Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership 2021

by TBS Staff

Updated September 15, 2022 is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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Managing Future Companies with a Master's in Organizational Leadership

Online master's in organizational leadership programs teach students how to manage and direct diverse companies and organizations. Learners study topics such as leadership and diversity, human potential, and organizational development.

Graduates can pursue in-demand roles like administrative services manager, K-12 school principal, and postsecondary administrator. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that administrative services managers earned a median salary of $98,890 in 2020, while K-12 school principals and postsecondary administrators earned $98,490 and $97,500, respectively.

Students pursuing a master's in organizational leadership online have the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

The Best Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Programs

  1. Lincoln Christian University

    Lincoln, IL

    Established in 1944 as a Bible institute, LCU continues that tradition through nine master's degree programs with a spiritual foundation.

    LCU offers a master of arts in organizational leadership in a fully online format. Students take one class at a time and typically complete the program in just 21 months.

    Courses include authentic leadership in organizational contexts, dynamics of change and conflict, and legal and ethical issues. To graduate, students also complete a capstone project that combines hands-on experience with a written report.

    Applicants must hold 2.5 GPA for all undergraduate coursework and submit an essay and two Christian character references.

  2. Michigan State University

    East Lansing, MI



    Founded in 1855, MSU teaches nearly 50,000 students across more than 200 academic programs each year.

    MSU offers a fully online master of science in management, strategy, and leadership. Courses include analyzing your organization, fundamentals of human resource staffing, and talent management and development.

    The program consists of 30 credits and can be completed in about 20 months.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a GPA of at least 4.0 and submit three work-related references. The program does not require GMAT scores unless students do not meet GPA requirements.

  3. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA

    Founded in 1937, Pepperdine upholds a tradition of Christian education across several Southern California campuses and online.

    Pepperdine offers a master of science in organizational leadership and learning in a fully online or hybrid format. Courses include critical thinking and communication, program design and evaluation, and entrepreneurial leadership for innovation and change. Students typically complete the program in 20 months.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts, two professional recommendations, and a statement of educational purpose. The program prefers a GPA of at least 3.0 and may waive GRE requirements.

  4. Trevecca Nazarene University

    Nashville, TN

    Founded in 1901, Trevecca now offers nearly 100 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs with a Christ-centered foundation.

    Trevecca's master of arts in organizational leadership provides seven specialized tracks including health care administration, human resources, and entrepreneurship. Core courses include personal leadership development, strategic thinking, and leading and building teams.

    Students may complete the program in 15 months on the accelerated track or 18 months on the traditional track.

    Applicants should hold a 2.5 GPA for all prior coursework.

  5. York College

    York, NE

    Founded in 1890 as part of the churches of Christ, today YC serves around 650 students each semester, many of whom learn online.

    YC offers a master of arts in organizational and global leadership with three optional areas of concentration: business information leadership, social and emotional learning, and sports administration. All students take courses in personal leadership development, leading complex change, and crisis communication and leadership.

    Classes last eight weeks each. Students may enroll on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time students completed the program in as little as one year.

  6. Milwaukee School of Engineering

    Milwaukee, WI

    Founded in 1903, MSOE focuses on educating students in engineering, business, and nursing.

    MSOE offers an online master of business administration with a specialization in leadership. Courses include management principles, human resources management, and strategy, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

    To graduate, students complete a three-phase capstone project to apply what they've learned in a real-world setting.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts demonstrating a GPA of 2.8 or higher. The program requires GRE or GMAT scores for applicants who do not meet GPA requirements.

  7. University of Mary

    Bismarck, ND

    Mary provides a Catholic, Benedictine education to more than 3,800 students across nearly 80 academic programs.

    Students at Mary may pursue a master of business in managerial leadership or virtuous leadership; an MBA in virtuous leadership; a master of education in special education or teacher leadership; a master of nursing in leadership management in either ADN-to-MSN or BSN-to-MSN form; or a master of project management in either managerial leadership or virtuous leadership. Applicants for these programs need a GPA of 2.75 from all previous coursework.

    Mary also offers a master of education with specializations in special education leadership or teacher leadership for working educators. Applicants need a GPA of at least 3.0. Registered nurses may earn a master of science in nursing in nursing leadership and management, with separate tracks for nurses with a BSN and nurses with an ADN or diploma. Applicants for these programs should hold a GPA of 2.75.

    All programs offer admissions on a rolling basis, with a start date every five weeks. Coursework takes place fully online. Students complete the programs in as little as 15-20 months.

  8. University of Wisconsin-Platteville

    Platteville, WI



    Founded in 1866 as a teacher prep school, UW-Platteville now offers more than 40 programs across disciplines.

