Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2018-2019, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on May 1, 2018. Access the catalog of record at

Requirements for the Degree

I. Core - 36 units

These foundational courses are required for all students; courses taken at other institutions may not be substituted.

LEAD 600Integral Leadership Theory3
LEAD 602Competing Conceptions of Knowledge and Research3
LEAD 607Applied Statistics and Quantitative Research Methods3
LEAD 608Qualitative Research Methods3
LEAD 610Dissertation Seminar3
LEAD 611Leadership Theories: Past, Present and Future3
LEAD 612Advanced Qualitative Research Methods3
or LEAD 613 Advanced Quantitative Research Methods
LEAD 613Advanced Quantitative Research Methods3
or LEAD 612 Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
or LEAD 614 Special Topics in Advanced Research Methods
or LEAD 615 Action Research Methods II
or LEAD 616 Survey Research Methods
LEAD 619Applied Leadership Practices: Integral Self and Systems Approach3
LEAD 695Dissertation9
Total Units36

II. Area of Specialization/Electives - 21 units 

With the assistance and approval of their advisors, students select electives to acquire an area of specialization.  Students may select from 500 and 600 level classes at USD.

Examples of Possible Areas of Specialization:

  • Higher Education Leadership (community college, student affairs, general administration)
  • Nonprofit/Philanthropic Leadership and Management
  • Organizational Leadership/Consulting
  • Educational Leadership for Innovation and Social Justice
  • Leadership for International School Leaders
  • Individualized Option

After completing all required units of LEAD 695, candidates must register for 1 unit each semester to maintain candidacy until the final, approved dissertation is submitted to the Office of the Registrar.

III.  International Experience

At SOLES, all masters and doctoral students participate in an international experience designed to support the growth of cultural competency. Our goal is to inform best practices in working with culturally diverse populations locally, nationally and globally.  International experiences are approved by each student's faculty advisor and can be credit based or non-credit based activities. 

IV.  Advancement to Candidacy - Part A 

Part A of this process involves the preparation of a qualifying paper that normally relates to a student’s dissertation topic.

V.  Advancement to Candidacy - Part B

Part B of the Advancement to Candidacy process involves preparing and successfully defending a dissertation proposal.

VI.  Dissertation

Successful written and oral defense of dissertation is required for graduation.