The best online masters programs in organizational leadership

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Why get a master’s in organizational leadership?

Over the last decade, technological and commercial innovations have reshaped the way we live.  The definition of what it means to be an effective leader has likewise shifted. As more colleges offer advanced degrees in organizational leadership, they recognize the need to teach future leaders how to function in this new era where the standard for leadership is more nuanced than the traditional top-down, hierarchical model of the past.

Now more than ever, leadership is collaborative. Leaders are expected to take an active role in the work they manage, rather than simply delegate. This means characteristics like empathy, integrity and willingness to learn are absolute necessities for anyone hoping to enter into a leadership role. The leader’s job in the 21st century is not to control but to inspire teams to feel invested in their work.

As an online graduate degree, this program format appeals to professionals busy working but needing a credential to support their bid for promoted positions. The knowledge you attain from this degree can be implemented directly into your work practice, which can both compliment your studies and add benefit in your workplace. Finally, as the trend for remote offices and globally based employees continues to grow, the experience of studying for an online degree in organizational leadership can prepare you to lead an online team of employees.

puzzle Admission requirements

Students who participate in organizational leadership programs find themselves involved in areas related to health, education, business, community outreach and non-profits. To enter into a master’s degree program in this field, you need to fulfill the following admission requirements:

  • statement of purpose
  • resume
  • letters of recommendation
  • transcripts from a bachelor’s program
  • proof of previous/current work experience
  • personal interview
  • application fee

Listed below are the top universities and programs for students interested in becoming an effective modern leader.

Top online masters degree programs in organizational leadership

  • George Washington University

    George Washington University , District Of Columbia
    George Washington University

    The master of organizational leadership and learning program at George Washington University revolves around a multi-disciplinary, hands-on approach. Within the program, students are required to complete 9 elective credits while completing courses such as adult learning, organizational change and human behavior.

    Those who have completed the program have gone on to find jobs and advancement in well-known organizations such as Amazon, Google and Starbucks. Graduates also find roles in the military including in the U.S. Department of State and Coast Guard. 

    Program nameMaster of arts (M.A.) in organizational leadership and learning
    Name of school/dept.Graduate School of Education and Human Development 
    Accreditation Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE)
    Location Washington, D.C
    Cost $1,140 per credit
    GWU Financial Aid
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 30 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Johns Hopkins University

    Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, Maryland
    Johns Hopkins University

    The master of science (M.S.) in organizational leadership at Johns Hopkins University prepares students with modern leadership skills. The program focuses mainly on strategic planning, workforce development, human resources, conflict management and performance evaluation. Students choose this program to advance in their current organization or to pursue new job opportunities.

    Throughout the course of the program, students are required to complete one elective course while completing several core courses on subjects like ethics, project management, managing change and crisis mitigation. Students also complete a capstone project on current issues in leadership.

    Program name Master of Science (M.S.) in organizational leadership
    Name of school/deptGeorge Washington University
    Krieger School of Arts and Sciences
    Accreditation MSCHE
    Location Baltimore, Maryland 
    Cost $4,361 per course
    JHU Financial Aid
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 2 years 
    Read more
  • University of Colorado

    University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado
    University of Colorado

    The M.S. in organizational leadership at the University of Colorado is a program designed for working professionals. The curriculum focuses on merging the fields of business, communications and social sciences. Students in this program learn foundational knowledge in the best practices to build and manage effective teams while learning how to lead in the ever-evolving contemporary business world.

    The program offers 4 specified tracks in addition to a generalized organizational leadership track, as follows:

    • strategic leadership
    • human resources
    • leading innovation
    • organizational communication
    Program name M.S. in organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.Division of Continuing Education 
    AccreditationHigher Learning Commission (HLC)
    North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCACS)
    Location Boulder, Colorado 
    Cost Tuition in-state  $725 per credit hour
    Tuition out-of-state $795 per credit hour
    UC Financial Aid
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 5 semesters (19 months)
    Read more
  • Creighton University

    Creighton University Omaha, Nebraska
    Creighton University

    The M.S. in organizational leadership at Creighton University provides a curriculum that focuses on strengthening students’ ability to handle adversity, manage organizational challenges and collaborate with others. Students can tailor the program to match their career goals by focusing on concentrations such as business or health leadership.

    While earning their organizational leadership degree, students complete coursework in areas such as bioethics, leadership and well-being, sports leadership and healthcare management.

    Creighton University also provides a graduate certificate path that does not require students to commit a full master’s program and only requires the completion of 15 credits. Students are able to choose from the following options:

    • Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership
    • Graduate Certificate in Leadership and Well-Being
    • Graduate Certificate in Educational Leadership through Sports

      The university also provides an opportunity for students to earn 2 master’s simultaneously. Along with a master’s in organizational leadership, students can choose to earn their master of business administration or master of science in negotiation and development.
    Program name M.S. in organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.Department of interdisciplinary studies
    AccreditationHLC, NCACS
    LocationOmaha, Nebraska 
    Cost$955 per credit
    + online fees
    CU  Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOnline 
    Course length 36 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Fresno Pacific University

    Fresno Pacific University Fresno, California
    Fresno Pacific University

    The M.A. in strategic and organizational leadership at Fresno Pacific University is an action-oriented program that focuses on developing innovators within an organization or community. The program is geared toward working individuals, as classes are offered one evening per week. Students complete 5 semesters of coursework including topics like leadership communication, finance for leaders, developing proposals for change and ethics and sustainable leadership strategies. The program culminates in a project called the leadership capstone projection.

