Finding an online Master's in Organizational Leadership is not a simple task. With the business management field changing, so too do the programs that offer a graduate education in this field. And now that organizational leadership is seen as a field with immense value by companies who wish to prepare their own employees for leadership positions, it has never been more necessary to find a degree that can help in that goal.
There are over a hundred programs that confer online degrees in this field, but not all degrees are created equally. Some programs are better than others, but that only one that can make that distinction is the professional who chooses to take on that degree. That's why rankings in this field are important; it provides students with the chance to see different program features prior to making the final decision on their graduate school choice.
This ranking was created by using the National Center for Education Statistics and its College Navigator database. An initial pool of 140 schools set the standard and from there, the final 9 were chosen based on in-state graduate tuition rates. They appear below in descending order.
9. University of Texas at Dallas
Online Master of Business Administration, Leadership in Organizations Specialization
Housed within the University of Texas at Dallas lies an alternative to an online Master's in Organizational Leadership. This is a hybrid MBA program that offers a concentration in Leadership in Organizations, offering students the opportunity to take on an in-demand degree that can help them with their career goals. This program is taught by the same renown faculty that teaches on campus and is also AACSB accredited. It is also housed within the Naveen Jindal School of Management, which currently is ranked as one of the best graduate schools in the nation by U.S. News and World Report. The MBA offers more than a dozen concentrations, and students are encouraged to take on one or more concentrations to help specialize their field of expertise. This degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, practicums, workshop residencies, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Foundations of Work Behavior, Strategic Human Resource Management, and Principles of Leadership.
8. University of Alabama
Online Master of Arts in Communication Studies, Specialization in Organizational Leadership
The University of Alabama confers a great Master's in Organizational Leadership online degree. The MA in Communication Studies with a specialization in Organizational Leadership is a 100 percent online program that focuses on communication and leadership. It focuses on the skills needed to become an effective communicator and combines that with leadership skills that are taught both as theoretical concepts and as experiential learning experiences. Professionals who are already working in the field will be happy to know that this program can be completed on a part-time basis in less than two years. Students will be required to complete 30 credit hours of coursework, a research project, a professional project, and a capstone portfolio. Sample courses include Conflict and Negotiation, Technology, Culture and Human Communication, and Gender and Political Communication.
7. Colorado State University – Global Campus
Online Master in Science in Organizational Leadership
An online Master's in Organizational Leadership can be found at Colorado State University – Global Campus and is a great addition to any professional's resume. This program is designed to prepare students to lead organizations through complex changes and will enable them to work with leadership strategies so they can implement changes when necessary. As a 100 percent online program, students never have to worry about campus residencies; all requirements can be completed on their own schedule and their area of residence. Students should note that this accredited degree comes with over a dozen specializations and two tracks, practitioner and research. The degree requires 36 credit hours of coursework, an internship, and a capstone project. Sample courses include Contemporary Business Writing and Communication, Leading Diverse Teams, and Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility.
6. University of Wisconsin at Platteville
Online Master of Science in Organizational Change Leadership
The University of Wisconsin at Platteville offers students the chance to earn a cheap online Master's in Organizational Leadership that is also known as one of the best online graduate degrees in the country by U.S. News and World Report. This program is 100 percent online, with all requirements being fulfilled by learners in their own community. It also comes with a variety of specializations, such as Project Management, Safety Risk Control, and Human Resources. Students can expect to complete 33 credit hours of coursework, a research project, a capstone project, and a comprehensive exam. Sample courses include Current Issues in Human Resources, Conflict Resolution and Negotiation, and Creative Problem Solving.
5. Granite State University
Concord, New Hampshire
Online Master of Science in Leadership
Granite State College is one of the best schools for professionals in this field and holds rankings by U.S. News and World Report for its graduate degrees in Leadership, Management, and Project Management. Available as a wholly online or hybrid degree, this program offers students a current curriculum that is taught by industry experts who work as professors for the university. This program focuses on the different aspects of leadership and because the degree can lead to careers in a variety of industries, the staff ensures that students have access to a well-rounded education. This degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a capstone project for graduation. Sample courses include Cultivating Your Leadership Capabilities, Maximizing Your Organization's Potential, and Emergence of a Strategic Leader.
