Facebook pixel What Are the Requirements for a Global Leadership and Change PhD? - GSEP Blog | Pepperdine GSEP Skip to main content
Pepperdine | Graduate School of Education and Psychology

What Are the Requirements for a Global Leadership and Change PhD?

Global Leadership and Change PhD Requirements

Pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in Global Leadership and Change marks the beginning of a transformative journey in your career. This program, known for its focus on developing visionary leaders and change agents, shapes strategy and policy in various sectors.

We'll break down the Global Leadership and Change PhD requirements in detail. From academic prerequisites to application specifics, we'll provide you with comprehensive guidance, paving the way for your journey toward global leadership and academic distinction.

Global Leadership and Change PhD Requirements at Pepperdine University

Pepperdine University's Graduate School of Education and Psychology offers a compelling Doctor of Philosophy in Global Leadership and Change program. This program equips students to be visionary leaders, molding strategy and policy across various sectors. Let's take a look at the specifics of what it takes to join this prestigious program.

Online Application

The online application is where your leadership development journey begins. The application process is designed to be comprehensive yet user-friendly, allowing you to showcase your potential as a future leader and scholar. As you fill out the application, remember that each section is an opportunity to present your strengths, experiences, and passion for global leadership and change.

Be sure to pay close attention to the application deadline, as it's a key date in your academic calendar. Missing this deadline could delay your aspirations for a year or more.

Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees

Applicants must hold both a Bachelor's and a Master's degree to qualify for admission. These degrees are not just formalities; they lay the crucial academic groundwork for the advanced study and research doctoral students will engage in. These degrees demonstrate your commitment and capability to meet the rigorous degree requirements of a PhD program.

Having a graduate degree in a relevant field of study also ensures that you have a foundational understanding and the necessary skills to delve deeper into the complex realms of leadership and change. 

Official Transcripts

All applicants must submit official transcripts. These documents are vital records of your academic history, providing a comprehensive view of your educational journey. They play a pivotal role in the admissions process, allowing the admissions committee to assess your preparedness and suitability for the demanding curriculum of the doctoral program.

For applicants who earned their degrees from academic institutions outside the United States, the process includes an extra step. A detailed foreign transcript evaluation from a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES) is necessary. 

Letters of Recommendation

Two recommendations are required, ideally from individuals who can attest to your academic and professional character. These recommendations offer a unique perspective on your abilities, particularly your leadership skills and potential. You can choose academic references, like professors or academic advisors, who can speak to your intellectual rigor and academic achievements.

Alternatively, professional recommendations from supervisors can shed light on your practical application of skills in a work environment, including your relationship with colleagues and your ability to lead and inspire.

When seeking letters of recommendation, look for individuals who know you well and can provide detailed insights into your capabilities and character. A strong letter from an academic advisor can highlight your scholarly pursuits and dedication to your field of study. A supervisor can provide examples of your leadership skills in action, your ability to work in a team, and your relationship with colleagues.

To ensure your recommenders can provide the most compelling and relevant information, provide them with a reminder of your key accomplishments, projects you worked on together, and aspects of your character or skills you'd like them to emphasize.

Building and maintaining strong relationships with mentors and colleagues often leads to more personalized and impactful recommendations. Remember, a well-written recommendation letter can significantly influence the admissions committee's perception of your fit for the program.

Statement of Purpose

A 1,000 to 2,000-word statement of purpose is required. This document is your opportunity to articulate your perspective on leadership, expand on your research interests, and highlight your achievements and future goals. It's a platform to demonstrate your readiness and enthusiasm for doctoral study.

In your statement, emphasize any leadership positions you've held, as these experiences underscore your ability to lead and influence in your field. Discuss how these roles have shaped your understanding of leadership and how they align with your research interests. Be specific about your achievements, particularly those that have prepared you for the rigors of doctoral study.

Additionally, outline your future goals, including how this degree will contribute to your professional development and prepare you for advanced management positions. Your statement of purpose should weave together your past experiences, current interests, and future aspirations, creating a compelling narrative that showcases your suitability for the program.


Your CV or resume serves as a concise summary of your academic and professional journey. It should clearly outline your educational background, including any relevant coursework or projects that have prepared you for doctoral study. Highlight experiences that demonstrate your leadership and management abilities, whether in professional settings, academic environments, or volunteer roles. These experiences not only showcase your leadership skills but also your commitment to professional development.

Be sure to include any awards, publications, or presentations, as they add to your profile as a well-rounded candidate. Remember, your CV or resume should not just list your experiences; it should tell a story of a dedicated individual who has steadily prepared for and is now ready to embark on a challenging and rewarding doctoral journey.


The interview is a pivotal component of the admissions process for Pepperdine University’s Global Leadership and Change PhD program. It's not only a chance for the faculty to assess your suitability for the program but also an opportunity for you to demonstrate your core leadership qualities and understanding of the degree path. During the interview, you should be prepared to discuss your leadership experiences, how they have shaped your perspective, and how they align with the program's objectives.

It's also a chance for you to ask insightful questions about the curriculum, faculty, and opportunities that the program offers. This dialogue helps both you and the faculty determine if the fit is right for your academic and professional goals. Approach the interview as a two-way conversation – a platform to showcase your enthusiasm and readiness for the challenges of doctoral study, and as a means to gain deeper insights into how the program can facilitate your growth as a leader.

