Organizational Leadership Graduate Degree Program Information

Oct 19, 2019

Learn about organizational leadership degree programs at the master's and doctoral levels. Find out about prerequisites, required courses and the employment outlook for graduates.

Essential Information

Most master's degree programs in organizational leadership focus on various aspects of leadership. Courses may cover topics such as organizational ethics, human resources management, group dynamics and strategic planning. Students may engage in workshops and team projects. Because these programs are designed for working people, many courses are online or meet in the evenings. Most master's programs require two years to complete. Acceptance into the program is usually based on past academic performance, letters of recommendation and work history; applicants must have a bachelor's.

Doctoral programs vary greatly. Some prepare students for teaching, while others are aimed at helping people who want to start businesses, direct a human resources department, or lead non-profit organizations. Courses cover organizational theory and the development of research skills. Students must complete a dissertation. Prior to admission, students usually need a master's degree in organizational leadership or a related field and must submit GRE (Graduate Record Examination) scores, previous transcripts, scholarly research or writing samples, resumes and professional career statements.

Master of Science in Organizational Leadership

Organizational leadership programs prepare students for management positions by honing their skills in creative problem solving. Students learn to conceptualize and clearly communicate goals. They also learn how to diagnose and solve organizational problems in the workplace to increase an organization's efficiency. These programs tend to be similar in content to MBA (Master of Business Administration) degrees; however, coursework tends to focus more on human resources rather than business topics.

Coursework involves rigorous study of organizational leadership and its many associated disciplines, such as business, social science, humanities and communication. Typical coursework includes the following:

  • Organizational theory
  • Organizational communication
  • Organizational analysis
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Project management

Doctor of Philosophy in Organizational Leadership

A Ph.D. program in organizational leadership is aimed at mid-career professionals who want to advance to upper management positions or conduct research in the field. Some programs offer degree concentrations while other programs may allow students to focus on organizational development in education, government or private industry.

Students gain an understanding of organizational theory and conduct dissertation research through coursework such as educational leadership, research methods, and global leadership in addition to the following course topics:

  • Organizational theory and diagnosis
  • Psycho-social dimensions of leadership
  • Organizational change
  • Legal and ethical issues

Popular Career Options

Graduates of these programs typically go on to serve in leadership roles in business, nonprofit, government and military agencies. They often work under the following titles:

  • Chief information officer
  • Senior training consultant
  • Director of strategic planning
  • Project manager
  • Director of human resources

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), earnings for human resource managers depend on the type of employer ( Those working for companies and enterprises earned an average annual wage of $142,640 in May of 2018, while human resources managers working for local government earned an average salary of $106,890 in the same year. A 7% job increase for this field was projected by the BLS for the 2018-2028 decade.

Managers specializing chiefly in training and development should likewise see steady job growth consistent with the average, with a 8% increase expected from 2018-2028. As of May 2018, these training and development executives bring in a mean salary of $121,730 per year, according to the BLS.

A Master of Science in Organizational Leadership teaches students problem solving, communication and analytical skills needed to diagnose and solve organizational problems. Individuals wanting to teach organization leadership at an academic level or direct businesses or organizations may want to go on to earn a Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership.

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