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Lead in Times of Change.

This new advanced degree from the University of Sioux Falls helps shape transformational leaders to engage and lead positive change within their respective fields. The Doctorate in Leadership will provide an interdisciplinary perspective of ethical leadership, informed by and aligned with USF’s Christian liberal arts tradition. USF’s graduate programs have long been known for empowering and equipping servant-leaders and for their hands-on approach to learning and leadership, so this new program offering is an exciting and natural next step that leverages existing strengths.

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USF’s Doctorate in Leadership program is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. All 60 credits of the degree are newly designed specifically for this program and will be taught by USF instructors. The curriculum is built into modules of Responsible Leadership, Institutional Leadership and Visionary Leadership.

View the Curriculum 

Admission Requirements

To be considered for admission to the Doctorate in Leadership, applicants must:

  • Possess a master's or equivalent professional degree.
  • Complete an online application
  • Provide two (2) recommendation forms submitted electronically. (See application for details. These should be from individuals in the applicant's professional and/or academic network.) 
  • Provide a writing sample: An academic paper from the applicant’s most recent degree.  
  • Provide a current writing sample: Personal Statement essay
    • The Personal Statement provides the Admissions Committee with an opportunity to learn about your research interests and desire to pursue a doctoral degree. The USF Doctorate in Leadership follows a Dissertation in Practice model which is an applied research study in one's professional context. In 750-1,000 words, the goal is for you to share your "why" of pursuing the USF Doctorate in Leadership. In doing so, describe a searchable problem within your professional context, why this problem is of personal interest, and how you might address the problem. This problem may be the topic you pursue for your Dissertation in Practice, but you are not required to pursue it. Since this statement is part of the application, display your best writing. Please submit to as a double-spaced PDF.
  • Interview
  • Have earned a GPA of 3.0. (most recent degree)
  • Note: No GRE required.

Important Annual Dates & Deadlines

Important Dates

  • July - May: Rolling Admission
  • June: Classes begin
Job opportunites for a doctorate, law, education, health care, military, ministry, business, government, non profit, social work

Experienced professionals from a wide range of sectors including K-16 education, business, banking, ministry, nonprofits, healthcare and government will be a good fit. Professionals can continue working full time while studying to enhance their impact within their own professional context. Throughout the degree, students work on an applied Dissertation in Practice that engages the external public, contributes to the greater body of knowledge, produces better consumers of research and teaches leaders to be problem solvers within their own professional context. 

Be In-Demand

Regional employer demand for doctoral-level interdisciplinary leadership professionals increased 77 percent from September 2016 to January 2019. In comparison, regional employer demand for all doctoral-level professionals increased 70 percent over the same time period. Further, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects above-average growth in employment of occupations commonly posted for doctoral-level interdisciplinary leadership professionals, including “postsecondary teachers” and “medical and health services managers.”


Regional Employer demand for doctoral-level interdisciplinary leadership professionals increased 77 percent from September 2016 to January 2019.

Top job titles:

  1. Medical Director
  2. Professor/Assistant Professor
  3. Health and Safety Officer
  4. Program Manager
  5. Vice President
  6. Recruiting Manager
  7. Director of Education
  8. Health Services Director
  9. Director of Research
  10. Business Development Managers
  11. CEOs
  12. Health Services Director
  13. More

Sample employers with a demand for doctoral-level interdisciplinary leadership professionals:

  • Sanford Health
  • U.S. Bancorp
  • Sioux Falls School District
  • U.S. Air Force
  • U.S. Army
  • Avera Health
  • Universities
  • More

Meaningful, Powerful Outcomes

Graduates of the Doctorate in Leadership program will be equipped to be transformational servant-leaders in their field. They will demonstrate a wide range of core competencies from doctoral-level reading and writing skills to the ability to analyze and synthesize both theory and research to address issues and problems. Graduates will use research and research methodologies to identify and understand these issues, using appropriate skills to gather, analyze and draw defensible conclusions from data.

Flexible Learning Options

USF’s Doctorate in Leadership is built for full-time working professionals in a variety of fields. Take one course at a time over the duration of the 39-month program, which is a commitment of one night per week in instruction time (with the exception of orientation). Some courses will be online, but most will be on campus. Because the dissertation is built into the program from the start, once all coursework is complete at the end of the 39 months, the dissertation will be complete as well.

Gain relevant, in-demand skills:

  • Strategic Planning
  • Public Relations & Social Media
  • Transformational Change
  • Data Analysis
  • Research Methodology
  • International and Intercultural Perspectives
  • Finance

Cohort Model

One of the strengths of this exciting new program is the ability to learn from professionals not only within your own industry, but also outside of it. This cohort-based program gives you the opportunity to learn from your peers who are experts in their fields and make valuable connections as dedicated full-time USF faculty help you achieve your goals. The cohort model supports those who wish to go beyond conventional leadership as they develop innovative ways to contribute to the success of their organization. Program content is immediately applicable to the workplace, and participants are encouraged to develop their leadership practice with others within the cohort learning environment. 

Next Steps

Want to know what it's really like to be a Cougar? Visit campus and discover for yourself USF's academic, spiritual and social community.

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