Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Leadership, Organizational Change, & Sustainability – for Executives

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Doctorate in Values-Driven Leadership

Global + Responsible + Strategic + Sustainable + Business

For Senior Leaders Shaping the World of Business

Benedictine University’s Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)/Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.) Program in Values-Driven Leadership is the first of its kind, specifically designed for senior leaders committed to using the creativity and discipline of business to:

  • Create short-term and long-term shareholder value
  • Enrich people’s lives
  • Produce products and services that benefit society
  • Contribute to the health and sustainability of the planet

The program offers a unique combination of research, theory, practice, and action-based learning to equip students with the knowledge and skills needed to lead strategically at the intersection of business and society.

The program is designed to be completed in three years and is tailored to meet the exacting standards and demanding schedules of senior leaders who work full-time. To accommodate those who commute from around the globe, classes are held once a month on weekends and during an annual 8-day intensive. Benedictine University is a 30-minute drive from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

Register for an upcoming Online Open House.

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Program Distinctives

Think Deeper, Lead Stronger: Program Distinctives

The Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership is a rigorous, collaborative learning community that connects students to globally influential leaders and a broad range of opportunities for research and practice in the areas of leadership, sustainability, and organizational change.

Distinctive features include:

  • World-Class Faculty: Benedictine University’s award-winning faculty teach side-by-side with distinguished visiting scholars and executives from leading universities and companies, exposing students to the latest theories and bold ideas with marketplace impact.
  • Leading-Edge Research – Benedictine faculty and a global network of scholars work with students on research initiatives that explore the exemplary practices of sustainable, responsible companies and leaders.
  • Action-Based Learning – To integrate theory and practice, students design and implement local and global application projects that have a direct and immediate impact on their organizations and communities.
  • Global Exchange – Students and faculty travel internationally to engage in dynamic learning exchanges with top scholars and executives from other countries and cultures, such as China, Dubai, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Scandinavia, South Africa, and the U.K.
  • A Degree that Fits You – Students select one of two tracks, a research-focused Ph.D. degree that concludes with a scholarly dissertation based on original research, or a practice-oriented D.B.A. degree that concludes with an applied dissertation based on the design and implementation of a major project or change initiative.

Register for an upcoming Online Open House. 

Refer someone to the program. 

Demonstrated Success

Demonstrated Success

The Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership is one of the world’s premier executive doctoral programs. It was launched in 2011 with a full cohort of senior executives scheduled to graduate in May 2014. Cohort 2 is now in its second year of coursework and will graduate in May 2016.

For Cohort 3, which begins April 2015, we anticipate an increasingly competitive group of applicants. Typically we receive over 500 inquiries, resulting in 50-100 applications, and accept 20-25 students.

The program is modeled after Benedictine University’s award-winning Ph.D. Program in Organization Development, which was founded in 1996.

For more information review the information in the tabs on the left, then download our comprehensive program booklet.

To learn more about the Ph.D./D.B.A. program in Values-Driven Leadership, please email or call 630.829.6225.

Register for an upcoming Online Open House. 

Refer someone to the program. 

Curriculum Overview

The Ph.D./D.B.A. in Values-Driven Leadership is a fully-accredited doctoral program offered by the Center for Values-Driven Leadership (CVDL) in the College of Business at Benedictine University. It is based on the premise that business is the most powerful institution on the planet. Leadership decisions made in the workplace shape the lives of individuals,  economies, and the world more than any other single institution. Increasingly, smart business leaders are leveraging social, ethical, and environmental performance to drive innovation and profitable growth.

The Ph.D./D.B.A. curriculum integrates psychological, sociological, organizational and economic perspectives on responsible leadership in today’s global context. Students draw from their experience, action-learning initiatives, the latest research, and spirited dialogue with faculty and distinguished guests to advance the fields of leadership, sustainability, and organizational change, and to expand their capacity to lead at four levels: personally, interpersonally, organizationally, and globally. The curriculum focuses on theory and practice in four core areas:

  1. Leadership and leadership development,
  2. Strategic change,
  3. Corporate sustainability,
  4. Research methods in preparation for the dissertation research.

Find additional information and course descriptions in the overviews below.

Year 1 Curriculum

Emphasis in the first year is placed on leadership theory, leading self, leading teams, moral and ethical foundations of leadership, organizational theory and behavior, and leading change and developing organizations. Students are also introduced to their first research methods course for an understanding of the unique requirements of applied and scholar-practitioner approaches to research and writing.

Leadership Theory, Research, and Practice (4 credits)

This course focuses on understanding the major streams of thought in leadership theory, research and practice. Emphasis is placed on comparing and contrasting historical trends such as trait, behavioral, contingency, and charismatic theories of leadership and also exploring contemporary approaches such as transformational leadership, servant leadership, authentic leadership, positive leadership, and shared leadership. Personal assessment instruments and practical application projects allow students to develop and apply their personal leadership theory.

