Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


School of Education


This study explored the relationship between spirituality and leadership in college students, creating a conceptual framework for student spiritual leadership. Based in the prior work of leadership theory, college student leadership development, faith development, spiritual leadership, spirituality in higher education, and the environment of faith-based institutions, this research built upon previous research to create a framework for future study.

Using a case study method that considered a specific context, fourth-year students at a mid-size Catholic institution were interviewed, along with faculty and staff who offered observations of the students. While these students are a small sample of the college student population, the findings from this case study demonstrate that spirituality and leadership share an important relationship with each other. Spirituality was shown to be a significant influence on leadership in four ways: (1) as motivation, (2) by shaping leadership values, (3) through an emphasis on justice, and (4) through relationships and community. The influence of leadership on spirituality was less significant in this study, although a moderate correlation was found. The case demonstrated the importance of justice in the pedagogy and mission of the program studied. Furthermore, students valued the concept and significance of justice, although a strong connection between personal leadership and justice was not articulated by most of the students.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.