Master’s in Leadership Online Degree Programs for 2022

Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership Career Options & Salary

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The field of organizational leadership is a multi-disciplinary field that applies theories of behavior and social science to managing businesses and organizations. While business management might focus on making good decisions in finance, investment, and using assets, organizational leadership focuses on the human factors that contribute to organizational outcomes. Online master's programs make this valuable set of skills and knowledge available to those that choose remote or in-classroom learning.

The effectiveness of management in a business or organization involves quantitative factors like planning and budgeting. Success can also depend on qualitative factors like negotiations, interpersonal relationships, and motivating the staff and workforce. Success requires excellence in both types of management, which is where this education comes in.

A master’s in organizational leadership is a course of study that equips graduates with a scientific approach to qualitative aspects of organizations as well as the quantitative ones. The master’s level is not the highest level of study in organizational leadership, but a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership is a terminal degree because it provides entry to professional practice. A PhD could help qualify students for specialization and academic roles, such as graduate school faculty.


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What are the Best Online Master's in Leadership College Programs?


1

Johns Hopkins University

  • Net Price: $25,241
  • Total Enrollment: 28,890
  • Undergrad Students: 6,331
  • Graduate Students: 22,559
  • Grads Salary: $88,000
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 94%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 20
  • Student-to-faculty: 6:1
  • Johns Hopkins University
2

Purdue University

  • Net Price: $12,294
  • Total Enrollment: 46,655
  • Undergrad Students: 35,706
  • Graduate Students: 10,949
  • Grads Salary: $77,300
  • Retention Rate: 93%
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Purdue University
3

The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Net Price: $11,185
  • Total Enrollment: 28,669
  • Undergrad Students: 21,187
  • Graduate Students: 7,482
  • Grads Salary: $74,800
  • Retention Rate: 90%
  • Graduation Rate: 69%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 28
  • Student-to-faculty: 25:1
  • The University of Texas at Dallas
4

Michigan State University

  • Net Price: $16,655
  • Total Enrollment: 49,695
  • Undergrad Students: 38,491
  • Graduate Students: 11,204
  • Grads Salary: $71,900
  • Retention Rate: 91%
  • Graduation Rate: 81%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 184
  • Student-to-faculty: 16:1
  • Michigan State University
5

Northeastern University

  • Net Price: $37,738
  • Total Enrollment: 22,905
  • Undergrad Students: 15,156
  • Graduate Students: 7,749
  • Grads Salary: $78,800
  • Retention Rate: 97%
  • Graduation Rate: 90%
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Student-to-faculty: 14:1
  • Northeastern University
6

University of Colorado Boulder

  • Net Price: $21,198
  • Total Enrollment: 37,437
  • Undergrad Students: 30,307
  • Graduate Students: 7,130
  • Grads Salary: $76,700
  • Retention Rate: 85%
  • Graduation Rate: 72%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 82
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • University of Colorado Boulder
7

Norwich University

  • Net Price: $25,641
  • Total Enrollment: 3,975
  • Undergrad Students: 3,236
  • Graduate Students: 739
  • Grads Salary: $87,000
  • Retention Rate: 82%
  • Graduation Rate: 57%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 33
  • Student-to-faculty: 13:1
  • Norwich University
8

Arizona State University

  • Net Price: $14,653
  • Total Enrollment: 74,795
  • Undergrad Students: 63,124
  • Graduate Students: 11,671
  • Grads Salary: $72,000
  • Retention Rate: 86%
  • Graduation Rate: 66%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 60
  • Student-to-faculty: 18:1
  • Arizona State University
9

Regis University

  • Net Price: $27,785
  • Total Enrollment: 6,310
  • Undergrad Students: 3,197
  • Graduate Students: 3,113
  • Grads Salary: $82,000
  • Retention Rate: 73%
  • Graduation Rate: 67%
  • Diplomas Awarded: 126
  • Student-to-faculty: 11:1
  • Regis University
10

The Pennsylvania State University

  • Net Price: $25,548
  • Total Enrollment: 89,816
  • Undergrad Students: 74,446
  • Graduate Students: 15,370
  • Grads Salary: $75,000
  • Retention Rate: 87%
  • Graduation Rate: 73%
  • Diplomas Awarded: NA
  • Student-to-faculty: 15:1
  • The Pennsylvania State University
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Where Can You Earn a Masters in Organizational Leadership?