4. Bellevue University
Online Master of Science in Organizational Performance
With a stated goal of preparing students for mid-level or senior-level executive positions in a variety of fields, Bellevue University confers an online Master's in Organizational Leadership that is unique in many ways. Students will be placed in cohorts and can complete the degree as either a wholly online or hybrid degree. They can also choose to study full-time or part-time and have up to five years to complete all the necessary requirements for the degree. Bellevue also does not require the purchase of study materials or books; these are delivered online and are free for all students. Students will be expected to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and an applied project for graduation. Sample courses include Stimulating Creativity in Organizations, Coaching and Mentoring for High Performance, and Designing and Conducting Performance Improvement Interventions.
3. University of Maryland at University College
Online Management Master's Degree with Project Management Specialization
The University of Maryland at University College offers an interesting graduate degree in organizational leadership. This degree is one of the few on this list that has a curriculum that is aligned with certifications from the Project Management Institute, meaning that students can complete a certificate while continuing their studies, enabling them to pursue advanced career options while still in school. This program can also lead to PMI Certified Associate in Project Management or PMI Project Management Professional certification. All coursework can be completed online or as a hybrid program. The curriculum was also designed by industry experts and employers, ensuring that every student is taught the fundamentals and advanced concepts that are needed in the industry today. The degree requires that students complete 36 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Sample courses include Organizational Theory and Behavior, Financial and Strategic Management of Projects, and Statistics for Managerial Decision Making.
2. University of South Florida
Online Master of Business Administration, Leadership Concepts and Organization Theory
The University of South Florida enjoys a great national reputation for hosting one of U.S. News and World Report's best online MBA programs. This degree comes with a specialization in Leadership Concepts and Organization Theory, making it a great choice for professionals in the field. USF is a good choice for students interested in engaging in experiential learning at the graduate level; this program offers the opportunity to take on global immersions, work on case competitions, and work on real-world case studies, all while completing this degree. As this is an experiential-based degree, it should be noted that this is a hybrid program; students must be able to travel to campus in order to take part of team collaborations, which is a requirement for graduation. Other requirements include 36 credit hours of coursework and a capstone project. Sample courses include Management Through Constructive Persuasion, Decision Making and Problem Solving, and Politics and Control in Organizations.
1. Thomas Edison State University
Trenton, New Jersey
Online Master of Science in Management, Specialization in Organizational Leadership
The online Master's in Organizational Leadership that is conferred by Thomas Edison State University is a great choice for students looking for an affordable, quality education. This program has a stated focus on organizational leadership, but the concentration takes it one step further, enabling students to delve deep into the psychology of leadership and how change affects organizations from the senior level to the entry level. This is a practical, 100 percent online program; students will never have to show up to campus and can construct their own curriculums to fit their needs. Students will be required to complete 36 credit hours of coursework, a research project, and a capstone. Sample courses include Contemporary Issues in leadership, Leading Change in Complex Organizations, and Organizational Management and Leadership.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Career Options for an Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Degree?
Organizational leadership is an incredible field in that it offers professionals the opportunity to work in just about every industry in America. From working as managers to becoming education administrators, the range of career options enables professionals to work in a field they are passionate in.
The most common position that a professional will take in this field is that of a manager. This can be a human resources manager position, or it can have to do with organization management or training and development. Students will note the clear relationship between human resources and organizational leadership, which lends itself to providing these opportunities to graduates.
Another great career choice can be found in higher education. Whether working with professional organizations or finding a job as an education administrator in a university setting, students will find that their unique talents are needed in the education field. Many of these professionals work alongside students and professionals to train them in higher education, prepare them for graduation or certification, and help them create a plan for professional development.
How Much Can You Earn in this Field?
How much a professional can earn in this field depends on what type of degree they earn. Because it is possible to earn a business degree with a specialization in organizational leadership, a Master of Science, or a Master of Art, the salaries can be quite different. However, most salaries will range between $82,000 to $110,000.
