Doctor of Leadership

The question is not, “What is leadership?” rather, “What is good leadership?” Good leadership, like critical thinking, crosses all boundaries and applies to all circumstances in which people work. Current events in society demonstrate the need for effective leadership. Significant writers and leaders agree that good leadership requires good character.

While our applicants may enter the Doctorate in Leadership program with well-developed character, doctoral studies will promote further character development that supports effective, ethical leadership. HSU’s inherent Christian foundation and values provide the perfect base for fostering exemplary character essential for leadership.

This 57-hour program follows a cohort model over four years. The cross-disciplinary nature of the program accepts students from any fully accredited master’s degree. Students complete six hours of coursework each fall, spring, and summer, allowing for continuation of employment. Students will read the great books of leadership to support a breadth and depth of knowledge in the field.

At the end of the program, students will take qualifying exams that require synthesis of knowledge gained through these readings, leadership coursework, and individual research. The culminating experience for the doctoral degree, supervised by a professor, involves the completion of a dissertation related to the student’s interest in an aspect of leadership.

Request admission to the Doctorate in Leadership program.

“I love to learn! When I looked at the curriculum for the Doctorate in Leadership program, an excitement built up within me. The higher education and leadership courses captured my attention, and I knew this was the right university for me. Specifically, the summer residency courses provided an opportunity for me to experience the topic of leadership in local, national, and international settings. Learning about leadership and being able to travel the world – literally – exemplified the commitment Hardin-Simmons University possessed to educate their students holistically. I did not have the opportunity to study abroad during my undergraduate years, and I decided these opportunities combined with the comprehensive topics on two of my favorite subjects (higher education and leadership), I could not help but want to start the program immediately.” -Tara M. Hart, Cohort 2014, Associate Director of Admissions, Adjunct Instructor, Curriculum & Instruction, Angelo State University

Contact Us

Scott E Hamm Assistant Professor of Education and Director of Online Education

Dr. Scott Hamm

Director of Doctorate in Leadership, Director of Online Programs, Assistant Professor of Education 325-670-1099


  • Doctor of Leadership (Ed.D.)

Highlights of the Doctorate in Leadership at HSU

Real-world Applications

Alongside HSU faculty members, leaders in various professional organizations and entities will co-teach courses, providing clear connections between academic study and real-world applications.

MSIS Professor conducting lecture via Skype to room of students

Cohort Model

Our program follows a cohort model that provides collegial support, enhanced camaraderie, and professional networking. Students complete hybrid courses that meet on campus three weekends a semester with supportive faculty/student interactions in an online environment.

HSU Leadership students dressed in uniform group photo

Summer Residencies

Students complete three brief summer residencies in Austin, Washington D.C., and Austria/Germany.

Gina Shipley-HSU Doctor of Leadership

Program Details

The Doctorate of Leadership program contains four distinct practices that support effective pedagogy and doctoral study, enmeshing the on-campus environment with various delivery methods:

  • Considers the Interdisciplinary Nature of Leadership.
    • Offers 18-hour concentrations in three areas: Higher Education Leadership, Education Leadership in Superintendency, and Educational Leadership in Health Care Professions.
  • Emphasizes the Value of Bridging the Academy to the Community.
    • Alongside HSU faculty members, leaders in various professional organizations and entities will provide clear connections between academic study and real-world applications.
  • Offers a Hybrid, Low-residence Model.
    • Meets on campus three weekends per semester, with additional faculty/student interactions through online environments.
    • Supports collegial support, enhanced camaraderie, and professional networking through a cohort model with some face-to-face contact.
  • Includes Three Brief Summer Residencies.
    • Studies leadership in authentic settings in Austin, Texas; Washington, D.C.; and Austria/Germany for approximately one week each summer.

Leadership Core Courses

LDSP 7310 Leadership Models
This course will critically examine leadership theories and their application to current trends in organizational and systemic change. Faculty members and community leaders will facilitate an understanding of the bridge between the academy and the community in the study of effective leadership.

LDSP 7315 Strategic Planning
This course will guide students to manage the change process while optimizing human resources and facilities through shared vision, planning, and accountability. Students will study the grant writing process and practice writing a grant as part of this course.