Research Methods I: Scholar-Practitioner Strategies
(4 credits)

This is the first of three research methods courses including (1) scholar-practitioner strategies, (2) qualitative research methods, and (3) quantitative research methods. This course is designed to help students develop an initial familiarity with statistics and quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods approaches to research. Attention is also given to understanding the unique requirements of applied and scholar-practitioner approaches to research and writing. The remaining research courses are held in year two.

Leading Self: Your Career Leadership Legacy (4 credits)

This course has three primary objectives: (1) build strong working relationships among cohort members, (2) reinforce the initial introduction to leadership theory and research, and (3) allow each cohort member to strengthen their leadership vision and capacity by identifying and leveraging their unique strengths as a leader. Students complete a series of assessments and personal development activities to help clarify their leadership point-of-view, strengthen their leadership capacity, and engage in activities to create cohesion in the cohort group.

Leading Teams (4 credits)

Although most of us have been on various kinds of teams throughout our lives, we seldom take time to systematically observe and analyze how teams function and consider how they could be shaped and structured to function better. Yet observation and analysis are the first steps in understanding teams, shaping their dynamics, and ultimately improving their performance. In this course, students have the opportunity to analyze their own team processes, while learning from and applying the best of the team process and development literature.

Moral and Ethical Foundations of Leadership (4 credits)

This course explores social, moral, and ethical philosophy as it relates to leadership in the corporate arena. Specific attention is paid to comparing and contrasting theories on the purpose of business, human nature and relationships, ethical decision making, and the meaning of sustainability and relational accountability on an organizational, societal, and global level. Students relate these theoretical perspectives to their own purpose, values, and commitments as leaders, their approach to leading and enriching the lives of others, and the role they play in shaping the vision, mission, priorities, and strategies of their organizations.

Leadership Lecture Series Seminar I (4 credits)

Through the lecture series, we invite the world’s top scholars to Benedictine to present to the broader Chicagoland community and interact personally with our Ph.D./D.B.A. students on leading-edge topics around leadership, sustainability, and strategic change. There are two lecture series seminars in year one, typically one in the fall and one in the spring for 2 credit hours each.

Organizational Theory and Behavior (4 credits)

This course focuses on identifying theory and research that frames the current study of organizations from the macro and micro perspectives. The first weekend examines competing schools of organizational theory that facilitate our attempts to understand organizations and key issues/topics. The second weekend focuses on micro issues of organizational behavior, including topics such as human needs and motivation, emotions, conflict, work stress, trust, and cross-cultural issues; as well as more recent positive deviance topics that capitalize on human strengths and capacities (peak performance; thriving and human flourishing; resilience; positive identity, meaning, emotions, and relationships; creativity; compassion).

Leading Change and Developing Organizations
(4 credits)

This course examines the theories and research regarding organizational culture, design, and change. Attention is devoted to understanding the structural and cultural leverage points that allow leaders to create sustainable value and build highly-ethical, highly-reliable, high-performing organizations. Attention is also paid to the processes and dynamics of leading successful large-scale organizational change from a senior executive position. Case studies, simulations, and application projects are used to translate theory into practice.

Year 2 Curriculum

The second year focuses on the origins, evolution, and leading thinking around leadership development, socially responsible business, corporate sustainability, social entrepreneurship, and the strategic and market challenges of leading in today’s global context. It also includes seminars on quantitative and qualitative research methods to prepare students for the completion of their dissertations.

Leading Corporate Sustainability (4 credits)

This course focuses specifically on turning sustainable business practices into a competitive advantage. It is designed to cover a range of issues on the topic of sustainability that are central to leaders in today’s economy, including how to maximize business and environmental objectives while managing complex stakeholder relationships and how to gain competitive advantage through environmentally sustainable practices such as strategic alignment, product and process innovation, and sustainable supply chain management. It also explores best practices across industries in the area of environmentally sustainable business and the leadership skills to enable action.

Leadership and Corporate Social Responsibility
(4 credits)

This course provides an overview of the origins, evolution, and leading thinking around the theory and practice of socially responsible business and social entrepreneurship. Students explore current trends, leading literature, theory, and case studies while participating in experiential exercises and interactive projects in order to gain practical insights into how society’s increasing expectations are driving innovation and impacting the firm’s social license to operate. The goal of this course is for students to better understand how business relates to society and the ways in which corporate social responsibility can be integrated into all facets of organizational life to drive the creation of shared value.

