Best Master's in Organizational Leadership Online Programs

By Michael McCarthy | Updated 9/15/2022
2020 Best Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Badge

Ranked based on affordability and earning potential, these 20 schools offer the best online master's programs in organizational leadership. Graduates of the #1 school, the University of Colorado Denver, report earning a median salary of $186,500. Tuition for the University of Colorado Denver's Master of Science in Management and Organization - Leadership is $10,965 per year. Johns Hopkins University ranks #2, with a median salary of $154,900 and an annual tuition rate of $14,274.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about OnlineU.

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RankSchool Annual Tuition Mid-Career Salary
# 1 #1 University of Colorado Denver $10,965 $186,500
# 2 #2 Johns Hopkins University $14,274 $154,900
# 3 #3 The University of Texas at Dallas $36,450 $141,600
# 4 #4 Florida Tech - Online $12,821 $114,800
# 5 #5 Colorado State University - Fort Collins $10,272 $110,300
# 6 #6 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide $12,402 $104,100
# 7 #7 Albertus Magnus College $12,258 $103,300
# 8 #8 Pepperdine University $64,800 $122,600
# 9 #9 University of Denver $22,816 $105,800
# 10 #10 City University of Seattle $14,595 $99,700
# 11 #11 Western Governors University $7,600 $95,500
# 12 #12 Troy University $7,410 $94,200
# 13 #13 Webster University $14,040 $96,700
# 14 #14 National University $11,934 $87,400
# 15 #15 Northeastern University $16,698 $88,300
# 16 #16 Southern Wesleyan University $10,170 $78,200
# 17 #17 Southern New Hampshire University Online $11,286 $76,700
# 18 #18 Bellevue University $10,530 $74,700
# 19 #19 Fontbonne University $13,175 $70,800
# 20 #20 Wayland Baptist University $9,760 $58,700
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo

2020 Online Colleges Offering Organizational Leadership Degrees - Ranking Details

#1 University of Colorado Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $10,965
  • Median Salary: $186,500
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The online Master of Science in Management and Organization at the University of Colorado Denver offers students the opportunity to tailor their studies to best suit their intended leadership career. The 30-credit hour program includes courses in leading people and teams, designing and managing organizations and procedures, and facilitating organizational change. Students can choose to concentrate their studies in Managing for Sustainability or Strategic Management. They may also choose to incorporate coursework from other disciplines, including accounting, information systems, and marketing. The Canvas learning management system, which is available 24/7, is used to organize and deliver course materials. Students with work responsibilities can pursue their graduate degree on a part-time schedule, while those interested in a faster pace can study full-time. Coursework may include writing essays, watching recorded lectures, studying reading materials, and completing interactive projects, research, and quizzes. Students studying online have access to study abroad opportunities, as well as academic resources like program mentors, career development services, academic advising, IT support, and accessibility accommodations. This program's admissions requirements include an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution and GRE or GMAT scores. The formal application can be found online and must be submitted along with test scores, a personal essay, academic transcripts, and a professional resume. While professional experience is not required, it may be beneficial for admissions consideration.

#2 Johns Hopkins University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,274
  • Median Salary: $154,900
  • Locations: Baltimore (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership at Johns Hopkins University prepares students to enter leadership roles across industries. The program aims to advance students' critical and analytical thinking, problem-solving, and leadership skills through instruction in managerial economics, leading and managing change, team building, and project management. Students must take a total of ten courses over the course of two years. In addition to classes such as Crisis Mitigation, Ethics, Integrity, and Responsibility of Leaders, and Managerial Economics, a capstone project is required as a method of demonstrating the knowledge students have acquired. Graduates of the online organizational leadership degree program may pursue careers as management analysts, school principals, public health administrators, or human resources managers. The program is designed to allow participants to continue working full-time while earning their degree. Resources for online graduate students include career services, library access, and health and wellness support tools. The admissions process takes place year-round and requires students to submit an application, a statement of purpose, a current CV, and all previous academic transcripts.

