Department Detail

Ph.D. Administration & Leadership

This program takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding human development, while still allowing for in-depth study in one of five specializations. The program combines the hallmarks of more traditional doctorates, including an emphasis on research, with a balanced interdisciplinary focus.

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Program Philosophy

Human beings grow and develop as unique individuals within complex networks of familial, societal, and cultural structures; they grow physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. The study of the processes of human development is at once the most fundamental and the most far-ranging of exercises in which a scholar may engage.


Consistent with the mission of Marywood University, the Ph.D. program in Human Development has as its primary goal the development and mastery of the professional and leadership skills necessary for meeting human needs. Through a strong interdisciplinary focus, the program emphasizes the complexity of human development. Students are prepared to meet the challenges of the 21st century, providing unifying leadership in an increasingly interdependent world.

Program Goals

  1. Students will demonstrate an interdisciplinary understanding of human behavior that reflects the complexity of human beings from philosophical, physiological, psychological, spiritual, economic, social, and cultural dimensions.
  2. Students will demonstrate an understanding of underlying interdisciplinary and discipline-specific ethics.
  3. Students will demonstrate an ability to engage in interdisciplinary scientific inquiry to address the complex problems of today's society.
  4. Students will develop depth of knowledge in their chosen disciplinary focus.
  5. Students will demonstrate preparation and competence for leadership related to social change.


An Interdisciplinary Approach

The Ph.D. program in Human Development instills in students an interdisciplinary understanding of human development while allowing for depth in a disciplinary specialization. The program combines the knowledge and skills of more traditional doctorates, including strong research and instructional skills, with a balanced interdisciplinary focus.

Marywood's Ph.D. program is unique in its interdisciplinary focus at the doctoral level. Emphasizing critical, multifaceted analysis of complex problems, the interdisciplinary approach enables students to make creative connections across disciplines and to learn from the synergy of multiple points of view. Furthermore, an interdisciplinary program allows for better exploration of the complex relationships inherent in the problems and issues of the 21st century.

Graduates of the Ph.D. program are well-prepared to provide leadership in a variety of settings. The cognitive flexibility and skill developed by learning to view challenges through an interdisciplinary lens apply readily to areas such as education, business, administration, health care, and government agencies.

Expert faculty from disciplines across the University are engaged in the Ph.D. program through teaching the interdisciplinary core courses, serving as dissertation mentors and committee members, and serving as qualifying examination evaluators. There are several specialization tracks that capitalize on the particular strengths of Marywood’s faculty across a variety of disciplines.

Program Structure

This 60-credit post-master’s program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) has interdisciplinary and research courses as its core, to which disciplinefocused areas of concentrated specialization are added. Flexible program options enable students to earn their doctoral degree by choosing either a four-year or six-year curriculum plan and to design a program of studies geared to meet their professional objectives. The program does not require residency on campus, since core courses are offered on the weekday evenings and specialty elective courses are offered in a hybrid or online format to fit the hours of working professionals. Continuous registration each semester is required. Degree completion is expected within seven years of program entry.

Specialization Tracks

Organizational Leadership is recommended for those planning a career as a business or academic administrator or professionals who are engaged in organizational training and development.

College/University Teaching is recommended for those planning a career as a tenure-track faculty member at a public or private institution of higher education.

Health Promotion is recommended for those interested in administration, consultation, and evaluative research in health care and health promotion environments.


This 60-credit program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) combines the core interdisciplinary and research courses common to all students with applied interdisciplinary core and discipline-based areas of concentrated specialization.

The Interdisciplinary Core

(12 credits)

D/HD 1021 Development and Change: Theoretical Foundations
D/HD 1031 Social and Economic Dimensions of Human Development
D/HD 1041 The Physiological and Psychological Bases of Human Development
D/HD 1100 Professional Ethics 3

The Research Core

(12 credits)

D/HD 1011 Advanced Statistical Analysis
D/HD 1013 Advanced Correlation
D/HD 1015 Qualitative Research
D/HD 1017 Quantitative Methodology

The Applied Interdisciplinary Core

(12 credits)
Choice of 4 courses

D/HD 1005 Models of Teaching 3
D/HD 1012 Communication Theory and Organizational Dynamics 3
D/HD 1030 Financial & Strategic Planning 3
D/HD 1109 Law & Public Policy 3
D/HD 1112 The Grantsmanship Process 6
D/HD 1140 Program Development & Evaluation 3
D/HD 1150 Labor Relations & Human Resources 3
D/HD 1151 Academic Writing 3
D/HD 1152 Mentored Teaching Internship (PRQ: D/HD 1005) 3