Leading and Developing Others (4 credits)

This course provides an in-depth exploration of the theory and practice of leadership development. It focuses on three primary areas: (1) human development theory, particularly from the perspective of the new and emerging field of positive psychology and strength-based leadership, (2) leadership capacity building, and (3) the dynamics of executive coaching. Students put theory into practice via application projects both in class and in their organizations.

Strategic Leadership (4 credits)

This course focuses on the role of senior leadership in developing and executing corporate strategy. It examines historical and contemporary approaches and the underlying theories that support them. It addresses governance, market, organizational, and process issues that affect successful strategy formation and implementation. Particular emphasis is placed on the unique challenges and opportunities of developing corporate strategy for sustainable value creation.

Leading in the Global Economy (4 credits)

This course explores the application of economic, legal, and political theory to the task of leadership in today’s global context. Included are discussions of historical and current economic and political trends and their relationship to corporate sustainability, corporate strategy, and leadership decision-making. Specific emphasis is placed on the future of global business, approaches to successful economic development of organizations, risk assessment and management, issues relating to governmental regulations, and leading in cross-cultural settings. Case studies of successful and unsuccessful global leadership are analyzed.

Leadership Lecture Series Seminar II (4 credits)

Building on year one, the lecture series seminars continue by bringing in the world’s top scholars to interact personally with our Ph.D./D.B.A. students on leading-edge topics around leadership, sustainability, and strategic change. There are two lecture series seminars in year two, typically one in the fall and one in the spring for 2 credit hours each.

Research Methods II: Quantitative Methods (4 credits)

A companion to Scholar-Practitioner Strategies and Qualitative Research Methods, this course is designed to help students develop proficiency in quantitative analysis for interpreting social and organizational data. It includes experimental, quasi-experimental, and several multivariate designs as well as analysis of quantitative studies and an examination of the ethics involved in research. Appropriate statistical techniques are discussed, critiqued and applied.

Research Methods III: Qualitative Methods (4 credits)

A companion to Scholar-Practitioner Strategies and Quantitative Research Methods, this course is designed to develop proficiency in collecting, analyzing and reporting qualitative data, using a variety of qualitative tools. It includes phenomenology, ethnography, narrative, case studies, grounded theory and generative theory. Attention is given to their history, traditions, conceptual bases and applications. In addition, students conduct a mini-qualitative research project from start to finish equipping them with the tools they need to use qualitative methods in their dissertation research.

Year 3 Curriculum

The third year is dedicated to the completion of the dissertation and earning the final 32 credit hours.

Over the course of the program, students are also required to participate in a global exchange/international trip and this must be completed before the end of the third year.

Both degree programs (Ph.D. and D.B.A.) require a total of 96 quarter hours over three years. Students typically complete eight quarter hours per quarter for four quarters per year.

Global Exchange/International Trip (8 credits)

Students are required to participate in a global exchange in which they travel internationally with faculty and fellow students to engage in dynamic learning activities with top scholars and executives from other countries and cultures. This global exchange can be done anytime during the program (year 1, 2, or 3), but credit is given in the third year.

Dissertation (24 credits)

Students in the Ph.D. track earn their degree by completing a scholarly dissertation based on original research, while students in the D.B.A. track earn their degree by completing an applied dissertation based on the implementation and analysis of an application project. While the program is a three-year initiative, the dissertation is designed to be integrated throughout all years of study. Students are encouraged to begin reviewing dissertation possibilities upon acceptance into the program and to continue to explore and develop dissertation topics throughout their coursework. Students are encouraged to select topics consistent with the major research themes within the program. In addition, throughout the program students are expected to contribute to the field and gain feedback on their work by presenting at conferences and publishing in journals.


1: What makes the Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values‐Driven Leadership special?
Benedictine University’s Ph.D./D.B.A. program is the first scholar-practitioner program in the world focusing explicitly on values-driven leadership – that is, the theory and practice of leading profitable, sustainable, and responsible companies in today’s global economy. The program is designed for senior executives and equips students to become thought leaders and have a transformative impact on business and society by leading at four levels: personal, interpersonal, organizational, and societal.

