Best Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees 2021

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Innovative professionals use organizational leadership principles to motivate team members and drive systemic change. An organizational leadership degree can help job seekers stand out as creative problem-solvers and ethical, empathetic team leaders.

Graduates can assume a variety of managerial roles offering competitive salaries and strong job growth. A master’s degree in organizational leadership provides a strong background for human resource managers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these professionals earn a median annual salary of $116,720, with projected job growth of 6% between 2019-2029.

Training and development managers earn a median yearly wage of $113,350 and can expect 7% job growth over the same period. Professionals with an organizational leadership background also find employment as management analysts, sales managers, and top executives in diverse industries.

Our guide spotlights some of the country’s top organizational leadership master’s degree programs, along with information about requirements, professional organizations, and scholarships.

Top 10 Best Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
2 Drury University Springfield, MO
3 Pepperdine University Malibu, CA
4 George Washington University Washington, DC
5 University of Kansas Lawrence, KS
6 Crown College Saint Bonifacius, MN
7 University of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville, WI
8 Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA
9 Western New England University Springfield, MA
10 Rider University Lawrenceville, NJ


  • Is a degree in organizational leadership worth it?

    Attending an organizational leadership program can unlock career mobility and enhance professional skills. This provides important benefits for many graduates, especially current or aspiring managers.

  • What is organizational leadership and why is it important?

    Organizational leadership emphasizes collaboration, adaptability, and emotional intelligence in a flexible, holistic paradigm. The field offers fresh approaches to complex challenges facing contemporary businesses and nonprofits.

  • What can I do with a leadership degree?

    An organizational leadership degree prepares graduates for managerial and executive positions in many industries. It also equips them for independent careers in consulting or coaching.

  • What is the difference between leadership and organizational leadership?

    Leadership refers generally to influencing and motivating others towards a goal. Organizational leadership embraces specific values and strategies designed to foster leadership capabilities throughout an organization.

What Are the Goals of an Organizational Leadership Degree?

A multidisciplinary management approach, organizational leadership draws on influences from business, social psychology, and learning theory. Organizational leadership degree programs integrate coursework from these and other disciplines. 

Courses in leadership theory and business operations teach students to analyze organizational challenges, define company values, and set strategic goals. Through studying communication, conflict resolution, and organizational culture and design, they foster inclusive workplaces. 

Organizational leadership programs feature concentrations such as human resources, training and development, or diversity and inclusion. Many schools offer a stand-alone organizational leadership master’s degree. Others present the subject as a specialization within business or education master’s programs.

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Why Get an Organizational Leadership Degree?

An organizational leadership degree offers many benefits for professionals seeking to enhance their management skills and pursue a career aligning with personal values.

Increased Salary
According to the BLS, earning a master’s increases earning potential across most industustries, particularly those attracting organizational leadership graduates.
Values-Driven Field
Organizational leadership emphasizes diversity and inclusion, empathy, and ethics. It provides tools to effect positive transformation and foster empowering organizational cultures.
Career Advancement
Many employers prefer to hire master’s-educated managerial candidates. A master’s degree in organizational leadership can help graduates advance within their workplaces or launch careers in new industries.
Interdisciplinary Education
Uniting business competencies and social science insights, organizational leadership degree programs may appeal to students seeking a more integrative approach than a typical MBA.
Customizable Degree
Many organizational leadership degree programs allow students to tailor their degree toward specific career goals or industries. These include healthcare, education, or the nonprofit sector.

What Are the Requirements for an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Organizational leadership master’s degree programs accept applicants with diverse undergraduate backgrounds. Typical application materials include resumes, recommendations, transcripts, and essays or personal statements. Some programs require a minimum GPA. Students may need to submit test scores, though admissions committees may waive them for applicants with strong grades. 

Graduation requirements vary by program. Students should expect to complete 30-36 credit hours. They will likely study leadership theory, ethics, and strategic planning. Courses also cover organizational behavior, research methods, and business communication. 

Many programs culminate with a capstone project, synthesizing knowledge and skills developed throughout the program. Capstone courses can involve experiential learning in a real-world organization, or they may focus on research. Completing a master’s degree in organizational leadership typically requires about two years of full-time study. Accelerated programs may graduate students in 18 months or less.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Professional Organizations for Organizational Leadership Students

Joining a professional organization demonstrates commitment to the field. Membership can give organizational leadership degree graduates a competitive edge on the job market. Student members can grow their professional networks, gain resume-boosting volunteer experience, and deepen their understanding of the field with continuing education opportunities.

American Management Association

Founded in 1923, AMA administers managerial certifications. It also provides skills assessment testing, online training, and virtual events. These focus on management topics such as strategic planning, women’s leadership, and diversity and inclusion. Student memstrongership includes free or discounted educational resources and access to pustronglications and research reports.