    UW-Platteville offers an online master of science in organizational change leadership with emphasis areas in healthcare, human resources, project management, and safety risk control. Core courses include business analytics, organizational behavior, and strategic thinking and change.

    The program does not require test scores for admission, but applicants should have a GPA of at least 2.75 for undergraduate coursework or 2.9 for the last 60 credits of their degree.

  9. John Brown University

    Siloam Springs, AR

    Founded in 1919, JBU enrolls over 2,300 students across 78 graduate and undergraduate degree programs.

    JBU offers a master of science (MS) and a master of business administration (MBA) with a concentration in leadership. The MBA program requires 36-45 credits and emphasizes technical business skills, while the MS degree requires just 30 credits and focuses on leading people.

    The curriculum varies between tracks, but all students take Christian foundations of business and ethical decision-making in organizations.

    The program requires a 2.75 GPA for all undergraduate coursework.

  10. Point Loma Nazarene University

    San Diego, CA

    Founded in 1902 through the Church of the Nazarene, PLNU serves more than 4,600 students across numerous graduate and undergraduate programs.

    PLNU offers an online master of arts in organizational leadership that can be completed in less than two years. Courses include assessing leadership skills, organizational systems and behavior, and the legal environment of organizations.

    Upon graduation, students will have completed a leadership portfolio showcasing their research interests and accomplishments related to the field.

    Applicants must submit official transcripts showing an undergraduate GPA of 3.0.

Best Online Master's

Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Our Methodology

Here at, we take the trust and welfare of our readers very seriously. When making our school and program rankings, our top priority is ensuring that our readers get accurate, unbiased information that can help them make informed decisions about online education. That's why we've developed a rigorous ranking methodology that keeps the needs of our readers front and center.

Our proprietary, multi-criteria ranking algorithm analyzes key data indicators — as collected by the federal government — for each school or program. What data we use depends on the focus of each specific ranking, but in all cases, our ranking methodology is impartial: Schools cannot buy better rankings at TBS.

While specific criteria under consideration can vary by ranking, there are a few data points that we value most highly. They are affordability, academic quality, and online enrollment. Below, we break down our algorithm to help you understand what you're getting when you use one of our rankings.

  • Academics
  • Affordability
  • Online Enrollment

Data Sources

The data used in TBS rankings comes primarily from the federal government, and much of it is provided by the schools themselves. We aggregate and analyze this data to build our rankings.

The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) is our primary source. Its data comes from annual surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). Every college, university, or technical school with access to federal financial aid must participate in these surveys, which include questions about enrollment, graduation rates, finances, and faculty qualifications. This is publicly available data, which you can access yourself through the College Navigator.

Additionally, because we value a personal touch and the professional experience of our staff and Academic Advisory Board, we vet all results and adjust rankings as necessary based on our collected knowledge of schools and degree programs. Depending on the ranking, we may obtain additional input from, subject matter experts, prior TBS ranking lists, or other sources we deem relevant to a particular ranking.

Breakdown of Our Rankings Methodology

About Our Ranking Factors

Here at TBS, we value what you value: quality education, affordability, and the accessibility of online education. These factors guide all of our program rankings.

Each of these factors are further broken down into weighted subfactors. For example, retention rates are weighted more heavily than availability of program options because they are a better indicator of student success.

We chose the following factors for our rankings because of their influence on learning experiences and graduate outcomes. However, students should always balance our rankings against their personal priorities. For instance, a learner who needs a fully online program may prioritize online flexibility more than our rankings do. Our rankings are designed to help you make a decision — not to make a decision for you.

Academics - 75%
Affordability - 15%
Online Enrollment - 10%

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Featured Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Programs

What Is Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leadership studies the operational oversight in a company with the goal of promoting growth and development. Organizational leaders must remain consistent with the overall corporate vision. These professionals must take person-centered approaches that acknowledges the needs of groups and individuals.

What Is a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership?

An organizational leadership master's degree uses an interdisciplinary approach to prepare students for careers as organizational leaders. Whether a student hopes to lead a small local business in cornering a regional market or a multinational corporation, an organizational leadership master's degree equips them with the necessary skills to do so.

Master's in Organizational Leadership vs. MBA

An MBA takes an analytical approach to the study of business administration by using a macro perspective that emphasizes administrative theories, practices, and analytics. By contrast, a master's degree in organizational leadership incorporates a more person-centered approach, training students to work with individuals and teams to direct change and development. Those interested in enrolling in an MBA program should visit our ranking of online MBA programs.

Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Programs

During an online master's in organizational leadership, professors administer courses through the institution's chosen online platform, such as Blackboard or Canvas. Before beginning classes, students may participate in an orientation that demonstrates how to watch lectures, submit assignments, complete group assignments, and stay on track with the syllabus. Students connect with peers over email, group chats, announcements, and discussion boards.

Synchronous courses follow a set schedule, enabling students to ask questions and get answers in real time. Asynchronous formats provide 24/7 accessibility, allowing learners to complete a master's in organizational leadership degree at their own pace. Successful organizational leaders possess self-awareness, an understanding of various leadership styles, and how to get the best out of their employees.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership

Earning a master's in organizational leadership degree provides career advancement opportunities. Bachelor's degree holders enjoy entry-level roles, while professionals with a master's degree qualify for higher salaries and more responsibilities. They may also apply to senior-level roles as directors or managers. Graduates with a master's in organizational leadership enjoy career opportunities in human resources, public service, nonprofits, strategic leadership, and healthcare management.

Choosing an Online Organizational Leadership Graduate Degree Program

Important factors to consider when choosing an online organizational leadership graduate program include tuition, program length, transfer policies, and graduation requirements.

Accreditation for Online Organizational Leadership Master's Degrees

Accreditation is a review process that indicates that the school meets high academic standards. Schools may receiveregional or national accreditation. Regional accreditation is typically considered to be the more prestigious of the two. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation and the U.S. Department of Education recognize accrediting bodies and list accredited schools that students can review. An accredited degree expands employment, financial aid, and education opportunities.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership?

Students typically complete an online master's in organizational leadership in 2-3 years. Part-time or full-time enrollment status and credit transfers can affect completion times.

Courses in an Online Master's in Organizational Leadership Program

Organizational Dynamics

This course reviews individual and group behaviors in an organizational setting. Students learn how to steer departmental visions, allocate resources, meet stakeholder deadlines, and assess goal achievement.

Team Leadership

This course reviews the complex issues and challenges faced by team leaders. Students learn how to delegate tasks, manage expectations, and cultivate community. They also study ways to manage diverse and conflicting personalities.

Ethics and Governance

In this course, students study organizational governance principles and frameworks and ethical considerations for leaders. Students examine ethical dilemmas of leadership and their implications for strategy, growth, and decision-making.

Performance Management

Courses on performance management cover the various types of performance appraisals and how they incentivize employees to increase profitability. Learners discuss subjects such as criteria, formats, common mistakes made by supervisors, and coaching guidance.

Leadership Across Boundaries

Supervisors need to feel comfortable neutralizing team conflicts. This course, usually taught as an elective, teaches students how leaders can foster teams and build consensus across generations, cultures, genders, ethnicities, and regions.

What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Organizational Leadership?

Organizational leaders track the return on investment of human capital in an agency, corporation, or department. They communicate clear expectations for team members, perform negotiations, and delegate tasks. The following positions are common among graduates with a master's degree in organizational leadership.

Senior Project Manager

Overseeing project implementation, senior managers monitor workflows from planning to delivery. They foresee potential challenges and solve problems to stay on track with deadlines. This role necessitates strong communication skills, managerial experience, and advanced knowledge of industry-specific technological programs.

Median Salary: $104,500

Learning and Development Consultant

This outsourced role facilitates customized strategies and initiatives for corporate and agency clients to boost morale, introduce new policies and procedures, host seminars, and run workshops.

Median Salary: $79,200

Director of Operations

Directors of operations oversee the daily activities of businesses and organizations. They also guide institutional research and development. They may report to the senior vice president of operations or the chief operating officer.

Median Salary: $93,020

Chief Human Resources Officer

These professionals set compensation guidelines, grant performance bonuses, and facilitate benefits. They recruit new talent while training, developing, and retaining current employees. They also ensure that the company complies with labor laws and employment standards.

Median Salary: $151,120

Executive Director

Comparable to a for-profit CEO, an executive director oversees nonprofit organizations. While guiding the institutional mission, they oversee fundraising, budgeting, programming, and community outreach, answering to a board of directors.

Median Salary: $67,680

FAQ's About Organizational Leadership Degrees

Is a Master's in Organizational Leadership Worth It?

A master's degree in organizational leadership can lead to a career as a project manager, executive director, or chief human resources officer. Many of these professionals make upwards of $100,000 a year.

How Much Can You Make With a Master's in Organizational Leadership?

Graduates with a master's degree in organizational leadership earn an average salary of $108,000 a year, according to Payscale. Many go on to work as project managers or learning and development consultants.

What Can I Do With an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Individuals with master's degrees in organizational leadership can work in nonprofits, businesses, public service, human resources, and healthcare management. They can work as project managers, consultants, or executive directors.

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