Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Foundation Courses (21 credits)

Students are required to complete the following seven courses:

Foundation Courses

Research Courses (18 credits)

Research Courses

Electives (12 credits)

Elective Courses

Students can choose any four courses of the following electives:
Plus, any other graduate course offered by another department at the university and approved by the Program Director as an elective.

Dissertation (minimum 9 credit hours)

Dissertation Course

All students are required to write and successfully defend a dissertation in order to graduate. Pre-requisites: The successful completion of all coursework.

Total Required Credits for the Program

Requirement  Required Credit
 7 Foundation Courses 21 Credits
6 Research Courses 18 Credits
4 Elective Courses 12 Credits
Dissertation 9 Credits (minimum)
Total 60 Credits

The Qualifying Process

The Qualifying Experience required by the PhD Program in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies is based on the same concept adapted by many doctoral programs at other universities. It is intended to measure the students' competency and mastery of concepts in their field of studies and applied as a prerequisite for starting the doctoral candidacy and dissertation process.

In order to qualify for the doctoral candidacy and participating in the dissertation process students must engage and successfully complete the Qualifying Experience after fulfilling all required courses. To do so, students must register for SLAS 6013: Qualifying Seminar which is offered each fall semester, and successfully complete the course.

The Qualifying Seminar requires the student to write a quality paper equivalent to manuscripts submitted to reputable peer-review journals. A student to choose the topic of the qualifying paper autonomously and write the entire paper as an independent study. The qualifying paper must have a clearly stated thesis statement and conduct a thorough literature review by presenting a detailed background of the issue and explaining its scopes and dimensions from three distinct perspectives as well as an ethical implication. A final set of policy and procedural recommendations is required as a conclusion of the paper.

APA style in referencing and a bibliography of at least 30 sources must be properly cited. Paper organization, formatting and writing style must be of high quality suitable for advanced graduate studies and peer-review journal submission criteria.

Accordingly, and after successfully passing the Qualifying Experience students must submit their completed qualifying papers to a leading peer-review journal in their research fields no later than December 5th and provide documents of the submission to the Program Director. The rejection of the paper by the journal, however, has no impact on the student's progress during the qualifying process. 

Qualifying Papers Submission Process

On October 15th of the semester students must submit their completed qualifying papers to the Program Director without referencing paper authorship. The Program Director will then assign a panel of three faculty selected from the PhD Program's Qualifying Standing Committee in order to review the submitted qualifying papers based on the process applied by leading peer-review journals in the field of organizational leadership and administrative studies.

Qualifying Papers Evaluation Process

On October 31st the reviewers will submit the results of their evaluation of the qualifying papers to the Program Director based on one of three criteria: Accept, Revise and Resubmit, and Reject, along with their comments. The Program Director will then communicate the reviewers' evaluation to the student.

If the qualifying paper is Accepted by at least two reviewers within the panel then the student will pass the Qualifying Experience and be eligible as a PhD Candidate to form a dissertation committee during the following spring semester and start the dissertation process.

If the qualifying paper is Rejected at least by two reviewers within the panel then the student must repeat the SLAS 6013. Students can repeat SLAS 6013 only once. If a student fails, the qualifying experience during the repeated course then he/she will be dismissed from the program.

If two of the reviewers within the panel recommended the qualifying paper to be Revised and Resubmitted, then the student must do so no later than November 15th. The second review of the revised qualifying paper will then to conclude no later than December 3rd.

If the revised qualifying paper has passed the second review then the student can move forward as a PhD Candidate, form the dissertation committee during the following spring semester and start the dissertation process.

If the revised qualifying paper failed the second review, then the student must retake the SLAS 6013. Again, if the student failed during the repeated course then he/she will be dismissed from the program.

In the case of one reviewer in the panel is recommending an acceptance of a qualifying paper, the second reviewer is recommending a revision/re-submission of the qualifying paper and the third reviewer is recommending a rejection of the qualifying paper, then the student must revise and resubmit the qualifying paper and follow the process outlined above.

Qualifying Experience Important Dates

Date Topic
 October 15 Submit the completed Qualifying Paper to the Program Director
 October 31 Results of the Qualifying Papers' reviews
 November 15 Submit the revised Qualifying Paper to the Program Director
December 3 Results of the revised Qualifying Papers' reviews
December 5 Submit the completed Qualifying Paper to a peer-review journal. Provide submission documents to the Program Director.

