Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies

Marywood's Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies (SLAS) helps students to:

  1. Develop an understanding of administrative and leadership roles that reflect the complexity of today's business, education, health care, and social services organizations.
  2. Examine ethical issues related to administrative and leadership.
  3. Engage in interdisciplinary scientific inquiry to address the complex problems of today's organizations.
  4. Develop in‐depth knowledge of administrative and leadership roles.
  5. Demonstrate competence as a leader and a desire to provoke social change.


    Fully Accredited

    Marywood University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSHE).

    ADDRESS / 3624 Market Street, 2nd Floor West, Philadelphia, PA 19104. | Phone: (267) 284-5000

    About The Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies Department

    Consistent with the mission of Marywood University, the Ph.D. program in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies (SLAS) has as its primary goal the mastery of the administrative and leadership skills necessary for professionals working in business, education, health care, and social services. This mission aspires to engender professionals who pursue their leadership careers with a commitment to expertise, ethics, and empathy in an interconnected world.

    Learning Objectives

    1. Students will be able to select research topics and craft problem statements to write publishable-quality research papers based on answering related research questions, empirical data presentations and analysis and integrated review of the current literature, along with sound policy/ programing recommendations communicable to diverse audiences. This includes successfully writing sole-authored Qualifying Papers that examine emerging issues in administration and leadership and passing blind reviews by a panel of 3 faculty.
    2. Students will be able to evaluate programs using virtual learning models occurring in public, non-profit, and private organizations.
    3. Students will be able to discern distinctive characteristics in leadership and administrative studies through an in-depth engagement in evident-based research.
    4. Students will be able recognizing changes and innovation in organizational settings through the lens of dynamic ethical leadership, diversity, equity, and applied administrative theories.
    5. Students will be able to complete a workshop/seminar in dissertation writing to help them write and successfully defend their dissertations.  
    6. Students will be able to submit their researches to peer-review journals for publication. 

    Ph.D. in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies Faculty

    Teaching Faculty

    Dr. Stanley Kania

    Dr. Phil Jenkins

    Dr. Christina Brundage

    Dr. Lia Palimiter

    Dr. Amy Paciej-Woodruff

    Dr. Deborah Hokien

    Dr. Matthew Caputo

    Dr. Caroline Millen

    Selected Dissertation Faculty

    (Dissertation Committee Chairs, Committee Members, Dissertation Readers)

    Dr. Jennifer Barna Dr. Stanley Kania Dr. Karen Rich
    Dr. Helen Battisti Dr. Diane Keller Dr. Patrick Seffrin
    Dr. Joe Behun Sister Angela Kim Dr. Robert Shaw
    Dr. Marie Bonavoglia Dr. Monica Law Dr. Adam Shiprintzen
    Dr. Tammy Brown Dr. Douglas Lawrence Dr. Sunny Sinha
    Dr. Christina Brundage Dr. Alan Levine Dr. Chris Speicher
    Dr. Stephen Burke Dr. Lloyd Lyter Dr. Kielty Turner
    Dr. Matthew Caputo  Dr. Lia Palmiter Dr. Alex Vari
    Dr. Arthur Comstock Sister Joan McCusker Dr. Bruce Wisenburn
    Dr. Deborah Hokien Dr. Caroline Millen Dr. Amy Paciej-Woodruff
    Dr. Lynn Hutchings Dr. Tracie Pasold Dr. Frances Zauhar
    Dr. Phil Jenkins Dr. LoriAnn Pajalich Dr. Renee Zehel
    Dr. Mona Griffer Dr. Vijay Ramchandra Dr. Mary Ann Zimmer

    Frequently Asked Questions


    How old is the Ph.D. program? The program was established in 1996.

    Is there a time limit to complete the program? Yes. You must complete the program in 7 years. With the approval of the Program Director, a one-year extension can be added during extraordinary circumstances. 

    How many students are in the programs? 100+ 

    How diverse is the program? Our program is wonderfully diverse. 

    Can I study part time? Yes.

    Can I pursue the program if I work full time? Yes. 

    How many courses do students take each semester? Most of our students work full time. Thus, they enroll in one or two classes each semester. However, depending on your work schedule, you can take more than two courses per semester. 

    How long does it take to complete the program? Most students are able to finish the program in 3-4 years.  

    Do I need to take courses continuously? Yes. However, during extraordinary circumstances, and with the approval of the Program’s Director, you can take one semester off. 

    What kinds of jobs do people get after their Ph.D.? Our graduates work in all types of governmental, nonprofit, and corporate settings. Many of our graduates joined academia and are teaching at various institutions. Others work as administrators, managers, executives, or directors.

