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What Does a Career in Organizational Leadership Entail?

Earning your organizational leadership bachelor’s, master’s, or even an associate organizational leadership degree doesn’t mean that you’re going to be a great manager. Organizational leaders have knowledge and skills which are critical to communicating their organization’s mission, which allows them to help their company’s officers and employees develop the mission and work in concert with the organizational business model. Once you, as a business management professional, have all of these, you should be able to use your leadership skills to begin work on a strategic plan and business goals.

You also need to be able to understand just how much the organization will be affected by all the changes that you’re putting in place. Make sure that the company frequently appraises its function and services, finding any weak areas that need work. As you are doing all this, make sure that the company’s momentum is moving forward through all of these changes. Those who are knowledgeable in business and management will use knowledge and skills in human resources management, conflict management, critical thinking, training and development, public relations, social sciences, and knowledge of the public and private sectors to make this a reality.


Components of a Successful Career in Organizational Leadership

Several separate, but vital components make success in organizational leadership more likely. These include:

  • Strategic leadership, where you have to recognize divergent viewpoints inside and outside your organization (such as with public relations). You'll also recognize and anticipate market changes.
  • Organizational analysis, observing and reviewing the working environment, its development, organizational operations, and personnel are all also vital. You’re going to use your knowledge and skills to perform periodic analyses as you look for areas where beneficial changes can be made.
  • Overall vision, which you may have to develop and communicate to company officers and employees. You will discern short-term business goals, personal as well as team, then align them with the company’s mission.

Conflicts develop in any workplace. As an organizational leader, you’ll take the point position in dealing with all levels of conflict within your organization. Conflicts range from divergent political views, philosophical differences, and opposing views of long-term organizational goals. If these go unresolved, productivity can be hurt, and trust levels fall. Your role will be to help develop creative collaboration using your well-honed leadership skills. This won’t happen right away; it takes time and requires honest discussion, constructive criticism, and a division of responsibilities to employees with the business and management skills to handle them. You’ll establish objectives and priorities and help various team members to compromise on issues by using critical thinking and conflict management.

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How to Earn an Online Degree in Organizational Leadership (Mini Steps Guide)

What Can You Do with an Organizational Leadership Degree?

In an organizational leadership position, you’ll be able to hold and carry out one of several roles, which includes:

download-program-guideHuman Resources Manager—In this role, you’ll oversee the directing, planning, and coordination of a company. You’ll manage the human resources department, recruit job applicants, interview them, and extend job offers. You’re also a liaison between employees and the company’s managerial team.

Training and Development Manager—Your role will be to train and help develop new and current hires, so they improve their current skills, becoming more valuable to the organization. You’re responsible for determining the need for employee training, overseeing the training budget, and creating the educational materials your employees will use.

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Postsecondary Education Administrator—You may oversee student services, academics and faculty research, and the management a college or university. Depending on the institution, you may manage more than one department or school. Your duties may range from maintenance of student and course records, enrollment, advising students on housing issues, and facilitating the resolution of academic or personal issues.

Typical Online Organizational Leadership Degree Requirements

As you enter an online organizational leadership degree program, you should know what will be required of you to graduate.

You'll need to complete a minimum of around 128 semester credit hours.
Most of these will be general education courses, at least until you start courses meant for your organizational leadership degree program specifically. Within your major, you'll complete 32 graded credit hours of organizational leadership courses, to include four upper division major courses, resulting in 12 credit hours.

Organizational leadership students should achieve and hold an overall GPA (grade point average) of at least 2.0 or a C for all courses taken at your college or state university of choice. Your GPA for the courses in your major should be at least 2.2. This may be different for whatever university you choose, as each school makes their own rules.

Typical Online Organizational Leadership Degree Certifications Needed

Your eventual role as an organizational leader means you’re going to wear several hats, all of them equally important. You’ll be involved right at the center of activity within the organization that hires you, which could be in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

With this in mind, you should learn advanced communication skills. Conflict management will be at the heart of your job role, as will team building and managing the organizational changes that you and company leaders will be putting in place. General business courses will take up a lot of your credit hours.

