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Organizational leadership is an approach to business management that takes a big-picture view. That is, each decision made by a businessperson would not only need to take into consideration how it impacts their department or individual employees but its impact throughout the organization. Further, a degree in organizational leadership helps business people ensure that tasks are completed and business goals met, and also that employees are engaged with their work and the wider organization. That way, employees feel more integrated with the organization and feel that their work has more value than a mere set of completed tasks.

There are organizational leadership degrees offered at every level. Those who start with an associate degree in organizational leadership can start careers with entry-level positions. They can later return for a bachelor’s and then a master’s degree that build on their knowledge and experience. Finally, some even complete a doctorate in organizational leadership.

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Requirements of an Associate Degree

An associate degree is a two-year college degree that is often used as a launchpad for later learning. The degree typically includes core college curriculum as well as a set of courses in a concentrated field, or major. Thus, students spend most of their time taking courses such as English 101, College Algebra, and introductory science courses. They can later take courses in the field that most interests them, such as organizational leadership. However, an associate degree does not typically offer courses beyond the 200 level.

To complete an associate degree, most schools will require 60 semester credit hours. For students who can attend school full-time and carry a full load each term, this should take around two years to complete. This essentially equals the amount of work completed by a second-year student in a four-year college or university and, indeed, gaining an associate degree can count toward as much as two years of a bachelor’s if you return to school later with credits that can transfer.

An associate degree offers students the opportunity to gain a familiarity with their field but does not allow for much depth. However, a two-year degree is still a great way to start a career. On top of that, community colleges who offer associate degrees are known to charge far less per-credit than four-year colleges and universities.

Top 10 Best Online Associate in Organizational Leadership Programs


Moraine Park Technical College

Score: 79.6

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,713
    • Out-of-State: $6,917
  • Net Price: $9,339
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 79%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,074
  • Undergrad Students: 3,074
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $38,900
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Moraine Park Technical College

Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

Score: 79.08

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $4,796
    • Out-of-State: $6,989
  • Net Price: $10,027
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 55%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,710
  • Undergrad Students: 2,710
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $35,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Southwest Wisconsin Technical College

University of Charleston

Score: 78.29

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $32,842
    • Out-of-State: $32,842
  • Net Price: $21,308
  • Acceptance Rate: 68%
  • Retention Rate: 71%
  • Graduation Rate: 42%
  • Total Enrollment: 3,059
  • Undergrad Students: 2,365
  • Graduate Students: 694
  • Grads Salary: $49,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • University of Charleston

Rasmussen University-Kansas

Score: 76.32

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $15,340
    • Out-of-State: $15,340
  • Net Price: $18,503
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 50%
  • Graduation Rate: 50%
  • Total Enrollment: 590
  • Undergrad Students: 568
  • Graduate Students: 22
  • Grads Salary: $45,700
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • Rasmussen University-Kansas

Waldorf University

Score: 70.19

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $25,220
    • Out-of-State: $25,220
  • Net Price: $18,620
  • Acceptance Rate: 74%
  • Retention Rate: 70%
  • Graduation Rate: 26%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,763
  • Undergrad Students: 2,295
  • Graduate Students: 468
  • Grads Salary: $49,800
  • Student-to-faculty: 24:1
  • Waldorf University

Northcentral Technical College

Score: 69.67

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $3,861
    • Out-of-State: $5,615
  • Net Price: $10,866
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 63%
  • Graduation Rate: 32%
  • Total Enrollment: 6,069
  • Undergrad Students: 6,069
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $40,000
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Northcentral Technical College

Central Christian College of Kansas

Score: 64.67

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $21,000
    • Out-of-State: $21,000
  • Net Price: $15,732
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 47%
  • Graduation Rate: 31%
  • Total Enrollment: 571
  • Undergrad Students: 537
  • Graduate Students: 34
  • Grads Salary: $39,600
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Central Christian College of Kansas

Point University

Score: 60.73

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $22,300
    • Out-of-State: $22,300
  • Net Price: $19,890
  • Acceptance Rate: 24%
  • Retention Rate: 69%
  • Graduation Rate: 26%
  • Total Enrollment: 2,015
  • Undergrad Students: 1,943
  • Graduate Students: 72
  • Grads Salary: $31,400
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Point University

Drury University-College of Continuing Professional Studies

Score: 58.83

  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $8,044
    • Out-of-State: $8,044
  • Net Price: $14,766
  • Acceptance Rate: 100%
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 18%
  • Total Enrollment: 742
  • Undergrad Students: 742
  • Graduate Students: N/A
  • Grads Salary: $34,300
  • Student-to-faculty: 17:1
  • Drury University-College of Continuing Professional Studies
  • Undergraduate Tuition
    • In-State: $33,020
    • Out-of-State: $33,020
  • Net Price: $30,501
  • Acceptance Rate: 87%
  • Retention Rate: 59%
  • Graduation Rate: 45%
  • Total Enrollment: 4,876
  • Undergrad Students: 4,151
  • Graduate Students: 725
  • Grads Salary: $35,100
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Hawaii Pacific University
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Where do You Earn an Associate Level Leadership Degree?

