Doctor of Philosophy

PhD in Leadership & Change


Engaging in the scholarship and research of leading positive change.

Antioch’s PhD in Leadership and Change program is dedicated to engaging working professionals in the interdisciplinary study, research and practice of leading positive change in workplaces, schools, organizations, and communities, across the country and world.

This degree is offered by Antioch University’s Graduate School of Leadership and Change.

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The program is designed to support socially engaged leaders and change agents to inquire into the complex and thorny challenges of their fields and to conduct research that can help improve that practice.

A PhD Program to Fit Your Busy Life

Your personal life is taken into account:

  • Live anywhere
  • Work full-time
  • Attend two on-site residencies and one virtual residency each year (for three years)
  • Stay connected through our robust online community

Your interests and curiosities are at the core

Do you wonder why your teams aren’t working well together and what change could improve their relationships? Or, how to improve student learning on the campus where you teach or administer programs? Do you wish you could understand why many individuals are resistant to change and what might be ways to engage them successfully? Or why do so many leaders continue to operate from a command and control style?

These are the types of curiosities our students bring to their study. These are the places of wonder that frame discussions, demonstrations of learning, real-world change initiatives, and the dissertation. This PhD program is an opportunity to explore in-depth evidence-based ways to practice and lead change that can make a difference.

Your current professional life is enriched

At the heart of study is the student’s own practice in professional life. The program enables learners to continuously reflect on and integrate their real-world experience with scholarship and methods of inquiry. The program encourages students to integrate theory and practice in order to enrich their own practice and expand relevant theory. This is not about an ivory tower, but about taking your learning into your workplace and community to help make positive change, improve outcomes, and engage individuals in ways that benefit the common good.

Your career opportunities expand

The majority of students in the program are mid to senior-level practitioners. This means that for many, the program journey and achieving their PhD deepens the career paths they are already on. For some, securing a PhD offers the opportunity for new positions, and provides them with the expertise to open consulting practices, teach at the local college or university, or help them become a more public intellectual in their professional networks. Learn more about the impactful work of our learning community members within our newsletters and Facebook announcements of alumni and student career and community achievements.

Flexible, Innovative, Outcomes-Based, Low-Residency Design

The PhD in Leadership and Change is a post master’s, full-time program delivered in a unique and distinctive model:

  • Low Residency hybrid delivery means face-to-face meetings 2 times a year
  • Professional Seminar for small and large group discussions and workshops throughout the year
  • Credit for demonstrating learning rather than seat time in a course
  • Learner flexibility within an annual structure, cohort progress through the program, and individual interests
  • Dissertation Phase for conducting original scholarly research
  • Intense faculty and staff support, from the first day to dissertation completion


Students attend two on-site residencies per year and one virtual residency per year for the first three years. All other program study is done online both within cohorts and individually. In addition, meeting with faculty at residencies is coupled with many opportunities for one-on-one work throughout the year, virtual workshops on topics of interest, and regular advising.

The residencies are intense gatherings combining graduate seminars, guest lectures, advising sessions, peer discussions, and student presentations. Residencies are held on a rotating basis at some of the Antioch University campuses. Students who remain in pre-candidacy in the 4th year have the opportunity to participate in virtual support residencies until they do advance to candidacy.

The 2 on-site residencies and 1 virtual residency follow this pattern each year:

Late July/Early AugNovemberMarch
Yellow Springs, Ohio
5 Days (Mon-Fri)
Virtual Residency
5 Days (Tue- Sat)
Seattle, WA
or Los Angeles, CA
4 Days (Wed-Sat)

The final residency for third-year students is in May each year.

View Detailed Term & Residency Calendar Here

Professional Seminar

Participate in online interaction throughout the year
For the first three years, the faculty-facilitated Proseminar is the cohort’s “homeroom,” in which students discuss, integrate, and make meaning of their learning for each of the first three years. In small and large groups – students engage in virtual and face-to-face dialogue and develop the skills of group reflection as an emerging community of scholars. Students spend approximately three hours a week involved in Proseminar activity, through discussion forums and web meetings.

Learner Flexibility

Work with faculty to align assignments with your needs and interests.
There are a number of ways to think of flexibility in this program. The most obvious is perhaps the ability to live and work anywhere and attend a rigorous and engaging doctoral program. As importantly, however, within the clearly-defined annual requirements, students have the flexibility to submit the assignments in ways that align with the needs of their busy professional lives and personal responsibilities. Each student works clearly with an individual advisor to map their path to most successfully navigate the program’s requirements. Finally, flexibility refers to the ability to individualize one’s study based on one’s own deep interests in leadership and change.

Dissertation Phase

Conduct original, scholarly research
A PhD offers the opportunity to conduct original scholarly research, a dissertation. In our program, we want to support research that makes a difference, and that has the potential to inform and affect positive change in organizations and communities and schools, and workplaces.