Other key features include:

  • Exceptional scholars: Learning from Benedictine University’s world-class faculty and distinguished visiting scholars and executives from leading universities and companies around the globe
  • A cohort of executives: Traveling to different parts of the world to engage in high-quality learning exchanges with top scholars and executives from other countries and cultures
  • Global connections: Engaging in the classroom with an exceptional group of peers — experienced executives like yourself who share a passion for values-driven leadership
  • World-class research: Participating with Benedictine faculty and a global network of scholars in leading-edge research initiatives focused on leadership, sustainability, and organizational change
  • Choice of degrees: Choosing one of two degrees: a Ph.D. (doctor of philosophy) or a D.B.A. (doctor of business administration)
  • One-of-a-kind curriculum: Engaging coursework that integrates the fields of business; leadership and organizational change; and social, ethical and environmental responsibility
  • Convenience: Attending classes on a schedule convenient for senior leaders working full-time and for those who commute from outside the Chicago area (once a month on weekends, plus an annual 8-day intensive)
  • Personal transformation: We are committed to your personal and professional transformation; our faculty work with students to tailor their research and writing to help advance the student’s career and individual goals.
2: Who is the target audience for the program?
In each cohort, we build a supportive community of passionate, values-driven leaders who are actively working to have a transformative impact on business and society. Our primary target audience is senior business leaders with track records of success and a desire to lead profitable, sustainable, high-integrity companies with excellence. This includes CEOs, chief officers and their direct reports, presidents and vice presidents, and heads of business groups from a wide range of industries or the military. High-potential leaders at the director and senior manager levels (or equivalent) may also apply.

Our goal is to create a diverse cohort of highly-qualified students. We consider quality and quantity of relevant work experience, emphasizing positions of major responsibility. Each application is considered on a case-by-case basis.

3: What is the makeup of your current student body?

Our students are a diverse group of company owners and CEOs, c-suite officers and vice presidents, and others with senior level responsibility in companies of all sizes. They come from across the US and overseas and work in a variety of fields including manufacturing, technology and communications, health care, consulting, education, engineering, financial services, and the military. The executives in our program are seasoned professionals, most with two or more decades of leadership in their field.

You can find student and graduate bios, and learn more about student dissertations, on our website:

4: What inspires a senior executive to consider a doctoral program?
Most of our students are motivated by their love of learning and their desire to engage in robust conversations that challenge your thinking and stretch your capacity. We find the executives in our program are passionate about leadership, and believe in their own ability to have a meaningful impact on business and society through their work.

Many of our students are also seeking a doctorate to advance their careers: for example, to differentiate themselves among a crowd of MBAs, to learn new theories and tools they can take back to work. Some are approaching a career transition and want the personal growth and insights our unique program offers. They may be preparing themselves for a full or part time role in consulting, teaching, or higher education, or seeking to equip themselves for a career in higher education.

5: How does this program compare with other programs?
Our program differs in both intent and structure from other doctoral programs in leadership, business, and organizational behavior and development. Regarding intent, this program is the world’s only doctorate designed specifically for values-driven executives who want to have a transformative impact on business and society. Our students have called the program “the best leadership development program available.” We take seriously our mission to help senior executives develop their leadership capacity through the lens of their personal values and character. We are committed to helping our students experience personal transformation as they become a scholar-practitioner.

In terms of structure, our program is also distinctive. When designing the Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership, we conducted extensive research into 75 programs focused on leadership, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and organizational change. We evaluated them in terms of:

  • Curriculum (is it exceptionally high-quality; does it focus on leading sustainable companies in today’s global economy; does it equip people to lead at four levels: personally, interpersonally, organizationally, and strategically?)
  • Length of program
  • Degree type (Ph.D., D.B.A., Ed.D., etc.)
  • Target audience (i.e. senior leaders)
  • Format: cohort or non-cohort
  • When and where classes meet
  • Scholar-practitioner vs. traditional program
  • Use of visiting global thought leaders (scholars and executives)
  • Number and quality of global exchanges
  • Ability for students to be involved with faculty in leading-edge research initiatives

We found no other program that incorporates all of these features into the unique and powerful combination offered by our Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership.

There are a number of high-quality Ph.D. programs in leadership for working professionals, but none of these are targeted specifically at senior leaders; offer both a Ph.D. and D.B.A. track; focus on strategic leadership at the forefront of business and society; or offer the same quality of global exchanges, research opportunities, and access to thought leaders from around the world. We believe we hold a strong competitive position in comparison to other Ph.D. and D.B.A. programs in leadership, sustainability, and organizational change.

6: How does Benedictine University’s Ph.D./D.B.A. program in Values-Driven Leadership compare to Benedictine’s Ph.D. program in Organization Development?
The Ph.D./D.B.A. Program in Values-Driven Leadership uses a similar format as the Ph.D. OD Program but distinguishes itself by targeting an executive audience and offering a multidisciplinary curriculum focused on leadership, strategic change, and corporate sustainability.

Similarities to the Ph.D. OD program include:

  • Tailoring the program to working professionals (weekend classes, etc.),
  • Using a cohort model,
  • Exposing students to state-of-the-art knowledge with an optimal blend of core faculty and visiting thought leaders,
  • Engaging in global exchanges and international learning experiences,
  • Establishing a leadership position in the field through research, publications, presentations, and leadership in professional associations.