#3 The University of Texas at Dallas

  • Annual Tuition: $36,450
  • Median Salary: $141,600
  • Locations: Richardson (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of Texas at Dallas offers an online Master of Science in Management Sciences and an online Professional Master of Business Administration. Students in the management sciences degree program can choose to further refine their studies with a concentration in Leadership in Organizations or Strategic Management. The 36-credit hour program includes coursework in the foundations of leadership theory, strategic leadership, organizational decision making, and organization structuring. Students are also required to complete an internship. The professional MBA program offers a concentration in Leadership in Organizations for students pursuing a leadership role in business. The 53-credit hour curriculum includes coursework in group dynamics and organizational change and ethics. Students can also earn both degrees by completing a minimum of 63 credits and all course requirements. Classes are delivered through the Blackboard learning management system and include pre-recorded lectures that can be accessed at any time, as well as reading materials, quizzes, and assignments. Applicants must have a bachelor’s degree. Required submission materials include previous academic transcripts, GRE scores, a letter of recommendation, a personal essay, and an updated CV. While enrolled in online programs, UTD graduate students can take advantage of services such as tutoring, academic advising, career management center resources, tech support, and study abroad opportunities.

#4 Florida Tech - Online

  • Annual Tuition: $12,821
  • Median Salary: $114,800
  • Locations: Melbourne (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The Florida Institute of Technology offers an online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership that provides students instruction in the advanced fundamentals of the discipline. The evidence-based curriculum is built upon current theories and research in organizational leadership, with courses in leadership foundations, leading diverse teams, high-impact communication, and talent management. The 11-class, 33-credit hour organizational leadership degree program can lead to a career in business, human resources, consulting, management, or higher education. Online coursework is delivered asynchronously through a private learning management system. The program is designed to take two years to complete and may include written assignments, quizzes, group projects, interactive activities, and discussion forums. Students studying online have access to a number of educational resources, including career services, counseling and psychological support, and the FIT bookstore. To apply, prospective students must submit a free online application and all previous academic transcripts. GRE scores are not required.

#5 Colorado State University - Fort Collins

  • Annual Tuition: $10,272
  • Median Salary: $110,300
  • Locations: Fort Collins (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Colorado State University-Fort Collins offers an online Master of Arts in Leadership and Cultural Management. Students complete 32 credit hours of instruction in areas that include leadership in the arts, arts collaboration and the community, law and the arts, and arts policy and advocacy. In addition, students tailor their degree with electives reflecting their areas of interest and professional ambitions in the field. Students are also required to complete two field internships with a local or national arts organization. The Canvas learning management system provides an online platform for course materials, discussion forums, email, and grades. Canvas is available 24/7, which allows students to complete their work while balancing other responsibilities. The instructors for the online program are the same instructors who teach the on-campus, traditional MA program. They blend both industry and academic knowledge into the pedagogy. Resources for students include academic advising, the career center, access to the Morgan Library, and tutoring services. There are three start dates for the program: fall, spring, and summer. Those interested in applying must have an undergraduate degree, although it does not need to be in a related field. Prospective students must submit an online application, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, a writing sample, a current resume, and prior academic transcripts. Financial aid is available to online students.

#6 Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University - Worldwide

  • Annual Tuition: $12,402
  • Median Salary: $104,100
  • Locations: Daytona Beach (FL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Worldwide offers a Master of Science in Leadership and a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Leadership. Students pursuing one of these online master’s in organizational leadership must complete 30 credit hours of graduate coursework. Both degrees are designed for working professionals who see themselves advancing in their organization. The MSL degree is geared toward aspiring leaders who seek to make a difference in the world. The program emphasizes cultural diversity and global business through optional study abroad experiences. The MSM degree aims to prepare well-rounded leaders with people skills and technical expertise. Students take classes in organizational leadership, management principles, and decision making taught by faculty holding terminal degrees in their discipline and possessing real-world experience. The EagleVision platform is used to provide a virtual classroom experience, and the asynchronous nature of the courses offers busy online learners maximum flexibility. Students admitted to the online master’s in organizational leadership will develop an individualized plan of study in consultation with their academic advisor. Depending on their situation, applicants should submit official or unofficial transcripts and have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 2.5 or a master’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0.

#7 Albertus Magnus College

  • Annual Tuition: $12,258
  • Median Salary: $103,300
  • Locations: New Haven (CT)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

Albertus Magnus College offers a customizable 36-credit hour Master of Science in Management and Organizational Leadership with optional concentrations in Community Leadership, Organizational Management, Human Resource Management, and Human Services. The curriculum embraces a servant-leader approach that encourages prioritizing the needs of those being led. Core values informing course content include inclusivity, integrity, trustworthiness, and ethics. The program prepares students to lead effectively in a pluralistic society. Students pursuing an MSMOL degree must take 27 credit hours of core courses that cover leadership theory, servant leadership, team building, and organizational theory. Additionally, nine credit hours of electives are required. The program culminates in a capstone research project. Program faculty aims to provide a challenging but nurturing learning environment. Students can complete the MSMOL degree in just under 18 months by taking two classes each eight-week term. Admissions requirements include an application, a fee, and official transcripts from all attended institutions. Graduates of the program may qualify for jobs in management positions at for-profit and nonprofit organizations, jobs like human resource manager, executive director, law enforcement administrator, community organizer, entrepreneur, and corporate trainer.

