Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership 2021

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An organizational leadership degree prepares graduates for top-level positions in nonprofits, large corporations, and government agencies. A well-designed master’s in organizational leadership program covers how to set strategic goals for a company and motivate workers toward actions meeting those goals.

Several U.S. institutions offer a master’s in organizational leadership degree online. Like most postgraduate programs, a master’s in organizational leadership requires a bachelor’s in a field related to organizational leadership. Most programs also require a minimum GPA and prior professional experience.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a 5% growth rate for management-related jobs, a rate faster than the combined average of all other occupations. The BLS reports a median salary of $105,660 for management occupations, the highest among major occupational groups included in the survey.

What Are the Goals of an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Students can pursue an organizational leadership degree online or on campus at the bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. Some programs offer a specialization in areas including nonprofit management, public administration, criminal justice, and project management. Courses typically cover topics such as strategic human resource management, responsible corporate leadership, and human behavior within organizations.

A master’s in organizational leadership program develops enrollees’ skills for meeting challenge. Students take courses that improve their listening and communication skills, sharpen their ability to prioritize and think critically, and strengthen their relationship- and team-building abilities.

Top 10 Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Rank School Location
1 Creighton University Omaha, NE
2 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD
3 University of Denver Denver, CO
4 Colorado State University Global Aurora, CO
5 Quinnipiac University Hamden, CT
6 National University La Jolla, CA
7 Trevecca Nazarene University Nashville, TN
8 Indiana Wesleyan University Marion, IN
9 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
10 University of St. Francis Fort Wayne, IN
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FAQs

  • What is organizational leadership?

    Organizational leadership encompasses a management approach where leaders motivate employees to carry out the tasks required to meet a strategic goal.

  • Why is organizational leadership important?

    Organizational leadership plays a key role in increasing productivity, improving market performance, and engendering employee loyalty.

  • What can you do with an organizational leadership degree?

    Organizational leadership degree-holders qualify for positions including principals, healthcare administrators, human resources managers, and CEOs.

  • What is the difference between organizational leadership and organizational management?

    Organizational management focuses on day-to-day business concerns such as budgeting, staffing, and problem-solving. Organizational leadership focuses on long-term strategic goals and aligning people with those goals.

Why Get an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Individuals pursue a master’s in organizational leadership for a variety of personal and professional reasons. A master’s in the dynamic and challenging field of organizational leadership yields several benefits, including the five below.

Work Advancement
Employers, especially at large organizations, often prefer master’s degree-holders for top-level positions. They know master’s-trained candidates possess the knowledge, skills, and discipline needed for modern leadership challenges.
Higher Salary
Data from the BLS shows that professionals with postgraduate degrees earn significantly higher salaries than those with a bachelor’s or associate degree.
Expand Knowledge
Pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership keeps students at the forefront of the expanding body of knowledge in the field, including new research findings and innovative practical applications.
Enhance Professional Standing
A master’s in organizational leadership distinguishes the holder as a trained and knowledgeable professional. Employers, colleagues, and clients often rely on their skills to make timely and relevant decisions toward shared goals.
Requirement for Doctoral Program
Although some doctoral programs accept applicants with a master’s degree in another area, most prefer applicants with a master’s in the field itself.

What Are the Requirements for an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Specific admission requirements for master’s in organizational leadership programs vary among schools. Most institutions require test scores and a regionally accredited bachelor’s degree. Schools often prefer applicants with an undergraduate degree in organizational leadership. Some institutions consider applicants with a bachelor’s in a related field such as business or psychology. Applicants may need to show meaningful work history in organizational leadership or a related professional area.

Schools typically require candidates for a master’s in organizational leadership degree to complete a culminating experience. Most programs require a thesis, while others require a comprehensive exam or capstone project. Graduation requirements for an online master’s in organizational leadership often mirror those of an on-campus program.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Career and Salary Outlook for Organizational Leadership

Virtually every large, forward-thinking corporation or organization can benefit from the skills of an employee or consultant with a master’s in organizational leadership. Strategic goals and organizational requirements often vary among industries. A well-designed master’s in organizational leadership program prepares graduates to apply their skills and knowledge in diverse professional arenas.