Distinctive differences include:

  • The Target Audience – While the Ph.D. OD is targeted at working professionals at all levels, the Ph.D./D.B.A. in Values-Driven Leadership is targeted specifically at senior executives (VP level and above).
  • The Format – While the Ph.D. OD holds classes on weekends 16 times per year, the Ph.D./D.B.A. in Values-Driven Leadership holds classes on weekends once a month, plus an annual 8-day intensive, requiring less travel for those who commute from out of town.
  • The Content – Whereas the Ph.D. OD curriculum focuses on organization development, the Ph.D./D.B.A. in Values-Driven Leadership curriculum focuses on three core areas only briefly addressed in the Ph.D. OD: leadership, strategic change, and corporate sustainability.
7: Who are your core faculty?

James D. Ludema, Ph.D., is Co-founder and Director of the Center for Values-Driven Leadership and a Professor of Global Leadership at Benedictine University. Dr. Ludema’s book, The Appreciative Inquiry Summit: A Practitioner’s Guide for Leading Large-Scale Change is widely considered a classic in the field.

Michael R. Manning, Ph.D., is Director of Research and a Professor of Leadership, Strategy and Change as well as  an associate editor of the Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. Dr. Manning teaches and consults throughout the U.S. and internationally in Mexico, Europe, the Baltic States, the Middle East, and the Far East.

Marie E. Di Virgilio, Ph.D., is a core faculty member in Organizational Change and Corporate Social Responsibility and brings over 30 years of business experience, much of it with Allstate Insurance Company. She teaches internationally in Poland, the Czech Republic, and France.

James (Gus) Gustafson, Ph.D., is the Leadership Scholar-in-Residence and a core faculty member in Leadership Development. Dr. Gustafson is the former Chair of the Business Leadership Division on the International Leadership Association. Prior to coming to Benedictine, he was Director of Strategic Leadership Research, and Development and Organizational Transformation at U.S. Cellular.

Kevin D. Lynch, Ph.D., C.P.A., is the Director of Custom Solutions and a core faculty member in Leadership, Finance and Corporate Sustainability overseeing research initiatives and the Center’s consulting work. He served as Chief Financial Officer for Pritzker Realty Group, a privately held company in Chicago with assets of more than $6 billion.

For more information, please visit our Faculty and Staff page.

8: Who are the distinguished visiting scholars and business leaders that come to present?
A list of our visiting scholars is found below. To read their bios, please visit the “Visiting Scholars” tab on the left.

  • Dr. Robert Audi, Professor of Management and John A. O’Brien Professsor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame;
  • Dr. Richard Boyatzis, Professor in Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science departments, Case Western Reserve University;
  • Dr. Phil Bromiley, Dean’s Professor in Strategic Management, Merage School of Business, University of California, Irvine;
  • Dr. Bruce Buchowicz, Professor and Chair of the Department of Leadership and Human Resource Management in the School of Business and Management at National University in La Jolla, California;
  • Dr. Kim Cameron, Professor of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan;
  • Dr. Anjan Chakravartty, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame;
  • Dr. Yochi Cohen-Charash, Professor, Department of Psychology, Baruch College and the Graduate Center of CUNY;
  • Dr. John Ehrenfeld, retired Executive Director of the International Society for Industrial Ecology;
  • Dr. Jeffrey Ford, Professor of Management in the Max M. Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University;
  • Dr. Ron Fry, Professor and Department Chair, Organizational Behavior, Weatherhead School of Management, Case Western Reserve University;
  • Dr. Mary Gentile, Director, Giving Voice to Values, Senior Research Scholar, Babson College;
  • Dr. Leigh Hafrey, Senior Lecturer, Behavioral and Policy Sciences, MIT Sloan School of Management;
  • Dr. Stuart L. Hart, Samuel C. Johnson Chair in Sustainable Global Enterprise and Professor of Management at Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management;
  • Dr. Mary Jo Hatch, C. Coleman McGehee Eminent Scholars Research Professor Emerita of Banking and Commerce, University of Virginia, Visiting Professor IEDC Bled School of Management, Distinguished Visiting Professor Singapore Management University, International Fellow, Said Business School Oxford University;
  • Dr. Bob Johansen, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future;
  • Dr. Chris Laszlo, Faculty Research Director of the Fowler Center for Sustainability Value at Case Western Reserve University;
  • L. Hunter Lovins, J.D., President, Natural Capitalism Solutions;
  • Dr. Rodney Ludema, Professor, Department of Economics and School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University; Chief Economist, US State Department; former Senior Economist, President’s Council of Economic Advisors;
  • Dr. G. Thomas Lumpkin, Chris J. Witting Chair in Entrepreneurship, Whitman School of Management, Syracuse University;
  • Dr. Cynthia McCauley, Senior Fellow in Research and Innovation at the Center for Creative Leadership;
  • Dr. Carlos Mora, Research Scientist, Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship, Ross School of Business at University of Michigan;
  • Dr. Peter Northouse, Professor Emeritus of Communication, Western Michigan University;
  • Dr. Marc Orlitzky, Chair, Professor in Management, The University of South Australia;
  • Dr. Joyce Osland, Lucas Endowed Professor of Global Leadership and Executive Director of Global Leadership Advancement Center, San Jose State University;
  • Dr. Bill Pasmore, Visiting Professor of Social-Organizational Psychology, Teachers College Columbia University; Organization Practice Leader, The Center for Creative Leadership;
  • Dr. Ron Riggio, Henry R. Kravis Professor of Leadership and Organizational Psychology at the Kravis Leadership Institute, Claremont McKenna College;
  • Dr. Abraham (Rami) Shani, Professor of Management, Orfalea College of Business, California Polytechnic State University
  • Dr. Inger Stensaker, Professor in Strategic Change, NHH Norwegian School of Economics;
  • Dr. Diane Swanson, The Edgerley Family Chair of Distinction, Professor of Management, Founding Chair, Business Ethics Education Initiative, College of Business Administration, Kansas State University.

