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

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 >>

Applications for the 2020-2021 cohort of the Ph.D. in Leadership Studies program are now closed. 2021-2022 cohort applications will open in fall 2020.

  • Application deadline

    Priority deadline: April 15
    Final deadline: June 1

    Leadership studies is a modified cohort program that begins only once a year; cohort begins during the summer semester.

  • Admission requirements

    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
    • GRE or MAT exam
    • 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.
    • Applicant interview

    All application forms, letters of recommendation, and fees should be mailed/emailed to:

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


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

A candidate working toward a Ph.D. degree in leadership studies must be accepted as a degree candidate.

To be a degree candidate, the student must complete the following:

• Have completed the leadership studies core curriculum with their cohort.
• Be in good standing.
• Have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.0.
• Successfully completed their expectations regarding comprehensive review of their candidacy
(exam or other review established by the faculty).
• Formed a dissertation committee (chairperson chosen and committee members identified with
the chairperson).

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

  • Leadership core curriculum (18 credits)
    • 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)
  • Concentration curriculum (15 credits)

    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.

  • Research curriculum (9 credits)


    • 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


  • How long does it take to complete the program?

    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).  

  • What jobs will program graduates be qualified for?

    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.