Organizational leadership is a multidisciplinary academic field of study that focuses on leadership in organizational contexts in professional, business, and other applied fields.
As an academic field of study, organizational leadership has been of interest to scholars from a wide variety of disciplinary backgrounds.
Today, there are numerous academic programs with specific concentrations in organizational leadership. According to the Journal of Leadership Studies, it has become one of the fastest-growing academic fields in higher education.
Some schools may just have courses in the area, while others have full degree programs such as a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. This article highlights the 20 best online master’s degree programs in Organizational Leadership.
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1. Saint Louis University (St. Louis, MO)
Saint Louis University offers a Master in Leadership & Organizational Development degree. It is a 36-hour program designed for working professionals who wish to pursue a degree while maintaining employment.
Courses are offered in an online format with optional discussion meetings in an accelerated eight-week term. It is a project-based program that focuses on three levels of development: personal, interpersonal/group, and organizational.
Personal development includes topics such as making ethical decisions and being innovative or creative. Interpersonal or group development focuses on areas such as mentoring and collaborative learning. And organizational development focuses on topics such as project management and strategic vision.
Students’ leadership competencies are assessed. They must also develop a personal leadership plan and execute an action-based research project that adds value to their organization.
Saint Louis University is ranked nationally, and as the #84 Best Business School in the country, by U.S. News & World Report.
2. Gonzaga University (Spokane, WA)
Gonzaga University offers a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership. It is an interdisciplinary, online program that combines the disciplines of the social sciences, communications, arts and humanities, and business.
Some courses include organizational ethics, leadership and imagination, organizational communications, and leadership and diversity.
The curriculum is designed to expand the student’s ability for creative thinking, innovative problem-solving, and inspirational leadership. Specific competencies include forging alliances, building hope and contagious confidence, inspiring a shared vision, turning details into action, and thinking creatively.
Gonzaga University has a diverse student body and small class sizes to facilitate learning, networking within the classes, and student-instructor interaction.
3. Quinnipiac University (Hamden, CT)
Quinnipiac University offers a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. It is a 33-hour program that fosters six essential areas for growth and development: self-awareness and growth, interpersonal communication skills, ethics of leadership, understanding and using data to improve performance, understanding and leading organizations and culturally diverse teams, and strategic analysis and implementation.
Contemporary topics such as corporate social responsibility, corporate ethics, and emotional intelligence are also in the program of study.
Students can choose from four tracks of study: human resource leadership, public service/nonprofit leadership, strategic leadership, or health care management.
In 2013, Quinnipiac’s online graduate business programs were named among the nation’s best in U.S. News & World Report and the school was among the best 296 business schools according to the Princeton Review.
4. University of Denver (Denver, CO)
The University of Denver’s Business School offers a Master in Management and Organization Specialization in Leadership degree. The program prepares students for upper-level management roles in the public and private sectors through an advanced understanding of how to manage interpersonal dynamics, effectively design organizations, and implement change.
Classes are held in the day, evenings, and online so students can attend classes at times that work for them. Students can even choose to blend campus and online courses.
The 30 core semester hours provide advanced understanding, while a specialization extends the student’s experience into an area of their choice. They offer several areas of specialization, including business strategy, change and innovation, enterprise technology management, entrepreneurship and innovation, global management, leadership, managing human resources, managing for sustainability, quantitative decision methods, sports and entertainment management, and strategic management.
Twelve elective hours are required in the student’s area of specialization.
5. Saint Joseph’s University (Philadelphia, PA)
Saint Joseph’s University offers a Master’s degree in Organization Development and Leadership. The online degree develops leaderships skills in real time to apply towards the student’s current career.
Along with the online courses, students meet face-to-face with fellow classmates and their professors to learn the intricacies of human interaction, while building powerful personal and professional connections.
There are 36 credit hours designed to be completed in as little as two years. Some of the courses include leading teams, strategic leadership, the coaching leader, and creative problem-solving. Students also take part in facilitative leadership clinics that provide an overview of the fundamental competencies of facilitative leadership and their relationship to guiding organizational change.
Rooted in theory and built on real-world experience, the degree provides a process where students draw from the expertise of their faculty and develop themselves as leaders throughout the program.
6. Colorado State University-Global Campus (Greenwood Village, CO)
Colorado State University (CSU)-Global Campus offers an Online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree. Students gain the knowledge and skills needed to become successful in the complex changes in our global society through developing people and processes, and implementing strategic initiatives in order to maintain a competitive advantage.
There are nine core courses, such as leading diverse teams, leadership development, and organizational leadership. Then, students choose four courses (among 14 offered) to specialize their degree to their career interests. Some specialization courses include accounting, human resource performance, project management, and information technology.
The capstone course is designed for students to apply research and established theory to design an innovative and original approach to address a current problem within the field of organizational leadership.
U.S. News & World Report ranks CSU-Global Campus #43 on their list of Best Online Graduate Business Programs..
7. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota (Minneapolis, MN)
Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota offers as Master of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership. It is a 20-month program consisting of five themed semesters to simulate the real interconnectedness and complexity of today’s work environment.
The five themes include Learning Leader, Connected Leader, Adaptive Leader, Global Leader, and Strategic Leader. Each theme consists of three to five topics for a total of 17 topics such as critical thinking, collaboration, and decision-making.
It is a flexible program with a diverse student body and committed faculty to help students maximize the student’s lifelong potential for ongoing personal and professional growth.
8. Regis University (Denver, CO)
Regis University offers a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree. Both online and on-campus classes are offered to provide an intensive and integrated learning experience.
The degree plan is designed to explore leadership from a strategic perspective, while providing students with the opportunity to cultivate their critical thinking skills, to create vision based on ethical values, and to take risks and institute change within an organization. The program includes 30 credit hours in courses such as leading change and innovation, making decisions in organizations, and strategic leadership.
Through a partnership between Regis’s College of Professional Studies and Universidad del Turabo in Puerto Rico, students can earn an M.S. in Organizational Leadership as part of the online, dual-language program.
9. Azusa Pacific University College (Azusa, CA)
University College (UC), formerly known as Azusa Pacific University, offers students from all walks of life affordable, online academic programs that integrate faith and knowledge. Built upon a broad foundation of liberal arts and a Christian worldview, UC strives to educate the whole person, giving meaning and purpose to the skills and knowledge they gain through their studies—preparing them to make a difference in the world.
UC offers an Online Master of Arts degree in Leadership and Organizational Studies. It is a cohort program with 18–24 students each, where students take courses together in a specified sequence, beginning a new course every eight weeks.
The average length of the program is 20 months, containing 30 program units such as group and team dynamics, leadership in managerial ethics, and conflict and negotiation in organizations.
The entire program can be completed online.
10. University of South Dakota (Vermillion, SD)
The University of South Dakota offers a Master of Science in Administration with a specialization in Organizational Leadership degree. It is a cross-disciplinary program that provides the primary tools and organizational skills necessary to effectively perform administrative roles in public service–oriented organizations.
There are 24 hours of required core courses, such as professional writing and administrative and managerial communications; three hours in organizational leadership and advanced theory and practice; and three electives, such as leadership development, organizational management, and leading organizational change.
The degree plan is designed to enhance the leadership skills of administrators from a variety of organizational settings and sectors. The course work is both theoretical and practical, with the goal of developing organizational leaders who have an administrative role.
11. Lewis University (Romeoville, IL)
Lewis University offers an Online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree. The program is focused on professional development in several areas such as motivation, critical thinking, managing conflict, and ethics.
It is a 37-hour degree program with core courses such as assessing leadership skills; ethics, integrity, and social responsibility; and conflict management. Then students can choose a concentration in five different areas: Organizational Management, Not-for-Profit Management, Training and Development, Higher Education Student Services, and Organizational and Leadership Coaching.
The courses are eight weeks long, and generally students take blend of courses, finishing the degree in about 18 months.
12. Norwich University (Northfield, VT)
Norwich University offers a degree in Master Public Administration with a concentration in Leadership. The program attracts working professionals from a wide range of industry sectors and helps them gain the knowledge and skills needed to advance their careers and make a greater difference in the communities they serve.
Students focus their studies on a concentration of their choice in five different areas, one being organizational leadership. They take three core curriculum classes worth 18 hours and then select two more courses from the organizational leadership track, which includes strategic communications and informational leadership; strategic organizational behavior as leadership in organizations; and developing a learning organization for the knowledge-based economy.
Each of these fulfills six hours of credit. This provides a 30-hour program, which can be completed in 18 months.
During their final seminar, students also develop a capstone project that outlines a practical or theoretical solution to an existing program, policy, or operation.
13. Robert Morris University (Pittsburgh, PA)
Robert Morris University offers an Online Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. It is an interdisciplinary degree plan that builds on the student’s experience in a wide variety of institutions and industries.
The program provides students with a deeper understanding of how leaders and followers are successful through theories in strategies of leadership, conflict negotiation, critical thinking, and ethics and change, as well as how to manage information and technology, and analyze human behavior in cultural contexts.
There are seven required courses such as leadership and ethics, and conflict resolution. In addition, there are six electives such as group dynamics and interpersonal relations, and cultural dynamics and leadership.
Robert Morris University provides flexible course offerings that cater to business professionals’ work schedules. Students learn while networking and building strong relationships with experienced faculty, fellow students, and local business leaders.
14. University of Wisconsin-Platteville (Platteville, WI)
The University of Wisconsin-Platteville offers a Master of Science degree in Organizational Change Leadership (MSOCL). This program provides students practical application of organizational leadership skills and develops expertise in areas such as critical thinking and decision-making.
Ultimately the MSOCL prepares students to lead organizations as a change managers or consultants. It is a 100% on-line program with 18-core credit hours, including organizational behavior, organizational communication, and strategic thinking and change.