Over the course of the first three pre-candidacy years, students have the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of leadership and change as well as to develop competence in research skills. Once they complete the pre-candidacy requirements, they are well prepared to design original research into a topic that matters to them. With a strong supportive Dissertation Committee, students are challenged to conduct a meaningful study that answers their professional curiosities and helps inform ways to lead change and to improve practice.
Check out our program’s dissertations!

Three Years to Dissertation

Year 1

  • Reflective Leadership Essay – The student demonstrates the ability to reflect in-depth on the personal meaning (e.g. personal values, personal organizational interests) of his/her past, present and marginalization systems and diverse populations prospective roles as a leader in an organization. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Reflective Leader module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions.
  • Case Studies of Leading Change – The student demonstrates an ability to apply key issues and concepts to the complexities of real-life leadership and change situations. The case study and analysis must be substantial enough to enable the student to apply the literature and explore change situations. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Case Study module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions.
  • Ethics in Leadership and inquiry – The student demonstrates familiarity with and understanding of leadership theories, concepts, and themes and their application to an area of the student’s interest. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Ethics module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions, as well as the completion of the CITIMODULE.
  • Nature of Leadership Essay – The student demonstrates familiarity with and understanding of leadership theories, concepts, and themes and their application to an area of the student’s interest. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Nature of Leadership module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions.
    Proseminar 1 – A year-long cohort-based Proseminar with on-site and online learning activities. The focus of Proseminar 1 is the core curriculum areas and the development of reflective practice as a learner.
  • Learning plan – Student identifies overarching learning goals, their challenges as a learner, and directions for year 2.
  • Three residencies (2 on-site and 1 virtual)

Year 2

  • Organizational Change Project – The student designs, leads and evaluates a change initiative based on: an assessment of needs; theoretical and practical considerations in the field of leadership and organizational change; and a commitment to participatory leadership styles and ethical professional practice. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Organizational Change module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions,
  • Critical Review of Research – Students demonstrate an understanding of research designs, including basic, applied, and integrative research; and research paradigms, including both qualitative and quantitative approaches, in the literature of their field. Students are expected to critique the research studies in their own professional fields, including the quality of the research question(s), method(s) of inquiry, appropriateness of the data analysis procedures, and validity of inferences and conclusions drawn. The student is expected to explore the design models and critique their strengths and weaknesses. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Research module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions.
  • Research Redesign – The student demonstrates deep knowledge of at least two research methods by selecting two published peer-reviewed studies in the field, one qualitative and one quantitative, and redesigning them. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Research module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions./li>
  • Proseminar 2
  • – A year-long cohort-based Proseminar with on-site and online learning activities. A significant aspect of this year’s Proseminar is the development of and reflection on leading change.
  • Three residencies (2 on-site and 1 virtual)

Year 3

  • Cultural Dimensions of Leadership – The student demonstrates his/her ability to examine and synthesize ideas and concepts she/he has acquired and to prepare for the next stage of their development within the program and their practice. The specific focus of this essay invites students to reflect on leading change in a world of cultural differences, unequal access to power, and unresolved or unaddressed issues of social justice. This assignment is a demonstration of learning from the Cultural and Global Dimensions of Leadership Module, which includes residencies, readings, and discussions.
  • Individualized Learning Modules – These are two in-depth study opportunities, one in a content area related to the dissertation direction and one in the research method intended to be used in the dissertation.
  • Proseminar 3 – A year-long cohort-based Proseminar with on-site and online learning activities.
  • Three residencies (2 on-site and 1 virtual)

Year 4: Dissertation

  • Dissertation Proposal – Students design a study and prepare the Dissertation Proposal, which is the first three chapters of the Dissertation.  The Dissertation Hearing is the culmination of this phase and once approved by the Committee, the student then secures the appropriate Institutional Review Board and proceed with conducting the research phase.
  • Dissertation – Students must complete a Doctoral dissertation demonstrating their ability to conduct original, scholarly research. A dissertation begins with a well-designed question or issue meriting investigation. The issue should emerge from and carry forward an existing body of theory and knowledge. The dissertation should demonstrate scholarship, creativity and originality and have implications for a particular issue in the field of leadership and change in the professions and/or communities. The Dissertation Defense is student’s presentation of the work at a residency or other approved venue.

Our Curriculum is Interdisciplinary

The PhD in Leadership and Change program prepares students to engage in the art and science of leading change from both practice-based and theory-based perspectives.

The broad and deep interdisciplinary curriculum draws from psychology, education, management, social science, and the humanities. We believe this interdisciplinary mix is critical because leading change doesn’t sit in one disciplinary box. Rather, each discipline provides an important lens into the phenomena. For example, psychological studies may help us understand individual resistances to change, whereas critical management studies may help us understand organizational structures and processes that inhibit innovation, and the social sciences may help us understand social-cultural contexts for marginalization and empowerment of community movements.