    Is there a student honorary award? Yes. The program awards an outstanding student each year at Commencement with the McGowan Medal. 

    Can I take classes in the program before I’ve been accepted? Students interested in taking courses offered by the program before they have been formally accepted may do so, provided they have applied for admission to Marywood University.

    Which professors can I work with? Each course is taught by an instructor. See the list of teaching faculty under the faculty tab on this web page.

    Who will be my advisor? The Program’s Director. 

    Is there a list of dissertation faculty to choose from for my dissertation committee? Yes. You can see the list of dissertation faculty under the faculty tab of this web page.

    What types of career advice will the University offer me? Marywood University’s Career Development Office prepares graduates for careers at academic institutions, in think tanks, research firms, and research units of public, quasi-public and private organizations, as well as for other positions with substantial responsibilities for the supervision and administration of research.

    What other types of academic services does the University offer? Marywood University helps with writing through the Writing Center, educational software training, and accommodations for students with disabilities.


    What are the program’s requirements? The Ph.D. Program in Strategic Leadership and Administrative Studies requires the competition of seven (21 credits) Foundation courses, six (18 credits) research courses, four (12 credits) elective courses, and a minimum of 9 dissertation credits. Students are eligible to wave the four elective courses by transferring 12 credits (of grades of B or higher) from their master’s degree. 
    How many credits does it take to complete the program?

    60 credits. However, students who are eligible to transfer 12 credits from their master’s degree the total credits required to complete the program is 48.

    Also, if a student has already earned doctoral credits and holds ABD status, Marywood University offers an ABD completion program that is fully online, with 9 credits and 9 online dissertation credits (a total of 18 credits). This pathway is specifically designed for career professionals who are seeking to complete their doctoral studies and earn their Ph.D. without taking time off from their careers.

    Where are classes held? Online. 
    Do you offer courses during the summer? No. Courses are offered only during the fall and spring semester. However, students who need to satisfy their elective requirements (if they did not transfer all 12 credits from their master’s degree program due to grades lower than B), can take an elective course offered by other departments at the University.
    Can I take any electives from other departments?

    Yes, as stated above, students who need to satisfy their elective requirements (if they did not transfer all 12 credits from their master’s degree program due to grades lower than B), can take an elective course offered by other departments at the University.

    Is there a master course schedule? Yes. We follow a sequence specified by a master course schedule.
    Are there prerequisites? Yes. You will need to complete SLAS 6009: Quantitative Research Design before allowed to register for SLAS 6010: Advanced Quantitative Research, and you will need to complete SLAS 6010 before registering for SLAS 6011: Statistical Analysis. You also will need to complete all courses before registering for SLAS 6013: Qualifying Seminar, and to pass SLAS 6013 before registering for dissertation credits. 
    Where can I get more detailed information on the program?

    You can read the Program’s Manual.

    Is there a comprehensive exam?  No.
    Is there a Qualifying Process? Yes. After the competition of all courses students are required to take and successfully pass SLAS 6013: Qualifying Seminar before allowed to enter the candidacy phase and starting their dissertation process. 
    Can I take the Qualifying Seminar during the summer or Spring semesters? No. The Qualifying Seminar is offered only during the fall semester.
    Can I take the Qualifying Seminar as an Independent Study course? No. Although the Qualifying Paper is an autonomous, self-authored paper, the Qualifying Seminar is not an independent study course. It is in lieu of a Comprehensive Exam, administered by a panel of three faculty members. Students may work on their Qualifying Paper during the summer on their own (following the Seminar's guidelines), but then must register for the Seminar during the fall semester and follow the submission process within the specific due dates.  
    Can I resubmit my Qualifying Paper if I failed the first review? Yes.
    If I failed the second review of my Qualifying Paper, what should I do? A student who fails the second review of the Qualifying Paper is permitted to retake the Qualifying Seminar one more time only during the next fall of the scheduled seminar. A special seminar will not be created for the returning student during the spring or summer semesters. As such, students must wait a year after their first registered seminar in order to retake the course during its regularly scheduled fall semester. 
    If a student fails the second Qualifying Seminar course, what will happen then?  A student who fails two registered courses of the Qualifying Seminars (a total of four reviews, two reviews per seminar) will be dismissed from the program. 
    Can I register for dissertation credits while I am registered for the Qualifying Seminar? No. Students are not permitted to simultaneously register for SLAS 6013: Qualifying Seminar and dissertation. Only after successfully completing the Qualifying Seminar are students permitted to register for dissertation credits. 
    Am I required to register for dissertation credits during the summer sessions? No. Registering for dissertation credits during the summer sessions is optional.
    Can I register for dissertation credits without having a dissertation committee? No.
    When can I form my dissertation committee? You can form your dissertation committee after completing SLAS 6012: Pre-Dissertation Seminar. You must complete the Dissertation Appointment Form, have all members of your dissertation committee sign it, and then email it to the Program Director. You cannot start your dissertation process without first passing the Qualifying Process (SLAS 6013: Qualifying Seminar), forming a committee, and submitting the Dissertation Appointment Form to the Program Director.
    How do I form my 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. 
    Do I have to get IRB approval prior to starting my dissertation? Yes. 
    How do I apply for IRB? Visit IRB Webpage.
    Is dissertation defense conducted online? Yes (through Zoom).
    Do I need Readers in addition to my dissertation committee for my defense? Yes. The Candidate and Dissertation Committee 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. 
    Where can I publish my dissertation? You can submit your dissertation for publication in the program's flagship peer-review journal, the Journal of Applied Professional Studies. All dissertations that were successfully defended are eligible for publication in the journal. 
    What are the stages in the dissertation process, from start to end?