#8 Pepperdine University

  • Annual Tuition: $64,800
  • Median Salary: $122,600
  • Locations: Malibu (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

Pepperdine University offers a 36-unit Master of Science in Management and Leadership as well as a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership Learning. Online courses at Pepperdine are designed to be academically rigorous and relevant. The MSML degree is a unique, hands-on program centered around integrative workshops. Students learn experientially about organizational theory, conflict resolution, productivity enhancement, and multicultural competency. Students follow a leadership development plan, receive peer coaching, participate in service-learning projects, and complete a capstone project. The 32-unit MSOLL curriculum entails 23 units of core leadership courses, which includes a capstone seminar, and nine units of program-specific courses. Course content covers critical thinking, communication, ethics, data analytics, team building, cultural awareness, and organizational stewardship. Certain MSOLL courses can count toward an EdD or a PhD, which are offered through the education division at Pepperdine University. Application requirements for these programs include an essay, a resume, official transcripts, and letters of recommendation. Graduates of Pepperdine’s online master’s in organizational leadership programs can qualify for leadership positions in government, education, faith-based organizations, non-governmental organizations, and the public sector.

#9 University of Denver

  • Annual Tuition: $22,816
  • Median Salary: $105,800
  • Locations: Denver (CO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Denver offers a highly customizable, 48-credit online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree. Concentrations allow students to build a plan of study around their interests and specific career goals. Students in the MSOL program can choose to specialize in Human Capital in Organizations, Organizational Development, Project Management, Strategic Innovation and Change, or Supply Chain Management. The curriculum focuses on transformational leadership. Students learn how to achieve important goals through integrating strategy and innovation. The program of study entails five required core courses, four courses in a concentration, and three electives. It is possible to complete the MSOL degree in 18 months. Courses are asynchronous and are taken through the Canvas online learning platform, where students can find syllabi, assignments, discussion boards, lecture videos, and email messages. Prospective students should have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree with at least a 2.5 GPA. GMAT and GRE scores are not required. Online education is enhanced by access to tech support, the university’s library, career services, WeWork membership, and a LinkedIn Premium Career account.

#10 City University of Seattle

  • Annual Tuition: $14,595
  • Median Salary: $99,700
  • Locations: Seattle (WA)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

The City University of Seattle offers a 42-credit-hour Master of Science in Management and Leadership degree that can be completed in 15 months. Students with specific interests or career goals may wish to add a related concentration in Human Resource Management, Change Leadership, or Nonprofit Leadership. Throughout the curriculum, students discuss how organizational leadership philosophies provide vision while management principles inform daily operations. Core courses focus on communication, quantitative analytics, strategic management, and research. The curriculum is divided into 24 credit hours of core courses in leadership strategy and 12 credit hours of courses in the area of specialization. Students must also complete a six-credit capstone project. Courses are writing-intensive to give students practice in writing and delivering dynamic, data-driven reports to stakeholders. Job opportunities for graduates of the program can be found in nonprofit agencies, small businesses, large corporations, and startups. The program also offers useful training and inspiration for those interested in entrepreneurial ventures.

#11 Western Governors University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,600
  • Median Salary: $95,500
  • Locations: Salt Lake City (UT)
  • Accreditation: NWCCU

Western Governors University hosts a Master of Management and Leadership. This online master’s degree is meant for working professionals seeking to move into mid- to upper-level management positions. The curriculum consists of 10 courses that can be completed in approximately 18 months. In them, students learn how to build high-performing teams, motivate employees, solve problems, and make decisions supported by data. WGU also offers a one-year Master of Health Leadership degree tailored to those seeking leadership roles in the health-care industry. In it, students take 12 courses that cover topics like health-care leadership, financial management, risk assessment, health information technology, and quality health-care systems. Degrees at WGU are earned by passing competency-based assessments, not accumulating course credits. Students can quickly move through the program by passing performance assessments such as tests, projects, and papers. Those with relevant life experience can move through the course material at an accelerated pace. Applicants should have a bachelor’s degree and three or more years of work experience. Graduates of the program can compete for jobs relevant to their degree, such as positions as managers, directors, and vice presidents of startups, nonprofits, and businesses of all sizes.