Doctoral Candidacy

Students are admitted to candidacy following successful completion of the Qualifying Seminar and may use either the terms "doctoral candidate" or "ABD" after their name in professional settings. Only upon successful defense of a student's dissertation can the term "Ph.D." be used.                                                                                 

The Dissertation Procedures

Mandatory Training in Human Subjects Protection

All student researchers must complete the online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) that includes two course modules: Social and Behavioral Responsible Conduct of Research and Social Behavioral Research Researcher. Further information and a link to the training site are available on the University’s IRB webpage:

Institutional Review Board

All dissertation proposals must be reviewed by the University’s Institutional Review Board. Necessary forms are available on the University’s IRB website:

A student may submit their dissertation proposal to the IRB once their committee has approved the proposal and a proposal can be submitted to the IRB at any time during the calendar year.

Student and Faculty Roles and Responsibilities in Research

Responsibility for the selection, development, implementation, and analysis of the dissertation research belongs to the student. A student may decide, with the written approval of their Dissertation committee, to consult with an outside statistician to assist in the analysis of research data. It is expected, however, that the student be able to respond effectively to committee questions during the dissertation defense about the interpretation and understanding of the research data.

Dissertation Committee Chairperson

It is the responsibility of the faculty Dissertation chair to guide the student as needed in the research endeavor, in consultation with the dissertation committee members, during the proposal meeting and thereafter until a successful defense is achieved.

Students are encouraged to find a faculty Dissertation Chair while registered in SLAS 6012 (Pre-Dissertation Seminar). A Dissertation Chair must be a full-time Marywood University faculty member with a terminal degree.

A student who is an employee of Marywood University may not have their immediate supervisor serve as the chair of their Dissertation committee.

In addition to the responsibilities listed below under Role of Dissertation Committee member, the Chair's primary responsibility is to guide the candidate through the dissertation process. Specific responsibilities include the following:

  1. Helping the candidate with the selection of other committee members.
  2. Determine when meetings of the Committee should be held.
  3. Direct the defense of the candidate's research proposal for feedback and approval.
  4. Determine when each section of the candidate's work is ready to be reviewed by all committee members.
  5. Assess the progress of the candidate at the close of each semester by assigning a letter grade of satisfactory or unsatisfactory progress, in accordance with the University's academic calendar due date for final grades.
  6. Determine when a pre-defense meeting of the Committee and candidate will be held.
  7. Determine with the other committee members when the candidate's dissertation is ready to be defended.
  8. Direct the defense of the dissertation.

Dissertation Committee

A Dissertation Committee is composed of the Dissertation Committee Chair and two other full-time Marywood University faculty members, or one university faculty member and an outside expert. Committee members are to be invited based on consultation with the dissertation chair.

A committee member must hold a terminal degree (Ph.D. or equivalent) and can hold an academic or professional appointment. When an outside expert is invited to be a committee member, then the curriculum vitae of the outside expert must first be submitted to the Dissertation Committee Chair for approval. Outside members who are appointed to the committee are not compensated for their service and serve on the committee voluntarily.

Retired or former Marywood faculty may continue to serve on the committee either as a member or as chair, if approved by the Dissertation Committee Chair. The committee members' primary responsibility is to ensure that a scholarly product is the result of the dissertation process. Other responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

  1. Evaluate the candidate's research proposal.
  2. Provide written and/or oral feedback on various drafts of the candidate's dissertation chapters.

  3. Attend all meetings of the full dissertation committee.

  4. Attend the candidate's dissertation defense.

Prior to registering for dissertation credits, the Dissertation Committee Appointment Form must be completed and submitted to the Ph.D. Program Director.

Dissertation Credits

Students are not eligible to register for dissertation credits until the Qualifying Seminar and all required coursework (including SLAS 6012: Pre-Dissertation Seminar) have been successfully completed. The student must also have a signed "Dissertation Committee Appointment Form" on file with the Ph.D. Program Office.

