University of Charleston

University of Charleston

Doctor of Executive Leadership

  • duration

    3 Years 

  • format

    Online (annual one-week residence)

  • location


Program Overview

This program is for those seeking to maximize their executive value to organizations, communities, and institutions. The goal of the Doctorate of Executive Leadership (DEL) program is to educate the next generation of senior-level leaders as scholars and practitioners who can integrate theory and practice into the discipline of leadership.  This rigorous program develops the skills needed in aspiring mid- and senior-level leaders who can then integrate theory into practice and apply their knowledge in a wide variety of industries or sectors.

The Doctor of Executive Leadership program is distinct from other graduate degrees in leadership due to its specialized focus on preparing experienced leaders for executive roles, its advanced and applied curriculum, and its emphasis on research and practical experience.

It’s designed to equip individuals with the skills and knowledge necessary to excel in high-level leadership positions within organizations.

To be eligible for admission to the DEL, you need to have completed a master’s or first professional degree in any field from a regionally accredited institution.


In addition to the application (including a nonrefundable $75 application fee) prospective DEL students must submit:

  • Licensure or Credential, Career Focus, Personal Skills Assessment
  • A discussion paper of approximately 1,500 to 2,500 words (about five to seven double-spaced pages of 12-point type) in which you reflect on your motivation for pursuing the DEL and explain how the degree will help you explore your academic and professional interests and goals. You should also address the qualities and experiences you would contribute to a doctoral leadership cohort. The paper is an important part of the admission committee’s decision-making process.
  • A résumé or curriculum vitae. Your current résumé should include your education and work history, honors and awards, publications and presentations, research experience (if any), and participation in professional and community organizations.
  • Official transcripts. Official transcripts from all colleges and universities you have attended must be sent directly to UC Admissions either via mail or electronic delivery. If your degree is from a college or university outside of the United States, you should first contact the DEL program coordinator to determine whether a transcript evaluation is needed. If you are not a native speaker of English, you may also be required to submit a score from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS).
  • Two confidential recommendations, one personal and one professional. Download the application reference form Professional references can be from supervisors, colleagues or professors.


An interview with the admissions committee, conducted in person or via phone/video call, is required of all applicants. Once your application materials are received, a representative from the UC School of Leadership will contact you for an admission interview.

Program Highlights

  • Program is designed to be widely applicable to those who want to maximize their executive value.
    Online format with web conferencing and five-day annual residency at UC in Charleston, WV.
    A professional research doctorate designed to develop senior-level leaders.

  • Understanding changes in leadership in an organization.
    The Doctor of Executive Leadership program will provide insight around change management and equip you with the knowledge and tools to lead organizations through periods of transformation and adaptation.

  • A program grounded in ethical leadership.
    You’ll develop a strong foundation in ethical leadership, learning how to make principled decisions and navigate ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

Program Outcomes

  • Learn How to Lead

    You’ll be equipped to ethically lead organizations to greater effectiveness and sustainability by understanding and implementing change, utilizing resources effectively, encouraging innovative solutions to problems, making timely judgments, developing collaborations and networks, and facilitating team building for maximum effectiveness.

Additional Information

What makes the Doctor of Leadership degree different from other graduate degrees focused on leadership?

A Doctor of Executive Leadership (DEL) degree is a relatively specialized program that focuses specifically on preparing individuals for high-level leadership roles in organizations, often at the executive or C-suite level. DEL programs are designed for individuals who already have significant leadership experience and are seeking to further develop their leadership skills specifically for executive roles.

What is unique about the curriculum I will experience in the Doctor of Executive Leadership program at UCWV?

Our program will delve deeply into advanced leadership theories, strategies, and practices that are directly applicable to executive roles. These programs often include coursework in areas like strategic leadership, organizational change, executive coaching, and global leadership.

How is the Doctor of Executive Leadership degree different from an MBA or DBA degree?

The primary goal of the program is to prepare individuals for top-level executive positions, whereas MBA programs often focus on providing a broad business education, and DBA programs can have a wider range of career outcomes. It is also common for many students in the DEL program to have several years of senior leadership experience whereas an MBA can admit students with a wider range of professional backgrounds.

What are the advantages of completing a Doctor of Executive Leadership in an online environment?

The Doctor of Executive Leadership degree being online offers several benefits you should consider before enrolling into a program that include:

  • The program being online offers greater flexibility for those needing to balance current career and personal commitments while still pursuing their degree.
  • The Doctor of Executive Leadership leverages technology to enhance learning experiences. This includes using innovative tools for collaboration, data analysis, and simulation exercises that can be highly relevant for executive leadership development.

Meet the Team



Meet the Team



UC Faculty Staff
Dr. Kristen Dugan, DEL

Dean School of Leadership
Associate Professor and DEL Program Director

UC Faculty Staff
Carrie Asbury

Senior Graduate Admissions Coordinator