSYC 770. Assessment and Public Policy 3
or LEAD 764 Leadership & Accountability for Nonprofit Organizations 3
(for the Nonprofit and Community Leadership Concentration)  



Business and Organizational Foundations Credit Hours
MBA 620. Accounting for Decision Making and Control 3
MBA 630. Financial Management 3
Three MBA electives 1 9



1 Advanced statistics courses may be substituted for one or more MBA electives.




The strategic leadership program offers three concentrations:



Educational Leadership (K-12)
The educational leadership concentration includes course work in learning theories and instructional models, curriculum development and evaluation, and advanced strategies for leading school organizations.


Required Courses Credit Hours
LEAD/ADSU 730. Advanced Learning Theories & Instructional Models 3
LEAD/ADSU 735. Advanced Curriculum 3
LEAD/ADSU 741. Leading Educational Organizations 6



Postsecondary Education Concentration
The postsecondary concentration utilizes a scholarly approach for graduates wishing to work in a variety of settings within postsecondary education.


Required Courses Credit Hours
LEAD 780. Policy Development and Analysis in Postsecondary Education 3
LEAD 782. Entrepreneurship and Economic Development 3
LEAD 785. Proseminar in Postsecondary Education 3
LEAD 800. Research Practicum in Postsecondary Studies 3



Nonprofit and Community Leadership Concentration
The Nonprofit and Community Leadership concentration includes course work in the civil society and the nonprofit sector, nonprofit organization issues, governance and nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy and resource development.


Required Courses Credit Hours
LEAD 760. Proseminar in Principles of Nonprofit Organizations 3
LEAD 761. Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector 3
LEAD 762. Proseminar in Nonprofit Organizational Governance 3
LEAD 763. Philanthropy and Resource Development 3





Course Offerings


Strategic Leadership


LEAD 600. Introduction to Leadership Studies and Ethics.
3 credits.
A doctoral survey course covering the history, philosophy, theories and concepts of organizational leadership. This course will differentiate between the roles of the manager and the leader and provide the student with the foundations of organizational leadership. This course provides an opportunity to examine pertinent leadership theories, to develop a personal understanding of leadership and to explore the relations of leaders and followers.


LEAD 695. Special Topics in Strategic Leadership Studies.
3 credits.
In-depth study of current topics in the field of Strategic Leadership Studies. Content varies depending on the topic and instructor. May be repeated for different Special Topics.


LEAD 710. Advocacy and Volunteerism.
3 credits.
This course is designed to enable students to understand the distinction among civic participation organizations and political advocacy.


LEAD/ADSU 730. Advanced Learning Theories and Instructional Models.
3 credits.
This course focuses on the design, delivery, assessment and supervision of instruction in schools, across schools, throughout the school division and in the community. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD/ADSU 735. Advanced Curriculum Theory and Instructional Issues.
3 credits.
This course focuses on the determination, development, implementation, assessment and revision of curriculum and its relationship to the design, delivery, assessment and supervision of instruction in schools, across schools, throughout the school division and in the community. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD/ADSU 741. Leading Educational Organizations.
6 credits.
Analyze, apply study of ethics, values and leadership concepts. Apply four ethical paradigms of justice, care, critique and profession. Integrate and apply knowledge of educational laws, personnel supervision and education finance. Analyze change theory as related to cognitive and social processes and apply to school and organizational change. Analyze the impact of personnel motivation, work performance and evaluation on school culture. Evaluate sociopolitical influences on leadership in schools. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD 760. Proseminar in Principles of Nonprofit Organizations.
3 credits.
The first course in the concentration is designed to enhance students' understanding of how third-sector organizations differ in economic, legal, and political terms from government and for-profit organizations. The course fosters understanding of the theoretical, organizational and practice space occupied by various types of nonprofit organizations within the sector as well as their purposes, and the current status of service provision.