#12 Troy University

  • Annual Tuition: $7,410
  • Median Salary: $94,200
  • Locations: Troy (AL)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Troy University offers an online Master of Science in Management degree. This online master’s can be customized to include a concentration in Leadership. The curriculum encompasses 21 semester hours of core management classes related to organizational behavior, ethical leadership, continuous improvement, and strategic management. The leadership specialization entails nine semester hours where students study advanced leadership practices, management information systems, and motivational approaches. Students discuss the leadership styles of great historical figures and assess their own leadership skills. Courses are asynchronous and are taught through the Canvas online learning platform. By following an accelerated track and taking more than one course per term, students can finish the two-year curriculum in one year. Admissions requirements include transcripts, test scores, and a letter of recommendation. Career opportunities for program graduates exist in consulting firms, government agencies, the military, international organizations, and not-for-profit organizations. Online support includes tutoring; career and library services; tech support; Canvas 24/7 chat, email, and phone support; and free access to Microsoft Office 365.

#13 Webster University

  • Annual Tuition: $14,040
  • Median Salary: $96,700
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The Master of Arts in Management and Leadership at Webster University is a broad degree that offers elective concentrations in Cybersecurity, Health Administration, Digital Marketing Management, Organizational Development, Entrepreneurship, Marketing, and Project Management. This online master’s provides formal leadership training from a business perspective and emphasizes adaptability and how to leverage resources in fast-paced global markets. Students in this program study many pertinent subjects, such as strategic management, organizational behavior, organizational change, finance, and human resources. Graduates of the program can compete for jobs that require problem-solving and visionary thinking. Webster University also offers an MBA/MA dual degree in management and leadership, which takes 48-51 credits to complete. Admitted students who do not hold a business-related bachelor’s degree must complete undergraduate prerequisites in accounting, business, economics, and management. The online program is enhanced by access to an online learning center, webinars, tech support, the university library, writing assistance, and the academic resource center.

#14 National University

  • Annual Tuition: $11,934
  • Median Salary: $87,400
  • Locations: La Jolla (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

National University offers several types of online master’s in organizational leadership, such as the Master of Arts in Human Resource Management, the Master of Business Administration, and the Master of Public Administration. Students can also pursue a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with an optional concentration in Community Development. Organizational leadership courses prepare students to use systems thinking to solve complex organizational problems in a global society. Students can customize their degree to support career mobility in a specific field. Students from many backgrounds, such as industry, human resources, and government, can benefit from learning more about organizational leadership. Core and supporting courses in organizational leadership focus on team building, ethics, data analytics, decision-making, research, and conflict resolution. The curriculum is designed for working adults looking for career advancement. National University’s online programs feature monthly start dates, accelerated tracks, and four-week classes. Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree or higher with a minimum GPA of 2.5 (or a minimum of 2.75 in the last 90 quarter units); GRE, GMAT, or MAT scores for applicants with a GPA of 2.0 to 2.49; and an interview with an admissions counselor.

#15 Northeastern University

  • Annual Tuition: $16,698
  • Median Salary: $88,300
  • Locations: Burlington (MA)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

The Master of Science in Leadership (MSL) degree at Northeastern University is a flexible, highly customizable degree for students seeking to enhance their leadership skills and learn more about leadership philosophy. Depending on a student’s interests and career goals, the MSL degree can be tailored to jobs in a variety of areas, such as government, nonprofit agencies, healthcare, and sport management. Students in this online master’s program take 26 credit hours of core MSL classes on transformational change, ethics, organizational culture, global leadership, and strategic thinking. They also choose an area of concentration in Health Management, Human Resource Management, Leading and Managing Technical Projects, Nonprofit Management, Organizational Communications, Project Management, or Sport and Social Change. The concentrations entail nine semester hours of technical courses that are discipline-specific. The program culminates in a four-credit capstone project that is a summative demonstration of a student’s learning. The program also offers an opportunity to earn credit through international field research. A degree can be earned in 18 to 24 months. Admission requirements include an application (with a fee of $75–$100), transcripts, a personal statement, the applicant’s resume, and three letters of recommendation.

