Online Organizational Leadership Degrees: Program Overviews

Dec 09, 2019

Essential Information

There are many online programs in organizational leadership available at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. These degrees can usually be completed totally online, although graduate-level programs may require students to visit campus for seminars or other events. In an online program, students can generally access lectures and course materials at any time their schedules permit, within set deadlines.

In addition to general education course requirements, students in a bachelor's degree program in organizational leadership take courses that cover human behavior in the workplace, including negotiation and conflict resolution. They also may explore workplace ethics.

Master's degree programs are usually aimed at students with some professional experience as well as a bachelor's degree. Many programs allow master's-level students to choose a concentration, such as human resource management or information technology. Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) programs in organizational leadership are aimed at students seeking careers as professors or in research, and applicants may need to hold either a bachelor's or a master's degree for enrollment. Students focus on developing their research skills and completing a dissertation.

Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership is a multi-disciplinary field that combines courses in sociology, communications, the humanities and business. Individuals who want to direct operations at the executive level learn skills in contract negotiation, conflict resolution and strategic management.

There are no prerequisite courses for students applying for the bachelor's degree. Some programs offer the student the chance to choose a concentration, such as criminal justice, education or hospitality.

Program Requirements and Information

Organizational leadership is widely available as a field of study at the bachelor's level, though fully online programs are not that common. Students in online bachelor's degree programs in organizational leadership need a computer, a printer and access to the Internet. They also need standard software such as an Internet browser, e-mail and a word processing program. Students can communicate with instructors and other students through instant messengers, chat rooms and discussion boards.

Course Topics

Students in a bachelor's degree program must fulfill general education requirements in English, math, and science. The courses offered in the major vary by school, but those detailed below are common to most programs.

Organizational Behavior

Students develop a better understanding of human behavior and apply it to the workplace. Topics such as motivation, stress, career development and group dynamics are considered.


This philosophy course looks at the moral dimension of life. Students investigate the moral norms in today's society and the processes involved in moral decision-making.

Conflict Resolution and Negotiation

Interpersonal and organizational conflicts are studied and intervention techniques assessed. Negotiation is discussed with emphasis on overcoming obstacles and mitigating risk.

Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership

The master's level programs in organizational leadership are designed for those who have already completed a 4-year degree. Most of the candidates for the master's program have some professional experience before applying to the program, but it is not a requirement.

The master's programs teach students to think creatively, communicate clearly and make values-based decisions. Many programs allow students to choose a concentration in human resource management, project leadership or information technology.

Program Requirements and Information

Most online master's programs in organizational leadership can be completed entirely through distance learning. Some schools also offer online students the opportunity to participate in campus seminars or events. In addition to a computer and Internet access, instructors may require students to purchase particular software and textbooks. Computers may need to be equipped with a DVD player, microphone and headset.

Course Topics

Students study advanced concepts and theories involving organizational leadership. Courses teach students how to manage employees, implement strategies and organize departments.

Team Building

Students learn how to build teams that are productive and capable of solving complex problems. Through the study of group psychology, students are taught how to manage interpersonal conflicts and motivate team members.

Strategic Management

Students in this course focus on the roles and responsibilities of top management executives and the decisions that shape the organization.

Organizational Development

An organizational development course provides students with an overview of the organizational structure and its life cycle. Students learn the various interventions that can be made to move an organization from its current state to a desired future incarnation.

Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership

Online Ph.D. programs in organizational leadership are for those who have already attained a master's degree. Students are required to choose an appropriate topic and complete a dissertation before receiving their degree. Graduates with a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership are qualified to teach and perform scholarly research at the university level.

Program Requirements and Information

Online Ph.D. programs in organizational leadership typically take four years to complete, consisting of three years of study and then a full year to research and write a dissertation. Most of the programs are fully online, though a student may need to be in constant contact with his or her thesis advisor.

Students in a Ph.D. program need to use a university's online library to perform research and complete educational requirements. While courses may be flexible, students do need to adhere to deadlines throughout the semester. In order to facilitate contact with an advisor or instructor, students may need to download Skype, which allows individuals to communicate face-to-face on a computer screen.

Course Topics

Courses at the Ph.D. level focus on research and prepare students to complete their dissertation. Common courses include:

Historical Perspectives of Leadership

Students look at the idea of leadership and how it has developed throughout world history. The course covers issues involving leadership characteristics, evolution of leadership and leadership techniques.

Research Methodology

Doctoral students are instructed in the techniques of scientific research. They generate hypotheses and design studies to test them.


Students must complete a dissertation on an original topic that involves research and adds to the body of knowledge in organizational leadership. A research advisor is going to be assigned to help generate ideas and guide the effort.

Career Information

Graduates with a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership may find management positions in business, education, government or not-for-profit institutions. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies these positions as general and operations managers. Median annual wages for these managers in 2018 were $100,930 (

Top management positions may be available as:

  • Vice president
  • Chief operating officer
  • Chief executive officer

Graduates with a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership may find positions as professors at colleges or universities. The BLS categorizes university professors as postsecondary teachers and predicts that the need for postsecondary teachers will grow by 11% through 2028. The median annual salary for a postsecondary business teacher was $83,960 in 2018.

Continuing Education Information

Master's degrees and Ph.D. programs in organizational leadership are available for students wishing to advance their education. Online options are plentiful for master's degrees, but somewhat harder to find at the Ph.D. level. When available, doctoral programs can be found fully online or in a hybrid format.

Online graduate and undergraduate degree programs in organizational leadership are available, either fully online or with some on-campus visits required. Depending on the level of education achieved, graduates are qualified for careers in a wide variety of industries, including education, business, and government.

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