By the time you get to the point where you are considering earning a master’s degree, you’ve already learned the value of a good education – and good leadership. You’ve spent four years building your expertise with an undergraduate degree, so you have some pretty good ideas what works and what doesn’t in a university. And you have probably spent enough time working out in the real world that you have a firm idea about what exactly you need to learn to take your leadership skills to the next level.
All that means you’re not likely to settle for second best when you step up to pursue a master’s in organizational leadership. With this list of our editors’ top choices for master’s degrees in organizational leadership studies, you don’t have to.
How Effective Leaders Are Made Through Master’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership
When you accept the premise of organizational leadership—that leaders are made, not born—then it quickly becomes clear how important your education will be to your development as a leader. The course of instruction, the instructors themselves, and the support and assistance you receive along the way are vital to developing effective organizational leadership skills.
The master’s level is the ultimate forge for the future leaders in almost every industry.
So your master’s degree is your make-or-break shot to get the kind of training that will shape you into the visionary leader you know you can be.
This select list of outstanding MOL, MSOL, MAOL, and similar programs is full of excellent choices for that training. These schools have been forging new ground in leadership studies and developing organizational leaders for all kinds of different industries.
The degree titles don’t always say “organizational leadership” on the label, but you can be assured that their methods and theory line up with the highest standards in the field.
How We Picked Out The Finest Master’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership
It wasn’t easy sorting through all the different master’s-level programs in organizational leadership and picking the cream of the crop. Not only are there many excellent schools out there teaching in the field, but a real apples-to-apples evaluation is almost impossible due to the wide variety of OL focus areas.
Stacking a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Management and Leadership up against a Master of Education in Leadership and Organizational Performance doesn’t make for a lot of point-by-point comparisons. In fact, for each of those degrees to be at the top of their game in their field, they just about have to be different.
So we went back to the basics. To determine the top schools offering organizational leadership degrees in any area, we took a look at the core aspects of leadership education that have been tested by time and proven under pressure. Those include:
First-rate Faculty With Academic and Industry Credentials
An excellent master’s degree program really begins with high-quality faculty teaching it. At this level, you operate in something closer to a partnership with your professors. The one-on-one mentorship and the small, seminar-style courses that revolve around discussion and exploration require teachers who have the same interpersonal skills as great leaders.
Many of these instructors have in fact been leaders themselves, working in the private sector or with non-profit or government agencies before entering the academic world. That means they have the real world experience to go with their scholarly expertise. And it means you can learn everything you need to about leadership in their classrooms.
Strong Community and Business Connections
No matter what the focus of your master’s in organizational leadership, you will always benefit from having more exposure to the actual organizations that are active in the field today. Whether it’s class projects that happen with the cooperation of outside organizations, or internships in companies that are getting the job done in your field, that kind of real-world experience can make or break your resume.
Each of these schools has cultivated strong ties to business or other groups that operate in the fields that they concentrate in. Not only does this open up your experience dealing with real-world leadership problems, but it also helps you build up your personal network. And that will pay dividends over the course of your entire career.
A Strong Reputation for Academic and Leadership Excellence
When a school is particularly outstanding for turning out future leaders, you better believe that the outside world knows about it. Think about the names you hear over and over again when Fortune 500 CEOs and powerful politicians mention where they went to school—those same colleges keep coming up for a reason.
So it’s no secret in the industry who is training the best leaders, and that’s something we considered when picking the top schools in organizational leadership today. These universities regularly turn up in lists by big-time evaluating bodies like U.S. News & World Report or Forbes. And they make employers sit up and take note when they see the name on your resume—always a good sign.
Support and Resources for In-depth Research and Study
When you get to the master’s degree level, a lot of your studies in organizational leadership are going to involve breaking new theoretical ground. You’ll be expected to complete either a master’s thesis or a capstone project. Either one involves a lot of digging in and investigating academic reports, case studies, and often conducting real-world experimentation and observation.
All of that gets easier at a school that offers the right kind of academic resources to fuel organizational leadership investigations. All of these schools fit the bill—extensive libraries, strong research programs, and faculty and staff who can support your innovations and ideas.
Academic Advising and Career Services to Launch Your Leadership Journey
Support for organizational leadership students shouldn’t just begin and end in the world of research and theory, however. These schools also understand that leaders don’t get to the top alone. They give you the kind of advising and academic counseling support that you might need to clear any hurdles along the way.
They also understand that navigating the job market as someone with a master’s degree is a new experience. They offer career counseling and advising services to help you make the most of your new credentials, whether in climbing the ranks at your current organization, or exploring all the options available elsewhere in your industry.