LDSP 7325 Leadership through the Ages
In this course, students will examine and analyze historical leaders and philosophical concepts of leadership in relation to their positive and negative global impact. Students will consider the trends in leadership style embodied by these leaders and concepts.

LDSP 7330 Servant Leadership
This course will guide students in the understanding and application of the servant leader model. This model is couched in a spiritual understanding of human identity and mission, which solves problems, promotes personal development, and maximizes the effectiveness of organizations.

LDSP 7340 Ethical Decision-Making in Leadership
This course will examine ethics and values confronting leaders to determine how individual values drive behaviors and decisions. It will include a critical analysis of faith issues, ethical decision- making, and worldview frameworks by applying leadership skills to real world dilemmas.

LDSP 7320 Organizational Leadership – State
This course, which includes a brief summer residency in Austin, Texas, will immerse doctoral students in various professional agencies to operationalize their understanding of organizational structures. Action research projects completed in this course will lead students to hypothesize and draw conclusions regarding leadership in the professional setting. Summer

LDSP 7335 Trends in Leadership – National
This course, which includes a brief summer residency in Washington, D.C., allows doctoral students to network with self-selected government agencies, non-profit organizations, religious affiliated groups, corporate headquarters, or other entities. This experience will deepen students understanding of the influence of effective leadership on human dignity and justice. Action research projects completed in this course will lead students to hypothesize and draw conclusions regarding leadership in a national setting. Summer

LDSP 7345 Leadership in a Global and Cultural Context – International/Global
This course, which includes a brief summer residency abroad, focuses on developing future leaders who hold a worldview that addresses the interface of culture and society. Students will consider the impact of effective global leadership in varied cultural settings. Action research projects completed in this course will lead students to hypothesize and draw conclusions regarding leadership in an international setting. Summer

Research Courses

EDUC 7330 Introduction to Research and Design
This course serves as an introduction to educational research and design. It will teach research principles, methods, and critical thinking skills that apply to advanced statistical research methods, qualitative study, data collection, research analysis, and writing for publication. In addition, students will study the philosophy and methods of action research and develop an action research proposal.

EDUC 7334 Quantitative Design, Statistics, and Analysis
This advanced course emphasizes research design and analysis of the descriptive and inferential statistic. Students will address factor analysis, path analysis, analysis of variance, analysis of covariance, and regression analysis. Students will be trained in the use of SPSS statistical package. Students will develop a quantitative research proposal within this course.

EDUC 7338 Qualitative Design and Analysis
In this course, students will study qualitative methods used in educational research and will apply that knowledge to real or designed problems. Students will analyze data gathered through qualitative methods, use coding procedures and qualitative data software, and demonstrate skills in interpreting and writing the results of qualitative research. Students will develop a qualitative research proposal within this course.

EDUC 8310 Dissertation I
This course begins the independent application of research, design, and methodology that leads to an original research study under the guidance of a professor in the field of study. The doctoral student will synthesize the knowledge and skills developed in previous research courses, core leadership courses, and concentration courses to develop and defend his/her proposal for the doctoral dissertation process. Prerequisite: Successful completion of Qualifying Exams. Fall

EDUC 8320 Dissertation II
This course is a continued, independent application of research, design, and methodology that leads to an original research study under the guidance of a professor in the field of study. The doctoral student will synthesize the knowledge and skills developed in previous research courses, core leadership courses, and concentration courses to design, implement, publish, and defend his/her doctoral dissertation. Prerequisite: Successful defense of Dissertation Proposal. Spring

EDUC 8225: Continuous Enrollment for Dissertation Project
This course allows the doctoral student to enroll in additional semesters to complete work on the dissertation as needed. The student will continue to work under the guidance of a professor in the field of study. Prerequisite: EDUC 8320.

COMP 7000 Qualifying Exams
Taken at the completion of coursework, the qualifying exam contains a criterion-referenced, open-ended response test built on the objectives of each course. In addition, the students will respond to questions related to the Great Books List of required outside readings completed during the program. Students must pass the qualifying exam to advance to the dissertation phase of the doctorate. If the exam is failed, the student will be allowed to attempt the exam one additional time.  The qualifying exam may not be taken more than two times.