Our distinguished visiting business leaders are listed below. To read their bios, please visit the “Visiting Business Leaders” tab on the left.

  • Dr. Mona Amodeo, founder and President, idgroup;
  • Mr. Chuck Bartels, retired Director for Global Social Responsibility and Knowledge Sharing, ManpowerGroup;
  • Ms. Maureen Beal, CEO, National Van Lines;
  • Mr. Mike Birck, retired founder and Chairman, Tellabs;
  • Ms. Julie Brautigam, Director of Ethics, Compliance and Sustainability, Baxter International;
  • Mr. Lyell Clarke, President and CEO, Clarke;
  • Mr. John Coyle, Senior Vice President, Maddock Douglas;
  • Dr. Tom Griffin, Independent Consultant, adjunct faculty, The Chicago School of Professional Psychology;
  • Mr. Jim Kouzes, Best-selling author, former CEO, Tom Peters Company, Dean’s Executive Professor of Leadership, Leavey School of Business, Santa Clara University;
  • Ms. Erin Meezan, Vice President of Sustainability, Interface, Inc.;
  • Mr. Bill Pollard, former President and CEO, ServiceMaster;
  • Mr. David Small, Vice President, McDonald’s Global Leadership Institute;
  • Mr. Paul Spiegelman, founder, BerylHealth and Chief Culture Officer, Stericycle;
  • Mr. Tom Walter, CEO and Chief Culture Officer, Tasty Catering, author of It’s My Company Too!;
  • Mr. Dan Webster, author and founder of Authentic Leadership, Inc.
  • Mr. David Ziegler, Chairman of the Board of Directors, Ace Hardware Corporation.
9: What’s the difference between a Ph.D. and a D.B.A. degree?
The Ph.D. is a more scholarly degree, and the D.B.A. is a more practitioner-oriented degree. Students choose either the Ph.D. or the D.B.A. track when they enter the program but are free to change tracks anytime until late in the second year. During the two years of course work, students take the same courses, regardless of their track. The difference comes when it is time to conduct the dissertation research. Students in the Ph.D. track, complete their degree with a scholarly dissertation based on original research. Students in the D.B.A. track complete their degree with an applied dissertation (similar to a thorough case study) based on the design and implementation of a significant project or change initiative.

10: Can I get involved in research?
Yes. Students are encouraged to work on research projects with Benedictine faculty and other scholars associated with the Ph.D./D.B.A. program. Through the Center for Values-Driven Leadership we are developing a variety of research initiatives focused on the exemplary practices of sustainable and socially-responsible companies and leaders. Our current focus, the Return on Values Project, is a partnership with the Small Giants Community to explore the relationship between culture, values, and business success in small to mid-size companies.

11: Is there an international component to the program?
Yes, our faculty members plan up to two trips per year to participate in international conferences and learning exchanges with scholars and business leaders around the globe. To date, trips have been taken to China, Dubai, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Scandinavia, South Africa, Spain, and the U.K. Students are required to participate in at least one global exchange during their time in the program and are welcome to participate in as many as they like. Students may participate in a global exchange anytime during the program and receive credit for it in the third year of the program. Students are responsible for their own expenses associated with the exchanges.

12: I’m an international student. May I apply?
Absolutely. Each cohort of our program to date has had at least one international student, coming from Canada, Mexico, Europe and Africa. Likewise, our sister program, Benedictine University’s Ph.D. program in Organization Development, has enrolled students from throughout Central and South America, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Because of our program’s unique weekend-based structure, most students live in their home countries and commute only for class weekends. Some others do relocate to the Chicago are for the two years of coursework, and then return to their home countries to complete their dissertations.