  • Administrative Services Manager The specific responsibilities of administrative service managers depend on the organization's size and the products or services they offer. Generally speaking, administrative services managers supervise staff and monitor and maintain facility safety and security. They also review procedures and policies to ensure compliance with industry regulations.
  • Postsecondary Education Administrator In large universities, a postsecondary education administrator oversees a specific operational area such as admissions or student services. In smaller colleges, they often coordinate the activities of several departments. Postsecondary education administrators may also oversee student athletics or faculty research, and engage in promotional work for the school.
Career Median Annual Salary Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029)
Administrative Services Manager $96,940 6%
Postsecondary Education Administrator $95,410 4%

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Scholarships for Organizational Leadership Students

Organizational leadership students often qualify for financial aid programs designated for enrollees pursuing a related field of study. As organizational leadership continues to grow as a unique academic field of study, more funders will offer financial aid options specifically for students in the field.

  • Dr. Harold Kerzner Scholarship Fund

    Who Can Apply: The Project Management Institute (PMI) Educational Foundation administers this program. Qualifying undergraduate and graduate students pursue degrees in project management or a related field such as organizational leadership. PMI awards four scholarships each year and welcomes international applicants. Full-time and part-time enrollees can apply.

    Amount:

    $7,500

    See Scholarship

  • Jane M. Klausman Women in Business Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Women enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program in business, finance, operations management, or a similar field can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must reside in a Zonta district and demonstrate outstanding academic performance. The program welcomes applications from women residing outside the U.S. who meet the scholarship requirements.

    Amount:

    $2,000 for local district recipients; $8,000 for international recipients

    See Scholarship

  • Siebel Scholarships

    Who Can Apply: The program seeks applications from graduate students entering the final year of their studies in business, computer science, bioengineering, or energy science. Applicants with a history of strong leadership abilities and excellent academic performance can also apply. The program gives preference to applicants enrolled at one of their university partners.

    Amount: $35,000

    See Scholarship


Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership 2021

  1. Creighton University
    Location

    Omaha, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in downtown Omaha, Nebraska, Creighton University is a private, Catholic (Jesuit) university and the largest private, religious university in Nebraska. The school, which was founded in 1878, ranks as the top regional university in the Midwest (U.S. News and World Report) and is home to an AACSB accredited business school.

    Features

    The AACSB accredited Heider College of Business at Creighton University offers an online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership designed for working professionals. The program centers on developing moral and ethical leaders who use their skills to promote social justice, societal and organizational change. Students may customize the program by choosing one of three concentrations:

    • Business Leadership
    • Healthcare Leadership
    • Organizational Leadership

    Notables

    This 36-credit hour program is offered completely online in 8-week online courses segments and students have the option of starting their program in August or January. Each core course in the program focuses on leadership skills that students can directly apply to real-world experiences. Students then choose 18 electives which can lead to a graduate certificate in a narrower field of study in addition to the master’s degree in organizational leadership.

  2. Johns Hopkins University
    Location

    Baltimore, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of the top national universities in the country, Johns Hopkins University is a private, research university located in Baltimore, Maryland. Johns Hopkins is a founding member of the prestigious American Association of Universities and home to the AACSB accredited Carey Business School. The school has also developed a robust online program, catering to non-traditional students.

    Features

    The Division of Public Safety in the School of Education at Johns Hopkins University offers a new, online Master in Organizational Leadership degree. The campus-based counterpart to this new online degree has previously drawn many top public safety leaders from local, state, and federal agencies. The online program helps students to master leadership, management, and administration of public sector organizations to enhance their careers. Courses include:

    • Individual and Group Dynamics
    • Ethics, Integrity, and the Responsibility of Leaders
    • Strategic Planning for Leaders
    • Applying Research: Access, Methods, and Accountability

    Notables

    Johns Hopkins Organizational Leadership degree is a highly interactive, rigorous, engaging, and manageable program based on a user-centered approach. Designed for working professionals, the degree is comprised of 36 credits of coursework which students complete in a cohort in just under two years.