#16 Southern Wesleyan University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,170
  • Median Salary: $78,200
  • Locations: Central (SC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The 36-credit Master of Science in Management and Leadership degree hosted by Southern Wesleyan University offers concentrations in Healthcare Administration, Human Resources, Management, and Project and Quality Management. This online master’s is taught from a Christian, servant-leader perspective. Students take 24-credit hours in core MSL courses that focus on leadership, ethics, organizational behavior, finance, and accounting. The degree also requires 12 credits of coursework in a chosen area of specialization. The program is designed to equip students with the skills needed to face ethical and legal challenges in organizational leadership. Students can earn their degree in 24 months by completing 12 self-paced online classes. Courses are taught by faculty with real-world experience and expertise in the subjects they teach. Managerial and leadership jobs are available in business, government agencies, faith-based organizations, nonprofits, healthcare, and finance. A dedicated academic advisor, class forums, and other e-learning resources are available to online students.

#17 Southern New Hampshire University Online

  • Annual Tuition: $11,286
  • Median Salary: $76,700
  • Locations: Manchester (NH)
  • Accreditation: NECHE

A 36-credit Master of Business Arts in Leadership degree is available online through Southern New Hampshire University. The MBA concentration in Leadership is geared to entrepreneurs and individuals seeking career advancement or a new job with managerial responsibilities. In the program, students are taught strategies and techniques for motivating teams and effecting organizational change. There are 27 credit hours of core courses required for the MBA, along with 9 credit hours of courses in the leadership concentration. Core requirements include the study of finance, accounting, decision making, entrepreneurship, operations management, and government regulations. The program culminates in a capstone seminar. The leadership concentration emphasizes leadership communication and the psychology of leading change in organizations. This online master’s is self-paced and taught completely online for the convenience of working professionals who prefer 24/7 online accessibility. Graduates of the program can use their knowledge to start a business or take their career to the next level within their current organization. Admission to this program involves sending an application, transcripts for any undergraduate degrees (with a minimum GPA of 2.75, or 2.0 for provisional acceptance), and a graduate attestation form. Online learners can benefit from academic advising, tutoring, technical support, career development, and access to a writing center.

#18 Bellevue University

  • Annual Tuition: $10,530
  • Median Salary: $74,700
  • Locations: Bellevue (NE)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Bellevue University offers a 36-credit Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree for aspiring leaders. Its goal is to teach students how to manage and coach within an organization, to help people achieve optimal performance. Students study how to identify and shape the norms, behaviors, customs, and practices that influence organizational culture and productivity. Expert faculty designed the curriculum with high ideals and standards in mind. Course content dives deep into organizational leadership, strategic leadership, and social psychology, teaching students to solve problems, inspire others, and make ethical decisions. Throughout the program, students are challenged to apply the strategies and leadership theories they are learning in their courses through hands-on activities like writing a white paper, submitting a grant, developing a training guide, or delivering a conference presentation. While working on degree requirements, students can also prepare for national leadership certification exams, which can lead to a credential like a Strategic Organizational Leadership Certificate. To apply, prospective students should have a bachelor’s degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA in their last 60 credits or master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA average. Online learners have access to tutoring, tech support, and 24/7 library services.

#19 Fontbonne University

  • Annual Tuition: $13,175
  • Median Salary: $70,800
  • Locations: St. Louis (MO) (and 1 other)
  • Accreditation: HLC

Fontbonne University offers a 36-credit Master of Management and Leadership degree. Students may add a concentration in Accounting, Multidisciplinary Health Communication Studies, Nonprofit Management, or Supply Chain Management. The online master’s in organizational leadership equips students with management tools that can be used to optimize internal organizational operations. Courses are interdisciplinary and draw concepts from industrial psychology, organizational behavior, and motivational theory. The core curriculum offers a comprehensive foundation in business principles, such as managerial accounting, financial management, project management, strategic planning, organizational change, human resources, leadership coaching, and supply chain management. Students are assessed at the start of the program to determine their level of academic preparedness for business-related courses. The program culminates in a graduate business assessment that includes a business-components exam and a portfolio of accumulated assignments. Designed for working adults, classes are taught entirely online. Students can earn a degree in 12-14 months by taking two classes each eight-week term. An application, a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.5 GPA, a resume, and a self-statement are required for admission. Online learners will have support from academic tutoring and proctoring services, the university library, tech support, and the career center.

