Specialization in Leadership for International School Leaders

The PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in Leadership for International School Leaders develops the leadership, instructional and management skills needed to advance and excel in an international school leadership career. The program includes significant interaction with our full time faculty scholars, many of whom have held prior leadership roles within school environments. You will study among and learn from experts in their fields as economists, sociologists, organization leaders and international researchers.

Program Overview

The PhD in Leadership Studies in the Department of Leadership Studies offers students an outstanding foundation in leadership theory and practice, as well as in research methodology. Students also specialize in a particular area of leadership through elective coursework and research. With this degree, you will emerge empowered as a researcher, scholar, educator and practitioner. You will be poised to make significant contributions to the field of Leadership Studies while you:

  • Identify and respond to complex problems
  • Develop critically reflective professional knowledge
  • Link theory with systematic inquiry

As with all specializations in the program, students in this specialization will be required to complete and defend a dissertation.

Distinguishing Features

  • Personalized faculty advising to tailor course selection to student needs
  • Opportunity for short-term coursework abroad, taught by Leadership Studies faculty
  • Opportunity to build knowledge and expertise in conducting research, analyzing educational policy and practice, and developing innovative uses of educational technology
  • Examination of educational outcomes with focused attention on the racialized, class-based and gendered school experiences on a national and international level.
  • Hybrid format including online and in person courses.


Designed to promote aspiring leadership in the international school community, the 57-unit program begins with coursework at our adjunct/satellite campus in Madrid, Spain and then blend conveniently into an online format. Students will also have the option to take courses at our beautiful campus in San Diego or enroll in elective courses offered as part of our global studies program.

Students will proceed through this program as a cohort. Students are expected to take 2 courses per semester and coursework can be completed within 3 years.

Your course prescription will offer a blend of required and elective courses covering topics such as:

  • Field-based research in intercultural contexts
  • International research methods
  • Leadership theory in a school context
  • Applied leadership practices
  • Assessment and evaluation

The specialization is in addition to the core leadership and research courses included in the doctoral program of study. At the completion of all coursework, students are expected to complete a dissertation under the advisement of a USD faculty committee of scholars.


For information on how to apply to the PhD in Leadership Studies with a specialization in International School Leadership, visit the main PhD program page.

Eligibility By State

Due to regulations from the Department of Education, as of February 23, 2013, the University of San Diego is unable to enroll students in its online degree programs who reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Wisconsin.

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