  3. University of Denver
    Location

    Denver, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Situated in downtown Denver, Colorado, the University of Denver is a private, non-profit university that focuses on collaborative, experiential learning as well as ethics and social responsibility. The school ranks in the top 100 among national universities, has a reputation for being a good value, and has an online bachelor’s program that sits with the best in the country.

    Features

    For those who wish to develop collaborative leadership skills, The College of Professional and Continuing Studies at Denver University offers an online Master of Science in Leadership and Organizations. Designed and delivered for busy adults seeking a convenient format to pursue their degree, the program integrates strategy, innovation, and emerging practices for innovative leadership. Students may tailor the program to their own career aspirations by choosing one of five concentrations:

    • Human Capital in Organizations
    • Organizational Development
    • Philanthropic Leadership
    • Project Management

    Notables

    This is a 48 credit Master’s program delivered in ten-week terms. At Denver University’s University College, the philosophy is to embrace technology to improve and accelerate learning for busy adults. Online classes present the same content and are driven by the same academic outcomes as campus classes. No GMAT or GRE is necessary for admission.

  4. Colorado State University Global
    Location

    Aurora, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Colorado State University Global is a 100 percent online, not-for-profit university affiliated with the Colorado State University system. Offering highly competitive tuition rates with tuition rate guarantees, along with the same prices of in-state and out-of-state students, CSU Global is a good opportunity for anyone interested in organizational leadership.

    Features

    CSU Global offers an online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership which provides the knowledge necessary for upper-level management positions. The program prepares students to be leaders in virtually any industry, by giving a solid understanding of the dynamics of organizations, teams, and today’s ever-changing business landscape. Courses include:

    • Effective Organizations—Theory and Practice
    • Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility
    • Leading Diverse Teams

    Notables

    The program consists of 8 three-credit core courses as part of a full 36-credit master’s degree. Students have the option of taking either a practitioner track (which focuses on qualitative and quantitative analysis and decision making) or a research track (based on a theoretical understanding of management as it applies to the critical evaluation of research and theory) depending on their career goals. CSU-Global also offers an online dual Master of Science degree in Management and Organizational Development.

  5. Quinnipiac University
    Location

    Hamden, CT

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the New Haven suburb of Camden, CT, Quinnipiac University is a private, non-profit university that ranks highly among northern regional universities. The school boasts a student-oriented learning environment and has extended the reach of their high-quality, collaborative academic programs through online courses since 2001.

    Features

    Quinnipiac University’s AACSB-accredited School of Business offers an online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership that is based on developing social and emotional intelligence, corporate social responsibility, strategic thinking, cultural diversity and data-driven performance improvement. This is a flexible, 100% online degree program which affords students the ability to choose between four programs of study:

    • Health Care Management track
    • Human Resources Leadership Track
    • Public Service / Nonprofit Leadership Track
    • Strategic Leadership Track

    Notables

    The program consists of 33 credits with three start dates throughout the year in Fall, Spring, and Summer. Students in Quinnipiac’s online program benefit from mentorship and expert instruction from top practitioners and scholars. Please note that applicants to this program should have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution as well as four years of work experience.

  6. National University
    Location

    La Jolla, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1971 with a focus on adult learners, National University is the second-largest private, nonprofit institution of higher education in California. Situated in La Jolla, California, National University provides graduate and undergraduate degrees for a diverse student population both on campus or online and has offered online undergraduate degrees since 1999.

    Features

    National University offers an online, IACBE-accredited Master of Science in Organizational Leadership which will prepare you to be an effective, change-oriented leader. The program uses a collaborative, integral and holistic approach to teach analytical and critical thinking, communication and leadership in complex environments. Courses include:

    • Ethics and Classic Theories
    • Developing Groups and Teams
    • Leadership in the 21st Century
    • Leading Change and Adaptation

    Notables

    National University’s Organizational Leadership program is comprised of 54 quarter credits – or 12 courses – ten core courses and two electives from the School of Business and Management. In lieu of general electives, students may decide to complete the optional Specialization in Community Development. National University allows students to transfer up to 13.5 quarter unit credits of equivalent graduate work into the program.