Associate degrees are offered by all sorts of post-secondary institutions. Many four-year colleges or universities will offer students the option of graduating once they have completed the requirements of an associate degree. In fact, many universities list associate degree programs in their course catalogs. Even those that don't specifically list associate degrees may confer the degree once students complete the core requirements and enough other courses to comprise around 60 semester credit hours, or the equivalent in the quarter system.

Still, most students who seek an associate degree attend a local two-year community college. These institutions offer courses at a reduced rate relative to four-year colleges and universities. These colleges also tend to be rather small by comparison, so students can enjoy smaller class sizes with instructors who are just as qualified as those at the major universities.

These days, there are other options available, too. Students who can't find an associate organizational leadership degree at their local community college might find an online associate degree program that will satisfy their needs. In fact, there may be a community college in their state that offers such an opportunity.

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Online Vs. Traditional Education in Organizational Leadership

These days, students are very busy and college degrees are becoming more and more nuanced. Students may need to continue working while they study, or they may become tantalized by a type of degree program that is only offered far away. The online option thus becomes a viable and attractive way to achieve one's scholastic goals while not necessitating a move to a city that might be more expensive or less appealing than where you are currently. Since organizational leadership is a somewhat new field, an online leadership associate degree may be the best option for many students.

While online programs offering college degrees offer many appealing attributes in terms of convenience, many would argue that traditional courses are superior. Those who champion traditional classroom degrees tout their personal touch. They also argue that a traditional classroom experience yields a more effective learning environment. However, that's not necessarily so.

Studies have shown that the outcomes of an online program versus a traditional course of study are nearly identical. In fact, online courses can offer even more of a personal touch than traditional classrooms. That's because each student can easily reach out to their instructor via email at any time of the day or night. Also, every student will be asked to participate just as much as everyone else. Thus, more quiet students won't be able to avoid participation.

However, online courses do require more personal motivation and organization than traditional classes. Students may not be required to attend class at any specific time of the day, so they need to set a schedule for themselves that enables them to complete the work in a timely manner. Traditional students have their schedules built in and they are often reminded of assignments, which might not happen online. Thus, online students who earn associate degrees have demonstrated a great deal of personal motivation and determination.

Admission Requirements

One terrific aspect of pursuing a community college degree is the fact that there are usually low, or no, admissions standards. Most community colleges only require that students have a high school diploma or a certificate that proves that they have passed a general equivalency examination in lieu of the diploma. However, once admitted, colleges will determine how capable each student really is.

They will determine which courses a student might or might not be eligible for. Some may need to take remedial courses in English and math, for instance, before they are admitted to some college-level courses. For those who are determined to earn an associate degree, these courses will be worthwhile. Since college students are often more motivated than high schoolers, these remedial classes may offer students a way to make up for some lost study time and get back on track.

Why Earn This Degree?

Students should consider an associate leadership degree for many reasons. One of the first reasons is that these degree programs offer a low bar to admission. Students who may have struggled in high school can gain admission to a community college and get to work on a career-track degree. Associate degrees from community colleges are also more affordable than those from four-year colleges and universities. They can also be more useful to those who are eager to launch a business career.

After a mere two years of college, students can graduate with an associate organizational leadership degree and land an entry-level position with a great company. While some employers may offer a lower starting salary to those with an associate degree than those who have a bachelor’s degree, that gap soon narrows. For one thing, associate degree holders have lower educational costs to cover, which gives them an edge over those with a bachelor’s degree. Secondly, while bachelor’s degree students are working on their last two years of an organizational leadership degree, associate degree students are earning valuable experience.

Later, when they choose to complete their leadership bachelor’s degree, workers may already be working for employers who offer healthy tuition reimbursement programs. This all adds up to an associate degree program potentially making a lot more business sense than diving into a four-year degree program.

Why a Degree in Organizational Leadership?