Once you graduate, you should be ready to study for and take the exam for the Society of Human Resource Manager (SHRM) Certified Professional, the Associate Professional in Human Resources (aPHR), or the Senior Professional Human Resources (SPHR) certifications.

Academic Standards for an Online Organizational Leadership Degree

download-program-guideYou’ll have to demonstrate mastery of several areas. Leadership skills—knowing how to create a vision, plan strategically, and manage the change in your organization will be vital. You should be able to search for and find the most recent and best available research on leadership and change and apply evidence-based practices to the changes within your organization. You should also exhibit managerial skills in management of personnel, their safety, information systems, workplace technology, and budgeting and finances.

Exam/Experience Needed for an Online Organizational Leadership Degree

This profession requires that you be certified to be able to carry out your job role. You’ll have to study for and take the exam administered by the Society of Human Resource Managers (SHRM). Once you pass, you’ll receive your certification.

Online Associate Degree in Leadership

At the associate’s level, the Human Resources and Organizational Leadership degree allows you to learn about fundamental leadership concepts, management, human resources, business ethics, and marketing. You’ll be working in management at the lowest level — you’ll be assisting those managers who graduated with either their bachelor’s or master’s in organizational leadership.

You’ll work on managing the organization’s budget, developing training sessions, interviewing, and hiring new employees. You may also be involved in defusing conflicts among departments or employees.

Classes you may take:

  • Oral Communication
  • Humanities
  • Math
  • Natural Sciences (Biology, for instance)
  • Social Sciences (Principles of Economics)
  • Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomics

Core Courses:

  • Principles of Finance
  • Business Capstone
  • Training and Development
  • Introduction to Organizational Leadership
  • Introduction to Human Resource Management
  • Introduction to Functional and Project Management
  • Employment Law
Learn More About an Online Associates in Leadership

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Leadership

The Bachelor of Applied Science in Organizational Leadership gives you the tools to work in a world that is ever more global and technological. You’ll learn practical competencies for the workplace that you can apply to today’s challenges, as well as those of the future. Your courses will be drawn from real life and will use personalized academic mentoring and tutoring.

You’ll learn team building, develop your communication skills, work on ethical decision making, people skills, and develop your ability to think critically. When you graduate, you’ll be an attractive employee for businesses, government, educational environments, and non-profits.

Online Bachelor’s degree sample courses

  • Beginning Spanish, I and II for non-Spanish speakers (part of your lower division electives)
  • Human Resources Management
  • Organizational Behavior
  • Principles of Finance
  • Supervision
  • Business Principles
    • (Electives)
      • Business Law
      • Small Business Management Entrepreneurship
      • Principles of Financial Accounting
      • Principles of Economics (Macro)
      • Elementary Statistical Methods
      • Introduction to Criminal Justice
      • Introduction to Ecommerce Leadership
  • (Upper Division)
  • Issues in Organizational Leadership
  • Data Driven Decision-Making, I
  • Data Driven Decision-Making, II
  • Behavior/Ethics Leadership, I
  • Behavior/Ethics Leadership, II
  • Management Theory, I
  • Management Theory, II
  • Organizational Change
  • Capstone, I
  • Capstone, II

If you have found (or you have been told) that you have a natural teaching ability, or that you’re a natural leader, then you may be a wonderful fit in a role as an organizational leader. A few natural personality traits, such as humility and a sense of ethics, will equip you for this role. You’ll be able to work on these natural abilities and traits and continue to develop even more.

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Online Master’s Degree in Leadership

The online master’s program in organizational leadership provides the skills and knowledge that, when you graduate, will allow you to lead any organization where you choose to work.

