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

Organizational leadership graduate degrees enable students to fill higher level positions in many different verticals, including human resources, communications and C-suite roles. This master’s is considered by some as an alternative degree path to earning an MBA. While MBA studies commonly include classes and concentrations based on analytics, the master’s in organizational leadership focuses on people-centric operations. Some classes do overlap between this master’s program and MBA studies and diverge into separate focus areas through concentrations and electives.

Much of the studies a student in organizational leadership undergoes focuses on strategy, interpersonal relations in the workplace, organizational psychology, and ethics issues. The goal of these studies is to create effectiveness and efficiency within the workplace while enabling all employees to work to their full potential, recruiting appropriate personnel to enhance workplace functionality and engaging and retaining current talent

Earning a master’s in organizational leadership through an online format enables students to continue in their current career path while completing studies flexibly to accommodate other life functions. Additionally, online master’s degrees eliminates the necessity to relocate closer to a college to complete studies. Various master’s programs in this degree field enable asynchronous learning opportunities the facilitate self-paced learning while others offer lock-step options that enable students to earn their degree faster

Degrees Offered for an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Organizational Communications Organizational communications classes focuses on learning paradigms that espouse healthy and effective communications in the workplace. This concentration can also enable professionals to manage crisis communications as well as conflict management. Communications Manager, VP Communications
Human Resources The human resources concentration for the master’s in organizational leadership equips current HR personnel and future graduates to effectively manage all people-centric functions within an organization. HR Manager, Chief Human Resources Officer
Project Management The project management concentrations enables students not only to pursue certification in this vertical but also to ably manage both small- and large-scale projects and programs, including launching new projects and managing those begun by other personnel. Project Manager, Chief Operating Officer

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership is a broad learning and career field, ensuring prospective students can find the best program to further their career while focusing on core classes and concentrations that align with future employment goals. Some schools offer this degree as a master’s of science program, focusing on scientific and analytical courses, as well as math-based studies like statistics. Other schools offer this degree as a master’s of arts with core classes in areas including psychology, workplace behavioral issues and leadership classes.

Some common classes within the organizational leadership field include:

Global Leadership Prepares future organizational leaders to work with leaders in an ever-expanding global economy, including the development of “best in class” organizational structures and results
Human Behavior in the Workforce Develops a deep understanding for the performance, motivations, interpersonal interactions and results within an organization through research and psychological observation and investigatory skills
Relational Communication Enables future organizational leaders to observe current communication capacities and practices in the workforce then design and deploy enhancements and changes
Developing Organizational Leadership Grounds students in the methodology to coach and develop leaders within an organization including maintaining a talent pipeline and providing necessary tools to personnel to achieve success in their positions

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership?

Courseloads at the various universities who offer an online master’s in organizational leadership range from 30 to 48 credit hours. The variation between credits necessary for graduation are the result of programs designing their core and concentration requirements to best prepare students for the varied roles they may feel after graduation. At some schools, a solid work background in the same area as the advanced degree can enable students to earn credit for that experience and thus reduce the number of required credits. Additionally, holding certifications in the targeted concentration, such as HR and project management designations, may also reduce credit loads.

The amount of time it takes to earn an online master’s in organizational leadership ranges from 18 months to several years. Most students can complete this degree in 24 months by taking advantage of lock-step scheduling, intensives and efficiently completing internships, capstone projects or a thesis. At other schools where this master’s is offered through asynchronous courses, students have fairly wide discretion over how long each course takes to complete. In some cases, the amount of time between starting the program and graduation can vary due to the student’s choice to pursue multiple concentrations or additional electives.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Prepares For

Professional in Human Resources The PHR certification is conferred by the HR Certification Institute. The PHR, Senior PHR and Global PHR all offer opportunities to achieve certification based upon the length of time working in the HR field, education that is HR-related and taking part in continuing education learning opportunities. After approved, professionals must sit for an exam to complete the qualification process.
Project Management Professional The PMP designation is awarded to professionals by the Project Management Institute upon completing of requirements including time-in-service in project management roles, educationally degrees achieved and continuing education pursued. This certification also requires the completion of a rigorous exam.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degrees

Schools have a variety of options when pursuing accreditation for a degree, a department or college within the school, or the entire institution. The most common accreditations schools can achieve are granting by regional or national accrediting bodies. Some of those include:

Additionally, schools can pursue accreditation relation to professional organizations, like the Global Accreditation Center offered by the Project Management Institute or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Organizational Leadership Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

Many organizational leadership positions require incumbents to possess a master’s degree at the minimum and, in higher level jobs, a Ph.D. Some jobs are available to those individuals who have earned a bachelor’s degree without yet pursuing graduate education. In most cases, professionals with a four-year degree can fill entry-level positions and then gain the necessary on-the-job education to advance or to pursue certifications. Bachelor’s degreed employees typical run smaller scale projects or work under the direct supervision of managers who have already earned graduate degrees. The organizational leadership vertical continues to grow on par with other management and upper management roles. Regardless the degree earned, organizational leadership and human resources are constantly evolving fields, making continuing education a must in order to stay abreast of changing approaches to management as well as updates in legislative updates that may a crucial role in an organization.

