Introduction to Doctoral Study 

* Course work and program offerings may be subject to change

Summer Year 1

Research, Writing and Communication
Start the program by reengaging research skills through academic writing practice and communication development. Skills developed will be applied throughout the program as students work to solve a complex problem of practice.

Art and Science of Leadership
Examines prominent leadership theories and empirical research used to inform leadership practice, including the development as servant-leaders at work, in the community and in personal life. Drawing from behavioral and social sciences, interactive dynamics, personality traits, organizational variables and cultural influences will be explored.

Responsible Leadership

Fall Year 1

Ethics and Politics of Decision-Making
Provides opportunities for students to think deeply about theory and practice of ethical leadership. After exploring primary texts from philosophy’s greatest thinkers, students will consider their own ethical beliefs beyond mere common-sense affirmation, and then apply what they have discovered to contemporary leadership situations.

Theology of Leadership
A study of biblical models and prescriptions for leadership, the faithful use of power and authority and the constraints and new possibilities that emerge from forming one’s leadership style and goals according to the purposes of God’s kingdom.

Spring Year 1

International and Intercultural Perspectives
Designed to help students examine the social, psychological, cultural and linguistic complexities experienced by people whose country of origin is not the United States. Students will examine data through various theoretical lenses and complex perspectives to provide insights into meaningful leadership experience.

Legal and Risk Management
Using documented cases and real-life scenarios, students examine the available methods of managing risk. Various relationships will be analyzed with particular attention to the risks presented, the law that applies and the most efficient means of managing risk. Human resources, a topic relevant to all organizations, will be included.

Summer Year 2

Defining the Problem of Practice*
Applying inquiry, research and discussion, the student will understand and define the Problem of Practice, upon which the Dissertation in Practice will be built. This process is based on self-awareness, a desire to address the needs of others, the context of the problem and an analysis between the current and preferred condition.

Research Methodology
A comprehensive review of research paradigms and the relationship between methodologies and the doctoral process: positivistic, qualitative, ideological and pragmatic. Students will be able to classify a research study according to the tradition of inquiry and to express interpretive implications based on that paradigm

Institutional Leadership

Fall Year 2

Dissertation in Practice 1*
A continuation of the previous course, students will complete a literature review based upon the defined Problem of Practice within a specific environment. The final document will provide the reader with appropriate context, a critical analysis of the research and its relationship to the stated problem.

Power & Privilege of Leadership
Focuses on the power of the leader and the privilege it is to lead others. Students will understand in greater depth their “power” as a leader and discover practices to integrate this knowledge as they engage those they lead in day-to-day situations and to be prepared for possible crisis situations. 

Spring Year 2

Data Analysis in Decision-Making
Provides an understanding of how organizations can use data science and analytics to align with their missions and goals, allowing for precise and confident action. Topics include data collection, modeling, analysis, visualization and informed decision-making. Other skills involve communication, presentation and storytelling with data.

Finance and Fundraising
Provides a deeper understanding and appreciation for financial accounting, budgeting and fundraising with applications for the senior-level, non-financial leader. Also provides insight into the development of operating and capital budgets, financing decisions, budgeting process and interpretation of financial statements regardless of one’s particular role.

Public Relations and Social Media
Provides the foundations of professional principles, practice and effective communication in public relations and social media for corporate, governmental and nonprofit organizations. Students will learn how to develop, implement and evaluate strategies based on internal and external environments; new media channels will also be explored. 

Summer Year 3

Dissertation in Practice 2*
Building upon previously completed work toward their dissertation, students will propose the first three chapters of their dissertation. This includes the following chapters: introduction, literature review, and methodology.

Visionary Leadership

Fall Year 3

Historical Leadership
This course will evaluate leadership through the rich tapestry of the human past, promoting an understanding of how cultures, context and circumstances shape decision-making and therefore influence leadership. Students will consider how to apply historically grounded empathetic perspective to contemporary challenges.

Leadership for Sustainability: People, Planet, Profit
Leaders will assess their relationship to the ecosystem in which their organization operates, will identify challenges to the sustainability of the ecosystem and the resources it provides and will develop strategies that promote positive change and long-term resilience. Focus will include both internal and external interdependencies.

Spring Year 3

Strategic Planning
Focuses on strategic goals and objectives for an organization, developing mission and vision statements, determining methods and strategies for policy planning, allocation of resources, sustainable and adaptable value creation processes, short and long-term planning, managerial problem solving and organizational change. 

Technology for Leadership
Provides leadership skills in assessing emerging and evolving technologies and exploring the technological readiness of a program, department or organization. Students will examine needs assessments and learn strategies in developing a technology plan and mentoring others in the effective integration of technology.

Final Summer

Leading Transformational Change
Focuses on the use of leadership theory to empower individuals within an organization to bring about internal and external change. Students will use both leadership and change theory to examine human behavior and issues such as overcoming groupthink, resistance to change and coping with new paradigms.

Dissertation in Practice 3*
Students will produce the final, generative project, which should have an immediate impact in their workplaces, add to the body of knowledge and demonstrate how this knowledge may be applied to future challenges in a dynamic world. The presentation/defense is the last formal activity in the program.

*These four courses serve as a guide through the degree program’s Dissertation in Practice. These courses provide the foundation for a strong research study while students engage with his or her dissertation committee starting in summer two and for the remainder of the program. Each student is supported by his or her unique dissertation committee in order to complete the Dissertation in Practice.

Thirty credits of USF's Ed.S. degree count toward USF's Doctorate in Leadership degree.

Total Program Credits: 60

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