Online Master’s degree sample courses

  • (Foundation courses)
  • Mathematics and Statistics for Business
  • Economics for Business
  • (Courses for Major)
  • Human Behavior in Organizations
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Leading Change
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Responsible Corporate Leadership
  • Organizational Leadership Capstone
Learn More About an Online Master's in Leadership

Some Online Concentrations for a Bachelors/Masters in Organizational Leadership

Concentrations (specializations) are only offered for some master’s programs. These include

  • Global Management
  • Human Resources Management
  • Media Management
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Project Management
  • Public Administration
  • Standard MA/Organizational Management
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Organizational Leadership
Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Career Median Annual Salary
Associate’s $32,000 $46,594
Bachelor’s $46,000 $70,368
Master’s $53,000 $86,178

Associates Bachelors, Masters with Cost Range for Each
Depending on what level of education you complete within this major (associate’s, bachelor’s and master’s), there will be a significant difference in the level of pay you can expect. With an associate’s, you’ll be earning approximately $800/week; a bachelor’s degree means you may earn nearly $1,250/week; at the master’s level, expect to earn between $1,300 and $1,400 per week.

What Can I Do with a Degree in Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership covers a wide range of careers. Once you graduate, you’ll be able to work in such fields as project and team management or ethical and biblical principles for leadership (for graduates from a Christian university).

Project management will prepare you to lead a team as you complete projects, whether those projects involve training or corporate reorganization or even the production of a new product. Public administration studies will give you the ability to work in the public sector, including government projects or non-profit organizations.

In whatever position you accept, you’ll find yourself managing projects, assigning tasks to others, supervising staff and, at the top of your career, leading an organization. You’ll be able to accept positions throughout a broad range of sectors, from private to the government to non-profits.

Fields of Study

  • Project Management: With a focus in this field, you may find yourself leading a team in the production of software, leading a construction project, or otherwise the leader of some specific change within your company. You’ll need to make sure the project happens on time and under budget.
  • Supply Chain Management: With a focus in this area, you will find yourself responsible for warehousing materials or products, shipping out those products, and having new materials for production shipped in. You’ll do this in a continual loop so that you are never warehousing too much at any one time and never run out of material for the production process.
  • Public Administration: With this degree, you may end up the head of a large non-profit, a government department, or any company that works closely with the government. Your schooling will prepare you to deal with the constraints of law that govern these entities and the constant need to positive public relations or even fundraising.

Organizational Leadership Careers and Salary

Education administrators’ median annual salary for a bachelor’s degree is $52,000; for a master’s degree, this rises to $75,000.

The $23,000 gap in median wage between the bachelor’s and master’s level is due to the previous experience the master’s graduate has accumulated. Graduate students in organizational management will be learning material that is much more detailed and difficult. These students graduate ready to lead major projects. They are also ready, at the least, to helm a large department, if not an entire organization.

A training and development manager man have graduated with a degree in organizational management. The training and development manager is responsible for spotting areas where the employees of their organization need additional training and education. They oversee their training and development staff and assess the needs of employees for training.

Office manager may not sound like a big deal, but in large organizations this can be a hectic and rewarding position, requiring you to deal with every department in the company and keep things running smoothly at every level.

Operations managers would oversee separate departments in a large corporate structure. This could mean that they oversee warehousing, product production lines, or client services. They take care of day-to-day operations for their department and make sure everything runs smoothly within it.

Career Options for Organizational Leaders

  • Human Resources Manager: This career involves effectively managing a small team of human resources professionals who, in turn, perform many managerial duties for the entire firm. That is, you'll help hire, fire, train, and provide benefits to an entire company. A degree in organizational leadership will certainly prepare you for these responsibilities.
  • Sales Manager: Every sales team needs an effective leader who can provide the proper motivations and organize the group effectively. With a degree in organizational leadership, you'll be able to determine exactly how to utilize the individual strengths of your employees to enhance the bottom line. This sort of background will also help you attract, hire, and train the very best fits for your organization.