Organization Development Network

Dedicated to advancing the profession, the OD Network develops competency guidelines for practitioners and pustronglishes a quarterly journal. Memstrongers receive access to the network’s mentorship program, annual conference, jostrong strongoard, westronginars, and online community. An emerging practitioner program supports early-career professionals. Graduate students enjoy a discounted memstrongership rate.&nstrongsp;

International Leadership Association

ILA offers pustronglications and resources to inspire and connect leadership scholars, teachers, and practitioners. Memstrongers can network at conferences and online. Student strongenefits include internship opportunities, competitions, and awards. Full-time students qualify for memstrongership at the association’s lowest rate, strongut may not work full time.

International Society for Performance Improvement

ISPI administers performance improvement certifications and pustronglishes several journals devoted to current issues. It hosts an annual conference and in-person and online symposia and workshops. Student memstrongers can apply for research awards, receive career coaching, and volunteer through committee work and community service projects.

Scholarships for Organizational Leadership Students

Before entering an organizational leadership program, students should apply for financial aid. Among the most sought-after forms of aid for students in all majors, scholarships do not require repayment. The following scholarships represent some of the many funding opportunities availastrongle to organizational leadership master’s degree candidates.

  • NSLS Foundation Scholarship and Awards Program

    Who Can Apply: The National Society of Leadership and Success supports its memstrongers through training, mentorship, events, and career guidance. The leadership honor society offers need-strongased and achievement-strongased awards. Applicants must hold NSLS memstrongership. To strongecome a memstronger, students must stronge nominated strongy an instructor.

    Amount: $500 - $7,500

  • NBMBAA Collegiate Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: Since 1970, the National Black MBA Association has helped Black professionals develop their careers in strongusiness. The association partners with colleges, universities, and corporate sponsors to offer a rostrongust scholarship program. Geared toward graduate strongusiness students, most scholarships require NBMBAA memstrongership.

    Amount: $1,000 - $100,000

  • AfterCollege Business Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The scholarship strongenefits students enrolled in strongusiness-related programs at the associate, strongachelor's, master's, and doctoral levels, including those pursuing a master's degree in organizational leadership. Applicants need a minimum 3.0 GPA. According to the sponsoring organization, the applicant's personal statement constitutes the most important selection factor.

    Amount: $500

  • Prospanica Scholarship Program

    Who Can Apply: Sponsored strongy the premier organization devoted to promoting Hispanic achievement in strongusiness, Prospanica scholarships support graduate and undergraduate students of Hispanic or Latino/a heritage. Applicants must attend an accredited strongusiness program, hold a minimum 3.0 GPA or a GPA of 2.75, and strongoast two years of full-time work experience.

    Amount: $2,000 - $5,000

Best Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees 2021

See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Johns Hopkins University

    Baltimore, MD

    Johns Hopkins' master's in organizational leadership trains recent graduates and professionals looking to advance their career. The two-year program requires 10 courses. Learners take strategic planning for leaders, crisis mitigation, and team building. Students in the final-semester seminar work with a professor to create a custom research project.

    The Krieger School of Arts and Sciences provides career services. Students can use Handshake, People Grove, and Candid Career. Learners interested in working abroad use the GoinGlobal job board to see the latest positions and job-hunting strategies. Advisors provide free career-planning webinars to online learners.

    Johns Hopkins accepts applications on a rolling basis. The school offers three annual start dates. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. They submit a 750-word essay and a current resume. All students pay the same per-course tuition rate. Learners may qualify for an outside scholarship or employer tuition-reimbursement program.

  2. Drury University

    Springfield, MO

    Located in Springfield, Missouri, DU features an organizational leadership degree with major coursework in communications. Students customize their degree with electives, such as governance and executive leadership. Other elective options include social advocacy and social impact assessment. Learners without professional experience improve their resume by signing up for an optional internship.

    Drury provides virtual student services, such as tutors specializing in math or writing. Other student success mentors help learners with study skills and online learning basics. Online guides cover course scheduling best practices. Learners sign up for advising or tutoring sessions on the Drury website.

    Applicants submit official undergraduate transcripts. They also provide a one-page essay and recommendation letters. Students need at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA to apply. Drury charges the same tuition and fees to all graduate students. Incoming students submit FAFSA results to qualify for federal grants and institutional loans.

  3. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    Pepperdine's master's in organizational leadership attracts busy professionals wanting to improve their management skills. The curriculum includes program design and evaluation. Students learn how to manage teams and collaborate. Students in their final semester write an extended essay based on original research.

    Pepperdine's Career Services (CS) advisors gather top job-hunting resources, including webinars, informative videos, and one-on-one consultations. Learners pick a career track before working with an advisor. Other CS services include career design sessions and virtual career fairs. Alumni return to CS to attend online and in-person professional development events.

    Applicants submit official undergraduate transcripts. They also submit two recommendation letters and a statement of purpose. Prospective students without a 3.0 undergraduate GPA may still apply with an exceptional request form. Pepperdine's Graduate School of Education and Psychology maintains a list of private and institutional scholarships.

  4. George Washington University

    Washington, DC

    GW offers an organizational leadership master's degree. Coursework covers organizational change and leadership in organizations. The 30-credit program does not require a capstone and features many electives. Learning outcomes include the ability to use critical thinking and reflection skills in the workplace.

    Distance learners can use resources such as degree maps and an online registration tutorial. The Graduate School of Education and Human Development's new student orientation introduces students to academic advisors. GW offers many online student services, such as the Writing Center and Disability Support Services staff.

