9 Most Affordable Master’s in Organizational Leadership Online for 2021

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The global pandemic has challenged even the most seasoned executives over the past year. Despite the dropping rates of COVID-19, this trend has continued, even as the world operates in a “new normal.” The changes we’ve seen in the business world mean that organizational leadership skills may be more crucial than ever, and a master’s degree in organizational leadership can be a valuable asset to both businesses and those who have an interest in employment in this field. 

Perhaps that’s why there has been an uptick in interest in this field since the start of the pandemic. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), as of 2020, business schools saw a 67% increase in application volume. Part of that large increase could be attributed to the “pandemic-induced uncertainty” surrounding careers and jobs — but could also be attributed to the widespread adoption of more flexible online or distance-learning programs at colleges around the nation. 

If you’re interested in pursuing a master’s degree in this field, the good news is that you have plenty of flexible online options to choose from, starting with the most affordable online master’s in organizational leadership programs listed below.

Explore these promoted online degree programs.

These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online graduate degree programs. Figuring out where to apply? Consider one of these online Master’s or PhD programs.

Most Affordable Master’s in Organizational Leadership

  1. Thomas Edison State University
    Location

    Trenton, NJ

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  2. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  3. University of Maryland at University College
    Location

    Largo, MD

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  4. Bellevue University
    Location

    Bellevue, NE

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  5. Granite State University
    Location

    Concord, NH

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  6. University of Wisconsin at Platteville
    Location

    Platteville, WI

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  7. Colorado State University – Global Campus
    Location

    Fort Collins, CO

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  8. University of Alabama
    Location

    Mobile, AL

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  9. University of Texas at Dallas
    Location

    Dallas, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    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.

  • Our Methodology, Explained

    Grad School Hub compiles rankings based on public data released from educational, commercial, and government databases. Sources such as the National Center for Education Statistics and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics play a significant role in how we source our educational data. After collecting insight for each institution, we organize information into five weighted categories.

    Metric Data Used Percentage
    Academic Quality Full-time faculty percentage, student-to-faculty ratio, student retention and graduation rates 30%
    Affordability Tuition rates, median student debt, and financial aid 10%
    Reputation Admission and enrollment rates 30%
    Program Offerings Number of program options 20%
    Online Enrollment Score Portion of learners taking at least one online course 10%

    A more comprehensive evaluation of how each category is determined and scored is accessible on our Ranking Methodology page.

Answering Your Questions About an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership


  • How do I earn a master’s degree in organizational leadership ?

    Each master’s in organizational leadership will vary depending on the concentration, program requirements, and other factors. Because the programs all differ from one another, the time it takes to complete this degree program and the courses it requires will also vary.

    That said, there are some typical requirements you can expect while pursuing this type of master’s degree. For starters, it generally takes between two to three years to earn a master’s degree, though it can take anywhere from a year-and-a-half to four years or longer depending on the program requirements and course load you take.

    You’ll likely need to complete foundational courses in an organizational leadership master’s program, including organization, communication, and leadership. You will also spend time on developing practical skills, such as team leadership and how to manage through change, both macro and micro, that could impact your organization.


  • Why should I get a master’s in organizational leadership?

    A master’s degree in organizational leadership is unique because it’s an interdisciplinary degree with a less specialized focus on only one field. If you enroll in this program, you’ll focus on developing strong leadership skills, which could be useful in multiple industries and career tracks. And, because organizational leadership programs are skill-based, you can apply what you’ve learned to a range of leadership and management positions in the nonprofit, public, or private sectors.

    In addition to the development of your leadership skills, you’ll have the opportunity to network and build lasting relationships with peers while enrolled in a master’s in organizational leadership program. This can help you both during the program and in future job or networking opportunities.

  • What are the requirements for an online master’s in organizational leadership degree?

    In general, admissions into an online master’s in organizational leadership is competitive. Each school will have its own admissions and graduation requirements, so it’s important to inquire about this information before enrolling in any program.

    That said, there are typically three main requirements to meet before you apply:

    • A bachelor’s degree
    • Existing professional experience
    • A GPA of at least 2.5 or 3.0, depending on the school

    You’ll also need to submit official school transcripts showing the completion of your bachelor’s degree. You may also need to submit your official GRE or GMAT test scores and letters of recommendation from your employers or professors as part of your admissions packet.


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.