#20 Wayland Baptist University

  • Annual Tuition: $9,760
  • Median Salary: $58,700
  • Locations: Plainview (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Wayland Baptist University offers a 39-credit Master of Arts in Management degree developed and taught in a faith-based community. Students may add a concentration in Organizational Management, Human Resource Management, or Healthcare Administration. Throughout the curriculum, emphasis is given to well-rounded leadership formation, communication skills, and positive interpersonal relationships in the workplace. Students must take 24 credit hours of foundation courses, such as management theory and practice, leadership development, research methods, management information systems, and applied organizational strategies. Another 15 credit hours of coursework must be completed in the selected area of concentration. Additionally, students in the healthcare administration concentration must complete a 1,000-hour supervised practicum at a licensed and approved healthcare facility. Designed for busy working adults, the program is flexible and completely online. The degree prepares students to assume managerial roles in many different settings, including government agencies, healthcare facilities, businesses, faith-based organizations, and the military. Graduates of the program qualify for leadership roles as human resource managers, management consultants, project managers, and general business managers. Admission requirements include an application (with a $50 fee), transcripts, and a minimum GPA of 3.0 (or a minimum GPA of 2.5 with an admissions interview and writing sample).

What Is an Organizational Leadership Master's Degree?

This master's degree teaches leadership skills to students interested in the theory and practice of organizational management. It shares some commonalities with a Master of Business Administration (MBA), but features a more theoretical and scientific focus and less emphasis on strictly profit-making business organizations. 

Faculty typically design these programs to last two years on a part-time cadence of one or two classes per term. This set-up helps accommodate the many master's students who work full-time while going to school. The curriculum is usually 30-36 credit hours and contains coursework in motivational psychology, ethics, communication, and data analytics. Most programs culminate in a capstone project where you integrate everything you’ve learned. 

Online Master's in Organizational Leadership

Online master's programs usually feature asynchronous online courses: You log in to a learning management system at your convenience rather than at a scheduled time. You can watch lecture recordings and interact in discussion forums whenever you prefer, as long as you respect assignment and exam due dates. You'll work in person at an employer's office for any required internships, but these are relatively uncommon among organizational leadership programs.

Admission Requirements

You must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college to apply for a master's in organizational leadership. You don't need to have studied a particular major to apply; organizational leadership students come from a variety of higher education backgrounds.

Beyond your undergraduate transcripts, admission requirements differ by program. But most schools ask for the following:

  • A minimum 3.0 GPA for your most recent degree
  • Two letters of recommendation, usually from professors
  • A resume with education and work experience details
  • A personal essay or statement of intent
  • GRE or GMAT scores

What Can You Do With an Organizational Leadership Master's?

Organizational leadership master's graduates have landed a variety of roles in a range of industries. In fact, each of the top three employers of organizational leadership master's graduates in the last 12 months is in a different industry. According to the analytics company Lightcast, those employers are the consulting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, Shelby County public school district in Tennessee, and the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson.

We've listed possible career opportunities for alumni of organizational leadership programs below.

Annual Median Salary: $77,030
Job Outlook: 28% growth

Consumers have grown used to receiving goods quickly, and employers need logisticians to keep them flowing fast. These employees monitor supply chains and improve them where possible. You may be able to improve your prospects for these jobs by taking extra logistics or supply chain classes.

Annual Median Salary: $93,000
Job Outlook: 11% growth

These analysts make recommendations about improving employers' workforces, which can range from reducing spending to changing the organizational culture. They often work for consulting firms, where they examine an employer over a period of time and deliver their findings in a report.

Annual Median Salary: $82,360
Job Outlook: 23% growth

Operations research is the use of numerical data and inference to streamline processes, such as manufacturing or customer service. Analysts figure out which processes could be more efficient, then make recommendations to management about how to make it happen. It may be a good idea to take electives in statistics and quantitative reasoning if you're interested in this work.

Annual Median Salary: $98,980
Job Outlook: 6% growth

Executives are organizational leaders who sit near the top of their employers' decision-making hierarchy. Although you might enter management soon after earning your master's, you typically also need many years of experience to reach the highest levels of your field.

Is an Online Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership Worth It?

It's tough to say in advance whether a degree will be worthwhile, but an organizational leadership master's has been a good investment to many graduates committed to leading organizations. These degrees often equip graduates with useful, transferable skills that might help you succeed in whichever sector you choose to work in.

