Program Overview

We believe that great leaders are always in the process of becoming leaders — that their potential to serve and motivate unfolds over a lifetime. That's why we've structured our program as flexibly as possible, to accommodate you no matter where you are in the process or in the world. 

Quick Facts

  • 60 credits
  • Average completion time: 5-7 years, including dissertation 
  • Average class size: 12-15 students
  • Three start dates: Fall, Spring, and Summer

Why Gonzaga

  • Designed for working professionals and full-time scholars
  • Accessible from anywhere in the world
  • Immersions provide opportunities to connect with faculty, build community, and network with fellow students
  • Transdisciplinary approach supports a wide variety of research and dissertation topics
  • Curriculum is designed so that students and faculty may explore emergent topics related to the growing field of leadership studies

Program Outcomes

Graduates of the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies will:

  • Be able to write in an academic and scholarly manner
  • Define and understand epistemological assumptions and frameworks
  • Demonstrate an understanding of personal, organizational, and global perspectives of leadership studies
  • Be able to conduct and evaluate research
  • Explore and critically evaluate leadership, organizational, and global models, frameworks, and theories
  • Explore and understand pluralism from various ontological perspectives
  • Become increasingly committed to social justice to advance society
  • Understand and practice principles of listening, contemplation, discernment, and dialogue
  • Develop and practice ethical reasoning skills that foster positive relationships and advance society social change


Heather Schmitt, Admissions Specialist
Call or Text: (509) 313-6240 or (866)380-5323

Program Attributes

Doctoral student sculpting


The DPLS program is accessible from anywhere in the world, with courses offered in various modes, including immersion-based, on campus, online and independent study. With three opportunities to take courses throughout the academic year (fall, spring, summer), course progression plans can be personalized to accommodate the needs of working professionals and full-time students.

Student having graduation hood placed at commencement

Unique Dissertation Approach

The Ph.D. program's transdisciplinary design supports a wide variety of research and dissertation topics. The dissertation procedure guides students through the process along four major milestones: candidacy, proposal seminar, proposal defense, and the dissertation. Graduates have been honored with national dissertation awards, reflecting the program's strong foundation of scholarship.

Person pointing to a wooden map of on a wall

International Presence

With well over 600 graduates, the Doctoral Program in Leadership Studies has achieved national stature and international reach. The faculty come from diverse backgrounds and students of the program represent a broad range of professions and cultures. Most recently, the program has welcomed students from Afghanistan, Canada, China, Germany, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe, as well as from the Spokane Native American Nation and several other indigenous nations of the Pacific Northwest.