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Ed.D. in Organizational
Leadership & Development

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Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership and Development

As a leader, you have a distinct vision for a flourishing community. Unleash your transformative potential through a doctoral program that takes you further. Our Doctor of Education in organizational leadership and development provides a pathway for holistic flourishing as you explore your sense of possibility. Discover practical theories, ideas, research and frameworks as you craft data-driven decisions that cultivate lasting transformation in your organization. Engage in an intentional learning community of fellow leaders as you collectively pursue your God-given abilities with creativity and insight.


  • Online


  • Online

Program Length

  • As little as 36 months

Credit Hours

  • 60

Unlocking transformative change

At Cornerstone University, we believe that education inspires opportunities to make a difference as an influencer for Christ. When seeking to pursue doctoral education, choosing a practitioner-based Ed.D. over a Ph.D. is intentional. While both degrees advance your knowledge and credentials toward initiating success. The difference lies in what you hope to achieve. The Ed.D. is uniquely designed to equip working professionals to apply the research and theory to address and propose solutions to real-world problems. They go beyond learning and move into incorporating that foundation into enacting lasting transformation.

As a leader, you have the potential to open new doors for your organization in addressing workplace situations with evidence-based decision-making. Translate research literature and theories into actionable models that inspire lasting change. Anchor your strategic direction in sound research and meaningful insight in your unique context, whether that be in education, health services, public service or business. Deepen your understanding in learning alongside peers with similar goals yet diverse perspectives as you collectively work together in following your pathway toward success.

Admission Requirements

All students must submit an application ($50 fee) to start the admissions process. Scroll down to view a full list of admission requirements.

Next Program Start

Advance in leadership on your schedule by taking course 100% online. You’ll also get to meet up with your program peers through three annual in-person residencies in Grand Rapids during your program.

Start Date

August 2023

Admissions Materials Due

July 2023


On-campus residencies.


Final capstone project completed to influence real-world change.


Of faculty members are professing believers of Jesus Christ.


Courses and
Learning Outcomes

Integrate theory with practice through rigorous courses that challenge and equip you with evidence-based decision-making skills and effective leadership frameworks. Gain insight from your peers and instructors who enhance your own learning as you advance as an informed influencer.

Course Descriptions

EDL-900 Doctoral Studies Seminar

An orientation to the Ed.D. program and doctoral study expectations and requirements. Learners will focus on and enhance their library research and academic writing skills. Emphasis will be given to organizational behavior and development issues that lead to problem formation and solution development by synthesizing theory-based, practical research. Important and current leadership issues and management dilemmas will be emphasized so that learners can connect academic writing and research to problem-solving within organizations. Special emphasis will be given to finding potential issues within a student’s vocational context that will lead to the doctoral program’s culminating capstone project. The first residency requirement will occur and be met upon successful completion of this course.

EDL-901 Organizational Behavior, Theory and Leadership

An overview of seminal leadership concepts and theories with an emphasis on their applications within 21st century organizations. Special emphasis will be given to individual differences at work, motivation and the role of personality in leadership style, as well as the influence of work environment, teamwork and social behavior on decision making, communication and leadership effectiveness within organizations.

RES-905 Research Methods, Program Evaluation and Modes of Inquiry

A general survey course designed to develop key skills and core competencies within the classic tradition of research design while focusing on practical and emerging methods of inquiry, problem-solving and data analysis. This course will help learners define a specific research problem and generate questions that lead to collection, analysis and interpretation of data. The culminating assignment will be an initial research prospectus focused on the learner’s organizational leadership and development capstone project.

EDL-902 Legal Issues, Policy Leadership and Ethics

An analysis of the legal aspects and issues of constitutional, statutory and case law concerning public and private organizations. Compliance issues stemming from a legal basis and case law along with public policy implications will be emphasized. Learners will comprehend the practical implications for organizational and institutional policy as they relate to and influence daily operations in addition to the role of specific ethical theories in legal and policy decision-making.

EDL-903 Leadership, Human Resources Management and Diversity

An examination of relevant employment law issues for leaders and organizations within the context of human resources leadership. Learners will examine the legal and regulatory aspects of HR and diversity in addition to how cognitive diversity within organizations improves decision-making and organizational performance. This course will also highlight theoretical, research-based and practical information related to employee and organizational development, staffing, recruitment, selection, training and other key features of human resources administration, management and leadership. A major emphasis in the course will be structuring the HR function as a strategic component of organizational leadership and development.

RES-910 Qualitative and Organizational Action Research

A focus on using classic qualitative research methods to address organizational problems. Along with narrative, phenomenological, case study, ethnographic and grounded theory research, this course will also emphasize program evaluation and action research strategies. Learners will understand what qualitative research choices are available to help inform organizational decision-making and problem solving. Specific emphasis will be given to conceptual understanding of the various qualitative techniques from a menu of choices so as to inform the culminating organizational leadership and development capstone.

