Best Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs

Organizational leadership is a broad field that can be applied to many types of organizations. Explore the unique features of some of the best online master's programs in the subject, common coursework, career options for the field, and more. Schools offering Organizational Design & Development degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Best Online Master's Degree Programs in Organizational Leadership

Master's programs in organizational leadership are designed to help equip future leaders in various kinds of organizations. Many of these programs are available online and some of the best online programs may provide students with small class sizes, flexible format options, hands-on learning opportunities, and other unique features. Explore some of the top online master's programs in organizational leadership here.

1. University of Northwestern-St. Paul

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Saint Paul, MN$8,982

The University of Northwestern in Saint Paul provides a Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) that can be taken fully online or in a hybrid format. The program totals 36 credits, can be completed in 18 to 22 months and offers a Christian perspective to the field. Students in the program may also benefit from a student-to-faculty ratio of 14:1. The curriculum includes a final capstone project and students have the option of earning a graduate certificate in leadership after completion of specific leadership courses.

2. University of Kansas

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Lawrence, KS$11,027

The University of Kansas has a hybrid Master of Science (MS) in Organizational Leadership where students take half of the courses on-campus and half of the courses online. The University of Kansas' School of Business is accredited by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) and students in the MS program have the option to apply their credits toward a Master of Business Administration (MBA). The MS program requires 30 credits and can be completed in 10 months. Students must complete a capstone course in leadership and are allowed to transfer in up to 6 credits toward their degree.

3. Messiah College

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Mechanicsburg, PA$12,060

Messiah College offers an online Master of Arts (MA) in Strategic Leadership that totals 30 credits, can be completed in 2 years and includes no-fee tuition. The program has been ranked nationally amongst organizational leadership programs and the faculty serve as mentors to students. The program offers a faith-based perspective to leadership and requires students to complete a final capstone project with a faculty mentor and organization of choice. There are multiple start dates for flexibility and courses are typically 8 or 6 weeks in length.

4. Saint Mary's University of Minnesota

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Winona, MN$9,000

Saint Mary's University of Minnesota has an online MA in Organizational Leadership that requires 36 credits and can be completed in 24 months. Each student in the online program receives an iPad to access coursework, and faculty provide expertise as real-world practitioners. The program follows a cohort model and requires a capstone symposium. The rest of the curriculum is divided into clusters that examine various kinds of leadership, such as global leadership, adaptive leadership and learning leadership.

5. Roger Williams University

LocationGraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Bristol, RI$15,386

Roger Williams University offers an online or hybrid MS in Leadership that is designed to help produce strategic leaders for organizations in the public and private sectors. The program allows students to participate in various networking events and the business school is home to the Leadership Institute, which provides professional development seminars, lecture series, and other opportunities in leadership. Students in the MS program must complete 36 credits and a capstone course in leadership.

