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How a Doctorate in Interdisciplinary Leadership can help you make a difference in any industry

Oct 11, 2022
6 min Read
Dr. Leah Georges

Being a leader goes far beyond a job title or assigned position. It’s a mindset that can be practiced in both obvious and subtle ways by anyone willing to help.

As program director of the Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership, it’s my job to help students reach their full potential as leaders, whether it be at work, at home or in their communities.

An EdD in Interdisciplinary Leadership is a doctoral degree for lifelong learners. At Creighton University, our curriculum is specifically designed for practitioners who crave hands-on learning that can be directly applied to solving real-life problems.

And contrary to popular belief, this doctorate in leadership degree is not just for education professionals. Keep reading to find out how this unique program can set you up for success as a leader in any industry.

But first … what is an EdD?

Creighton’s online EdD trains ethical leaders capable of making a difference in the workplace and beyond. Students come out of this doctorate in leadership program with strong skills in communication, relationship-building, collaboration, critical thinking and ethical decision-making.

Our EdD is built with busy working professionals in mind. It is completed in a series of eight-week classes, with students taking one at a time. Graduates are required to take 60 credit hours and write a dissertation, which typically takes around three to four years.

All students complete a comprehensive set of core courses, plus a bespoke research project. You can customize your degree by choosing elective courses that align with your personal and professional goals and interests.

You may be wondering about the difference between an EdD and a PhD. If so, check out this article for a detailed breakdown.

4 Ways Creighton’s Doctorate in Leadership prepares you to lead

An EdD is a practitioner’s degree. To us at Creighton, that means whatever you’re learning in class is incomplete unless you can apply it to real world problems. Let’s explore four of the many ways that a doctorate in leadership prepares you for success in any industry.

1. Interdisciplinary study for a transformative education

At Creighton, interdisciplinary takes on a whole new meaning. Our EdD program is purposefully designed to include a wide variety of courses to choose from. Students have the option to take courses that touch on a broad array of topics, including:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Social justice
  • Administrative leadership
  • University teaching
  • Human resources
  • Technology
  • Public relations
  • Qualitative and quantitative analysis
  • Research design

Beyond our curriculum, we are also diverse in life experiences, ways of thinking, and knowledge base that faculty, staff and students bring to the program. (More on that below.)

2. Meaningful and challenging conversations with a diverse cohort

One of the biggest joys and gifts of the interdisciplinary leadership program is that there is no “typical” student. Our scholars vary in age, industry, geographic location, background and life experience. They’ve come from 48 different states, Washington DC and 15 countries. The thing that unites them is a deep curiosity and a passion for leadership and service.

We’ve had students with all kinds of careers throughout the past 10 years of this program. To name just a few job titles our graduates have held:

  • Funeral director
  • Fire chief
  • Jesuit priest
  • Kindergarten teacher
  • Congress person
  • Stay-at-home parent
  • Four-star military general
  • Physical therapist
  • Farmer
  • Non-profit fundraiser
  • Actor

Our virtual discussion boards are full of this wonderful diversity of thought, which makes a rich educational environment for the entire cohort. Though the course is fully online, classmates are learning alongside one another even while sitting alone in their respective homes.

Students engage with professors and each other in discussion boards where they can type or talk about the course material. This is where students can practice embracing discomfort and having tough but important conversations with people who have different perspectives.

3. Self-reflection is key for personal and professional growth

No matter what industry you work in, you’re likely to be faced with nuanced issues that don’t have an obvious or immediate answer. Ethical leadership demands thoughtful and careful responses to complex problems. At Creighton, we believe the best way to prepare students for this challenge is to help them build a self-reflection practice.

Students begin this reflective on the very first day of class and it is carried across the curriculum and through the dissertation defense. Taking time to slow down and think introspectively about our own experiences, biases, beliefs and responses is key to making good decisions and working with others. Becoming more self-aware takes time and intention. It can be uncomfortable but it’s always worth the effort.

Students who regularly contemplate their places in the historical, class, political and economic contexts in which they practice are much better equipped to lead than those who don’t. This is just one way that our doctorate in leadership helps shape the whole person—including the emotional, spiritual, intellectual, physical and social lives of our students.

4. Capstone projects based on real-life problems

The dissertation for the online EdD program is an exciting chance for our students to complete and publish a research project of their own design. They identify a complex real-world problem in their professional or personal area of interest – there are no constraints around what that might be. We want them to choose something that is truly meaningful to them.
Past graduates have tackled crucial topics such as:

  • Reinvigorating youth leadership in the Catholic church
  • Leadership journeys of Black, female athletic directors in NCAA Division I schools
  • Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public school teachers’ wellbeing
  • Care, transition and reintegration of retired military civilians
  • Nurses’ experiences caring for LGBT patients in a rural community
  • Supporting children who age out of foster care
  • Catholic Sisters and their contributions to fighting international anti-human trafficking organizations
  • Creating a pipeline to college for currently and formerly incarcerated individuals

As you can see, our students are directly applying their newfound knowledge and expertise to make lasting and meaningful change in their own communities. We challenge them to explore their chosen topic from an interdisciplinary leadership lens, collecting data, analyzing it, and coming up with recommendations to inform the problem. Implementing their solution isn’t a requirement of the dissertation, but many take it upon themselves to bring it to fruition.

It’s not just about pinpointing a problem, either. It’s about sending caring and capable leaders into the world who are able to create evidence-based solutions to real issues.

Amplify your innate leadership abilities

If you’re considering a doctorate in leadership degree, you’re likely already an inspiring leader to those around you. But investing in the training and experience this program offers can help activate your ability to make a real difference in whatever area you’re passionate about.

Our students come to us as a whole and competent people. Our goal is to help you become more “you” and leave our program ready to leave your mark on the world.

Still not sure if our online Doctor of Education in Interdisciplinary Leadership is right for you? Get a firsthand account from two Creighton graduates in our article “Is an EdD in Leadership Worth It? Graduates Share Their Stories.

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