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  • Hospital Administrator: This title is applied to management in the hospital setting, so a degree in organizational leadership should apply just as well. The tools you gain from a degree in organizational leadership will apply when you hire the best professionals to help run your organization. Whether you are hiring administrative or clinical professionals, your degree will provide the background you need.
  • Project Manager: When you are charged with organizing and managing teams of technology, finance, and management professionals you can rely on your training in organizational leadership. In fact, you might find that you can also provide consultation for the client on matters related to human resources or general management.

Organizational Leadership Salaries by Career

Income levels Entry-Level Median Annual Salary Mid-Career Median Annual Salary Late-Career Median Annual Salary
Non-Profit Program Manager $44,500 $54,900 $60,000
Human Resources Managers $51,300 $68,500 $75,200
Operations Manager $51,200 $65,600 $79,500
Director of Supply Chain Management $83,200 $115,200 $134,400
Human Resources Director $55,600 $82,100 $100,500
Office Manager $43,100 $48,100 $54,700
Project Manager $56,000 $77,700 $90,800
Non-Profit, Director of Development $56,100 $65,800 $77,900
Executive Director $54,300 $71,500 $101,200

Important Questions to Ask (FAQ)

How Long Does It Take to Earn an Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s Degree Online?

download-program-guide The online organizational leadership degree has been designed so you’ll be able to graduate in about two years (any transfer credits you have may affect this). Your course load each term will also affect how long you are in the program.

Because you’re going to be taking your classes 100% online, you’ll need to exert self-discipline, so you stay on track to graduate on time.

How Much Does an Online Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s Degree Cost?

The per-credit tuition charge for undergraduate students is around $520 per credit hour; graduate tuition charge is around $522 per credit hour. (This can vary greatly depending on your state and the college or university you choose, so make sure you do your research.) For both levels, the online cost does include program fees. There are usually not out-of-state tuition rates in online programs.

If you are going for an online certificate in organizational leadership, the fee per credit hour runs from $595 to $1,153. Again, there are no additional program fees and no out-of-state tuition rate.

Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s Degree Coursework

Once you have taken your general education courses, you’ll begin taking the courses for your organizational leadership major. These include classes in introduction to leadership, understanding organizational behavior, social conflict and negotiation, microeconomics, and human resource management.

All of these courses are design to teach the sciences of psychology and business. You’ll learn about, and use, evidence-based practices as you begin to develop creative solutions, obtain results, and effectively manage change.

Does the School Have the Major(s) You’re Considering?

Not all schools in the U.S. carry all the same majors. As you are comparing schools, you’ll need to check each university to see which ones carry the organizational leadership major.

Once you find out which universities have this, it’s time to figure out which university is the right one for you. Assess yourself and your needs—if necessary, visit the Career Services office at each university and take career self-assessments. You want to be sure that this is the right major for your personality and career goals.

How Many Students Graduate “On Time,” in Four Years?

The longer you stay in school past the four-year mark, the less likely you are to graduate. It’s harder to get scholarships or grants after you’ve been in your program for four years or longer.

When universities audit how long their students have been in school, they put penalties on the ones who have not been making satisfactory academic progress. These students may be required to take out student loans or borrow from their parents so they can finish their degrees.

Universities, as a whole, don’t do a good job of letting students know that, in order to graduate in four years, they need to take a full course load (15 credit hours per semester). Taking 12 credits a semester, they fall behind, even though they are passing all their classes.

What Kind of Accreditation Does the Online Program Hold? How is it Regarded in the Field?

download-program-guide Because the organizational leadership degree is usually housed in the college of business at most universities, agencies that accredit business programs, such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP) and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) oversee and accredit organizational leadership programs. These agencies accredit high-quality business schools and programs worldwide. Those institutions that have been accredited have only the highest standards of education for their students. Their main focus is on student learning outcomes and offering only the education relevant to today’s marketplace.

The Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC) concerns itself only with distance education programs or online education.

If a university/college business program or organizational leadership program holds several accreditations from different agencies, you know it’s more likely to be a high-quality educational program.

