Admission Requirements

PhD in Leadership Studies

Department of Leadership Studies

Application Checklist

  • The University of San Diego Graduate School Admission Application
  • One official sealed transcript from all colleges and universities attended, including community colleges. Foreign transcripts must be accompanied by a Course-by-Course transcript evaluation from WESECE or IERF.
  • Three professional letters of recommendation from professors or employers
  • A current resumé or curriculum vitae
  • Effective for summer 2018 applicants and beyond: Applicants are strongly encouraged to take the GRE, but it is not required. Official GRE test scores must be within 5 years of the test date.
  • Statement of purpose. In four single-spaced pages:
    • Address how earning a PhD in Leadership Studies fits in with your academic/professional and personal goals.
    • Discuss one or two of the key research topics that you may want to investigate as part of your PhD
    • Discuss the key leadership lessons you have learned from your leadership experiences within your profession or outside it.
  • International applicants only: Official score reports for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS)

Admissions Requirements

Standardized Testing Requirements

  • Effective for summer 2018 applicants and beyond: Applicants are strongly encouraged to take the GRE, but it is not required. Official GRE test scores must be within 5 years of the test date.
  • There is no minimum GRE score required.
  • The University of San Diego’s GRE Institution Code number is 4849. This number must be included on test registration forms in order to have the official results sent to the university. Standardized testing must be completed well in advance of the deadline as it typically takes about 2 weeks for the score reports to arrive after a request is made.
  • For more information on preparing for the GRE, visit USD's Test Prep or call (619) 260-4579.

Education Requirements

  • Applicants must complete a bachelor’s degree and a master's or JD prior to beginning the program. Applicants may apply prior to completing their master's degree. In this case, please submit your most up-to-date transcripts, and if admitted, submit a second set of official transcripts after your degree is conferred.
  • The minimum cumulative Grade Point Average is 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) in all graduate coursework.

Experience Requirements

Professional experience is strongly recommended.


English Language Proficiency Requirements

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) is required of all international applicants and may only be waived if English is the applicant’s primary language or if he or she obtained a bachelor’s degree in the U.S., Great Britain, Canada or Australia.

  • TOEFL minimum scores:
    • Internet-based test: 83
    • Computer-based test: 237
    • Paper-based test: 580
  • IELTS minimum score:
    • Band score 7

Admissions Process

Application Deadline

All application materials, including transcripts, test score reports and letters of recommendation, must be received by the Office of Graduate Admissions by the deadline in order for your application to be considered. View current deadlines for admission.

Application Status and Decisions

To confirm that application materials have been received or to check the status of your application, please log in to the MySanDiego portal with your applicant log-in or contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at (619) 260-4524. Admissions decision letters are sent via US Mail.

Submit all application materials online, or to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
University of San Diego
5998 Alcalá Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492

For questions about this program or the admissions requirements contact:

Office of Admissions and Outreach
School of Leadership and Education Sciences
University of San Diego
Mother Rosalie Hill Hall 149

Phone: (619) 260-7988