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College of doctoral studies

About CDS 


The College of Doctoral Studies’ mission is to support the development of leaders and aspiring leaders within our Scholar-Practitioner-Leader℠ model. By cultivating learners’ capacity in organizational research and practice, we seek to empower the creative action that influences policy and decision-making, fostering transformation across diverse environments.


To be the premier provider of doctoral education that produces competent, confident, and skilled thought leaders who lead and enrich their organizations and communities.

CDS History

Founded in 1999, the College of Doctoral Studies online practitioner doctorate degrees offer holistic approaches to research, drive innovation, and guide students while they create new ways of responding to today's increasingly integrative challenges in the work force.

For over 25 years, the University of Phoenix’s College of Doctoral Studies has offered innovative terminal degrees, setting a new standard for combining theory and practice to document relevant issues in leadership, business, healthcare, and higher education. To date, the college has awarded more than 7,500 doctoral degrees and certificates.

Our purpose is to strengthen the skills of our student/leaders in business, management, education, and health administration through quality programs that incorporate our Scholar-Practitioner-Leader℠ model and enable our students to increase their knowledge, skills, and confidence as they lead and influence change in their organizations and communities.

Scholar-Practitioner-Leader Model

The Scholar, Practitioner, Leader (SPL) Model is a driving force within the College of Doctoral Studies that supports the development of doctoral students to recognize and embrace the role of being a leader that enables our doctoral students to empower creative action and influences evidence-based decision-making. 

Scholar Practitioner Leader Model

A unique component of the University of Phoenix College of Doctoral Studies SPL Model is that it recognizes and includes both the cognitive and affective domains of learning. The College of Doctoral Studies strives to develop learners who gain knowledge and internalize their knowledge and their learning in practical terms. Through this process learners develop an understanding of the personal meaning of both and become able to discuss their understanding. This metacognitive introspection and awareness positions CDS learners to integrate their advanced studies in a uniquely powerful way. This skill is based in part on the insights of Kegan and Lahey (2001) who noted one cannot know something in an exclusively cognitive or affective way.

Reference: Kegan, R., & Lahey, L. L. (2001). How the way we talk can change the way we work: Seven languages for transformation. Jossey-Bass.

How Does the SPL Model Differentiate CDS and You?

The journey of students in the CDS doctoral program is one that challenges and changes their thinking. Every class and assignment build on the objectives students have as they internalize the scholarship, practice, and leadership model and become introspective and extrospective professionals and leaders. This internalization is NOT the same for every student but evolves out of a back-and-forth interplay between knowledge, beliefs, and practice.

Built into the foundation of our curriculum, the SPL model provides:

  • High standard of rigor.
  • Fosters a culture of inquiry.
  • Focuses on contributions from both the academic and practitioner communities.
  • Conscious of both cognitive and affective domains of learning (knowledge and internalization.)
  • Includes Boyer’s model of scholarship with equal attention to the scholarship of discovery, integration, application as well as teaching and learning.


To view an intrduction of the SPL Model from Dr. Mark McCaslin please go to The Scholar-Practitioner. Understanding the Concept of SPL Model | University of Phoenix.

CDS Community

Creating a life-long connection with our students, alumni, staff, and faculty is important to our college, our university, and our commitment to the success of all members of our community. As a college, we have implemented and leveraged different opportunities, programs, and social media platforms to cultivate a sense of connection, belonging, and pride.

Students and alumni can connect with other CDS students, alumni, or faculty by joining our social media groups or connect via our Alumni Mentor Program. Additionally, our Research Hub is also a great tool for students and alumni by providing you with research resources along with workshops offered by the college and our Research Enterprise.

Watch: Research Enterprise