Most professionals with a degree in the field will work as training and development managers; these professionals make around $102,000 a year. Human resource managers who take on a degree in organizational leadership can expect to make around the same. These salaries may fluctuate depending on the industry and the region in America where the jobs can be found.
Education Administrators also play a role in this area and is one of the most common career options for professionals. They can expect to have a starting salary of $90,000.
What are the Various Disciplines of Organizational Leadership?
Organizational leadership is the study of leadership for a single individual or a group of people. It is a field that is present in every other field and therefore, pinning down the exact disciplines can be difficult.
However, the general consensus is that organizational leadership includes the disciplines of management, organization, leadership, human resources, psychology, and sociology. In most cases, it also includes business, career development, and education.
Professionals who choose to work in different industries may also find that other disciplines will be part of their work. For example, a professional who works in social work will find that an understanding of social work, justice, and family science may be required of them. This is just one example, but it rings true for every field that an organizational leadership professional may find themselves in.
What Accreditations Matter for this Degree?
Accreditations matter for business and business-related degrees; organizational leadership falls under this umbrella. However, instead of having one accrediting body to look to for accreditation, professionals in this industry will find that the type of accreditation depends on the type of degree conferred.
For example, a student who earns the MBA with a specialization in organizational leadership will benefit from earning that degree from an AACSB or AACSB International-accredited program. This is because the degree itself is business in nature, and employers will expect anyone with an MBA to have earned it through an accredited institution.
It's also possible to find SHRM accreditation or adherence to the SHRM guidelines as a pathway forward. Many degrees in management with a specialization in leadership carry this accreditation because human resources is closely related to the field.
The last type of accreditation offered is from the Project Management Institute, which is also known as PMI. This recognition is not so much important for accreditation purposes but for the certification possibilities it provides. Project management is an emerging field and attending a program that aligns with PMI guidelines paves the way forward to sit for certification as a Project Manager.
While accreditation does matter for a Master's in Organizational Leadership, what matters more is whether or not the professional earning the degree is going to work in particular industry. Because different specialized fields require different accreditation, students should focus on their ultimate career goals when choosing a graduate school for their needs.
Are Online Degrees Really Better Than Traditional Degrees?
Traditional degrees are traditional because the programs have been taught the same way for decades and, in some cases, hundreds of years. That does not mean that traditional degrees are the best option for everyone, especially working professionals who can't take time off from work to pursue a two-year degree. For some students, an online degree is a better way forward.
This is because online degrees offer a variety of options that make these programs more flexible. Students can choose to take on asynchronous or synchronous courses; this refers to whether a student must be present at a certain time to participate in a class or if they can choose when they engage with the material. Many online courses also come with a companion app for smartphones, enabling students to take their education with them wherever they go; traditional programs don't offer this feature.
Working professionals who are trying to earn a graduate degree also benefit from scheduling options that online degrees employ. They can choose to go to school full-time or part-time, engage in accelerated term schedules, and even take one course at a time in the form of winter or summer intensives. Traditional programs generally follow the academic term schedule, meaning that professionals would be required to complete courses in a longer time frame and add more to their course load in order to graduate on time.
The final reason that online degrees may be a better option to traditional degrees is affordability. Traditional programs can cost thousands of dollars for each semester, with money generally required before classes begin. Online programs, on the other hand, have begun offering their degrees at in-state tuition prices or even the school's own online flat tuition rate. This makes it more affordable for students who have fiscal responsibilities that hinder them from paying for a traditional education.
Because online and traditional degrees are indistinguishable from each other once a student graduates, an online program may be a better fit for working professionals. While this will not be true for every professional, earning an online degree is an option that most should consider prior to making a decision on their graduate education.
Organizational leadership is a continuously changing field, one that requires professionals who understand leadership on a fundamental level. As a field of business management, it is becoming critical that every business professional has at least some understanding of how the field works, especially if they want to continue to be at the top of their industry. With this in mind, the ranking above showcases the ten best online programs in this area, making it easier than ever for organizational leadership professionals to find the online Master's in Organizational leadership degree that best fits their needs.