Dissertation Defense


Applicants must submit the following documents online (unless otherwise noted) to support admission requirements:

  • A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale at completion of a master’s program
  • Request official transcripts from each institution you attended, even if you did not graduate. Mail to Office of Enrollment Services, Attn: Joel Templeton.
  • A competitive score on the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) taken during the last ten years. Upon approval, scores from the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), MAT (Miller Analogies Test), or other comparable nationally recognized aptitude tests may be substituted.
  • Request official copies of GRE scores (HSU GRE Code: 6268) be mailed to the Office of Enrollment Services, Attn: Joel Templeton.
  • Additional scores required for students whose native language is other than English: score of 250 on the computer version of TOEFL, score of 5 on the TWE, score of 50 on the TSE.
  • Request official test scores be mailed to the Office of Enrollment Services, Attn: Joel Templeton.
  • Recommendations forms from three persons qualified to assess your abilities and potential for the program.
  • Resume or curriculum vita documenting educational background, professional experience, employment history, certifications, professional development, honors/achievements, and community service.
  • A 500-600-word personal statement written by the applicant addressing his/her personal and professional goals for graduate study and leadership. Your response should give careful attention to academic style and content and should be written in Microsoft Word or Adobe pdf format.
  • An introduction of the applicant to the admission committee.
  • A discussion of the applicant’s motivation for pursuing a doctoral degree in leadership.
  • A self-analysis of the applicant’s potential for doctoral level critical thinking and research.
  • Evidence of leadership achievement and potential.
  • Signed Ethics Statement
  • Letter of Employer Support form, completed and signed by the current employer.
  • Signed Background Check Release Form (for ALL applicants).
  • Signed General Global Consent Form (for International Applicants Only).
  • $50 application fee for international students through your application portal

All materials must be received in the HSU Graduate Admissions Office by April 11, 5:00 p.m.  Qualified applicants will not be considered for admission until their file is complete.

Following a review of the application, applicants may be contacted to schedule a personal interview.

Doctorate in Leadership Admission Links:

Depending on the concentration, graduates seek employment in student services in higher education settings, K-12 superintendent leadership positions, professors in leadership, higher education, and university administration.

Course Descriptions

EDHE 7320 Pedagogy and Program Design in Higher Education
This course links the essential theories of pedagogy to effective instructional practices and program design based on standards. Students will apply current concepts of teaching, learner characteristics, learning environments, and delivery systems to the design, development, and assessment of courses, programs, or core requirements based on trends and assessment data. Students will develop the skills to be effective mentors who facilitate professional growth.

EDHE 7325 Assessment in Higher Education
This course focuses on the philosophy and practice of effective assessment and evaluation in higher education. Students will design and implement assessment methods and practices that support state, regional, and federal accountability measures and lead to ongoing improvement in personnel and instructional practices in the local university setting. Particular emphasis will be placed on using data to drive change and the decision-making process.

EDHE 7330 Business Management and Finance in Higher Education
This course focuses on the study of roles, responsibilities, systems, and procedures in higher education business matters. Students will examine the sources of revenues, types of expenditures, budgeting and accounting practices, tuition pricing, human resource management, cost containment strategies, effects of the economy, and state and federal funding of higher education institutions.

EDHE 7335 Legal Aspects of Higher Education
This course investigates the legislation and litigation, which forms the basis of education at the national, state, and local levels. Students will examine historical and current decisions rendered by federal and state courts concerning procedural and substantive due process, civil rights, special populations, parent and student rights, and contractual legalities.

EDHE 7340 Student Services in Higher Education
This course focuses on the theoretical basis and best practices of student services in higher education with particular emphasis on financial aid, retention, recruitment, student activities, support services, and residence life. Students will develop an understanding of the changing demographics and characteristics of college students in relation to academic, social, physical, and spiritual needs.

EDHE 7345/EDAD 7345 Critical Issues in Education (cross listed)
This course will investigate the duties, behaviors, and impact of the administrative leadership and organizational structure of various types of K-12, health care, and higher education institutions.  Students will consider the influence of academic, political, legal, governmental, financial, and community factors on institutional decisions and leader effectiveness.