A degree in organizational leadership is a terrific way to start a business career. The courses emphasize a view of business that considers the big picture of leadership and management. Students gain insights into leadership that include human psychology more than just numbers on a spreadsheet. Along the way, students learn the fundamentals of business. Thus, an associate degree in organizational leadership can help a student launch a career that will be very fruitful indeed.

With an associate organizational leadership degree, students may be able to enter a management training program or start elsewhere in business. Some will enter into a sales career where their insights into businesses will help them sell to business-to-business clients. Others may start out in marketing where their leadership skills will shine in their department. They might also apply their degrees to entry-level positions in project management where the ability to motivate workers will be greatly appreciated.

Since it only takes two years to complete an associate leadership degree, students can land an entry-level position and get to work while their peers study for yet another two years. In that time, they can convert their associate leadership degree into success, including promotions and raises. They can also pay off much of their community college loans. By the time their peers complete their bachelor’s degrees, someone with an associate degree will have beneficial experience and be ready to apply their employer's tuition reimbursement program toward completing a bachelor’s degree of their own.

What’s Involved in This Degree?

An associate organizational leadership degree covers many core business concepts while broadening the field to include other concepts. Depending on the program, a degree in organizational leadership can include courses in organizational psychology, sociology, or economics as part of the standard curriculum. Less interdisciplinary approaches might stick with more standard business management courses but add in a course or two on organizational behavior.

Graduates of an associate leadership degree program should also have a battery of analytical skills from courses in financial accounting. They should also have technological skills from courses in management information technology or computer information systems. Many programs place a high value on communications, so organizational leadership students may take courses in business communication or technical writing. Courses in interpersonal communication will also help students in their career so, if that's not required, students should consider a communications course for an elective.

Common Courses

  • Business Communication
  • Financial Accounting
  • Management Information Systems
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Interpersonal Communication
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics
  • Principles of Management
  • Sociology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Business Ethics
  • Leadership in Multicultural Organizations
  • Team Building
  • Organizational Communication
  • Organizational Development

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What to Consider When Choosing an Associate Program for Organizational Leadership


This is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing a college for an organizational leadership degree program. Accreditation shows that a business degree program has satisfied the requirements set forth by an independent agency. Without that credential, employers are unlikely to acknowledge a degree and it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to proceed with the rest of a bachelor’s degree.

Students should thus ensure that their business program hold credentials from a CHEA approved accrediting agency. Regional accreditation should be a minimum standard and programs with accreditation from AACSB or ACBSP should receive special attention, as those agencies are specific to business and are nationally recognized. Students with an associate leadership degree from a nationally recognized program will have an easier time finding employment and applying to four-year colleges and universities later when they move on toward a bachelor’s leadership degree.

Further Organizational Leadership Education

Bachelor’s Degree

A bachelor’s degree is typically the better degree for a future business leader to earn. This four-year degree provides an education that is deeper and broader than an associate degree and thus is deemed a better foundation. Further, once this degree is complete, the student's transcript can be used in an application for an MBA.

Bachelor's degree programs can also support a student's desire to broaden their education with a minor concentration. For an organizational leadership student, some good options can include psychology, sociology, supply chain management, project management, and accounting. These degrees also have the latitude to support internship opportunities, which provide much needed experience and even networking opportunities.

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in organizational leadership is a terrific way to accelerate a career. Students who graduate from traditional management degree programs can broaden their scope with a graduate leadership degree. The expanded knowledge of organizations and management can be a boon to their employer or might provide the sort of insights necessary to launch an effective business of their own.

Those with a master’s leadership degree might also work as management consultants who can help train managers to have a more global perspective on their work. After all, effective leadership can turn a seemingly average team into something extraordinary. Organizational leadership teaches people how that's possible.


An MBA is the brass ring of graduate business degrees. The degrees take two years to complete and are thus divided into two parts. The first year is spent taking general business courses at the graduate level. Students working in management might study topics that are outside of their normal scope such as corporate finance, banking, and marketing. The second year is where students can focus on their primary interest, such as organizational leadership.

After earning an MBA, graduates may find that they are soon rewarded with promotions and raises. Eventually, the MBA could pay off in terms of a C-suite position. After all, an MBA is a defacto requirement for those top positions. This advancement will come all the quicker for those with an MBA in organizational leadership from a program accredited by either AACSB or ACBSP.

Doctorate or PhD

A doctorate or PhD in leadership is bound to turn heads when it comes time to find a new job or seek a promotion. While the business community typically doesn't place a high value on these lofty degrees, that may be changing. After all, graduate degrees, including MBAs, are all the more prevalent, which means going the distance for a PhD can lift a resume to the stop of the stack.