Students then take 12–15 hours of electives, such as consumer behavior, business ethics, and employee training and development. There are eight classes to choose from these electives.
It is a 30-hour program designed to be completed in two years.
15. Fort Hays State University (Hays, KS)
Fort Hays State University offer as Masters of Liberal Studies degree. It is a flexible degree program that focuses on intellectual, social, and moral growth to help the student foster the love of learning.
There are 10 hours of core curriculum classes, followed by a student’s specific area of concentration, which can include Art, e-Learning Professional, Educational Leadership and Management (with Administration, Instructional, and Technology subspecialties), Global Studies, Gerontology, Global Management, Literary Arts, Health Sciences, Instructional Sciences, Management Information Systems, Political Leadership and Public Service, Political Science, Public Administration, or Social Networking Management.
Eighteen hours are included in the area of specialization, followed by three hours of “culmination experience,” totaling 31 hours. Overall, the concentration or degree plan students select provides opportunities for them to systematically explore a wide realm of knowledge and wisdom to help them better understand themselves, others, and the world around them.
16. Southern New Hampshire University (Manchester, NH)
Southern New Hampshire University offers a Master of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. The degree is offered both online and on-campus for students to learn about theoretical and practical approaches to leadership, preparing them for today’s changing and fast-paced business environment.
Southern New Hampshire University is accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. Students can complete the Organizational Leadership master’s degree in as few as 18 months, with two courses per 11-week term.
The degree program provides added value for a broad range of positions in the corporate world, as well as at nonprofit and educational institutions. The skills obtained can set the stage for an exciting career in successfully managing and leading companies through change.
Classes are taught by experienced faculty with real-world experience. Students participate in classroom and online discussions, group projects, and case studies.
17. Our Lady of the Lake University (San Antonio, TX)
Our Lady of the Lake University offer a Master’s of Science degree in Organizational Leadership. Rooted in ethics, the online MS in Organizational Leadership offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that explores the research and theory of leadership, as well as its real-world applications to the specific needs of different types of organizations and the various challenges they face.
The Organizational Leadership program curriculum covers core areas of leadership theory, research, strategy, and current topics and trends such as servant leadership, multicultural and gender issues, and the social context of leadership.
Students move through the program as a cohort, which builds a community of learning and support. In addition, as members of a university committed to teaching, the MS in Organizational Leadership faculty are always ready to provide extra guidance and one-on-one help when needed.
This network of assistance not only helps students succeed in the program, but also fosters valuable relationships with fellow classmates and the school.
18. Colorado Technical University (Colorado Springs, CO)
Colorado Technical University offers a Master of Science degree in Management with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Change. The degree plan is designed to broaden the student’s understanding of theory, research, strategy, and methodology pertaining to organizational leadership.
It covers the roles and responsibilities of leadership, approaches to leading change initiatives, plus individual and group reaction to change, while emphasizing skills for improving organizational effectiveness.
There are seven core courses, including leadership and ethical decision-making, organizational behavior, and applied managerial marketing. Then, a student chooses a concentration in one of the following areas: management capstone, introduction to organizational leadership and change, strategic change management, foundation of organizational design, or leadership and organizational power.
There are 48 program hours with learning outcomes that include investigating leadership roles and responsibilities, researching and discussing individual and group reaction to change, and the differentiation between various organizational designs and strategic implementation.
19. University of the Rockies (Denver, CO)
The University of the Rockies offers a Master of Arts degree in Organizational Development and Leadership. This program is designed to navigate students through complex organizational systems, and to apply psychological research to develop employees.
Students learn to assess an organization’s performance, structure, and development, while extending their range of professional ethics, leadership skills, and coaching techniques.
The program consists of 39 credit hours, plus a comprehensive exam at the end of the program. Topics covered in courses include management and leadership, teams and organizations, and executive coaching, among others, to provide career opportunities in areas such as operations management, corporate training, organizational development, and consulting.
The online format course schedule is flexible. Students can take online courses one at a time, and courses are offered in an accelerated six-week format and can be accessed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
20. Ashford University (San Diego, CA)
Ashford University offers a Master in Organizational Management degree with a specialization in Organizational Leadership. The program is accredited by the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE).
The program has several outcomes, including analyzing common behavioral factors that are present in organizations, developing processes and policies to manage human capital in organizations, and developing a framework of analysis for strategic planning, among others.
Students must complete 33 credit hours, and with the online format, students can take courses one at a time for six weeks each. The course content is delivered in a high-tech format, and students can complete weekly assignments when and where it is convenient for them, thanks to the asynchronous online environment.
Students also have the option of specializing in one of the following areas: global management, health care administration, human resource management, organizational leadership, project management, public administration, or supply chain management.
Potential careers may include advertising, sales, government, and non-profit organization, among others—however, it is recommended to speak to a university representative in regard to your interests.