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Students who earn an online master’s in organizational leadership will master all the skills necessary to become a leader uniquely suited for 21st-century challenges. Whether graduates want to strike out independently or lead other organizations to success, completing the required coursework won’t take long. With degree programs ranging between 30 to 36 credit hours, it’s possible to earn this master’s degree in as little as one year.

According to U.S. News & World Report, a master’s in organizational leadership will usually cost somewhere between $24,000 to $50,000, depending on where students go to school. Graduates will then be qualified to work as project management specialists, who earn an average salary of around $95,000 per year.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Program

Choose your area of study

A master’s in organizational leadership is usually offered as a Master of Business Administration (MBA) or Master of Science (MS) degree. MBA in organizational leadership programs cover a broad range of business topics, while MS in organizational leadership programs focus more on data analysis and other math-related topics.

Furthermore, some programs allow you to focus your studies on a concentration such as healthcare management, nonprofit management, global business, or leadership coaching. These concentrations can help students learn more about leadership concepts, but it’s best if students first consider their future career plans before choosing a concentration. That way, they can better ensure their graduate education will help provide them with the precise knowledge and practice necessary to become a leader in their chosen field.

Research schools and programs

Students will likely discover more than one online master’s in organizational leadership program that seems promising, so narrowing down the list is essential.

You should only consider institutions that have been approved by a DOE-recognized regional accrediting organization, such as the New England Commission of Higher Education or Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. These organizations evaluate schools to ensure they provide students with a high-quality education. Those who attend a school that isn’t regionally accredited may be unable to access financial aid or transfer credits to another institution if needed.

Ideally, your master’s in organizational leadership program will also be accredited by a respected industry group like the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These organizations have particularly high standards for business education.

You should carefully review the cost of each option as well. And if you anticipate needing extra help with your studies, rule out any schools that don’t offer a robust support system for remote students.

To learn more about any schools that you’re interested in, you can visit their website, contact an admissions counselor, follow the school on social media, or attend an in-person or virtual open house.

Prepare for tests and applications

Most online master’s in organizational leadership programs do not require students to submit GRE scores as part of their application, which can help save time when applying.

The application for each prospective school will specify all the additional paperwork that may be required, typically including undergraduate transcripts and a cover letter. Students may also need to provide letters of recommendation from previous instructors or employers and application essays tailored to specific prompts. Application requirements vary dramatically from program to program, so pay close attention to each set of requirements. Before submitting an application, always contact an admissions counselor to ensure you have the most accurate information regarding requirements and deadlines.

Select your program

After narrowing down their initial list of prospective schools, students must ultimately select the programs they will apply for.

Before making your final decision, you should review your needs and goals again (especially any logistical concerns). Do you plan to attend school full-time or part-time? Are you only interested in 100% online programs, or are you fine with a hybrid program that has a few in-person requirements? Some programs offer asynchronous courses, which can be completed at your own pace, while others only offer synchronous courses, which involve remotely attending lectures and completing assignments at the same time as other students — which of these two online learning formats do you prefer?

If you are interested in a particular concentration, you should confirm that this area of study is available at the programs you apply to. Finally, since these programs are designed to train the leaders of tomorrow, it may be helpful to research the professors teaching the class and their experience in management and leadership.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Students who need financial assistance to pay for their graduate education should fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each academic year.

At a minimum, completing the FAFSA qualifies students for federal student loans and may be a prerequisite for any available special grants or scholarships. While such grants and scholarships are rarer for graduate students, contacting the financial aid office for prospective schools is always helpful. These offices may have information on special aid available through the school or through the state that would otherwise be very difficult to learn about. Students who already work in the field should see if their employer offers tuition assistance benefits as well.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Programs

Best Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs

Gonzaga University

Saint Louis University

Lincoln Christian University

Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education & Psychology

Regis University

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

Colorado State University Global

Crown College

Saint Joseph’s University

Quinnipiac University

University of Wisconsin at Platteville

University of South Dakota

University of Denver

Norwich University

Lewis University

Regent University

Robert Morris University

John Hopkins University

National University

Trine University

Baker University

Indiana Wesleyan University

University of Saint Francis

University of Northwestern at St. Paul

Southern New Hampshire University

Teachers College at Columbia University

Wheeling University

Georgia Tech Professional Education

Golden Gate University

California Baptist University

Kettering University

University of Oklahoma

Trevecca Nazarene University

Azusa Pacific University

Western Kentucky University

Creighton University

Charleston Southern University

Fort Hays State University

Michigan State University

York University

University of Mary

Point Loma Nazarene University

Lipscomb University

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How We Rank Schools

In this guide, we only included programs with regional accreditation to ensure that they meet the highest quality standards for education. Many of the programs also have programmatic accreditation from the AACSB or ACBSP — these additional accreditations provide an extra guarantee of quality specific to business education.