Students are required to complete a minimum of 9 credits of doctoral dissertation. The typical registration is for credits in each of two adjacent academic semesters. However, the number of credits taken in each semester is flexible. Students are cautioned against registering for credits without completing the requisite level of work on the project to warrant a “Satisfactory” grade. Initial consultation with the Dissertation Committee Chair should include clarification of the expectations of progress on the project necessary to obtain a satisfactory grade. If the dissertation has not yet been defended after satisfactory completion of 9 dissertation credits, then a continuous registration of 1 dissertation credit per academic semester is required until successful defense.

Registration for Dissertation Credits

Registration for dissertation credits cannot occur until the student has secured a Marywood Faculty Dissertation Chair and committee along with the completed Dissertation Committee Appointment Form has been signed by all three committee members and is submitted to the Ph.D. Program Director. This process should be done in advance of the required registration during the semester preceding the start of the dissertation, typically during the Pre-Dissertation Seminar (SLAS 6012). When approaching a potential Dissertation chairperson, students should have a clear idea of their desired research topic. Faculty with similar interests should be contacted first. Students may consult with their course instructors and/or Program Director for assistance in seeking a dissertation mentor and committee membership.

Dissertation Committee Meetings during Data Collection

The use of a single survey as the sole measure of data outcomes is not acceptable. If a survey is being used to collect data, then some other objective measure to correlate with the survey is required. Another objective measure will further validate the survey data collection. During the period of data collection, the student should meet with their full dissertation committee as frequently as needed, however the student must meet their committee at least once between the time of the research proposal was accepted and the dissertation defense.

Dissertation Format

  1. APA Style as described in the most current Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is to be followed.
  2. The Copyright Act of 1976 provides for statutory copyright protection for any work fixed in a tangible medium. Following the Dissertation title page, the following copyright notice should be affixed on a separate page: "© year - Author’s Name All rights reserved."
  3. The left margin must be 1 1/2", the right, bottom and top margins must be 1". These margins must be respected for graphs, charts, illustrations, etc. Use font size 10-12 using the same style of font or typeface throughout.
  4. Front matter may include acknowledgements, list of illustrations or tables, glossary of terms.

Dissertation Defense

Once the Dissertation Committee Chair has approved the final draft of the dissertation, a defense date and time is set by the student in consultation with all committee members, and then inform the Program Director.

Students are advised to be alert to the defense date deadlines within an academic session. Six (6) weeks prior to the defense date, students are to email the Program Director with their intent to defend.

The student is to provide an electronic format of their dissertation 3 weeks prior to the scheduled defense to the Program Director and committee members.

The Candidate and Dissertation Committee to select two Readers at least three weeks prior to the scheduled dissertation defense date. Readers are to ask questions and present their feedback to the Dissertation Committee. A Reader must hold a terminal degree from an accredited university and to be selected either from the faculty pool at Marywood University or from outside of the university.

The dissertation defense to be conducted via Zoom or Google Meeting and the defense should be no longer than 90 minutes (including questions and answers).

A majority vote of the Dissertation Committee members and at least one Reader is required to pass the defense. It is not unusual for students to be passed with the provision that the research mentor supervises the corrections or additions to the final draft of the dissertation.

The student is required to bring a minimum of two (2) copies of the Dissertation Title Page to the defense.

Final Dissertation Submission

The student has two (2) weeks to provide the Ph.D. Program Director with an electronic Word copy of the final dissertation. A student who does not complete this process in a timely manner will not be eligible for graduation. Students may also elect to order several bound dissertation copies by notifying the library. Bound copies are to be printed on acid free paper (ultimate white wove 24 lb. writing, 8.5 x 11 L 12M watermarked) and are at the cost of the student. The cost to bind each dissertation copy is approximately $20.20 and the check must be made payable to Marywood University.

Conference Presentation and Publication of Student Research

Students are strongly encouraged to present their research to regional, national, or international professional audiences. Research mentors typically are also willing to assist in the development of the student’s dissertation into a manuscript for publication. In these cases, the student is to have first authorship. If after two years the doctoral student does not publish his/her data, then the Dissertation Committee Chair gains ownership of the data and may publish the results as first author. Students can also publish their defended dissertations at the program’s flagship peer-review journal, The Journal of Applied Professional Studies (JAPS).