Expected Salary

An online degree in organizational leadership best prepares students to assume higher level positions within an organization with salary commensurate with their education and experience.

People with a master’s in organizational leadership graduate prepared to assume roles in a variety of industries and verticals. Some of the more common areas in which these professionals work include human resources, project management, operations management and organizational development. As a leading discipline related to organizational leadership degrees, more than 136,000 professionals work as human resource managers. The need for human resource managers is broad and comprises jobs in many different fields.

This table breaks down the top industries in which an HR professional will work, including number of positions and related salaries.

Management of Companies and Enterprises 22,690 $148,140
Local Government 8,540 $111,570
Employment Services 6,510 $130,590
Hospitals 4,590 $132,340
Computer Systems Design and Related Services 6,850 $156,860

Career Opportunities

Graduates with a master’s degree in organizational leadership have access to a wide field of job opportunities. Concentrations, specializes and certifications may help narrow the field.

Human Resources Manager As a human resource manager, professionals have the opportunity to design and deploy people-related strategies while also overseeing other HR functions within an organization. In a smaller company, HR managers might manage all day-to-day required functions, including payroll, benefits, training, engagement and periodic reviews. In larger organizations, the HR manager might oversee these functions as they are performed by subordinates. $110,120 per year 9%
Project Manager Project managers help with creation and design of projects throughout nearly any operational department, including IT, human resources, finance and sales. Certified project managers typically follow the 5-step cycle for projects, including project initiation, project planning, project execution, project monitoring and control, and project closure. $70,010 per year 10%
Organizational Development Manager Organizational development managers study companies and utilize advanced analytical tools to understand current organizational paradigms before creating the strategy for advancements in organizational develops that benefit both the company and its professionals. $82,250 per year 14%

Professional Organizations

Organizational leadership professions can optimize their career through membership in pertinent professional groups. Membership in these organizations offer insight into common industry issues, broad ranging CEU-learning classes, timely updates on industry issues including legislation and legal issues, plus the opportunity to connect with others in similar positions both through online forums and hosted events.

Many organizations represent, enable and augment the work done by professionals in the law enforcement and legal fields. Most police agencies have their own associations, including unions, educational and groups which cover officers with legal representation.

Society for Human Research Management (SHRM): The Society for Human Research Management is open to both professionals and students in the HR field. An enormous professional organization, SHRM boasts of having 285,000 members spread throughout the world. SHRM offers legislative updates, current learnings and trends in human resource management, continuing education opportunities and on-going in-person events that foster networking.

National Management Association: The National Management Association is open to individuals at all stages of their professional life and enables local networking events, the ability to earn certifications, continuing education classes, updates in new approaches plus legislative changes, and a large learning library.

Institute for Organization Management: The United States Chamber of Commerce Foundation oversee the Institute for Organizational Management, which offers its members the ability to take formal classes to enhance their degrees, participate in continuing education, networking opportunities at events around the country and changes in paradigms and legislation that organizational leaders most need to know.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degree

One of the primary considerations for prospective students considering an advanced degree is how much it will cost. Typically, master’s degrees charge more per credit hour than undergraduate courses. Online master’s degrees in organizational leadership often offer lower tuition and fee rates than their brick and mortar counterparts. Additionally, students with a military background, including military spouses, may be granted lower costs plus savings when fees for applications and other functions offer waivers to those affiliated with the armed forces.

The cost of a master’s in organizational leadership may be too high to pay for out of pocket. Fortunately, students can pursue many types of financial aid, including scholarships, grants, work-study programs and loans. To begin the process of securing financial aid, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students are required to complete this form each calendar year. Once submitted, students can learn about specific financial aid offerings from the federal government, including subsidized loans and grants. For those who pursue federal loans, the government offers relatively low interest rates and permits deferments or forgiveness in some cases.

Students can also pursue school funding through their chosen university, philanthropic organizations and industry organizations. Industry organizations typically require membership fees to access scholarships, but that can be seen as a good investment for the financial aid funding possible.



Scholarships Details
Susan R. Meisinger Fellowship for Master’s Degree Students Award: $10,000

Deadline: August 1

Eligibility: SHRM members or people who hold SHRM certifications and a minimum of 5 years in a business role with 3 of those years in HR can apply for this fellowship that is renewal for one additional year.

SHRM Graduate Scholarships Award: $5,000

Deadline: August 15

Eligibility: SHRM members studying in a field related to human resources can apply for this graduate scholarship as long as they retain a 3.5 GPA for graduate classes.

Interested in a degree instead?

Learn more about online degrees, their start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.