Skip to Main Content

Doctoral Programs

Graduate Catalog Banner 2014-2015

You are in the main content

Strategic Leadership

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 Strategic 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.

To Apply

For information about the application process, an online application form and instructions, create an account via the Applicant Center at 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 Strategic Leadership Studies requires all prospective applicants to 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 (including at least one from a current or former direct supervisor). An automated message with a link to the online survey will be sent to the three references listed on the application.
  • two scholarly samples that demonstrate the applicant's ability to conduct research.

To be considered for admissions, applicants must communicate with the school prior to submitting their application. Prospective students should contact the school to set up a phone discussion or in-person meeting to fulfill this requirement. Per conversation with the Educational & Student Support Specialist, an in-person meeting or phone conversation will be scheduled with the adviser of the prospect’s intended concentration of study.

Application Deadlines

The application deadline is March 1 for fall admission (preferred) and October 1 for spring admission. Incomplete applications are not considered. Applicants are responsible for assuring all materials have been received by reviewing their status online in the Applicant Center. To check on the status of references, contact All other application materials can be viewed by logging on to the Applicant Center.


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 organizational, nonprofit, and higher education leaders. Students will be instructed 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 organizational science & leadership, postsecondary analysis & leadership, or nonprofit & community leadership. Students in all concentrations study strategic management, advocacy and volunteerism, and advanced leadership dynamics.

Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership

Required Courses


Credit Hours

LEAD 700. Introduction to Leadership Studies and Ethics


Research Methodology and Evaluation Courses


PSYC 605. Intermediate Inferential Statistics


PSYC 606. Measurement Theory


PSYC 608. Multivariate Statistical Methods in Psychology


LEAD/PSYC 770. Assessment and Public Policy (for postsecondary analysis & leadership)


or LEAD 764. Leadership & Accountability for Nonprofit Organizations (for the nonprofit &


community leadership concentration)

Business and Organizational Foundations Courses


MBA 620. Accounting for Decision Making and Control


MBA 617. Corporate Financial Decision Making


Three MBA electives 1


Concentration Courses


See below.


Advanced Courses


MBA 690. Strategic Management


LEAD 710. Advocacy and Volunteerism


LEAD 890. Advanced Leadership Dynamics


LEAD 891. Externship in Advanced Leadership


LEAD 900. Dissertation



1 Advanced statistics courses and/or LEAD 777 may satisfy this requirement with adviser approval.


The strategic leadership program offers three concentrations:

Postsecondary Analysis & Leadership

The postsecondary analysis & leadership concentration utilizes a scholarly approach for graduates wishing to work in a variety of settings within the field of postsecondary education.

Required Courses

Credit Hours

LEAD 780. Policy Development and Analysis in Postsecondary Education


LEAD 785. Proseminar in Postsecondary Education


LEAD 800. Research Practicum



Nonprofit & Community Leadership

The nonprofit & community leadership concentration includes coursework in civil society and the nonprofit sector, nonprofit organizational issues, governance of nonprofit organizations, and philanthropy and resource development.

Required Courses

Credit Hours

LEAD 760. Proseminar in Principles of Nonprofit Organizations


LEAD 761. Civil Society and the Nonprofit Sector


LEAD 762. Proseminar in Nonprofit Organizational Governance


LEAD 763. Philanthropy and Resource Development



Organizational Science & Leadership

The organizational science & leadership concentration includes coursework in organizational behavior, theory, design, and strategy for graduates pursuing careers in organizational consulting, advising, college level instruction, or research and writing.

Required Courses

Credit Hours

LEAD 750. Organizational Theory & Change 


LEAD 751. Organizational Transactions and Change Leadership


LEAD 752. Strategic Organizational Design


LEAD 753. Research in Organizational Leadership



Course Offerings

Strategic Leadership

LEAD 700. 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 702. Topics in Leadership Studies. 1-2 credits.

Designed to give students an opportunity to complete a brief independent investigation of a leadership topic. May be repeated with a different topic.

LEAD 703. Special Studies in Strategic Leadership. 3 credits.

In-depth study of a current topic in the field of strategic leadership studies. Content varies depending on the topic and instructor. May be repeated for different special studies.

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 711. Effective College Teaching. 3 credits.

This course is designed to present specific theories and strategies for teaching effectively in the university classroom.  This course will assist you in showing effectiveness in your teaching from the beginning of your career. This course will give you the opportunity to take the higher-level knowledge and skills from your concentration and apply them to undergraduate teaching/learning situations.

LEAD 750. Organizational Science Theory and Change. 3 credits.

This course provides a broad overview of the field of organizational science and key components that unite and divide the field drawing upon an overview of various social science disciplines such as organizational development, change, climate, and culture. Prerequisite: LEAD 700.

LEAD 751. Organizational Transactions and Change Leadership. 3 credits.

This course is designed to introduce students to the principles of organizational transactions, internal and external, with a focus on leading organizational change. The course links communication theory and research to effective practices, emerging issues, evaluation and experiential learning opportunities in organizational practice. Prerequisite: LEAD 750.

LEAD 752. Strategic Organizational Design. 3 credits.

This course examines the key theories, purposes, and roles of organizations in today’s world. The main focus is on the design and structure of organizations based on their mission; environments; complexity; size; and span. Differences between public, private and governmental organizations are examined. Organizational culture and its effect on ethics, change leadership, and innovation are studied. Designing for performance, sustainability and innovation are foci of this course. Prerequisite: LEAD 750.

LEAD 753. Research in Organizational Leadership. 3 credits.

This course focuses on principles of research design and planning in organizational science and leadership.  Students will conduct a defensible research topic, research plan, data collection, selection of methodology, and implications. Prerequisites: LEAD 751, LEAD 752, LEAD 754.

LEAD 754. Organizational Policy: Analysis and Accountability. 3 credits.

This doctoral level course is designed to develop organizational leaders’ practices related to and theoretical understanding of policy, accountability and assessment in organizations and in organizational science generally. Prerequisite: PSYC 606.

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, LEAD 761, LEAD 762, LEAD 763 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.

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.

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.

LEAD 800. Research Practicum. 3-6 credits.

Focuses on principles of research design and planning in strategic leadership studies.  Students will develop a defensible research topic, research plan, data collection, selection of methodology, and implications. May be repeated with instructor approval.

LEAD 890. Advanced Leadership Dynamics. 3 credits.

This course represents the final pre-dissertation stage for the strategic leadership doctoral program. As a capstone course and experience, it is designed to integrate prior knowledge (both tacit and explicit) and experiences with more advanced leadership concepts and applications.

LEAD 891. Externship in Advanced Leadership. 3 credits.

The externship represents the culmination of the student`s formal course of study and is an applied learning opportunity. The instructor for LEAD 891 serves as the externship supervisor and oversees all aspects of the externship. During the course, the student can expect to spend at least 100 hours working within or for another organization.

LEAD 899. Dissertation Continuance. 1-2 credits.

Continued study, research and writing in the area of dissertation concentration. This course does not count toward fulfilling the required hours for the degree; it may be repeated as needed. Prerequisite: LEAD 900.

LEAD 900. Doctoral Dissertation. 3-12 credits.

Provides advanced research required of all doctoral candidates. Course is graded on an S/U basis.