A master’s degree of this kind requires prerequisites such as a bachelor’s degree in leadership, a business-related area, or other subject. Four-year colleges with graduate programs award master’s degrees. Students cannot obtain a master’s degree from community colleges or other two-year institutions. Schools that award a master’s degree in organizational leadership may offer only in-person education. However, students can also find excellent programs that offer online classes and hybrid degree programs.

A master’s in organizational leadership is a one- to two-year degree program consisting of about thirty-six credit hours of study. The course of study may include a capstone project or thesis. Students can pursue the degree full-time or part-time and colleges and universities offer these degrees on-campus, online, or in a hybrid mix of online and in-person learning.

Whether online, in-person, or a mix of the two types of attendance, a master’s of this kind works well for students with real-world experience in business or other types of organizations. Master’s in organizational leadership students often are experienced executives and professionals in fields like social science, finance, accounting, economics, and marketing.

Online Vs. Traditional Education in Organizational Leadership


Traditional education is synchronous, in-person learning in a classroom or lecture hall setting. Internet-based technology advances have supported the development of online or distance learning. Rather than attend school on-campus, students connect to virtual classrooms or view content on their own schedule. Online education brings opportunities for learning and advancement to those that cannot or choose not to attend in-person classes.

It’s true that traditional education offers students and teachers more opportunity for interaction. In traditional settings, students can listen, ask questions, and interact with other students. Traditional classrooms might resemble earlier student experiences and bring a sense of familiarity or be best for those who prefer more interaction in their educational experiences. On-campus resources can also be significant assets for educational progress. Colleges and universities often have large-scale libraries and other student resources. For example, traditional students may join on-campus clubs, work in campus-based research, and participate in internships for practical experience. Remote education can provide support of online faculty, online interaction other students, and opportunities for school-related activities. Traditional and online students both must have personal discipline for regular attendance and maintaining progress.

However, there doesn’t appear to be particularly different outcomes for traditional or online education. Online education can reach students that may not have the means, opportunity, or free time to attend in-person classes. For students that cannot attend in-person, online education offers an opportunity to attend school while maintaining other obligations such as work business, or family obligations. Having access to both online and in-person can offer choices for those hoping to achieve a master’s degree in organizational leadership. Students should make sure that the selected program, whether online or not, has a strong faculty, offers the subjects of high interest, and has accreditation.

Admission Requirements


Master’s degrees can mean a Master of Arts or a Master of Science. The emphasis on science and math-based coursework typically defines a master of science degree. A master of arts degree might have a stronger component in liberal arts and social sciences. The typical prerequisites for any master’s degree is a bachelor degree in a related field and a satisfactory level of academic excellence. Some programs may require that you have experience in your field. In organizational leadership, this would mean holding a managerial position for at least a few years.

A Master of Science in Organizational Leadership usually requires a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in business or a business-related field. A program might require an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 on a four-point scale. However, it’s good to understand that this degree is not the same as an MBA with a focus in organizational leadership. The focus of an MBA is on the economic and decision-making aspects of a business organization, though a concentration in organizational leadership will provide you with courses that will boost your leadership ability. The master’s in organizational leadership is a multi-disciplinary approach to organization issues and managing people.

Why Earn This Degree?


A master’s degree prepares graduates to enter mid-level and senior-level positions. Specifically, it will provide entry to higher-level positions than a bachelor’s degree in the same field. This is because a master’s supports a greater amount of specialization than a bachelor’s. An employer may seek master’s graduates to acquire a desired level of expertise.

A bachelor’s degree takes less time to complete than a master’s as well, because, while the typical bachelor’s degree is a four-year program, a master’s degree adds up to two years of education after you have earned a bachelor’s. However, a bachelor’s degree will likely not provide the range of career options of a master’s degree. While an online leadership degree is a steppingstone for gaining entry to high-level positions, a master’s is a pathway to policy-level positions in a business or organization.

In many professional fields, a master’s degree is a terminal degree. For example, students that pursue doctoral degrees may do so to prepare for educator roles and education administration rather than the business world. The doctoral degree may add up to five years of additional education, research, and academic writing. The primary advantages of a doctoral degree are in roles as graduate-level faculty and higher education administration.

Why a Degree in Leadership?


Businesses and other types of organizations need qualified leaders. A master’s in organizational leadership’s curriculum helps graduates make positive impacts on organizations that they serve. The course of study in these programs is meant to develops leaders that can make demonstrable differences in the organization’s culture, promote effective communications, and foster talent growth.