Writing Sample

A writing sample can help showcase your ability to communicate effectively and engage with academic material at a high level. This piece should reflect your skills in critical thinking, analysis, and research – all of which are essential for success in a PhD program. Choose a sample that aligns with the core leadership themes of the Global Leadership and Change program, demonstrating your ability to contribute meaningfully to the field.

The writing sample should also give a glimpse into your academic interests and how they align with your intended degree path. This is your chance to impress the admissions committee with your intellectual capabilities, your capacity for academic inquiry, and your potential to produce significant research in the field of leadership and change.

Global Leadership and Change PhD Requirements

PhD Research Experience (Optional)

While not a compulsory requirement, any prior research experience, particularly at the PhD level, can significantly strengthen your application. Having experience in research not only demonstrates your ability to undertake in-depth academic work but also shows your commitment to scholarly inquiry.

If you have participated in research projects, authored or co-authored papers, or engaged in any scholarly activities, this is the time to highlight them. Such experiences can give you an edge, as they suggest you have the skills and mindset needed for the rigorous research components of the program. It indicates to the admissions committee that you are already familiar with the process of academic investigation, making you a potentially valuable contributor to the university's academic community.

TOEFL or IELTS Exam (For International Students)

For international applicants, the Global Leadership and Change PhD requirements include English proficiency. If English is not your first language, submitting TOEFL or IELTS scores is a requirement. These exams assess your ability to understand and use English at an academic level, ensuring you can actively participate in a rigorous English-language curriculum.

A strong performance on these tests demonstrates not just your language skills but also your readiness to engage fully in class discussions, comprehend complex texts, and write academically at a high standard. Remember, meeting the minimum score requirements is crucial, as it’s a key indicator of your ability to thrive in an English-speaking educational environment.

Preparing for these exams can also be a valuable opportunity to improve your language skills, which will be beneficial both in your studies and in your broader professional development.

Current GSEP EdD Students and Alumni

EdD students and alumni from GSEP can transfer up to 39 credit hours to this PhD program. This is contingent upon a committee's review and recommendation, considering your academic records and other relevant materials.

What Makes the PhD Program at Pepperdine University Stand Out?

Pepperdine University's PhD in Global Leadership and Change stands out as a unique and dynamic program among academic programs, especially for those seeking a leadership program that balances rigorous study with practical application. What sets it apart?

Hybrid In-Person and Online Format

The hybrid format of this doctoral degree is thoughtfully designed to cater to working professionals. It combines 60% face-to-face interaction with 40% online coursework. This Global Access Hybrid format strikes an ideal balance, offering the flexibility of online learning with the enriched experience of in-person classes. The online modules are robust, featuring both synchronous and asynchronous learning experiences, while the face-to-face classes are held at the conveniently located West Los Angeles Graduate Campus.

Cohort Model

At the heart of this program is the cohort model, which not only enhances the study of leadership but also fosters a strong sense of community. The cohort model is instrumental in building leadership skills, providing peer support, and nurturing lifelong relationships with colleagues. Small class sizes and a low faculty-to-student ratio create a supportive learning environment, ensuring meaningful interactions and long-term professional and personal relationships.

High-Quality Core Curriculum

Academic excellence is a cornerstone of the program, reflected in its core courses which are shared between all doctoral offerings at GSEP. These core courses are supplemented by program-specific classes and a variety of elective options, allowing you to customize your learning experience and delve into advanced topics relevant to your interests and career goals.

Esteemed Faculty

The faculty, comprising scholar-practitioners with exemplary academic achievements and professional expertise, play a pivotal role. They provide direct and personalized feedback, guiding students through both coursework and research endeavors. This interaction ensures that each student’s journey through the doctoral degree is enriched with practical insights and academic rigor.

International Trips

A unique feature of this leadership program is the opportunity for students to gain an international perspective. The program includes a visit to an international location, where students meet local and national leaders, and observe and examine industries and organizations, enhancing their understanding of global leadership and policy development.

Global Leadership and Change PhD Requirements

How a PhD Can Benefit Your Career

A doctoral degree in this field significantly enhances your expertise, allowing you to contribute at a higher level in your current role or to step into more senior positions. The knowledge and skills gained from studying contemporary leadership and international relations are particularly valuable in today's interconnected world, where understanding cross-cultural dynamics is crucial. Furthermore, the program's focus on current issues ensures that your knowledge remains relevant and applicable to today's challenges.

Completing this degree program also positions you as a thought leader in your field. It demonstrates your commitment to understanding and addressing complex leadership challenges and prepares you to take on influential roles in policy-making, academia, or business. The degree completion signifies not just mastery of a body of knowledge but also the ability to contribute new insights to the field of leadership.

Elevate Your Career With a PhD in Global Leadership and Change

A PhD program at Pepperdine University is a step towards becoming a global change agent. With a blend of rigorous academics, research, and practical experience, the Global Leadership and Change program is designed to prepare you for leadership roles on a global stage. The path may be challenging, but the rewards are unparalleled, both professionally and personally. You can get started today by attending an information session.

For more information about the Global Leadership and Change PhD requirements, click here.