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.

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Top 10 Best Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees

Rank School Location
1 Northwestern University Evanston, IL
2 George Washington University Washington, DC
3 Manhattan College Riverdale, NY
4 Saint Joseph's University Philadelphia, PA
5 University of Denver Denver, CO
6 Regis University Denver, CO
7 University of Valley Forge Phoenixville, PA
8 The New School New York, NY
9 Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota Winona, MN
10 Azusa Pacific University College Glendora, CA

FAQ


  • 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.

Best Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees 2021



See our rankings methodology page.

  1. Northwestern University
    Location

    Evanston, IL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    With a scenic 240-acre campus on the shores of Lake Michigan in Evanston, IL, Northwestern University is a national leader in business, education, law, and more. U.S. News & World Report ranks Northwestern at number 11 among the top national universities. As a valuable alternative to MBA programs, the Learning and Organizational Change program at Northwestern focuses not on business and enterprise, but on the people within the enterprise.

    Program Features

    Northwestern’s program leads to a Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change. Typically, this program has 95 to 120 students enrolled at a time. Graduates of the program will be prepared to work in corporate business, not-for-profit organizations, education, technology, research, and more. Coursework for this degree may include:

    • Advancing Learning and Performance Solutions
    • Creating and Sharing Knowledge
    • Leading With Strategic Thinking
    • Discovering and Designing Innovation

    Notables

    Applicants must have at least three years of post-baccalaureate work experience before entering this program. Full-time students can earn their degree in 18 months. Students who enroll part-time can graduate in three and a half years. Part-time students may live and study in the Chicago area, or they can choose the alternative schedule option, which allows them to earn their degree from anywhere in the US through online coursework.

  2. George Washington University
    Location

    Washington, DC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    George Washington University consists of three campuses: the Foggy Bottom Campus, the Mount Vernon Campus, and the Virginia Science and Technology Campus. The main campus, Foggy Bottom, is located just four blocks from the White House. The university has a student body of over 26,000, representing all 50 states and 130 countries around the world. The Organizational Leadership program at GW focuses on group processes, adult learning, organizational diagnosis, and consulting strategies.

    Program Features

    The Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from GW is available with a concentration in Organizational Leadership and Learning. This program requires 30 credit-hours, including 21 credit-hours in core courses and nine credit-hours in electives. Core coursework for this degree will include:

    • Human Behavior in Organizations
    • Leadership in Organizations
    • Work Groups and Teams in Organizations
    • Assessing the Impact of Organizational Change Using Qualitative and Quantitative Methods

    Notables

    This degree program is available both on campus and online. Students will have the opportunity to take electives such as Globalization, Change, and Learning; Strategic Change; and Design of Adult Learning Interventions. The degree track can be completed in as little as two years. After graduation, alumni of this program may find careers in government agencies, consulting firms, think tanks, and more.

  3. Manhattan College
    Location

    Riverdale, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1853, Manhattan College is a Lasallian Catholic institution. The campus is located in The Bronx, just 35 minutes by subway from the heart of Manhattan. The college emphasizes a liberal arts foundation, a strong sense of faith, and a commitment to career-oriented education. Through its six schools, Manhattan offers more than 100 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs – including an innovative, flexible master’s program in Organizational Leadership.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership is offered through an in-person format, a fully online format, and a hybrid format. This is a cohort-based program, so students will move through the degree path in a designated sequence with the same group of peers. The curriculum features 33 credit-hours, including 27 credit-hours in required coursework. All candidates for the degree will take the following classes:

    • Leadership Communication and Coaching Essentials
    • Leading Across Cultural and Global Boundaries
    • Shaping the Learning Organization
    • Ethics and Spirituality in the Workplace

    Notables

    Applicants to this program must have at least three years of work experience after earning their bachelor’s degree. All on-campus courses are held between 5:00 PM and 9:00 PM to accommodate the schedules of working professionals. In Forbes’ list of the Best Value Colleges, Manhattan was ranked among the top 100 schools in the Northeast.