Completing an international application does have a few extra requirements. Contact us early, at, to begin the process.

13: Are students expected to present papers and symposia at conferences?
Yes. As thought leaders in the field, students are invited and expected to submit proposals for presentation at academic and professional conferences at the regional, national, and international levels. Costs associated with attending conferences are at the student’s expense.

14: Is a master’s degree required for admission into the program?
Yes, a master’s degree is required. On rare occasions, exceptions have been made for applicants with extensive senior leadership experience and non-master’s-degree education who demonstrate the capacity to undertake the extreme academic rigors of a doctoral program.

15: Who accredits the Ph.D./D.B.A. program in Values-Driven Leadership?
The Ph.D./D.B.A. program in Values-Driven Leadership is offered through Benedictine University’s College of Business and is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association (NCA) of Colleges and Schools.

16: When is the application deadline?
We will begin accepting applications April 1, 2016 for Cohort 4. Classes begin April 2017. The deadline for applications is November 1, 2016. Applications received by November 1, 2016 will be given full consideration. Applications received after November 1, 2016 will be considered on a space-available basis. Please contact Kendra Adeszko at or (630) 829-6225 for more information or to request an application packet.

17: How many apply for the program and how many students do you accept for each cohort?
For Cohort 4, which begins April 2017, we anticipate over 1000 inquiries resulting in approximately 75-100 applicants. We will admit approximately 25-30 students.

18: When will interviews take place and when will selection decisions be made?
Interviews with Ph.D./D.B.A. faculty and staff for Cohort 4 will take place November 2016 – January 2017. Cohort 4 applicants will be notified of decisions at the end of January 2017.

19: How often do you start a new cohort and when will the next cohort begin?
Cohorts begin every two years (i.e., April 2017, April 2019, April 2021, etc.). Cohort 4 starts April 2017.

20: Where and when are classes held?
For the first two years of the program, classes are held at Benedictine University’s Lisle, Illinois, campus one weekend a month and during an annual 8-day intensive. Most weekend classes are held Friday 6:30-9:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday 9:00 am-4:00 pm. To accommodate our Senior Executive Roundtables and Leadership Lecture Series, approximately two to four times each year, classes are held Friday 1:00-9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00 am-4:00 pm and Sunday 9:00 am – Noon. Students are notified of class schedules well ahead of time. Classes during the annual 8-day intensive are usually held 8:00 am-5:00 pm each day.

During the third year of the program, students work on their dissertations in collaboration with their dissertation committees. Typically, this is done via email and Skype or telephone conference calls so, except for graduation, students normally do not need to come to campus during their third year.

The Ph.D./D.B.A. program is housed in Benedictine University’s new, state-of-the-art Goodwin Hall of Business building on the top floor, which is dedicated exclusively to our doctoral programs. The new building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2015. Benedictine University’s Lisle campus is located a convenient 30 minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.

21: Can this program be accomplished online?
No, this is not an online program. One of the program’s greatest strengths is the deep learning that occurs in class and elsewhere when cohort members meet face-to-face with one another, the Center for Values-Driven Leadership’s core faculty, and the world’s top scholars and executives to exchange experiences and ideas at the forefront of leadership theory and practice. It is an exceptionally rich learning environment.

22: How long does it take to complete the program?
This program is designed to be completed in three years. Classroom work is completed in the first two years. Students complete and defend their dissertations in the final year.

23: What is the completion rate?
Based on the graduation rate of our first cohort, we anticipate about 75 percent of students will complete the program within a three year period of time, with most of the remaining students completing within six years. This rate matches that of Benedictine University’s award-winning Ph.D. Program in Organization Development (OD), which started in 1997. The Ph.D. OD program enjoys a 90-95% completion rate (compared to a national average of less than 50%).

24: How many credit hours are needed to graduate?
Students must complete 96 credit hours to graduate.

25: What is the cost of the program?

The tuition is $40,000 per year for three years. Books are included in the tuition. Additional costs include transportation and accommodations and meals for each weekend class and the annual 8-day intensives. There are also expenses for trips to conferences, at which students give presentations and present papers; travel for the global exchanges/international aspect of the program; and in some cases, transcribing of interview transcripts, analysis of quantitative data, and/or copy editing during the dissertation.

The program is designed to be completed in three years. Students who do not complete the dissertation in the three-year timeframe continue to pay half the normal tuition rate until the dissertation is complete.