Career Outlook and Salary for Master’s in Organizational Leadership Graduates 

How much a professional can earn in this field depends on what type of degree they earn. The Bureau of Labor Statistics lists business and financial operations occupations as the 8th most popular field, with an average annual wage of about $80,680 as of 2020. 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 $40,310 on the low end to $130,380 on the high end.

Many professionals with a degree in the field will work as training and development managers. These professionals made, on average, about $115,640 per year as of 2020. 

Human resource managers who earn a degree in organizational leadership can expect to make an annual salary in a similar range to the ones above. 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 field, as this is one of the most common career options for professionals. Education administrators typically earned about $93,830 on average as of 2020. 

Top-paying Industries

Some of the highest paid industries for professionals with a master’s in organizational leadership include:

Securities, commodity contracts, and investments

The BLS reports that the securities, commodity contracts, and investments, which employs 38% of the operations-management industry, pays employees at the top of the salary range about $128,880 per year.

Computer and peripheral equipment manufacturing

Managers in computer (and peripheral equipment) manufacturing typically earn, on average, about $126,480 per year, according to the BLS.

Human resources managers

If you have a knack for human resources, you may be able to find a lucrative job in the field with this degree. The median wage for human resources managers was about $121,220 per year as of 2020.

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.

A common position that a professional will take in an Organizational leadership career 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.

Master’s in Organizational Leadership Concentrations 

There are several specific degree paths you can take while earning a master’s in organizational leadership. Some concentration or specialization options include:

Human resource development
Human resources management and development is one of the more popular concentrations for candidates pursuing a master’s in organizational leadership. Courses in this concentration could include crisis management, strategy, and ethics.
Emergency management leadership

The pandemic has brought to light how important emergency intervention from state and federal agencies truly is. A concentration in emergency management leadership puts the focus on man-made and natural disasters, risk assessment, and the interagency management during these disasters.

Teaching leadership
Professionals with experience in teaching and education may choose to follow a teaching leadership track. Teaching leadership concentrations can focus on either adult or child education.
Healthcare management

Organizational leadership skills also apply to the healthcare field. A healthcare management concentration typically includes topics like disaster management as well as healthcare-related human resources and finance specializations.

Certification and Licenses

The accreditations, certifications, and licenses you need or can access in this field will vary based on your area of concentration. 

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 typically 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 a particular industry. Because different specialized fields require different licensing and accreditation, students should focus on their ultimate career goals when choosing a graduate school for their needs.

Scholarships for Master’s in Organizational Leadership Students

VOMI Circle of Excellence Scholarship

The Virtual Organization Management Institute (VOMI) offers a Circle of Excellence Scholarship awards qualifying students with either the full or partial amount of VOMI tuition, plus up to $5,000 in cash. Applicants must be seeking an MBA, Ed.D., or a Ph.D. in either organizational leadership or a related field and seeking to make a transition to a VOM consulting or faculty management position at VOMI. 

Amount: Varies; full or partial tuition plus stipend

Kappa Delta Pi Scholarship

THe Kappa Delta Pi Scholarship awards between $500 and $3,000 to qualifying members at the undergraduate, masters, and doctoral levels of study. It is designed for students earning education-related degrees, which could include organizational leadership, provided you have an education concentration. 

Amount: $500 to $3,000

The Institute for Organization Management Scholarships

The Institute for Organization Management offers dozens of partial scholarships to participants each year. Each scholarship is awarded based on an evaluation of an applicant’s financial need, involvement in industry professional organizations, community service, and professional background.

Amount: Varies

Interested in a Master’s in Organizational Leadership Online? 

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 a graduate program in Organizational leadership, whether a Ph.D. or an online Master’s in Organizational leadership degree, that best fits their needs.

Top 9 Affordable Master’s in Organizational Leadership Online for 2021

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Cynthia Paez Bowman

CONTRIBUTING WRITER

Cynthia Paez Bowman is a writer and teacher in Ohio who covers higher education, online graduate programs, college planning, and more for Grad School Hub. Her writing has also appeared in MSN, The Simple Dollar, and Bankrate.

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Angelica Leicht

Angelica Leicht is a writer for Grad School Hub. A proud University of Houston alum (go Cougs!), she previously served as an education reporter at Kearney Hub, and an editor at the Dallas Observer and Houston Press. Her writing has appeared in Affordable Colleges Online, Bankrate, The Simple Dollar, and elsewhere.

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