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D. Mgt. in Strategic Leadership

Program Director: Larry M. Starr, Ph.D.


The program mission is to develop strategic leaders who effectively navigate changing and often complex global environments and contexts by creatively integrating and bridging interdisciplinary knowledge and practice from academia and the workplace.

Program Goals and Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership (DSL) program are expected to:

1. Develop and apply multiple strategies for effective organizational decision making and performance.

a. Integrate in their decision making and performance the contributions of cognitive/conceptual knowledge and skills, experimentation/action learning opportunities, and emotional/reflection of the meanings of previous experiences.

2. Apply critical leadership knowledge and organizational concepts and practices.

a. Integrate multiple methods of inquiry into organizational challenges, i.e., problems and opportunities

    • Apply varied frameworks of inquiry drawn from multiple mindsets, disciplines and cultural perspectives

b. Compare and contrast multiple leadership and management theories, models, approaches and styles

    • Evaluate and apply analytic and systemic approaches to thinking and practice
    • Apply administrative and ethical decision making strategies

c. Integrate and apply multiple methods of intervention within organizations to meet strategic interests and goals

    • Evaluate and apply analytic research and design approaches to product, process and interpersonal problem solving and decision making

3. Apply enabling information technology to improve decision making

a. Compare and apply analytic methods and tools to meet strategic challenges

    • To move from data to information processing apply data mining, cloud computing, and database management
    • To move from information to knowledge theory and experience apply analytic algorithms and tools of structured prediction
    • To move from knowledge to understanding including assumption modification and simulation procedures

4. Design, develop and implement academic-industry strategic leadership projects

a. Define, organize, and communicate topics of strategic leadership via executive education programs

b. Apply quantitative and qualitative methods in research projects to enhance individual and organizational problem solving and opportunity recognition

c. Contract, develop strategy, and provide leadership for organizational consulting projects

5. Deliver and defend a dissertation/capstone demonstrating doctoral-level thinking

To directly assess student learning, three rubrics are applied:

  • Rubric 1 (R1) concerns peer, jury, mentor and faculty assessment
    Interval scale and open-ended evaluations of program and course learning objectives including concept understanding, performance and reflected meaning

  • Rubric 2 (R2) concerns stakeholder reflective focus group observation
    Feedback from peers and organizational stakeholders of the applications of coursework in practical settings

  • Rubric 3 (R3) concerns personal and professional development observations by coaches, mentors and faculty associates
    Pre (program start) and post (program conclusion) assessments of the growth and development of strategic leadership competencies and capacities
    Application of validated, standardized professional development instruments

Program Description

The Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership (DSL) is a response in the form of a professional academic degree program to the challenges of complexity and the need for creativity among organizational leaders. The program offers a professional executive doctoral degree and builds a community and network of adult professional students, faculty, scholars, and practitioners. Executive coaches and research mentors support doctoral students in professional development and communication skills. The program enables development of leaders who can strategically and effectively navigate situational and organizational complexity, and who can apply tools leading to creative and innovative outcomes. Graduates of the program will have the competency to astutely identify new opportunities, help solve complex organizational problems, and meet the leadership needs of employers and society in the United States and abroad.

Conditional Requirements

The DSL program is for working adults who have earned a master’s or higher graduate degree from an accredited academic institution, and who have at least 7 years of full-time, mid or senior/executive level management-related, professional experience.  Participants perceive themselves to be “scholar-practitioners” who integrate academic knowledge of theories and knowledge with the practical realities of the modern enterprise.  Such adult students are operationally described as seeking improved organizational and leadership competencies due to the rapidly changing and complex environment; concerned with managing complex problems with creative and innovative approaches; less focused on primary skills (how to do their specific job); more interested in integrative skills (how to manage politics, communications and how to apply approaches and tools to “get things done”); concerned with the dynamics of strategic leadership; less interested or in need for a research doctoral degree; more interested in an applied, interdisciplinary, integrated, and design-influenced practice degree to facilitate job or career change or to start a new enterprise or enter private practice.  


The program requires completion of 15 courses each valued at 3 credits for a total of 45 credits. Students may study in the “fast track” in which all requirements are completed in 7 consecutive semesters or in the “individual track” in which they take at least one course for each of 15 semesters.  There are 9 courses (27 credits) that focus primarily on critical conceptual knowledge.  There are 4 courses (12 credits) that concern application projects of consulting, research and executive education. The doctoral dissertation/capstone (2 courses; 6 credits)  is a synthesis of the student’s academic and practice experiences through the lens of the person’s professional/occupational domain.  Supporting the academic and practice obligations are  integrating processes: executive development coaching, performance presentation coaching, and dissertation/capstone research coaching.

Curriculum/Required and Elective Courses

Required Conceptual
DSL 700 Strategic leadership frameworks
DSL 701 Systems and design thinking
DSL 702 Applied research methods I
DSL 704 Complex project leadership and management
DSL 706 Applied research methods II
DSL 708 Strategic organization development and change

Required Project-Based
DSL 801 Strategic leadership research
DSL 802 Strategic leadership executive education

Elective Conceptual
DSL 703 Juxtaposition of military and civilian strategic leadership
DSL 705 Enabling information technology
DSL 707 Theory of constraints
DSL 709 Leading in the digital transformation age
DSL 713 Patterns of strategy

Elective Project-Based
DSL 710 Advanced independent study
DSL 712 Strategic interactive planning
DSL 800 Strategic Consulting

Required Dissertation
DSL 900 Dissertation/Capstone proposal
DSL 901 Dissertation/Capstone delivery