Doctor of Management in Strategic Leadership

Meet the Program Director

Meet the program director Larry M. Starr, PhD, as he answers frequently asked questions about the Strategic Leadership program.

Strategic Leadership 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.

Larry M. Starr, PhD
Program Director, Doctorate in Strategic Leadership

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What is Strategic Leadership? What is the program vision and mission?

We hold a systems approach and perceive Strategic Leadership to be an emergent property of an organizational system. Strategic Leadership is defined as 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 professional research doctoral program for those seeking to explore, develop and demonstrate innovative interdisciplinary strategic leadership and practice.

Our mission is to improve lives and organizational performance by developing strategic leaders who effectively navigate complex global contexts.


How does the Strategic Leadership doctorate compare to other business and education doctorates?

One distinction is that we directly address strategy, leadership and organizational performance in complex contexts, with a focus on what the World Economic Forum calls the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR). This approach supports and requires high levels of systems thinking, the capacity to navigate the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) contexts, and the changing cultural diversity and applications of technology.

Another distinction is that we do not merely study about the application of theory to practice, the program operates as a formal consulting agency.  With teams of faculty and students, we contract with organizations to enable and facilitate complex strategic planning, program evaluation, novel business model development, and many other leadership challenges.


Why is Jefferson a fitting host for this program?

Jefferson’s administrative leadership, institutional vision, applied research scholars and mentors, entrepreneurial culture, and supportive resources have all it takes to be the leader in professional education in the 21st century. The University also possess extensive experience in collaborative outreach and arranging projects with business, industry, government and non-profits. These factors provide the necessary and desired platform for doctoral-level professional leadership education.


How is the program structured to meet the schedules of working professionals?

While our international students take a leave from their organizations to live in Philadelphia, domestic students continue to work full-time while taking courses.  Students may take courses in the fast track to finish the program, including the dissertation, in 7 consecutive semesters (28 months) or in the individual track which extends their studies for up to 5 years.

Classes are held on Thursday evenings (weekly), and Friday afternoons and Saturdays (every two weeks) across the full year in three semesters: fall (August – December), spring (January – April) and summer (May – July).  While classes are held face-to-face, like the professional workplace, students and faculty meet online/virtually and  with clients as appropriate to the topic and project.


What was the impetus behind developing this program?

The impetus was to provide the educational resources, knowledge and understanding to address the increasing challenges of complexity affecting organizational leadership.  As noted by IBM Global Business Services (2010:2), “the world’s private and public sector leaders believe that a rapid escalation of “complexity” is the biggest challenge confronting organizations.  They expect it to continue – indeed, to accelerate – in the coming years.  They are equally clear that their enterprises today are not equipped to cope effectively with this complexity in the global environment.”

The program, therefore, addresses the most important organizational competency described by the World Economic Forum for 2020 which is complex problem solving, and it provides direction and strategies for leaders navigating the new dimension of digitization and its impact on productivity and performance in their organizations.


How was this “ideal doctorate” designed?

We began with the premise that the knowledge to create this doctorate resided in many places and with many people, which meant we sought direct involvement by more than 100 internal and external communities, stakeholders, and users. A broad group was assembled and using a systems framework and design methodology they were challenged to generate characteristics of the “ideal doctorate” defined as one in which they would personally want to be a doctoral student, teach as a faculty member, partner for projects, hire from, etc. These people directly incorporated their own deep interests, values and practical requirements resulting in an ideal program “designed by” stakeholders and users. The results were astounding: In the first semester of program operation, based on the design, quality of faculty and nature of our educational model, the Jefferson program was ranked #22 of the Top 50 Doctoral Business Programs in the United States.


What is the current status of a professional doctorate?

In the US and abroad, 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 programs, with 10,000 degrees awarded in 2012. The US Department of Education and National Research Foundation considers the Jefferson Doctor of Management which focuses on applied scholarship to be equivalent to the Doctor of Philosophy.

Jefferson’s Strategic Leadership program is a member of the Executive DBA Council a global community of universities with a mission to foster excellence and innovation in executive and professional 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 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. Learning strategic 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 other Executive DBA Council schools. The 2018-2019 tuition for the Strategic Leadership Doctorate is $4875 per graduate course. As the degree requires 15 courses the total program tuition based on this current rate is $73,125 which is less than many MBA programs. As our doctoral students are working professionals, 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.