Software/Technology/Skills Needed

As you enter an online organizational leadership program, you’ll need to have certain skills, such as communication, ability to solve problems, manage resources carefully, and use emerging technologies in organizations.

Not everyone has all of these skills. If you have a few of them, you’ll learn how to make them stronger so that, once you graduate, you’ll be able to walk into a position as an organizational leader in nearly any industry: healthcare provider, government, business, non-profit, or the service industry.

Organizational Leadership Scholarships

  • SNHU Honors Program Scholarship
    Southern New Hampshire University provides a $2,000 scholarship to students who have been accepted into either the Bradley Three Year Honors program in Business Administration or the University Honors Program. This scholarship is renewable, allowing students to continue to participate in the Honors Program. This scholarship can be used to defray educational costs of students who are majoring in Organizational Leadership.

  • Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Scholarship
    A small number of $1,000 scholarships are awarded to FBLA participants. To qualify, the student’s advisor must submit a letter of recommendation to demonstrate that the student is participating in FBLA. Students must be enrolled in the full-time undergraduate program to receive this scholarship.

  • Connie L. Brick Memorial Annual Scholarship
    Domo, the cloud-based executive management platform, has a $125 million in funding for scholarships. It provides $2,500 for students to promote business leadership in the global marketplace. Applicants must major in business administration or a closely related field, at a four-year U.S. university, exhibit financial need, and have a strong interest in This adult degree scholarship is intended for the general student population—a student in any educational program can apply for it.

    Connie Brick was a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. At the time of her death, she was employed by West Corp as a training specialist—her undergraduate and graduate degrees were both in the Organizational Leadership field.

  • Patricia L. Hoppe Memorial Scholarship
    The Patricia L. Hoppe Memorial Scholarship, established in 2000 in the memory of Patricia (Trish) Hoppe, who was a student in the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay Extended Degree program when she passed away in 1999 after fighting cancer. While she was fighting cancer, she was also providing emotional support to two friends who also had cancer.

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  • Rick and Susie Beverstein Annual Scholarship
    This adult degree scholarship honors both Rick and Susie Beverstein, community advocates for University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Rick was a member of the Founders Association Board of Directors, serving from 1988 through 2002. The Beverstein’s support extends throughout the entire university, and the establishment of this scholarship is additional proof of their support.

Professional Organizational Leadership Organizations

  • ALDA
  • ALP
  • ASAE
  • ALE

American Leadership Development Association (ALDA)

American Leadership Development Association (ALDA)

As an international network association for everyone who is studying, practicing, teaching or preaching leadership, ALDA works hard to develop leaders. Leadership affects social organizations across the spectrum.

ALDA is working hard to help advance a deeper, stronger understanding of the knowledge of leadership, as well as practicing for the benefit of communities and individuals all over the world. Overall, ALDA’s goals are to bring together all leaders, wherever they are in the world, so they can help to develop new leaders.


Association of Leadership Programs (ALP)

Association of Leadership Programs (ALP)

ALP invites leadership professionals who are working to do good things for their communities. ALP recognizes excellence, shares the best organizational practices, encourages innovation, and advocates building networks with leadership colleagues.

This organization also provides educational training and development that advances effective community leadership programs and leadership professionals.

Established as a 501 (c)(3), the Association of Leadership Programs’ main goal is to foster and extend the work of the Association of Leadership Professionals. Both organizations (ALP and Association of Leadership Programs) merged in 2012 into one entity that includes leadership programs and professionals.


American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)

This group is aimed at organization executives, encompassing both association professionals and companies. ASAE believes that organizations such as theirs are able to transform American society for the better.

ASAE’s main goal is to help professional members to achieve levels they may have believed were not achievable. They nurtures their members, giving them encouragement to actively use their inborn traits of creativity and intelligence. ASAE helps to build knowledge with its database and resources, fosters community, and enables learning experiences.


Association of Leadership Educators (ALE)

Association of Leadership Educators (ALE)

This organization is purely a volunteer, grassroots organization, fostering collaboration, inclusivity, and adaptability. ALE strongly encourages dialogue, believing that this is one of the keys to growing the field of leadership development and helping association members to develop their fullest leadership capability.

