Meet the program director Larry M. Starr, PhD, as he answers frequently asked questions about the Doctorate in Strategic Leadership program below.
Larry Starr, PhD
Program Director, Doctorate in Strategic Leadership
What is Strategic Leadership? What is the program vision and mission?
We take a systems approach and define Strategic Leadership as an emergent property of an organizational system. Strategic Leadership is the integration and application of strategy and leadership that manifests in individuals as the capacity to anticipate, envision, maintain flexibility, and empower others to voluntarily make effective decisions and to create strategic change as necessary.
Our vision is to foster the premier leadership doctoral program for professionals and organizations seeking to explore, develop and demonstrate new levels of creative interdisciplinary strategic thinking and practice.
Our mission is to develop strategic leaders who effectively navigate complex global contexts and environments by creatively integrating and bridging interdisciplinary knowledge and practice from academia and the workplace.
How does the Strategic Leadership doctorate compare to business or education doctorates?
One distinction is that Strategic Leadership is trans-disciplinary which means it addresses leadership across broad domains of knowledge and practice rather than within one. Organizational leaders, to develop effective strategies and leadership regardless of their organizational SIC code or defined discipline need exposure to multiple and varying approaches and methodologies. This approach increases capacity to address volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) contexts, and the changing cultural diversity and applications of technology. Those who join the Strategic Leadership community may find opportunities to change or blend their current practice disciplines rather than dig deeply into and remain in a single area.
Why is Philadelphia University a fitting host for this program?
Philadelphia University is not merely fitting; it is the ideal host for this ideal doctorate. The University leadership, institutional vision and experienced faculty have all it takes to be the model for professional education in the 21st century. The University and its faculty employ an entrepreneurial mindset, are engaged in applied scholarship and professional practice, and possess extensive experience in collaborative outreach and arranging projects with business, industry, government and non-profits. All of these factors create an ideal platform for doctoral-level professional education.
How is the program structured to meet the schedules of working professionals?
Anyone who is working full-time can continue to do this and will complete the three components of the program in three years, although some will finish sooner. In year one, following a brief immersion meeting, classes meet on defined weekends and/or in the evenings on the campus or at other locations hosted by corporate or academic partners. Some meetings and obligations, like professional work, are conducted online/virtually. The second component in year two consists of executive education, research and consulting projects which are mentored by faculty and delivered on campus or at client locations coordinated with the student’s schedule of availability. The third component in year three is the Doctoral Dissertation/Capstone on a topic of the student’s choice. Doctoral committee meetings are scheduled as needed.
What was the impetus behind developing this program?
The impetus was to provide the ideal professional doctorate for the many qualified professionals and for organizations needing such a program.
For years, the Philadelphia area has offered an array of master’s programs, but working professionals are looking to continue their learning journeys and earn the highest academic credential. Organizations are in pursuit of leaders with this level of education to navigate the increasing complexity of today’s business environment.
How was this “ideal doctorate” designed?
We began with the premise that the expert knowledge to create this doctorate resided in many places and with many people, which meant we required direct involvement by internal and external communities, stakeholders, and users. A broad group was assembled and challenged to generate characteristics of a doctoral program in which they would personally want to be a doctoral student, teach as a faculty member, partner with for projects, hire from, etc. These people directly incorporated their own deep interests, values and practical requirements resulting in a program “designed by” the users.
What is the current status of a professional doctorate?
In the US and abroad, the number of traditional research doctorates (PhD and DPhil) has fallen to its lowest level in more than a decade while the number of professional practice-focused doctorates has skyrocketed. University World News reported that in 2002 there were only a handful and now there are more than 500 professional doctorates, with 10,000 degrees awarded in 2012. Students in the Strategic Leadership program earn the Doctor of Management degree, or D.Mgt. The US Department of Education and National Research Foundation considers professional doctoral degrees such as the D.Mgt. which focus on applied scholarship to be equivalent in content to the Doctor of Philosophy.
Philadelphia University is a member of the Executive DBA Council, a global community of universities with a mission to foster excellence and innovation in executive doctoral degree programs worldwide. EDBAC holds conferences, publishes a journal and provides resource information and services for students, faculty and organizations.
How will students in this program develop as strategic leaders?
An important characteristic of being a strategic leader that is developed in our program is the cognitive capacity to balance linear analytic thinking and performance with non-linear systemic thinking and performance. Leadership problems and opportunities have changing contexts; some are complicated others complex and these changes require shifts in thinking and performance. Strategy and leadership enables participants to develop the capacity to effectively address these challenges by providing deep understanding of critical concepts and theories and the opportunity to practice them in consulting, research and executive education projects.
How does the program tuition and timeline compare to similar programs at other universities?
We are a competitively priced compared to most other Executive DBA Council schools. 2016-2016 tuition for the Strategic Leadership Doctorate is $4550 per graduate course. As the degree requires 15 courses the total program tuition based on this current rate is $68,250. As our doctoral students are working professionals (international students are “on leave” from their organizations), we offer the flexibility of studying in the Fast Track which allows completion of the degree in 7 consecutive semesters (approximately 2.5 years) and the Individual Track which extends the timeline over 5 years.