Rank School Name Location Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6Michigan State UniversityEast Lansing, MI$18,132
7University of Colorado BoulderBoulder, CO$13,246
8Palm Beach Atlantic UniversityWest Palm Beach, FL$10,720
9Central Michigan UniversityMount Pleasant, MI$13,804
10Baker UniversityBaldwin City, KS$10,368
11Regis UniversityDenver, CO$13,177
12Concordia University-ChicagoRiver Forest, IL$9,180
13University of Northern IowaCedar Falls, IA$10,432
14Xavier UniversityCincinnati, OH$11,716
15Gonzaga UniversitySpokane, WA$17,045
16Gwynedd Mercy UniversityGwynedd Valley, PA$11,286
17Creighton UniversityOmaha, NE$17,376
18North Central UniversityMinneapolis, MN$9,520
19Point Loma Nazarene UniversitySan Diego, CA$11,520
20New England CollegeHenniker, NH$13,560
21Grace College and Theological SeminaryWinona Lake, IN$7,860
22Grand View UniversityDes Moines, IA$11,440
23University of Saint Francis-Fort WayneFort Wayne, IN$17,470
24Rosemont CollegeRosemont, PA$12,420
25John Brown UniversitySiloam Springs, AR$13,440
26Nyack CollegeNyack, NY$10,880
27Duquesne UniversityPittsburgh, PA$23,112
28Nichols CollegeDudley, MA$8,360
29Lincoln Christian UniversityLincoln, IL$7,920
30University of Wisconsin-PlattevillePlatteville, WI$9,018
31Thomas More CollegeCrestview Hills, KY$11,880
32Mount Vernon Nazarene UniversityMount Vernon, OH$9,024
33Cairn University-LanghorneLanghorne, PA$12,384
34Champlain CollegeBurlington, VT$14,310
35Northern Arizona UniversityFlagstaff, AZ$10,593
36Oral Roberts UniversityTulsa, OK$13,988
37Southwestern Assemblies of God UniversityWaxahachie, TX$11,490
38Juniata CollegeHuntingdon, PA$25,625
39La Salle UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$25,020
40Dallas Baptist UniversityDallas, TX$18,262
41California Baptist UniversityRiverside, CA$14,130
42Evangel UniversitySpringfield, MO$9,134
43Western New England UniversitySpringfield, MA$24,318
44University of MaryBismarck, ND$15,630
45Concordia University-IrvineIrvine, CA$7,774
46Drexel UniversityPhiladelphia, PA$34,995
47Geneva CollegeBeaver Falls, PA$11,976
48Milwaukee School of EngineeringMilwaukee, WI$22,728
49Olivet Nazarene UniversityBourbonnais, IL$11,980
50Saint Louis UniversitySaint Louis, MO$20,994

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2018-2019 school year's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Degree Overview for Online Master's Programs in Organizational Leadership

Online master's degree programs in organizational leadership may result in an MOL, an MS or an MA degree. Most of these programs range from 30 to 36 credits and can be completed fully online. However, there are some programs that may only be offered in a hybrid format or provide an optional hybrid format in addition to the online courses. Some programs may follow a cohort model, while others may allow students to work at their own pace. Get more information pertaining to these degree programs below.

Program Length

Traditionally, master's degree programs, including online master's in organizational leadership programs, take 2 years to complete. However, students may be able to complete some of these programs in as little as 10 months. Other programs may allow students to complete the program in a more middle-of-the-road range of 15 to 22 months. Any accepted transfer credit for these programs may also be able to reduce the time to degree completion.

Common Courses

Coursework for online master's programs in organizational leadership differs greatly by school. Some programs may require a core set of leadership courses, while others may include core courses and electives or specialization courses. Many of these programs do conclude with some type of capstone course that requires students to apply the knowledge and skills they have gained throughout the program. Other common course topics for these degree programs include:

  • Ethics- Courses in ethics explore topics in ethical leadership at the personal, professional, and even corporate levels. Students discuss how ethics influences business decisions and may examine Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) concepts. Students may also examine their personal skills and leadership style through the lens of leadership theories.
  • Communication- It is important for leaders to have good written and oral communication skills so courses like these aim to help students further develop their skillsets in these areas. Students may study a range of business communication styles and formats, as well as consider who their audience is and how to address communication issues.
  • Human Resource Management- Students in these courses learn about the different human resource regulations and procedures that apply to an organization. These courses explore the entire HR process, from recruiting and hiring to placement and career development. Students may also examine benefits packages and dispute resolution.
  • Research- Courses in research vary greatly by institution and some of these courses may combine research with topics like writing or critical-thinking. In general, these courses help students learn about effective research methods used to evaluate information and further develop analytical skills. Some of these courses may also be used as an introduction to the capstone course.
  • Effective Organizations- Students in these courses learn about the different theories and strategies that have been used to increase the effectiveness of an organization. Students may also learn how to evaluate effectiveness, introduce change, and oversee interventions.


Some online master's programs in organizational leadership may allow students to further customize their curriculum through available specializations or concentrations. These concentrations may allow students to focus their studies on a particular industry they are interested in and/or better prepare for a particular career. The specific name of concentrations may vary by program, but some available concentrations for online master's degree programs in organizational leadership include:

  • Human resources
  • Strategic leadership
  • Healthcare management
  • Criminal justice leadership
  • Public administration leadership
  • Finance
  • Project management
  • Global management

How to Choose an Online Master's in Organizational Leadership

To choose a program, students may first want to begin with what type of degree they want to pursue and/or if they would like to have a program that allows them to further specialize in a given concentration area.

