Saint Martin’s first doctoral program is designed to empower the next generation of researchers, scholars and practitioners to make significant contributions to the field of leadership studies while addressing the pressing need for leadership in today’s world.

Program highlights

Saint Martin's Ph.D. in leadership studies offers:

  • Doctoral degree founded on a Benedictine liberal arts approach
  • Rigorous yet practical courses grounded in prevailing theory and a social change/transformation orientation
  • A collaborative approach to student and faculty relationships
  • Preparation for leaders to contribute to the global society
  • Close proximity to the state capitol, providing graduates local opportunities across a variety of sectors
  • Courses offered in blended online modalities
  • New cohorts begin each summer
  • Residency Week 2022: pre-work May 16-29, course days May 31-June 4 

Creating leaders to make a difference

“The Ph.D. in leadership is an interdisciplinary approach and is well aligned with the mission of Saint Martin’s University; it draws on all disciplines to inform leadership.” - Kathleen Boyle, Ph.D.

Read more on Thurston Talk >>

Admission requirements

Application opens: October 4, 2021
Priority Application due date: February 1, 2022
Applications close:  April 1, 2022
Interview days will be offered during the third week of February, March, and April

Important: F1 and J1 status international students are not eligible for the Ph.D. program.

Applicants must submit all of the required materials for University graduate admission (see the graduate admission section of the catalog) plus the following program specific materials:

  •  Master’s degree from a regionally accredited institution
  • 3 to 5 years professional experience
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation sent directly from the letter writer to the University (two of which should be from a faculty member who can speak to academic readiness for a doctoral degree).
  • A 750 word (or one and a half pages typed and double spaced) written statement of purpose in which applicants describe their preparation for the program, reasons for desiring entrance into the program, and career objectives.
  • A 1,000 word (or three to five pages typed and double spaced) written scholarly response to provided article
  • Applicant interview

In addition to the application, applicants may send forms, fees, and letters of recommendation to:

Office of Graduate Admissions
Saint Martin’s University
5000 Abbey Way SE
Lacey, WA 98503-7500

Degree requirements

Students plan courses of study in consultation with a program advisor. That course plan may not be changed without prior approval.

Students must complete an approved course of 51 semester hours to secure their degree.

  • LD 801 Multi-disciplinary perspectives of leadership and practice
  • LD 802 Philosophies of knowledge, acquisition and research
  • LD 803 Political, economic and social understandings of leadership
  • LD 804 Past, present and current leadership theories – future possibilities
  • LD 805 Leadership through the lens of power, freedom and change
  • LD 806 Applied leadership practices (doctoral internship)

Options to be determined by faculty teaching in current graduate programs and approved by your advisor/instructor. Transfer graduate credits can also count in this area.


  • LD 810 Applied statistics and quantitative research methods
  • LD 811 Qualitative research methods

Choose one of the following (choose what needed for dissertation)

  • LD 901 Advanced quantitative research methods, or
  • LD 902 Advanced qualitative research methods, or
  • LD 903 Action research methods, or
  • LD 904 Historical research methods
  • LD 910 Dissertation proposal
  • LD 911 Dissertation I
  • LD 912 Dissertation II


The average time expected to complete the Ph.D. in leadership studies is two-and-a-half years for coursework with a self-paced dissertation to follow. With a full graduate load (six credits per semester and summer), it is possible to complete the program in three years (two years of intensive coursework and one year minimum for a dissertation).  

The Ph.D. program in leadership studies is accredited by Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

After graduation, students may choose to become university or college professors, educational administrators (preschool-12 or higher education), policy analysts, ministers, local leaders, evaluators, consultants, executive coaches, or business leaders (C-suite). Being located near the state capitol offers graduates the opportunity to contribute to our greater community as leaders across a variety of sectors.