    GW accepts new students three times annually. Application requirements include two recommendation letters, unofficial transcripts, and a statement of purpose. A private institution, GW does not charge out-of-state tuition. Incoming students may qualify for federal grant and loan programs by submitting FAFSA results.

  5. University of Kansas

    Lawrence, KS

    KU's master's in organizational leadership prepares students for a new career and entry into an MBA program. The curriculum covers topics like ethical decision-making in business. Learners also study how to manage people. Students complete a capstone course in their final semester. Blackboard allows students to view course materials and complete assignments.

    The KU School of Business provides custom-tailored career advising. Learners benefit from resume critiques, job-search advice, and relocation strategies. Students make an appointment to learn more about these topics and create a custom career map. Alumni receive two free counseling sessions, as well.

    KU prefers applicants with 8-10 years of professional experience. Application materials include official undergraduate transcripts and a resume. Out-of-state students pay significantly more for their education than Kansas residents. Learners lower out-of-pocket costs by applying for federal, private, and institutional financial aid programs. KU also considers all incoming learners for university fellowships.

  6. Crown College

    Saint Bonifacius, MN

    Crown features a 36-credit master's in organizational leadership. Students take core classes in strategic planning, foundations of organizational theory, and ethical leadership. Learners pick an emphasis track from over a dozen options, such as nonprofit leadership and higher education. Students do not need to complete a capstone course or thesis to graduate.

    Crown's library provides over 230,000 e-books and research databases, and virtual appointments with library staff. Counseling and Career Center professionals help students plan for life after graduation and address issues affecting academic performance. Other resources include spiritual counseling.

    Applicants submit official undergraduate transcripts. Crown prefers applicants with a minimum 2.5 GPA. All learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Only full-time students qualify for institutional financial aid at Crown. Degree-seekers begin the financial aid application process by submitting FAFSA results.

  7. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

    Platteville, WI

    UW-Platteville's organizational leadership degree features four emphasis areas, including project management and safety risk control. Core classes include business analytics, organizational behavior, and strategic thinking and change. Learners in the final semester complete a research project or write a master's thesis.

    Students with and without professional experience can use UW-Platteville's career assessments and job-shadowing opportunities to find their next job. Career coaches assist learners with resume writing, professionalism skills, and networking strategies. Degree-seekers find these and other services by creating a Handshake account and consulting the detailed Career Timeline guide.

    Applicants need a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA and a bachelor's degree. They do not submit standardized test scores. New learners may transfer up to 12 outside credits. Degree-seekers with one or more professional certifications receive advanced standing. Most institutional scholarships award $750.

  8. Point Loma Nazarene University

    San Diego, CA

    PLNU's master's in organizational leadership features fully online and hybrid options. The 15-month curriculum includes strategic leadership. Another course covers financial reporting in organizations. Students also learn about developing strategic plans. The capstone course asks students to create a leadership portfolio that demonstrates their professional strengths.

    Academic services include course registration assistance and workshops and webinars. Students can also access the university Writing Center. Learners planning to enroll in another educational program after graduation attend free test-preparation courses. The tutors who run these courses also help degree-seekers with academic assignments.

    PLNU accepts new students in the spring and fall semesters. Students submit official transcripts, a personal statement, and a resume. All learners pay the same per-credit tuition rate. Graduate degree-seekers may qualify for one of three institutional scholarships. Veterans receive funding through the Yellow Ribbon Program.

  9. Western New England University

    Springfield, MA

    Located in Springfield, Massachusetts, WNE offers an organizational leadership master's degree. The 30-credit MS teaches students ethical leadership practice. Students pick two electives. They need to earn a minimum "C+" grade in all classes to stay in the program. Most learners take two courses in each 11-week term.

    The WNE Career Center (CC) offers guides covering career exploration, social media best practices, and interviewing skills. Other CC services include job-hunting boot camps. Online learners living near the WNE campus may also attend an industry-specific career fair.

    WNE admissions counselors consider applicants' undergraduate GPAs and GRE or GMAT scores. Some applicants qualify for a standardized test score waiver. Prospective students also submit two recommendation letters, an essay, and a current resume. Full- and part-time students pay the same tuition rate. Nontraditional degree-seekers with financial need may qualify for institutional aid.

  10. Rider University

    Lawrenceville, NJ

    Students choose Rider's master's in organizational leadership for the degree's four concentrations. Options include higher education leadership and developing people and organizations. The 30-credit curriculum requires core classes in leadership practice and organizational research. The program ends with a project seminar in leadership.

    Rider provides many academic support services. Students gain access to peer and professional tutors, transition advisors, and the federal TRIO Program. Learners who need help with coursework can sign up for a supplemental instruction session. Online learners may also access academic writing articles.

    Prospective students submit a statement of purpose. They also provide two recommendation letters and a current resume. Rider uses a minimum 2.75 undergraduate GPA cutoff. The school offers conditional admission to some applicants. Online learners pay 10% more per credit than their on-campus peers. Institutional scholarships award up to $2,000 to full-time degree-seekers.

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