    Program nameM.A. in strategic and organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.School of business 
    Accreditation The WASC Senior College and University Commission
    Location Fresno, California 
    Cost $710 per credit
    Fresno Pacific University Financial Aid
    Teaching approach Online and on campus 
    Course length 36 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Boston College

    Boston College Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
    Boston College

    The M.S. in leadership and administration at Boston College focuses on training graduate students to be change agents in what is becoming an increasingly and more diverse and complex world. The curriculum focuses on leadership practices that help students gain the necessary skills to make ethical decisions, analyze data and manage change.

    Students are able to transfer up to 2 courses of comparable graduate work and are required to complete 4 specialization elective courses. The core coursework includes project management, applied ethics, marketing strategies in the digital era and inclusive leadership. The program culminates in an applied research project. 

    Program name M.S. in leadership and administration
    Name of school/ dept.Woods College of Advancing Studies 
    Accreditation New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE)
    Location Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 
    Cost $1,268 per credit
    Boston College Financial Aid 
    Teaching approach Online, on campus and hybrid 
    Course length 30 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Gonzaga University

    Gonzaga University Spokane, Washington
    Gonzaga University

    The M.A. in organizational leadership at Gonzaga University provides students with a curriculum that focuses on skills like leading change, motivating groups, creative solutions, conflict resolution, negotiation, foresight and planning, global strategy, decision making and effective communication.

    The program also provides students with the opportunity to complete optional concentrations in the following areas:

    • change leadership
    • global leadership
    • servant leadership
    • strategic and organizational communication
    Program name M.A. in organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.School of Leadership Studies 
    AccreditationNorthwest Commission on Colleges and Universities 
    LocationSpokane, Washington 
    Cost $1,000 per credit 
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 30 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Quinnipiac University

    Quinnipiac University Hamden, Connecticut
    Quinnipiac University

    The M.S. in organizational leadership at Quinnipiac University program focuses both on developing new leaders and providing additional education to those who are already well-established in an organization. The curriculum revolves around strengthening both hard and soft skills in order to help students emerge as insightful and impactful leaders. Students develop these skills by completing the following core classes:

    • foundations of leadership and organizational behavior
    • crucial conversations for leaders
    • leading organizational change
    • consulting capstone

    Students build their own learning experience through their choice of career-focused electives, such as ethics and governance, health policy and politics and leadership in the digital organization. Additional electives allow students to earn additional credentials in areas like performance management and benefits and compensation.

    Program nameM.S. in organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.School of Business 
    LocationHamden, Connecticut 
    Cost $1,005 per credit
    Quinnipiac University Financial Aid
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 30 credit hours, 21 months 
    Read more
  • Saint Mary’s University

    Saint Mary’s University Minneapolis, Minnesota
    Saint Mary’s University

    The M.A. in organizational leadership program at Saint Mary’s University is organized into clusters that focus on helping mold students into contemporary organizational leaders. Students progress through the program as a cohort throughout the following 6 program areas:

    • the learning leader
    • the connected leader
    • the global leader
    • the organizational leader
    • the change leader
    • the adaptive leader

    Saint Mary’s also offers graduate certificate programs in areas like finance, healthcare administration, human resources, international development, nonprofit management and project management.

    Program nameM.A. in organizational leadership
    Name of school/dept.Saint Mary’s University Graduate School 
    LocationMinneapolis, Minnesota 
    Cost $675 per credit
    Saint Mary’s University Financial Aid
    Teaching approachOnline 
    Course length 36 credit hours 
    Read more
  • Fielding Graduate University

    Fielding Graduate University Santa Barbara, California
    Fielding Graduate University

    The M.A. in organizational development and leadership at Fielding Gradate University focuses on experiential learning opportunities in an effort to provide students with the ability to make an immediate impact in their organization or community. The program is designed for individuals who would like to take the next step in their career while still being able to maintain full-time employment. Students are required to earn 36 credits by completing courses in areas like organizational change, culture, design and consulting. Students then complete a capstone project at the end of the program.

    Program name M.A. in organization development and leadership
    Name of school/dept/.Fielding Graduate University 
    AccreditationAccreditation WASC Senior College and University Commission 
    LocationSanta Barbara, California 
    Cost Cost $600 per credit
    Fielding Graduate University Financial Aid  
    Teaching approach Online 
    Course length 36 credit hours 
    Read more

Financial aid opportunities for applicants

With the financial commitment many of these programs require, there are opportunities for students to apply for aid to help pay for their education. Students looking to apply for financial aid should complete the FAFSA form on the Federal Student Aid website.

Career options with a master’s in organizational leadership

Recent graduates are able to utilize their newly earned skills to advance their career in a multitude of industries while also benefiting from an increase in pay. Detailed below are options available for those who graduate with a master’s in organizational leadership.