We evaluated each program’s course strength, cost, faculty, flexibility, and reputation. Then, we calculated an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Program?

Students who enter an online master’s in organizational leadership program have typically demonstrated previous skills in leadership and management regardless of their undergraduate degree. This master’s program helps build upon existing skills by offering coursework primarily on organization and communication skills.

Communication skills are critical because even if students have mastered the art of institutional organization (which is complex enough), they must fully convey their vision and instructions to a diverse group of employees. By learning organizational and communication skills, the leaders of tomorrow can ensure that any teams they lead will work as a cohesive unit toward a unified goal.

Full-time students can complete most of these online programs in two years. In some cases, accelerated programs may be available, allowing students to complete everything online in just one year.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online master’s in organizational leadership degree program

  • Organizational Leadership: Social Psychological Perspectives. This course focuses on social psychology to help future leaders understand more about how the feelings and beliefs of others influence how they approach tasks and interact with management. By learning more about the minds and motivations of those they may one day be in charge of, students can learn how to become more effective in their individual and institutional leadership.
  • Critical Perspectives in Leadership Theory. This course helps students discover the truth about many of the assumptions most people make about leadership. Students will review the historical evolution of leadership theories, including the uncomfortable relationship between leadership and oppression. Ultimately, the goal is to help students balance effective leadership and management of human resources.
  • Evidence-Based Inquiry in Organizational Leadership. The most important quality in any professional leader is the ability to solve problems, and this class focuses on using an evidence-based approach to investigating and overcoming different professional obstacles. Students will learn how to apply deductive, inductive, and abductive reasoning skills using a variety of hands-on exercises.
  • Quantitative Data Analysis in Leadership Research. Because so much about modern leadership is data-driven, this course focuses on teaching students methodological and theoretical data analysis methods. Using statistical software, students will learn the basics of quantitative research methods and how properly studying the data can help them guide institutions to success as thought leaders.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s in organizational leadership is encouraging, reflecting the increasing demand for skilled leaders in various industries. Many of the occupations in this field are growing quickly, and some offer particularly high salaries.

Individuals with an online master’s degree in organizational leadership have a diverse array of career options, as their education equips them with the skills to lead and navigate the complexities of many different types of modern organizations. Earning potential and specific job responsibilities may vary based on factors such as experience, industry, and the nature of the organization. Here are some specific job options for individuals with a master’s degree in organizational leadership:

  • Top executive — Coordinate the work of an organization by establishing goals, overseeing activities, and appointing department heads and managers.
    • Median annual salary: $100,090
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 3%
    • New job openings projected: 311,600 annually
  • Human resources manager — Oversee employee relations, payroll administration, and talent acquisition and development.
    • Median annual salary: $130,000
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 5%
    • New job openings projected: 15,500 annually
  • Health services manager — Manage the business activities of healthcare organizations, such as preparing budgets, monitoring finances, and supervising administrative staff.
    • Median annual salary: $104,830
    • Projected employment growth (through 2032): 28%
    • New job openings projected: 54,700 annually

Online Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master’s in organizational leadership degree program?

To apply to an online master’s in organizational leadership degree program, students must visit the university website and pull up the application. The application will specify what students must do to apply, typically consisting of submitting undergraduate transcripts and a cover letter. The application will also specify whether or not students need to include extra paperwork, including application essays or letters of recommendation.

At this stage, contacting the admissions office for prospective schools is always helpful. This office can answer any questions about the application, school, or program, which can help the student save plenty of time.

How much does an online master’s in organizational leadership degree cost?

According to U.S. News & World Report, a master’s in organizational leadership will usually cost between $24,000 to $50,000. Private and out-of-state public schools will cost more, while in-state public schools will cost less. Additionally, programs requiring more credit hours will likely cost more, and students who take longer to graduate will probably pay more than students who graduate on time.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s in organizational leadership degree?

For the most part, online master’s in organizational leadership programs are designed to be completed in two years by full-time students, which is the same amount of time it would take to earn such a degree on campus.

In some cases, students may find accelerated programs that allow them to complete all required coursework in as little as one year. Fortunately, most of these graduate programs are very accommodating to nontraditional students. They can work around the schedule of those who can only take classes on a part-time basis.

Is an online master's in organizational leadership worth it?

Earning an online master’s in organizational leadership offers significant advantages in the dynamic landscape of modern organizations. Leadership skills are crucial for career advancement, and an advanced degree can position individuals for leadership roles with higher earning options.

An online master’s in organizational leadership provides theoretical knowledge as well as practical insights and skills that are directly applicable to leadership positions. Also, the flexibility of many online programs allows professionals to continue working while advancing their leadership capabilities, making it a valuable investment in both career growth and organizational success.

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