Potential Benefits

According to Lightcast data, organizational leadership master's graduates secure work in a range of high-paying, relatively stable fields. Besides those listed above, popular choices include project management specialist and human resources manager

Organizational leadership is a less known quantity than business administration, which might help you stand apart in a job market crowded with MBA graduates. You may want to perfect a confident elevator pitch for the advantages that your education has given you.

Potential Drawbacks

Higher education is expensive, and a master's degree could put you further into debt. There's lots of research about the worth of an MBA, but it's unclear whether a graduate degree in organizational leadership offers quite the same pay boost to make it worth the debt.

Online learning may be less useful for networking than studying on campus. Online students have fewer chances to interact with classmates and faculty who can offer potentially helpful professional connections.

Still undecided on your degree? Explore similar online degrees in business management, communications, and human resources.

Organizational Leadership Concentrations

As you research master's degrees, you may notice some programs that offer optional concentrations. These concentrations are collections of courses designed to help you improve your competencies in a focus area. Read on for examples of organizational leadership concentrations and what they entail for this field in particular. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion is likely to become an increasingly popular specialization as employers push for more diverse hiring and inclusive workplace practices. Coursework may cover cultural sensitivity, organizational change, and mentoring.

A human resources specialization may be ideal if you're interested in working for HR consulting firms or in the HR department of a large employer. You might study talent acquisition, team building, conflict resolution, and performance management.

Project management courses may help develop the skills needed to manage cross-functional teams that come together for special initiatives. This concentration often consists of courses on budgeting, leading diverse teams, and the Project Management Body of Knowledge.

Faculty in supply chain management teach the efficient flow of materials and finished products through the development and delivery cycle. You'll typically take courses on logistical planning, implementation, and problem-solving.

Organizational Leadership Courses

Organizational leadership master's curricula vary slightly from one school to the next. However, most programs cover many of the same concepts, perhaps only packaged a bit differently. We've listed some courses below that you're likely to encounter in some form during a master's degree program.

Ethical Leadership

Students examine theories of ethics and apply them for organizational leadership purposes. Faculty usually discuss real-life case studies of ethical decision-making in professional contexts. Students may also write about hypothetical scenarios.

Foundations of Leadership

Master's cohorts typically take this class during their first term, because it introduces the concepts underpinning organizational leadership. Topics include organizational behavior, organizational development, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and leadership theories such as transformational and dyadic.

Leading During Crises

This class covers methods for understanding and mitigating unfolding crises. Professors lecture on risk assessment, threat detection, response plans, and strategic organizational communication.

Organizational Finance

Leaders need to understand how their organization receives and uses money, which is the subject of this course. Lessons often cover microeconomics principles, budgeting, and cost-benefit analysis across the corporate, government, and nonprofit sectors, because each has a different relationship to financing.

Strategic Planning

This course covers one of the most important functions of leadership: providing an overarching, long-term plan for an organization. Students complete readings and assignments about setting goals, delegating responsibility, drawing up budgets, making necessary adjustments, and reviewing actual outcomes. 

FAQs about Online Organizational Leadership Master's Degrees

Which Is Better: an MBA or a Master's in Organizational Leadership?


It's difficult to answer this without more research into the career outcomes of organizational leadership master's graduates. We can definitively say that an MBA is usually a good investment, especially if you get your MBA from a program with a high Salary Score. Therefore, an MBA is likely a safer bet, but this doesn't mean that an organizational leadership degree is necessarily inferior.

How Long Does It Take To Get a Master's in Organizational Leadership?


Faculty usually design these master's degrees to last two years with a part-time schedule, working on the assumption that graduate students want to take one or two classes at a time. But there is some variation within that framework. For example, program administrators may allow you to take fewer courses than usual or skip a term as long as you finish within three or four years.

How Much Does an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Cost?


According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the overall average yearly cost of a graduate program is $19,749. But keep in mind that costs vary widely among schools. In general, public schools are the most affordable as long as you qualify for in-state tuition rates, followed by for-profit private schools, then nonprofit private schools. Financial aid can help lower the total cost of a degree, so it's always good practice to apply for all possible sources of aid.

How Much Can You Make With a Master's in Organizational Leadership?


According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information systems manager is the highest paying job in the management field. These professionals make median yearly wages of $159,010. However, you need at least some previous computer science or IT education and experience to secure a leadership role. One of the highest paying roles for graduates of a master's in organizational leadership that doesn't necessarily require years of experience is management analyst, which has a median annual salary of $93,000.

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