26: Is financial aid available?
At this time, the program does not offer scholarships, but Benedictine University’s financial aid office can assist you to determine your eligibility for student loans or Veteran Affairs benefits. Benedictine participates in many programs offered to eligible veterans and has been listed as a 2014 “Military Friendly School” by G.I. Jobs, a veteran-owned publication focusing on post-military education and employment, and named to Military Advanced Education’s 2014 Military-Friendly Colleges and Universities list. Be sure to check with your employer for tuition assistance as well.

27: May I speak with a current student or visit a class?
We certainly understand the desire to sit in on a class. We get this request frequently. Unfortunately, precisely because of the strong interest in the program, we’ve had to establish a strict policy against visitors sitting in. Even one visitor can create unexpected dynamics that disrupt the spirited cohort-based learning environment, and our tuition-paying students have asked us not to do that.

If you do apply for the program, we will be happy to put you in contact with some of our current students who can give you a first-hand account of the classroom experience.

We encourage you to learn more about the program from cohort members any time by watching our Ph.D./D.B.A. video playlist on our website. You may also want to attend a future Roundtable or Leadership Lecture Series event, which will be attended by many of our current students.

Download a PDF version of our Frequently Asked Questions. 

Meet the Students

The Ph.D./D.B.A. program in values-driven leadership is cohort based, placing you in the classroom with other senior leaders who will challenge your thinking and enrich your classroom experience.

Students come from a variety of different industries and include CEOs, senior vice presidents, lieutenant colonels, and other accomplished executives. Learn more about our students here.

“I was looking for a few specific things in a doctoral program: I wanted a strong set of classmates and a strong curriculum with access to thought leaders in the field. It needed to fit my lifestyle because I couldn’t put my career on hold. And I wanted a program that let me explore the breadth of a topic and then find my own niche. I found all those things at Benedictine.”

~ Jacquelyn Woodard,
Senior Vice President, RBS Citizens Financial Group, member of Cohort 1

Meet the Faculty and Staff

Award-winning Benedictine faculty anchor the Values-Driven Leadership program and invite the world’s most knowledgeable scholars to the classroom. Collaborating with major figures in the fields of leadership, sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and strategic change ensure our students are exposed to the latest theories, research and thoughts in the respective fields.

Our faculty further works very closely with each student on their dissertation research, chairing their committees and involving world thought leaders as committee members.

Our team at the Center for Values-Driven Leadership integrates executive round table discussions and international educational exchanges into the curriculum elevating the student experience for action-based learning and a global perspective.

“The faculty are as invested in our success as we are. It shows in each course and in the effort they make to help us internalize the course material.”

~ Lee DeRemer,
Colonel (retired) U.S. Air Force; Associate, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cohort 1 graduate

Meet the Faculty and Staff.

Meet the Distinguished Visiting Scholars

Distinguished visiting scholars from leading institutions present side by side with the program’s core faculty. This exposes students to the latest research and theories in leadership, sustainability, and organizational change from the people who write them.

Global scholars value the opportunity to interact with the program’s exceptional students. As one distinguished visiting scholar reported:

“It is an honor to teach in the Program for Values-Driven Leadership. The students are awake to their potential to make a positive difference in society, and the program is designed to facilitate this quest. Given this alignment of higher purpose, this program is setting the standard for graduating innovative, community-minded leaders.” -Diane Swanson, Ph.D., professor of management and the Edgerley Family Chair of Distinction at Kansas State University

View a list of our distinguished visiting scholars.

Read more about our scholar-practitioner approach.

Meet the Visiting Business Leaders

Core faculty members invite senior executives from some of the world’s leading organizations into the classroom. This gives students the opportunity to debate ideas in the laboratory of entrepreneurial experience and to hear how cutting-edge theories are applied in complex, global companies.

View a list of our visiting executives.

Read more about our scholar-practitioner approach.

View Dissertation Research

Graduation from our program requires the successful completion of a scholarly research process. Students research a wide variety of topics, each with a direct connection to advancing the field of values-driven leadership.

Find a list of our graduates and their dissertation topics at this link.

Drawn from the Research

The following videos and articles are drawn from the research of our graduates.

Carolyn with play button

Dr. Carolyn Maraist
What Some of the World’s Top Peace Builders Can Teach Us About Conflict Resolution




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Dr. Lee DeRemer
You: Upon Further Review – Making a Successful Midlife Transition





Lee Murphy large with play buttonDr. Lee Murphy
Do You Have a Problem with Positive Questions? 






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Dr. Kerrie Aman Carfagno
The Rise of the Digital Humanitarian: How Social Media is Changing Crisis Situations, and What Any Leader Can Learn from It



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Dr. David Smith
Why Your CEO Needs a New Title






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Dr. Joe Ricciardi

Video: At the Intersection of Love & Leadership
Article: Why Love is the First Leadership Skill You Should Develop