The Specialization Courses

(12 credits)

Organizational Leadership

D/OL 1161 Perspectives on Entrepreneurial Leadership 3
D/OL 1162 Organizational Leadership Theory & Research 3
D/OL 1163 Policy Formulations &Analysis 3
D/OL 1164 Consultancy Project/Practicum 3

College University Teaching

D/ED 1155 Theory & Application of Instructional Design Models 3
D/ED 1156 Best Practices for Online Learning 3
D/ED 1157 Assessing Student Learning 3
D/ED 1158 Adult Learning Theory 3

Health Promotion

D/HP 1102 Social Epidemiology
D/HP 1103 Management of the Health & Human Services
D/HP 1120 Global Health & Multicultural Disparities
D/HP 1121 Public Health in Action

Dissertation (9 credits) 

D/HD 1051 Selected Topics Dissertation Seminar 3

is a three-credit course taken after completing the qualifying experience and all coursework (48 credits).

Qualifying Experience

Upon successful completion of 36 credits in the program (including the core interdisciplinary and research courses), students complete a Qualifying Examination, assessing both written and oral competency. The written component requires an integrative literature review, reflecting an interdisciplinary response to a complex question of the student’s choice. This written work of approximately 20 pages is reviewed blindly by three university faculty. If the paper is deemed to be satisfactory, then students present their topic orally before the review committee and interested members of the University community. Successful completion of the oral competency qualifies the student for Ph.D. candidacy.

Transfer of Credits

Normally, no advanced standing nor transfer credits will be accepted, however in special circumstances where students have completed successfully a comparable doctoral level graduate course at another regionally-accredited college or university, a petition may be made to the Program Director after the student has matriculated in the Ph.D. Program for two (2) semesters.

Standards for Continuation

A cumulative QPA of 3.25 is the minimum for continuation in the program. Students who fail to maintain a 3.25 average in their coursework will be required to meet with the Ph.D. Program Director and a corrective action plan will be enforced. Typically one or two semesters will be allowed for the student to re-establish the required 3.25 average otherwise the student will be dismissed from the program. A minimum letter grade of B is also required for all coursework. Continuous registration each semester is required that includes summer session when in the dissertation phase, otherwise a student may be administratively withdrawn from the program. Students must successfully complete their Qualifying Experience and all coursework prior to registration for dissertation credits. Professional conduct is expected at all times.

Time Limitation Policy

All work must be completed within seven years of program entry. An extension of the terminal date is considered only when there is substantial evidence that the student has made regular and consistent progress toward completion of degree requirements. An extension will be granted only if either: (1) the student has been granted a leave of absence for medical or other acceptable reasons or (2) permission has been granted by the Program Director. Written application for extension, with full documentation of serious cause, must be made to the Program Director. It should be noted that this period of time is rarely extended and only in dire circumstances. An extension is only granted once.

Stop Out Policy 

Matriculating students in the Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program who decide not to enroll in courses at Marywood during a term (Fall, Spring, and/or Summer) and want to maintain an active and continuous status with the program, will be required to pay a placeholder fee of $250 per term. This fee will be applied in certain circumstances such as, but not limited to: (1) failure to register for courses after an unsatisfactory attempt in the qualifying experience and (2) not registering continuously for credits during the dissertation phase. To initiate the placeholder the student must consult with the Ph.D. Program Director and register for the stop-out (D/HD 1000 – Qualifying Experience or D/HD 1001 – Dissertation). For each subsequent term the student will be registered automatically for the stop-out with fee up to a maximum of two years after which time, the student will be administratively withdrawn from the program. Students who fail to fulfill the fiscal obligation associated with the continuous enrollment policy will move immediately to administrative withdrawal from the program. 


Admission to the Ph.D. program in Human Development is competitive. The faculty are seeking a diverse student body, who manifest superior academic achievement, a sensitivity to interdisciplinary inquiry, and evidence of the potential for leadership in their respective careers. The admission requirements include:

  1. A master's degree from a regionally-accredited college or university in a field related to the selected specialization track.
  2. Recent coursework in Research Methodology and Statistics (at the graduate or undergraduate level).
  3. Official undergraduate and graduate transcripts.
  4. Three letters of recommendation (at least two from instructors or current supervisors) addressing in depth the academic achievement and professional accomplishments of the applicant.
  5. A reflective essay of approximately 1,000 words, addressing the personal and/or professional goals which would be met through participation in this interdisciplinary program.
  6. Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) General Test scores taken within the past five years.
  7. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) score, if an international student.
  8. Invited on-campus interview.

Ph.D. Administration & Leadership Website