Schools design coursework in these programs for students with business experience. However, both relatively new and experienced professionals can enter these programs to enhance their careers, change careers, and develop greater personal capacity for leadership. An online leadership master’s degree is an ideal combination for employed executives seeking to enhance their positions or move up to organizational leadership jobs and greater responsibility.

Organizational leadership degree programs cover broad areas of study and students can take elective classes aimed at career growth or an area of specialization. For example, students can work in organizational communication, organizational management, designing strategic goals, and more.

Students can make use of career-oriented concentrations including project management, talent management, and human resources management. A master’s in organizational leadership is also not confined to business organizations or profit-making activities; this degree is flexible and can open careers in non-profit management and areas of purposeful leadership.

What’s Involved in This Degree?


A master’s degree in general usually includes around 60 credit hours and can take one to two years to complete, depending on the length of the program, whether there is an accelerated version, and if students can attend part- or full-time. A Master of Organizational Leadership itself is a multidisciplinary degree field. Organizational leadership focuses on the human side of organization management and subjects within the field include organizational theory, communications, leadership principles and practices, and behavioral science. Here is just some information on each of these important subjects.

  • Organizational Theory provides frameworks for organizational analysis. Theory covers key areas like goal setting, hierarchy, and structure.
  • Communications within a business or other organization involves technology and human factors like persuasion. Communications are essential to achieving organizational goals.
  • Leadership Best Practices provides models for successful leadership in areas like culture, managing organizational change, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • Behavioral Science includes the impact of organizational actions and decisions on the organization’s interpersonal relationships. Behavioral theory covers issues like conflict, interpersonal dynamics, and consensus formation.

Students can also design elective coursework and required courses to create academic focuses or concentrations in many educational institutions. For example, they could take courses in healthcare management, NGO or non-profit management, and global strategies. A capstone project is often a requirement and offers opportunity to apply knowledge gained in course study and further define a specialization or concentration.

Common Courses

The below-listed items describe typical courses for a master’s degree in organizational leadership.

  • Leadership and Organizations
  • Strategic Communication
  • Essentials of Accounting
  • Analytics and Data Driven Decision Making
  • Performance Management
  • Essentials of Quantitative Methods
  • Essentials of Finance
  • Competing Through Innovation & Information
  • Managing Production and Service Operations
  • Global Corporate Strategy and Policy
  • Leading People and Organizations
  • The Legal & Ethical Environment of
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Teamwork and Organizational Change
  • Master’s Capstone

Concentrations

  • Project Management
  • Emergency Management Leadership
  • Managerial Accounting
  • Innovative Leadership
  • Leadership in Digital Organizations
  • Financial Management
  • Healthcare Management
  • Human Resource Management
  • Organizational Change Management
  • Talent Development
  • Strategic Planning
  • Diversity Inclusion and Belonging
  • Organizational Psychology and Development
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Performance Management
  • Planning for Public Service Organizations

What to Consider When Choosing a Master’s Program for Organizational Leadership


Accreditation


Students must make sure that their selected Master’s in Organizational Leadership programs have accreditation that is recognized by the US Department of Education and Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Institutions can earn accreditation from regional accreditation agencies such as the Higher Learning Commission. The list below cites the seven regional accreditation agencies recognized by CHEA.

  • Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
  • New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU)
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC)
  • WASC Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC)

Business programs can gain additional accreditation specific to their programs. Specialized accreditation focuses on the particular program and adds a higher level of protection for students in their fields. For example, graduate level business programs can earn specialized accreditation from the ACBSP.

Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) works with colleges and universities at undergraduate and graduate levels. The ACBSP provides specialized accreditation for business education. Operating on a global basis, businesses, governments, and educational institutions rely upon ACBSP specialized accreditation. The International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) also provides accreditation to business education programs.

Further Organizational Leadership Education


MBA


An MBA (Master’s of Business Administration) is a professional degree that also opens a wide range of career options. Focused on business organizations, an MBA provides a strong foundation for participating in business management and differs from a master of science in organizational leadership as it has a focus on quantitative aspects of business and decision-making.

The MBA is the entry-level degree for upper management and policy levels in a typical corporate organization. When focused on organizational leadership, an MBA takes on a dimension focused on human factors. Organizational leadership can advance the culture, efficiency, and productivity of a business or other type of organization.

Organizational leadership can impact progress towards the organization’s goals. Adding this focus can enhance leadership capabilities and open pathways to upper management.