LEAD 761. Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector.
3 credits.
This doctoral survey course explores the synergy between civil society and the nonprofit sector by tracing the theoretical and historical perspectives of each. The role of cultural and political context in the development of civil society and the nonprofit sector are presented from a leadership perspective through emphasis on voluntary associations and their potential role in fostering social transformations across national and transnational boundaries. Prerequisite: LEAD 760.


LEAD 762. Proseminar in Nonprofit Organizational Governance.
3 credits.
The structure, functions and composition of nonprofit boards and their relationship to organizational management and performance are investigated from a theoretical and leadership orientation. The fiduciary, strategic and generative governance roles of boards and common issues associated with nonprofit governance are examined from various perspectives. Strategies for improved board performance and accountability are explored. Prerequisite: LEAD 760.


LEAD 763. Philanthropy and Resource Development.
3 credits.
A doctoral seminar exploring the historical, economic, political, social, and psychological foundations of philanthropy in American society as well as the ethical, legal, and financial aspects of organizational resource development. The role of leadership strategies for acquisition, maintenance, and stewardship of resources including various organizational stakeholders is emphasized. The course includes perspectives from theory, empirical research, and practice. Prerequisite: LEAD 760.


LEAD 764. Leadership & Accountability for Nonprofit Organizations.
3 credits.
This course presents methods of accountability, impact assessment and evaluation in nonprofit organizations in light of myriad stakeholders. The role of leadership in determining and implementing processes of internal and external evaluations is explored. Prerequisites: LEAD 760 and PSYC 606 or equivalent.


LEAD 777. Empirical Approach to Leadership Training and Development.
3 credits.
This course involves instruction in the design, practice, and evaluation of leadership development in a variety of settings. Empirical research on the use and effectiveness of leader development efforts will be reviewed. Students will analyze case studies of effective organizations and a variety of assessment and development activities will be completed as part of the course. Also students will respond to a sample request for proposals for leadership development. Prerequisites: PSYC 605 or equivalent and course in Leadership Studies.


LEAD 780. Policy Development and Analysis in Postsecondary Education.
3 credits.
Current issues of higher education are analyzed and future trends are discussed. Various approaches to policy development and their applications are examined from institutional, state, federal, legislative, and international perspectives. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD 782. Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Economic Development.
3 credits.
This course will introduce students to the role institutions of higher education play in fostering innovative discoveries. A focus will be applied to financial, budgetary and economic development practices as they pertain to institutions of higher learning. Students will develop the attitudes, skills and knowledge necessary to recognize effective leadership in a dynamic, ever-changing higher education environment.


LEAD 785. Proseminar in Postsecondary Education.
3 credits.
Encompasses the practice, theory, and empirical underpinnings of postsecondary education. Approaches may draw upon cultural, political, economic, historical, social and global aspects. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD 800. Doctoral Student Research Practicum.
3 credits.
Focuses on principles of research design and planning in postsecondary education and nonprofit and community leadership. Students will develop a defensible research topic, research plan, data collection, selection of methodology, and implications. Prerequisite: Permission of instructor.


LEAD 890. Advanced Leadership Dynamics.
3-6 credits.
This course and work experience represents the final pre-dissertation stage for the leadership studies doctoral program. As a capstone course and experience, it is designed to integrate prior knowledge (both tacit and explicit) and current work experiences with more advanced leadership concepts and applications.


LEAD 899. Dissertation Continuance.
1-2 credits.
Continued study, research and writing in the area of dissertation concentration for students, who have registered for six hours of dissertation credit, but have not finished the dissertation. These students must be enrolled in this course each semester, including summer, until they complete the dissertation. This course does not count toward fulfilling the required hours for the degree and may be repeated as needed.


LEAD 900. Doctoral Dissertation.
3-12 credits.
Provides advanced research required of all doctoral candidates. Course is graded on an S/U basis. Prerequisites: Completion of all course work and permission of student's adviser and the Director of the School of Leadership Studies.