Since organizational leadership is a relatively new concept in the world of business, a PhD program can provide the opportunity to make a real mark on the field. Students who do especially valuable research in their dissertation might stay in academia where they can steer the field to higher highs.


Business leaders who already have a degree in business or management can consider a certificate in organizational leadership as a way to enhance their credentials. While programs may vary, some only require three courses for a certificate. Since the programs are so brief, relative to an organizational leadership degree, they are often conducted wholly online. Thus, without having to take time away from work, managers can elevate their business credentials in a matter of around twenty-four weeks, depending on the program's structure.

There are other certificate options for those in business leadership. Some might choose to augment their leadership with a deeper knowledge of the technology that their organization needs so much. A graduate certificate in management information systems might be a great solution and can help leaders determine what technology their team needs from the perspective of an individual employee to that of the organization as a whole. Leaders might also want to sharpen their skills in project management and seek out the corresponding certificate.

While certificates often only require around three courses, they can do wonders for a person's resume. While a person could take three courses from different schools and learn just as much, the fact that they chose a courses of study and completed it will impress every hiring manager. When those credentials are backed with a proven track record of success and employee satisfaction, leaders will indeed go far. Furthermore, if a worker with a bachelor’s completes a graduate certificate, they can likely apply those credits towards an MBA or master’s organizational leadership degree at some later point. Thus, while college credits may be expensive, they can pay for themselves over the long-haul.

Available Careers with an Associate Organizational Leadership Degree

  • Management Trainee:
    Many corporations hire fresh graduates for their management training programs. A solid academic background in organizational leadership will certainly help land such an opportunity for growth and development.
  • Salesperson:
    Every corporation is looking for sales personnel who can communicate effectively with their clients. When a salesperson has insights into organizations and management, they can sell goods and services to the corporations that need them the most.
  • Administrative Assistant:
    Assistants often are needed for far more than typing and fielding inbound calls. When they have deeper insight into how organizations operate, and how individuals operate within them, they can be a tremendous asset to any executive.
  • Management:
    This would likely be the target position for any organizational leadership student. The added insight into human psychology and their focus on a holistic view of corporations and employees will surely help any organizational leadership student thrive in management.
  • Project Manager:
    When a project manager sends a team to work at a client's office, they need to facilitate communication between the client corporation and the individuals on their team. Thus, the skills taught in an organizational leadership degree program could be very valuable indeed.
  • Human Resources Specialist:
    The lessons learned in an organizational leadership degree program can be invaluable for HR experts who are involved in the hiring process.

Salary Expectations

According to the website, professionals with an associate leadership degree earn an average salary of $54k/year. They list two jobs for this degree type and level. The accounts payable specialist enjoys pay that ranges from $31k to $49k per year. The other occupation, construction superintendent, lists a range of $50k to $98k per year. However, there are many other options for a business professional with an associate leadership degree.

Unfortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has very few job sectors that list an associate degree as an entry-level degree. However, those who have worked hard in their degree program and who have perhaps been successful in an internship program can likely achieve just as much as those with two more years of college. For instance, sales managers often rise from the ranks of salespeople. Any hardworking individual with an associate leadership degree could rise into management and rake in a healthy salary. The BLS reports that sales managers earn a median salary of over $130k per year.

Another possible career track is that of social and community service management. This job involves a lot of organization and coordination. Professionals in this position aren't so much attending the better good of a business organization but are rather seeking to serve their community. Those who earn a degree in organizational leadership can work hard and rise into this management position which earns a median salary of nearly $70k per year.


The career outlook for those with an associate leadership degree is quite bright. After all, the degree offers graduates a great deal of latitude in the job marketplace. That is, they have a solid foundation in business and a proven academic track record without a highly specialized degree such as engineering. Organizational leadership graduates can thus apply for a variety of positions that are of interest. Once hired, they can apply their business knowledge and sense of leadership to their workplace. After all, even if they are in a low-level position, every supervisor will appreciate an employee who has leadership potential. With a little experience and focused training, an associate organizational leadership degree holder should be able to rise through the ranks while their peers are still working on their bachelor’s degrees.

Thus, associate organizational leadership students should take a hard look at what interests them the most. It will help when they have a clear idea of how to apply the lessons they'll learn in their organizational leadership program. When they enter a job interview, it will be helpful to discuss how their global view of management and leadership can apply to that prospective employer's industry and business.

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