The next step may require students to consider their personal preferences, schedules, and academic time frames. Students need to choose between fully online or hybrid programs, 2- year programs or accelerated programs, and/or self-paced programs or those that follow a cohort model. Below, we explore a couple of other important considerations.


Accreditation indicates that schools and/or programs have met academic standards set for quality assurance purposes. Many schools that offer online master's programs in the field are regionally accredited by organizations like the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE) or the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Higher Education.

Some business schools (which typically house organizational leadership programs) and/or business-related programs, like organizational leadership, may take accreditation a step further and be accredited from business-related groups, like the AACSB or the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP). These specialized accreditations help ensure quality and accreditation may be critical for students who need financial aid or those who might need certification or licensure in the field.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial aid typically consists of loans and grants that students qualify for through the federal government based on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). There may also be alternative loan options and/or additional aid for special groups, such as active-duty service members and/or veterans.

Scholarships may be also offered by schools and/or outside organizations. An example of a school-sponsored scholarship would be Saint Mary's University of Minnesota's Schools of Graduate and Professional Programs Faculty and Staff Scholarship, which is available for graduate students thanks to the generosity of the school's faculty and staff.

There are also outside organizations, such as the Project Management Institute (PMI), that provide scholarships to students in a particular field. The PMI has an Educational Foundation Academic Scholarship Program available to students in project management or project management-related fields.

Career Options for Graduates in Organizational Leadership

Graduates with a master's in organizational leadership can work in a range of settings, including the government, nonprofits, human resources, churches, and corporations. Job titles that utilize skills in organizational leadership are quite diverse, but typically are managerial in nature. Some examples of possible job titles for graduates with their master's in the subject include:

  • Top executives
  • Medical and health services managers
  • Human resources managers
  • Training and development managers
  • Consultants
  • Change management leaders
  • Directors

Top Executives

Top executives include a wide range of job titles, including city managers, school superintendents, chief executive officers, and operations managers. Job duties vary by role, but in general, these professionals are responsible for helping establish the goals of an organization and then managing the daily activities and long-term actions that help reach these goals. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that these top executives made a median salary of $104,980, as of 2018, and had a job outlook of 6% from 2018 to 2028, which is as fast as average.

Medical and Health Services Managers

Medical and health services managers oversee the activities of a medical practice or department and help plan and implement ways to make healthcare more effective. These managers include titles like clinical managers, nursing home administrators, and healthcare executives. In 2018, the BLS reported that medical and health services managers made a median salary of $99,730 and had a job outlook of 18% from 2018 to 2028, which is much faster than the average.

Human Resources Managers

Human resources managers are in charge of the administrative duties of an organization, like developing a benefit program for employees, managing the hiring process, directing human resources specialists and staff, and consulting on human resources issues. As of 2018, human resources managers made a median salary of $113,300 and had a job outlook of 7% from 2018 to 2028, which is faster than average, per the BLS.

Professional Organizations in Organizational Leadership

There are many different professional organizations available that focus on organizational development, leadership development, project management, and other concepts of organizational leadership. These groups typically provide valuable resources to professionals in the field, as well as networking opportunities and/or professional development experiences. A few examples of organizations for professionals in organizational leadership include:

  • Project Management Institute (PMI)- The PMI offers membership to students, professionals, and chapter organizations and provides a wide range of certifications in project management. From the organization's website, professionals can read about practice standards, case studies in business solutions, and upcoming events.
  • American Leadership Development Association (ALDA)- The ALDA is committed to further developing leaders who can positively affect families, businesses, and society. The group does offer membership and provides online resources to articles and magazines.
  • International Organizational Development Association (IODA)- The IODA also offers membership, as well as an annual world conference, professional networking events, and professional development opportunities. The organization's website provides news, events, and links to the group's research center and various initiatives.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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