  4. Saint Joseph's University
    Location

    Philadelphia, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    U.S. News & World Report ranks Saint Joseph’s University among the Best Colleges in the North. Now enrolling over 8,000 students, SJU was established more than 160 years ago and has a rich history as Philadelphia’s Jesuit Catholic university. SJU’s Organization Development and Leadership program fosters a vibrant, interactive learning community of scholar-practitioners.

    Program Features

    The College of Arts and Sciences at SJU presents a Master of Science in Organization Development and Leadership. Three concentrations are available within this program: Adult Learning and Training, Organizational Psychology and Development, and Organization Dynamics and Leadership. All three concentrations require a minimum of 36 credit-hours. Candidates for this degree will have four elective slots, which they can fill with courses such as:

    • Psychology of Executive Coaching
    • Positive Organizational Psychology and Scholarship
    • Career Development Theory and Practice
    • Stress and Crisis Management

    Notables

    The Organization Development and Leadership degree is available both on campus and fully online. Program starts are available in the fall, spring, and summer terms. The average class size in this program is 20 students. Degree candidates may choose to enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis. A limited number of graduate assistantships are available for Organization Development and Leadership students.

  5. University of Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Originally established as a Methodist seminary, the University of Denver quickly grew to a comprehensive intellectual center with a global focus. Today, this private university serves more than 11,000 students pursuing over 300 highly regarded academic programs. The Leadership and Organizations program prepares graduates to assess risk, handle crisis, and promote philanthropy in numerous industries and sectors.

    Program Features

    The Master of Science in Leadership and Organizations offers an array of specialization tracks, allowing students to choose the program that best fits their career goals. Concentrations are available in Human Capital in Organizations, Organizational Development, Philanthropic Leadership, Project Management, and Strategic Innovation and Change. All concentrations require 48 credit-hours, to be earned through 12 courses. For the Human Capital in Organizations concentration, the following courses are required:

    • Integrating Personal and Organizational Success
    • Developing Human Capital in Organizations
    • Values Driven Decision Making
    • Strategic Organizational Partnerships

    Notables

    Applicants to this program are not required to submit GRE or GMAT scores. The University of Denver offers graduate certificates in all of the same concentrations available through the master’s degree program (except Project Management). Certificate programs require 24 credit-hours in six courses. Students who earn a certificate may apply their credit-hours toward a master’s degree in the corresponding concentration.

  6. Regis University
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    As a Jesuit Catholic institution in the Rocky Mountains, Regis University combines stunning natural beauty, a faith-based philosophy, and top-tier academic quality. In addition to its main campus and Tech Center in Denver, Regis operates campuses in Colorado Springs and Thornton. Regis has earned a spot on U.S. News & World Report’s ranking of the top schools in the West for 22 consecutive years. The acclaimed College of Business and Economics at Regis presents a program dedicated to preparing effective, ethical, and socially responsible leaders.

    Program Features

    Regis offers an intensive, accelerated program leading to a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership. This degree requires 30 credit-hours, including a three-credit capstone course called Leading Responsible Organizations. Additional required courses for the degree include:

    • Business Intelligence and Analytics
    • Leading Change and Innovation
    • Foundations of Organizational Behavior
    • Organizational Culture and Design

    Notables

    Classes for this degree are offered in an accelerated 8-week term. Students can choose to take in-person evening classes or fully online classes. This highly flexible program offers start dates in January, March, May, July, August, and October. Graduates of the program will be qualified to serve as a Human Resources Manager, Training and Development Manager, Administrative Services Manager, and in many other related positions.

  7. University of Valley Forge
    Location

    Phoenixville, PA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Phoenixville, PA, the University of Valley Forge is part of a global network of colleges and universities affiliated with the Assemblies of God. With a student-to-faculty ratio of 12:1, UVF provides a close-knit, supportive community. UVF offers ten associate’s degrees, more than 40 bachelor’s degrees, and six master’s degrees. One of these graduate programs focuses on team building, organizational psychology, and strategic thinking.