ALE educators use work that has been based in empirical knowledge and practical experience. Educational initiatives are actively promoted. These initiatives have been carefully designed to provide support to organizations, communities, and people.

Choosing an Online Accredited College

Accreditation is much more than the pretty seal on a university’s website—it is the carefully considered recognition that an educational institution works to maintain a specific set of educational standards for its students and graduates as they work to move into gainful employment. Accreditation lets you and your future employers know that your education meets a high level of quality.

Accrediting agencies are private educational associations recognized by the Department of Education—they accredit institutions in a specific region or nationwide. They develop specific criteria for evaluation and determine whether those criteria have been met. Once an educational institution meets the accrediting agency’s criteria, it’s set.

Online vs On-Campus vs Hybrid

Traditional and online course delivery have different formats, but their end goal is the same. Traditional courses are taught with you physically present on-campus. You usually meet with fellow students and your professor for one hour a session two or three times a week.

Online courses are taught through resources you can access through an online portal (although students can meet face-to-face one or two times during the term). You need to be highly motivated to stay up-to-date with your assignments, forum discussions, and exams. Your professors will make an effort to interact with you more in this format. You’ll be encouraged to interact with fellow students online as well.

Hybrid courses are a mix of both on-campus and online — you could spend about 30% of the course on-campus, with the remaining 70% online. Another possibility is that your program may only have you spend a week-long residency on the actual campus or call you in for specific seminars or events. Your professors choose what materials they will teach on-campus. This could include labs, for instance, which may not work for online students.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the College Have Post-Graduate Job Placement Help and Assistance?

Some, though not all, universities have a Career Development and Placement Office where you’ll receive pre-graduate or post-graduate assistance in preparing your resume, practicing for interviews, and seeking the professional position you want. In addition, some universities will help you develop a plan for your professional future.

Your university may set up job fairs and enable you to meet with future employers or graduate school recruiters. The entire mission of Career Services is to aid your career establishment and advancement.

Why You Need to Consider How Rating/Accreditation can Affect Your Salary

Those rankings published in career sites and magazines can serve a purpose—but they aren’t the be-all, end-all of college choice.

The rankings are subjective, not objective. The college you ultimately choose should be based on what is right for your needs and future plans. Visit the campuses of the universities you’re interested in. Tour each one and figure out how each campus makes you feel. Learning style, intellectual interests, social character, and your talents are all areas to consider.

Accreditation allows you to get access to financial aid. If you are interested in an online program that doesn’t hold accreditation, you won’t get financial aid—it’s too risky for financial aid programs, scholarships, and student loan companies.

Is an organizational leadership degree worth it?

If you aim to work in management in nearly any industry, then an organizational leadership degree could be worth earning. If you work in a field or industry that requires a lot of specialized knowledge, then it could still take a long time to move into management, but most businesses and industries can make good use of organizational leaders in their power structure. These professionals know everything there is to know about getting organizations through complex problems as well as helping them to commit to organizational change. Because business is such a high-pay field, you can expect an organizational leadership degree to be more than worth it in the long run.

Is organizational leadership a social science?

While leadership studies are often seen as being part of the social sciences or the humanities, organizational leadership tends to focus on leading within a business. Because of this, these degrees might have a focus on the human side of business, but they still focus on business.

What soft skills might you gain in an organizational leadership program that are vital to working in a business environment?

An organizational leadership degree program can help you learn how to supervise people better and how to work with large groups. They do this by teaching you how to problem-solve and make decisions based on data. Not only will you learn to make decisions, but you will learn how to get a team to buy into changes that the company is making. Team buy-in is vital in enacting change. You’ll also learn to motivate your teams. This is an important thing for any leader to do, whether they are introducing changes or just trying to improve sales numbers. Other focuses of organizational leadership include communication, ethics, respect, and inclusion.


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