Over the course of the program, students are exposed to an array of disciplinary perspectives and supported in their efforts to find interdisciplinary opportunities to blend lens in order to best understand the complex challenges of our times.

The Practice of Leadership and Change is Cross-Sector

Just as the study of leadership and change is interdisciplinary, the practice of leadership and change is cross-sector. It would be difficult to imagine any professional leading change within the comfortable confines of their profession: school administrators program need to work with the surrounding neighborhood organizations; business professionals work closely to improve community efforts; healthcare leaders work closely with local nonprofits, and so forth. Our world is complex, and leading change isn’t in a silo, neither discipline nor sector.

That is why we believe so strongly in the power and synergy of our cross-sector learning community. Students deliberate with peers who come from across the world and country, who work in sectors similar and different, and who bring experiences both diverse and similar. It is a powerful opportunity to expand one’s horizon.

occupational Sector graph

Admissions / Cost / Aid


Application Deadline

TermEarly Application ReviewRolling Application Review Beginning of Term
Summer 2024October 1Begins February 1July 1
The PhD in Leadership and Change program admits 25-30 students in the cross-sector cohort each year, with the academic term beginning July 1. Applications are accepted year-round. Early review of complete applications occurs after October 1st each year. Review of subsequent complete applications begins after February 1st each year and continues through mid-May and/or until the cohort is full.


A master’s or other graduate degree issued from an institution recognized by an accrediting body that has been approved by the United States Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation and five years of relevant professional experience are minimum eligibility requirements. In addition, selection for admission will depend upon such characteristics as capacity for self-directed learning, evidence of strong academic skills and conceptual abilities, and an interest in interdisciplinary study and applied research. Applicants must demonstrate a strong potential for individual and professional growth, evidence of leadership and aspiration to lead, and an interest in being a socially engaged professional.

How to Apply

  1. Online Application
  2. Admissions essay
    • Present a reflective autobiographical statement that discusses what has led you to want to be a doctoral student in the PhD in Leadership and Change program (include such aspects as your relevant work experience, personal and professional interests, capacity to initiate and self-direct your learning and other appropriate information)
    • Discuss how you believe this PhD program will enable you to become a more effective professional and principled leader in your field.
    • Discuss your overall interest and passion for future in-depth study during the individualized curriculum portion of our program. Please include as much detail as you can regarding the ways in which you hope to focus on this area of interest, including what you are curious about and what you would like to learn.
    • Relate and discuss a personal story that reflects your understanding of leadership and change in your professional field.
  3. Three recommender forms
    • Letters of recommendation should be from persons who are familiar with your personal, academic, and professional background, who understand your educational goals, and who can address your ability to pursue doctoral study in your chosen field.
  4. Transcripts
    • Request one official transcript from each educational institution you attended. All official transcripts must be received by the PhD program office, directly from the college or university.
  5. Resume
    • Please submit a resume that includes: work history (paid and volunteer), education, experience in conducting research, community leadership roles, membership in professional organizations, honors, awards, presentations, and publications.
  6. Research-oriented writing sample
    • Please submit a sample of your past work that gives some indication of your writing abilities and critical and conceptual thinking skills. Solo authored samples are preferred. That said, if the sample is coauthored, indicate which portion of the work was within your scope of responsibility.
  7. Application fee
    • A non-refundable fee of $50 in US funds, payable to Antioch University, should accompany the application.


Application material can be submitted via email to [email protected]  or hard copies can be mailed to:

PhD in Leadership and Change
Antioch University
900 Dayton St.
Yellow Springs, OH 45387

Please note: All materials submitted for application to the PhD program become the property of the PhD program.




Guaranteed fixed tuition is offered in the PhD in Leadership and Change Program for the first three years. Once a student advances to candidacy, the tuition is half of the full tuition, beginning in the trimester following advancement. Additional costs include room and board, transportation, books, course materials, supplies, equipment, and subscriptions. Payment plans are available.

Annual tuition$27,849
Room and board (based on 10 nights x $150 hotel; $50 food a day)$1,500
Transportation (based on 2 residencies x $500 transportation each)$3,876
View the Cost of Attendance Components

Payment plans are available. Tuition is charged on an annual basis until candidacy is obtained. Once candidacy is reached, tuition is half of the current pre-candidacy annual tuition and is charged on a trimester basis.


Financial Aid

A majority of GSLC students finance their education through some form of financial aid. You may not be sure which federal, state, public, and private aid packages – such as loans, scholarships, and grants—are right for you. Our staff is here to help you, so you can focus on what’s most important: beginning your academic program.

Transfer Credit Information

The program is willing to consider assessing doctoral work completed at another accredited institution within the past five years. The student’s work is evaluated to determine the degree to which it meets the learning goals and criteria established by our program faculty for only two specific first-year assignments: the Case Study in Leading Change and the Nature of Leadership.

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