EDL-904 Organizational Planning, Assessment and Quality Improvement

An examination of strategic thinking and planning to maximize organizational value, improve decision-making and enhance leadership. Learners will comprehend and be able to apply concepts and information related to program quality and assessment. The course will emphasize specific planning models and actionable decisions made by leadership to set and implement an intentional direction for organizations in a way that also recognizes the need for reactive, emergent planning strategies. The course will include current systems for ensuring quality and establishing accountability.

EDL-905 Organizational Governance and Strategy

An examination of the basic structural forms and functions of organizational governance with an emphasis on external and internal stakeholder constituent forces. Relationships including the tensions inherent between external stakeholders, senior leadership, structures of governance, standards of monitoring system performance, organizational culture and the board of directors are conceptualized using systems thinking. Multiple models of behavioral understanding provide a framework to observe, analyze, synthesize and take appropriate action regarding the functioning of different organizational systems. Emphasized topics include strategic governance systems such as governing and advisory board development and communication, as well as issues in recruiting, selecting and evaluating boards.

EDL-906 Organizational Finance and Resource Management

A study of leadership skills and competencies needed to manage financial issues within 21st century organizations. The course will focus on issues and practical financial strategies from a leadership perspective, not the daily financial or accounting formulas that inform these practices. Specific attention will be given to financial planning, budgeting, resource development and sources of financial support.

EDL-908 Organizational Culture and Change Management

An overview of change theories, concepts and models with a focus on understanding organizational and international culture and how proactive, deliberate strategies along with reactive, emergent strategies shape organizational functions and behavior. Learners in this course will comprehend how climate and culture influence structure, organization and behavior and how change can be understood and managed to produce sustainable competitive advantages for companies and organizations. The course will emphasize practical tools and strategies that can be implemented across organizations.

RES-915 Quantitative Research Design and Data Analysis

An exploration of practical statistical and data analysis choices within the framework of the respective research designs. Specific emphasis will be given to correlational, observational and descriptive survey designs, causal comparative (ex post facto) designs, and quasi-experimental and experimental methods of organizational research. This course will focus on choosing the appropriate research design and statistical analysis to match corresponding research problems. In addition, “Big Data” and data analytics will be discussed briefly. The third and final residency will occur during this course.

EDL-907 Organizational Marketing and Communication

An exploration of marketing and public relations as activities that create value for clients, customers and stakeholders. This course will examine competitive advantage, branding and market orientation in traditional marketing structures in addition to the opportunities and issues associated with social media. The course will also emphasize role judgment, emotions and choice play in consumer behavior with a focus on theory-informed research from behavioral economics that apply to individual and group decision-making along with practical marketing and communication strategies to increase an organization’s viability in the marketplace.

RES-920 Project/Research Proposal

A course designed to help students create a specific, relevant and realistic plan for the organizational leadership and development capstone. Using the prospectus developed in RES-905 and information learned in RES-910 and RES-915, students will expand the initial research prospectus into a full proposal that will be carried out during the last year of the doctoral program.

RES-925 Organizational Leadership and Development Project

The final project in the doctoral curriculum is designed to address a practical, real-world organizational problem or leadership issue in an applied setting. Projects will be theory- and research-informed yet practical, and will be completed in consultation with a research project mentor, the student and a cooperating sponsor in the workplace or professional setting. The final project will focus on synthesizing knowledge, theory, research and practice in such a way to be of benefit in a professional or clinical setting.

Program Learning Outcomes

As a leader, your leadership makes a difference. Flourish as a strategic decision-maker with the academic strength and breadth of insight through our Doctor of Education in organizational leadership and development. Through a theory-informed, practitioner-focused program, you’ll discover evidence-based practices to drive lasting change in your organizations and communities.

Proficiency in Terminology, Theories, Concepts, Practices and Skills

Students will demonstrate proficiency in the terminology, theories, concepts, practices and skills specific to organizational leadership in the 21st-century workforce. In accomplishing this objective, you will be able to:

  • Articulate a philosophy of organizational leadership and development that is theoretically and theologically informed.
  • Express a philosophy of human resource management that includes relevant legal issues and standards of good practice that enable people to flourish.
  • Demonstrate the ability to frame organizational problems, assess organizational opportunities, and determine action steps towards innovation and quality improvement.
  • Identify and explain the steps and process of credible strategic planning.
  • Exhibit understanding of the central aspects of organizational culture and the processes associated with organizational learning and change.
  • Produce original scholarship in a capstone project that helps solve a local problem of practice within organizational leadership and development.

Competency in Applying Knowledge to Address Real-Life Problems

Students will exhibit competency in applying your knowledge to address real-life organizational problems through both individual and group effort. At the end of this program, you will be able to:

  • Demonstrate emotional intelligence and personal management skills germane to the needs of 21st-century organizational leadership and development.
  • Collaborate with others in achieving shared objectives of the organizational leadership and development program.
  • Exhibit business writing and speaking skills desired by employers for organizational leaders.
  • Synthesize empirical and theoretical research to solve 21st-century organizational leadership issues, challenges and problems.