  7. Trevecca Nazarene University
    Location

    Nashville, TN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    One of eight colleges in the United States that are affiliated with the Church of the Nazarene, Trevecca Nazarene University is a private, liberal arts college located in Nashville, Tennessee. To further extend their mission to provide Christian education for leadership and service, the school has developed a robust online program to help working adults complete undergraduate and graduate degrees.

    Features

    Trevecca Nazarene University offers an interdisciplinary, online Master of Organizational Leadership degree that provides a balanced perspective on leadership by drawing from communications, religion, and business themes. Trevecca has designed a holistic program that intended to expand student knowledge on strategic thinking, innovative problem-solving, and organizational change models. The curriculum covers three levels of leadership:

    • Personal Leadership Development
    • Interpersonal/Group Leadership
    • Organizational Impact

    Notables

    Trevecca’s 33 credit Master of Organizational Leadership program is designed to be manageable for working adults. The program can be completed in around 18 months, taking one class at a time – and Trevecca employs a cohort model so that students progress through their studies together. No GRE or GMAT scores are required for admission.

  8. Indiana Wesleyan University
    Location

    Marion, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Founded in 1920, Indiana Wesleyan University is a regionally accredited, evangelical, Christian university of the Wesleyan Church. The school, which has a traditional campus in Marion, IN, has been pioneering adult education since 1985. Currently, over 10,000 students are enrolled in their acclaimed online courses and education centers.

    Features

    Indiana Wesleyan University offers an online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership in which students are challenged to integrate and deliberate on the concepts critical to understanding many areas of leadership from a Christian perspective. Among several objectives, students will analyze organizational problems, evaluate the change and organizational learning needs of an organization, reflect on ethical dilemmas, and examine the complexities of leadership theory. Courses include:

    • Leadership Theory
    • Wisdom and Leadership
    • Ethical Challenges of Leadership
    • Leadership Praxis

    Notables

    This is a highly practical, cohort-based, 36-credit program which students can complete in 23 months. Assignments include project-based learning, course papers, and a portfolio highlighting key learning points. Applicants should have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university or from an institution accredited by the Association for Biblical Higher Education. Work experience is preferred.

  9. California Baptist University
    Location

    Riverside, CA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    You may not have heard of California Baptist University – a private, Christian, liberal arts university located in Riverside, California – but if you are thinking of pursuing an accredited, online Bachelor’s degree, their programs are worth looking at. The school has ranked highly in several categories and offers a high-quality online graduate business program (U.S. News and World Report).

    Features

    For those who want to inspire and lead change in their organization, the Division of Online and Professional Studies at CBU offers an online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership that prepares students for management and executive level leadership positions. This comprehensive program covers motivation, ethics, creativity, strategic planning and vision, group development, teamwork, technology, and organizational development. Courses include:

    • Foundations of Organizational Leadership
    • Conflict Resolution And Negotiations
    • Organizational Communication
    • Leading Organizational Change

    Notables

    This is a 100% online, 30-credit program which students can complete in 12 months. Courses are offered in an accelerated format and begin every eight weeks. California Baptist University offers courses in three semesters which allows students to study year-round for quicker graduation time.

  10. University of St. Francis
    Location

    Fort Wayne, IN

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Fort Wayne, Indiana’s University of Saint Francis is a private, Catholic liberal arts university that ranks in the top 100 among Regional Universities (Midwest) according to U.S. News and World Report. The school has a national reputation for being a great value in higher education and offers high-quality, affordable online programs for nontraditional students.

    Features

    The University of St Francis’s Busse School of Business offers an ACBSP-accredited online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program that is designed to provide the knowledge and skills to move into leadership roles in a variety of organizations. This is an innovative program that is offered in an online format to fit the needs of working adults. Students can customize the program to their career goals by choosing from one of four concentrations:

    • Non-Profit Organization
    • Higher Education
    • For-Profit Organization
    • Healthcare Services

    Notables

    The Organizational Leadership program requires 36 credit hours, including 24 credit hours in Core Courses and 12 credit hours in your selected concentration. It is possible to complete the entire program in twelve months, though many students take longer.

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