Program Type
Doctoral Program
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Mode of Study

Tuition per credit hour

$460 for in-state and
$494 for out-of-state residents. See details and other costs

Credit hours

72 required credit hours. Most courses are equal to 3 credit hours. Browse course list

Financial aid

Over 150 graduate assistantships available with stipend & tuition assistance, plus scholarship & fellowship opportunities. Explore aid


GRE or proof of graduate-level statistics course required. Apply by December 1 for fall term. View application process & deadlines

Program highlights

  • Earn your PhD in 4 years through our low-residency program: Complete coursework online from wherever you are and join us for annual 3-day residencies on our Portland campus.
  • Personalize your study by choosing coursework in either Leadership Education or Organizational Development.
  • Save money with reduced e-tuition for out-of-state students.
  • Study with faculty who carefully construct the dissertation process to optimize student success.
  • Gain hands-on experience through service-learning and internship opportunities.
  • Advance your research skills, both quantitative and qualitative, in preparation for your dissertation.
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Career tracks

The program’s Leadership Education track is designed for those who seek faculty roles. The Organization Development track is for those who aspire to consulting and other professional roles in the leadership and organization development industries.

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Program requirements

Our PhD in Leadership prepares thought-leaders who are committed to exploring leading-edge issues in innovative ways, combining scholarship, creativity, and self-inquiry. A transdisciplinary understanding of local, regional, national, and global organizational contexts and challenges is required.

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Alumni who lead

Our alumni work across the globe in leadership roles in many businesses and organizations, including the American Red Cross, Bank of America, Maine Medical Center, Office of US Senator Angus King, New Balance, Liberty Mutual, WEX, Tilson Technology Management, PetEdge, and LL Bean.

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Dedicated to student success

Our highly experienced faculty have diverse areas of expertise and are deeply invested in the success of our graduate students. They actively participate in and present research at international academic conferences and publish in some of the most prestigious academic journals.

Graduate students attend their orientation in a lecture hall, with a staff member speaking at a podium.

Graduate student support

Our Office of Graduate Studies connects you with opportunities for professional development, scholarships, and graduate assistantships. They also foster our graduate student community through Peer Mentorship and the Graduate Student Board.

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Scholarship opportunities

Scholarships offer financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid. We encourage students in graduate degree programs to apply for scholarship opportunities.

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Connect with us

Our monthly Graduate Information Sessions are an excellent way to learn more about the benefits of our program, as well as our admissions and financial process.

Register today

Study abroad

Participate in our optional Leadership Study Abroad programs. You’ll explore key issues in intercultural leadership and broaden your perspective so you can be an effective leader in the global economy.
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Next steps

Our graduate admissions counselors are here to answer your questions about the admissions process, our academic programs, and student support services.

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Meet us

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Admission information: PhD in Leadership

Application deadlines

Application deadlineFall term start
FinalDecember 1

Applicants must have an earned master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 (by the start date of the doctoral program). Additionally, applicants should be working professionals with experience and interest in pursuing advanced study of leadership.

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

General requirements

  • Application: Online application
  • Application fee:
    • In-state, out-of-state, and Canadian applicants: Free to apply
    • International applicants: Submit US $50 fee to apply
  • Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution.
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Students whose first language is not English may be required to take one of the following: Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Pearson Test of English (PTE) or Duolingo. Applicants must submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information regarding test scores and requirements.

Additional requirements

  • Essay: A personal statement that describes the applicant’s intent in applying to the program and how their personal and professional goals align with the program’s mission/vision/values.
  • Research interest statement: A description of the applicant’s scholarly area of interest and an outline of a plan for conducting an applied research project in that area of inquiry. This depiction will allow the admissions committee to evaluate the applicant’s potential for applied research.
  • A sample of scholarship, research, or academic writing that demonstrates the applicant’s readiness for doctoral-level work.
  • Recommendations: Two letters of recommendation attesting to the applicant’s knowledge of current scholarship, the achievement of excellence in leadership practice, capacity to connect theory and practice in solving leadership challenges, and demonstrated capability and motivation to engage in doctoral study. References should be from individuals who are qualified through direct experience with your academic or professional work. One of these individuals should be a supervisor. Both the supervisor and the other person writing a letter of reference on your behalf should comment on your qualities and experience as a leader and/or your ability to undertake doctoral-level graduate study.
  • Demonstration of sufficient quantitative reasoning skills for doctoral-level work by selecting one of the three options below:
    • An official transcript showing a graduate-level quantitative reasoning course (e.g., a quantitative research methods course) with a grade of B or better.
    • Completion of LOS Quantitative Reasoning course with a grade of B or better (offered during the Summer semester).
    • An official GRE (Graduate Records Examination) results with a Quantitative Reasoning subtest score of 150 or better.
  • Interview: Finalists will be invited to interview with faculty before confirming admission to the program.

GRE (Graduate Record Examination) Test Option

Applicants who elect the GRE option to demonstrate quantitative reasoning skills must have earned a score of 150 or above on the Quantitative Reasoning subtest of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). The GRE must be taken within the last five years.

Applicants who have elected this option who do not score 150 or above on the Quantitative Reasoning subtest of the GRE must enclose a letter asking for special consideration, in which they provide evidence of an ability to complete doctoral studies successfully. Without such a letter, applicants who fail to meet eligibility requirements may be automatically denied.

The test should be completed well in advance of the deadline as it typically takes about two weeks for the score reports to arrive after a request is made.

International student instructions

View additional application requirements

English proficiency test scores

View test requirements

Where to send application materials

Get our mailing address and email address