Integration of Traditional and Normative Cognitive Skills

Students will demonstrate your ability to integrate traditional and normative skills expected of students in the liberal arts tradition, including analytical skills, information literacy, quantitative competency and communication fluency.

Intercultural Competence

Students will demonstrate intercultural competence in addressing civic, social, environmental and economic issues within the 21st-century business workplace.

Articulation of a Christ-Centered Worldview

Students will articulate a Christ-centered worldview to include its personal, professional and communal embodiment through Christian virtues.

Additional Program Information

Cultivate your transformative potential with a doctoral program that is designed for busy working adults like you to affect real-world change in your organizations and communities. Discover more about this academically rich doctoral program with the information below.

Academic Admissions Requirement

To be considered for this program, applicants must meet the following criteria.

  • Application ($50 fee)
  • Complete a master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA from a regionally accredited institution
  • Official college and/or military transcripts
  • Minimum of five years of professional experience
  • Statement of intent (500-1,000 words)
  • Academic writing sample or official test score
  • Three professional references
  • Resume or CV
  • International Students: TOEFL or IELTS score

A standardized entrance exam is not required to complete your admissions file. As part of your application for the Ed.D., you’ll be required to demonstrate your academic ability through one of the following options:

  • An academic writing sample from prior graduate-level course work, such as a master’s program assignment. This writing sample should aim to demonstrate excellence in written communication, the ability to present an argument persuasively and integrate other scholarly sources effectively. The writing sample should provide five to six pages of content and must include a references page or bibliography.
  • A scholarly publication with sole authorship may be accepted in place of a writing sample.
  • If you have completed the GRE, GMAT or MAT within the past five years or intend to complete a test, your score will be accepted in place of a writing sample.
  • If you do not have a writing sample and have not completed the GRE, GMAT or MAT within the last five years, you may provide a writing sample based on a topic provided by Cornerstone University. This writing sample must follow the same guidelines as the graduate-level course work writing sample.

Diversity Scholarship

At Cornerstone University, we’re passionate about increasing diversity and developing future leaders for service in a variety of careers and roles within 21st-century organizations. We’re excited to offer the Doctor of Education Scholarship, which is designed to equip students from under-represented groups for the successful completion of the Ed.D. program. Scholarships are awarded each year based on a review of applications with particular attention given to the ways in which the scholarship will:

  • Benefit the individual student towards completing the Ed.D. program.
  • Benefit the applicant’s workplace/community.
    For the purposes of this scholarship, diversity may refer to cultural background, gender, age, race/ethnicity or persons with disabilities.

This scholarship will provide two Ed.D. students with a $7,000 tuition discount. If you are awarded the scholarship, this discount is applied on a per course basis throughout the duration of your program at $500 per course. The discount will end once it is applied to your first RES-925 credit. In order to retain this scholarship, you must remain in good standing and have a continuous enrollment status according to the academic catalog.

Scholarships are awarded to first-time enrolled Ed.D. students. To be considered for the scholarship, you must be accepted into the program and complete the scholarship application by April 1. You must complete all information on the application to be considered for the award.


The Ed.D. program incorporates three annual residencies that provide you the opportunity to engage beyond coursework to deepen your experience in community and connection with your peers. These three-day intensive sessions provide an opportunity for connection, enhanced learning and professional growth.

Comprehensive Exam

After passing EDL-908 and at the beginning of the third residency, you’ll take the doctoral comprehensive exam. The exam incorporates two written practical application and synthesis components and demonstrates your critical thinking toward important issues in your industry as they relate to organizational leadership and development. It also allows you the opportunity to apply the curriculum you’ve encountered as you navigate and analyze your capstone project topic by using the language and evidence to present your project.

Passing this exam allows you to be considered officially “advanced to candidacy” as a doctoral candidate. The exam is evaluated in a two-person blind committee and marked as pass without reservation, pass with reservation or fail.

Capstone Project

Inspire transformational change in your context through a culminating capstone project designed to integrate theory and research in implementing a creative solution to a real-world problem. You’ll have up to seven years (including the time it takes to complete your courses in the program) to complete your capstone project.

Some examples of projects done by previous students are:

  • “The Use of Hoshin Kanri and Relational Coordination to Predict Strategic Planning Success.”
  • “Assessing Patient Experience and Hospital Culture Within a Healthcare System.”
  • “The Mediating Role of Inclusion Within Authentic Leadership to Predict Employee Engagement.”

I always wanted to pursue doctoral education. The Ed.D. program at Cornerstone gave me the flexibility to move toward that goal while still being able to work. I can continue to develop in the workplace. Every day, I can utilize the skills I’ve learned.

Patrice Johnson (Ed.D. ’20)


Chart your pathway forward with the support and guidance of expert professionals. Faculty in the Ed.D. program represent diverse professional backgrounds and areas of specialization.

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