    Before Starting the Dissertation Process

    • Secure a Dissertation Committee Chair and two members. The Chair and one committee member have to be full-time faculty members of Marywood University. The third member can be from outside the university. Each member must hold a terminal degree from an accredited university.
    • Electronically (as an email attachment) submit a completed "Appointment of Dissertation Committee" Form to the Program Director.
    • Complete IRB's online Collaborative Institutional Training Initiative (CITI) as well as IRB application
    1. During the Dissertation Writing Process
    • Complete at least 9 credits of dissertation research.
    • 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. 
    1. Prior to Defending the Dissertation
    • Notify the Program Director via email of your intent to defend at least one month prior to the scheduled date of your dissertation defense (no form is required).
    • Provide an electronic copy of the dissertation three weeks prior to the scheduled defense to the Program Director and Committee members.
    • Register for Graduation.
    • The Candidate and the Dissertation Committee select two Readers at least three weeks prior to the scheduled defense date. A Reader must also hold a terminal degree from an accredited university.
    1. Defending the Dissertation
    • All dissertation defenses to be conducted through Zoom or Google Meet.
    • Dissertation defense should not be longer than 45 minutes, followed by questions and answers.
    • Have a minimum of two copies of the "Dissertation Cover Page" and all committee members must sign the form once the dissertation defense is successful.
    • Readers ask questions during the defense and present their feedback to the committee.
    • A majority vote of the Dissertation Committee members and at least one Reader is required to pass the defense.
    • The Candidate can pass with provision that the research mentor supervise the corrections or additions to the final draft of the dissertation.
    • Once passed, submit a copy of the signed Cover Page to the Program Director and keep another copy for your own record.
    1. Dissertation Format
    • APA Style as described in the most current Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is to be followed.
    • 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."
    • 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.
    • Front matter may include: acknowledgements, list of illustrations or tables, glossary of terms.
    1. After Defending the Dissertation
    • Provide the Program Director with an electronic Word copy of the completed dissertation no later than two weeks after successfully defending your dissertation.
    • If you are interested in bound copies of your dissertation you may contact Marywood University's Library.
    • 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.
    • Students can submit their dissertation for publication in the program's flagship peer-review journal, the Journal of Applied Professional Studies.
    • If, after two years, the doctoral student does not publish his/her data, then the dissertation chair gains ownership of the data and may publish the results as first author. 

    From #DayOne, Marywood is here for you each step of the way.

    Student Handbook and Program Manual

    Student Dissertations

    The McGowan Medal 

    The following criteria will be used to select nominees for the McGowan Medal in Doctoral Studies. Nominees will be evaluated on the extent to which they meet the criteria.

    The recipient will be selected based on the ability to excel in multiple categories. Candidate nominees are forwarded to the Program Director, and the final nominee will be selected by the Director. 

    1. Quality of Dissertation/Doctoral Project: Projects should be worthy of publication, well written and executed. Mentors should provide a copy of the document’s abstract in support of the nomination.
    2. Originality of Scholarship: This includes innovative design, use of creative methodology, or application to a novel problem/population or emerging area.
    3. Impact of Research while Enrolled: The number of publication(s), conference presentation(s), poster presentation(s) made by the student while enrolled in the doctoral program.
    4. Leadership potential:  References should provide documentation of the nominee’s contributions to the community and outreach.
    5. Overall QPA of 3.8 or better.

    Past Recipients

    2022: Abigail Davis, Aleni Mackarey, and Ann Romanosky (shared)

    2021: Caroline Millen

    2020: Amy Washo and Ryan Leckey (shared)

    2019: Stanley Kania


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