    Program Features

    The Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at UVF will prepare graduates to effectively meet the challenges of leadership from a biblical perspective. This degree can be completed in as little as 18 months. The curriculum for the degree features 33 credit-hours, including required courses such as:

    • Information and Knowledge Leadership
    • Communications, Marketing, and Community Relation
    • Finance for the Non-Financial Manager
    • Critical Issues for Leading People

    Notables

    Applicants to the Organizational Leadership program must have an undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above. All classes are based on a 7-week schedule. All candidates for this degree will complete a three-credit capstone paper.

  8. The New School
    Location

    New York, NY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    With its main campus in New York City, the New School is home to an internationally recognized design school, performing arts college, and liberal arts college. This unique institution allows artists, designers, and scholars to come together to learn, collaborate, and create positive change. The renowned Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy offers graduate programs in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management, Nonprofit Management, and Organizational Change Management.

    Program Features

    Students will graduate from the Master of Science in Organizational Change Management program with a portfolio that showcases their skills in innovative thinking and their commitment to civic responsibility. The degree requires 42 credit-hours. Twelve of these credit-hours will be earned in electives. The remaining 30 credit-hours will be earned in required courses such as:

    • Economics for Management and Public Policy
    • Managing the Client-Consultant Relationship
    • Laboratory in Group Facilitation, Intervention, and Process
    • Organizational Change Interventions: Theory, Design, and Implementation

    Notables

    This degree program is intended for candidates who have at least three years of full-time organizational work experience. Students may choose to enroll on either a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students can complete this program in two years. Graduates have found jobs at globally influential companies and organizations such as Accenture, Google, American Express Foundation, Reuters, the United Nations, and many more.

  9. Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota
    Location

    Winona, MN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota is a Lasallian Catholic institution with campuses in Winona, Rochester, Twin Cities, and numerous other locations around the state. The university enrolls roughly 5,900 undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral students. One of Saint Mary’s esteemed graduate programs prepares students to serve as strategic, innovative leaders in public, private, and nonprofit organizations.

    Program Features

    The curriculum for the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership is organized into six clusters: The Learning Leader, the Connected Leader, the Global Leader, the Organizational Leader, the Change Leader, and the Adaptive Leader. Each of these clusters builds on the previous one, forming a cohesive program of study. Students will earn six credit-hours in each cluster for a total of 36 credit-hours. The required coursework for this degree includes:

    • Critical Thinking and Research
    • Collaboration and Teambuilding
    • Economic and Political Contexts
    • Strategy and Innovation

    Notables

    This program is available at both the Twin Cities campus and the Rochester campus. Students may also earn the degree entirely online, or through a hybrid (blended) program. Saint Mary’s offers graduate programs in a number of related fields. Options include an MA in Human Resource Management, an MA in Human Development, and an MS in Project Management.

  10. Azusa Pacific University College
    Location

    Glendora, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    As an evangelical Christian university, Azusa Pacific University College is a leader in academic excellence and a member institution of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. U.S. News & World Report routinely ranks University College among America’s Best Colleges. The main campus is located 26 miles northeast of Los Angeles, while six regional campuses are located across Southern California. The Leadership and Organizational Studies program allows students to utilize their current workplace as a laboratory in which to apply their learning.

    Program Features

    Azusa Pacific University College offers a 33-credit-hour program leading to a Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies. Degree candidates will take each class one at a time and complete two classes each semester. These required classes – 11 in total – will include the following:

    • Information Systems for Managers
    • Organizational Behavior and Analysis
    • Leadership and Managerial Ethics
    • Conflict and Negotiation in Organizations

    Notables

    Students can pursue this degree through a number of locations, including the main Azusa campus and other sites in Victorville (the High Desert campus), San Bernardino (Inland Empire campus), Los Angeles, Murrieta, Orange County, and San Diego. The degree is also available 100 percent online. The cost per credit-hour for this program is $600, for a total estimated degree cost of $19,800.

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.

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



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