Doctorate or PhD


A PhD in organizational leadership equips graduates with skills and knowledge to lead organizations, innovate, and direct and manage change. A PhD in Organizational Leadership is a multi-discipline degree field that incorporates technology, management, motivational tools, and strategic thinking. Requiring about sixty-five course hours, a dissertation, and defense, the PhD offers opportunities for expertise and leadership.

A PhD level is appropriate for educational faculty, educational leadership, and expertise in theory and research. The course of study for this educational level includes research and writings that contribute to the body of knowledge. In practical application, organizational leadership prepares graduates to manage talent, spur innovation, and react to organizational challenges, as well as to be involved in research in this vital area.

Certification


Undergraduate certificates help student prepare for leadership roles. Offering coursework in project management, teamwork, and collaboration, the curriculum will improve critical thinking and managerial skills. Undergraduate certificates can improve job prospects in all types of organizations. A typical undergraduate certificate program offers a core of coursework to strengthen leadership skills and students will learn important techniques for leadership including communications, performance management, and workforce issues.

Graduate level certificates in organizational leadership provide an excellent path for diversification and specialization. Graduate level certificates can help focus graduate studies and reinforce expertise and students with a technical specialization can enhance career prospects by adding communications and people-management skills to their repertoire.

Certificate programs can improve knowledge and expertise for professionals already in the field. Available at undergraduate and graduate levels, certificate programs can offer a lifetime of rewards in exchange for a relatively short completion time. Certificates can provide focus on areas of study and students can combine certificates with degree programs. For example, a student might take a 12-hour certificate course of study and also move into a master’s degree program. A master’s program may accept certificate hours and shorten the time for a student to complete their new degree.

Certificate programs work well for experienced employees in business and non-profit organizations as they help executives and staff members to enhance skills and abilities in order to stand out.

Potential Careers for Masters in Leadership Graduates


Program managers face a wide range of challenges when performing their important roles in carrying out organizational activities. They must work with people, budgets, and timetables for achievement. Communications skills are vital to success in program management.

Management analysts work with organizations to identify problems and develop solutions.

Analysts can be staff members or outside consultants that bring expertise and focus to problem solving.

Education administrators benefit from organizational leadership studies combined with educational specializations. A master’s in organizational leadership provides a useful framework for managing an educational program or institution. They develop skills like teacher evaluation, budgeting, and performance management.

Benefits and compensation managers work with budgets and planning to build attractive and rewarding combinations of pay and employee benefits. To succeed, organizations must attract talent and retain necessary personnel.

Training and development managers work to identify specific needs for enhancing an organization’s workforce. These skilled managers focus on development goals and the budget needed to achieve it. They can play important roles when managing change or diversifying the organization’s activities.

Salary Expectations


Master’s of Organizational Leadership graduates can expect above average earnings throughout their careers. They will earn substantially more at the entry level than employees with associate or bachelor’s degrees and may have significant advantages in their careers and when changing careers. This is a flexible degree that works well in a wide range of business settings and in the non-profit sector.

According to Payscale, the average salary for organizational leadership degree holders is approximately $73,000 per year. However, salary expectations will vary by the employee’s field, experience, and location. For example, a senior project manager in IT ranks among the top salary categories for those who hold this degree. Human resources managers, directors, and partners make up a large segment of organizational leadership graduates in corporate settings.

Organizational leadership degree holders maintain high earnings throughout their careers. Average incomes increase throughout their early career, mid-career, and late career milestones. Employers include large e-commerce companies, the US military, and institutions of higher learning. Typical job titles are executive director, project manager, and operations manager.

Outlook


The employment outlook for the field of organizational leadership is strong. A degree helps graduates pursue a wide range of positions and careers. Organizational leadership supports key roles in healthcare, industrial activities, and technology. Graduates that have leadership skills also have enhanced careers in management positions. For example, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects high growth for training and development specialists in the decade of 2020-2030, a perfect position for someone with a lot of knowledge in organizational leadership.

Organizational leadership can also be combined with other types of education. The coursework improves critical thinking and provides a pathway for personal and professional growth. This education can be essential for those with roles in government, the non-profit sector, and private business, as well as those with careers in social and community services. Business leaders rely upon the strong performance management skills acquired in the course of organizational leadership education. Communications are essential to nearly every type of organizational setting, and this field focuses on effective communication and organizational problem-solving, among other important skills.

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