Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to the most common questions here.
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Our first concern is for the health and safety of our students and faculty and staff. Like most institutions, this concern has led us to use a virtual classroom model throughout much of 2020. We are hopeful that we’ll be able launch the next cohort, in April 2021, as a fully classroom-based program.
With each cohort, our students tell us that much of the richness of the program comes from the incredible classroom conversations that happen as executive students gather with leading scholars and our world-class Benedictine faculty. We don’t want to give up that powerful face-to-face experience. At the same time, 2020 has built confidence in our ability to deliver an exceptionally high-quality learning environment virtually, when necessary due to health concerns. Going forward, we’ll plan for on-campus learning, but be prepared to make quick adjustments as needs dictate.
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 boldly at four levels: personal, interpersonal, organizational, and global.
Other key features include:
- Exceptional scholars: Learning from Benedictine University’s world-class faculty and distinguished visiting scholars from leading universities around the globe
- A cohort of executives: Engaging in the classroom with an exceptional group of peers — experienced executives like yourself who share a passion for values-driven leadership
- Global connections: Traveling to different parts of the world to engage in high-quality learning exchanges with top scholars and executives from other countries and cultures
- 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: You can choose 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.
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.
Our students are a diverse group of company owners and CEOs, c-suite officers and vice presidents, and others with senior level responsibility in organizations of all sizes. They come from across the U.S. 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:
Most of our students are motivated by their love of learning and their desire to engage in robust conversations that challenge their thinking and stretch their 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 or 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.
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 globally?)
- 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.
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 global 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: global leadership, strategic change, and corporate sustainability.
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 also 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 of 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.
For more information, please visit our Faculty and Staff page.
A list of many of our past and present visiting scholars is found below. To find a complete list along with their bios, please visit our Distinguished Visiting Scholars page.
- Dr. Bruce Avolio, Mark Pigott Chair in Business Strategic Leadership; Executive Director, Center for Leadership & Strategic Thinking, Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington
- Dr. Bernie Banks, Associate Dean for Leadership Development, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University
- Dr. Richard Boyatzis, Professor in Organizational Behavior, Psychology, and Cognitive Science departments, Case Western Reserve University
- Dr. Kim Cameron, Professor of Management and Organizations, University of Michigan;
- Dr. Anjan Chakravartty, Professor of Philosophy, University of Notre Dame;
- Dr. Amy Edmondson, Novartis Professor of Leadership and Management, Harvard Business School
- Dr. Barbara Fredrickson, Distinguished Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina
- 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, Professor of Practice, University of Virginia
- 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
- Dr. Bob Johansen, Distinguished Fellow, Institute for the Future;
- Dr. Stephanie K. Johnson, Assistant Professor of Management, University of Colorado Boulder
- Dr. Mikko Ketokivi, Professor of Operations Management and Organization Design, IE (Instituto de Empresa) Business School Madrid, Spain;
- Dr. Chris Laszlo, Faculty Research Director of the Fowler Center for Sustainability Value at Case Western Reserve University;
- Dr. Barbara Kellerman, James MacGregor Burns Lecturer in Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School
- 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. Peter Northouse, Professor Emeritus of Communication, Western Michigan University
- 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.
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.
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 involved in a variety of research initiatives focused on the exemplary practices of sustainable and socially-responsible companies and leaders.
Yes, our faculty members lead 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 Belgium, China, France, Ghana, India, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Spain, the U.K, and the United Arab Emirates. 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. They may do so anytime during the program but receive credit for it in the third year of the program.
Absolutely. Each cohort of our program has had at least one international student, coming from Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Africa. 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 area for the two years of coursework, and then return to their home countries to complete their dissertations.
Completing an international application does have a extra requirements. Contact us early, at email@example.com, to begin the process.
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.
To advance their growth as a scholar-practitioner, students are required to attend the leading academic conferences in our field, the Academy of Management, and the International Leadership Association. Conference attendance will replace one class weekend in each year of the program. Students are also expected to be members of these associations.
Both conferences are phenomenal opportunities to meet with leading thinkers in the field, explore the cutting-edge research on topics about which you’re passionate, and present your own research and case studies. Attending the conferences helps our students advance in understanding of the field faster, so you can return to class energized to pursue your studies in new ways.
Costs associated with attending conferences are at the student’s expense.
We begin accepting applications for Cohort 6 on March 30, 2020. The application deadline for Cohort 6 is November 2, 2020. Classes begin April 8, 2021.
Completed applications received before the deadline will be given full consideration. After the deadline, applications will continue to be considered as space remains available in the cohort.
We anticipate a full cohort and encourage individuals to apply early in order to receive full consideration. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or more information. You can find the application and a helpful checklist online at this link.
We anticipate over 1000 inquiries for each cohort, resulting in approximately 75-100 applicants. We will admit approximately 25 students.
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 follow this schedule:
- Friday 6:30-9:30 pm,
- Saturday 9:00 am-4:00 pm,
- Sunday 9:00 am-4:00 pm.
There are occasional exceptions to this schedule:
- To accommodate our Senior Executive Roundtables and Leadership Lecture Series, once 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 6-day intensive, scheduled for each June, are usually held 8:00 am-5:00 pm each day.
- Once each year, cohorts are required to attend a leading conference in our field, in place of a class weekend. Required attendance days for these conferences are determined well in advance, based on the conference schedule.
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. Benedictine University’s Lisle campus is located a convenient 30 minutes from Chicago’s O’Hare and Midway airports.
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. Students who do not complete the dissertation in the three-year timeframe will be enrolled in a Dissertation Continuation course each semester until the degree is completed. Students must complete the program within six years.
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.
Beginning with Cohort 6, the program will transition to the semester calendar; students on the semester calendar must complete 66 semester credit hours.
For Cohort 6, tuition is $40,000 per year for three years. The program is designed to be completed in three years. Students who do not complete in the three-year time frame continue to enroll in a dissertation continuation course at ½-tuition until the dissertation is complete or for a maximum of three additional years. Books are included in the tuition.
Additional costs include:
- Transportation, accommodations, and meals for each class weekend and the annual 8-day intensives.
- Transportation, accommodations, meals, and registration for the Academy of Management Annual Meeting (year 1) and the International Leadership Association Conference (year 2).
- Transportation, accommodations, meals, and registration for the global exchange/international trip.
- In many cases, professional interview transcription, quantitative data analysis, and/or copy editing during the dissertation process.
Benedictine participates in many programs offered to eligible veterans and has been listed as a 2020 “Military Friendly School” by Militaryfriendly.com.
Be sure to check with your employer for tuition assistance as well.
Because of the unique nature of our curriculum, we do not accept transfer credits. On a case-by-case basis, students may be allowed to complete alternative assignments in courses where they have significant previous experience or expertise (e.g., statistics and research methods).
We limit classroom visitors in order to avoid disrupting the spirited cohort-based learning environment, and to honor the requests of our tuition-paying students.
However, for prospective students, we do offer one annual opportunity to visit a class. In 2020, this opportunity will be offered on Friday, September 25th. RSVP at this link.
At other times of the year, 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 event, which will be attended by many of our current students.