Finding Excellence in Organizational Leadership Education Requires Some Personal Choices
Even though every program here is a worthy choice for future leaders, it’s clear that some of them represent a better fit for your personal plans and career goals than others. Just the range of concentrations offered by a particular program may rule it in or out for you.
On top of that, there is a lot of room for personal preference in the pursuit of academic excellence. Everything from location to classmates to elective choices can make any given program a perfect fit for you, but not quite so well-tailored for someone else.
So we also offer up all kinds of additional information about the programs to help you narrow your selection. You’ll find important basic data points, including:
On top of that, you’ll get a thumbnail sketch of the school and program, with details put together by our intrepid team of editors. If the Wall Street Journal has had good things to say about it, we’ll mention it here. If unique overseas study experience gets rave reviews, we’ll tell you all about it. If the university plays host to an annual conference that lets you learn from and rub elbows with influential leaders of industry, you’ll see it described here.
Unique elective options, special ties to a particular field or industry, options to customize the program, or outstanding academic coaching… all of it is on the menu as we help you get a better picture of what each school has to offer.
And finally, we link back to the program directly so you can dig in for even more details.
Editor’s Choice for the Top Business Schools Offering Master’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership
You are about to pick up an advanced degree in a program that gives you the tools to change the world. Don’t settle for anything less than the best.
South University-Montgomery (private)
MS in Leadership (on-campus, hybrid)
South University – Montgomery offers the MS in Leadership, where emerging and practicing leaders develop and hone their national leadership skills to become confident, effective leaders of individuals, teams, and complex organizations. Students of this program learn to manage, communicate with, and influence others while also learning how to implement strategies to solve difficult problems. This exciting course of graduate study is offered either on-campus or through a hybrid (blended) format. If you choose the hybrid format, you’ll study online and in the classroom on alternative weeks during each 11-week quarter.
University of West Los Angeles (private)
MS in Leadership Management and Technology (on-campus, online, hybrid)
The University of West Los Angeles’ MS in Leadership Management and Technology is an innovative, forward-thinking approach to leadership in the 21st century. Through this dynamic course of graduate study, both emerging and practicing leaders learn how to respond to a rapidly changing domestic and global environment and how to develop innovative ideas and creative solutions for leading individuals and teams and realizing organizational objectives. Students of this program complete 36 units that are administered in convenient, nine-week sessions. With a focus on busy, working professionals, the MS in Leadership Management and Technology is offered either online or on-campus, and students also have the option of completing the program in an intensive weekend format.
Regis University (private)
MS in Organizational Leadership (online)
Regis University’s MS in Organizational Leadership offers a deep examination of leadership functions within an organization and prepares students to become a confident leader with a focused, effective skillset. Organizational development… strategic planning… process improvement strategies—they’re a focus of this dynamic course of graduate study that’s offered in a fully online format for maximum convenience and flexibility. You’re also sure to love the accelerated, eight-week courses that are expertly designed for the busy, working professional. Six start dates per year and a low, student-to-faculty ratio of just 11:1 make this program a favorite among both emerging and practicing leaders looking to kickstart their career or take it to the next level.
Quinnipiac University (private)
MS in Organizational Leadership (online)
Also offers: MBA (Leadership)
Quinnipiac University’s MS in Organizational Leadership offers a superb course of graduate study that’s expertly designed to accommodate the needs of today’s busy, working professionals. Offered in a fully online format, this program is laser-focused on providing both emerging and practicing leaders with the tools they need to inspire change, motivate the individuals and teams they lead, and ensure organizational effectiveness in virtually any business environment. Just some of the topics explored in this program include adaptive leadership, data analysis, ethics, negotiation, and communication. We also love this program because it offers students the opportunity to choose among a nice selection of electives to personalize their graduate course of study in areas like business analytics, human resources, healthcare, and project management.
The Catholic University of America (private)
MS in Management in Leadership and Management (on-campus, hybrid)
The Catholic University of America’s MS in Leadership and Management offers a superb course of graduate study for both aspiring and practicing leaders who desire a skills-focused program. Students of this program gain a deeper understanding of leadership that helps them hone their own personal leadership style and become a more confident, effective leader-manager. Some of the courses within this program include Risk Management, Leading Organizational Change, HR Development and Training, and Business Law. Busy, working professionals are sure to appreciate this program’s format options that include either a 100% or a hybrid/on-campus course delivery. On-campus courses are held both at the university’s main campus in Washington D.C. and its new location in Alexandria, Virginia.
Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale (private)
MS in Organizational Leadership (on-campus, online, hybrid)
Keiser University – Ft. Lauderdale offers the MS in Organizational Leadership – your opportunity to grow both personally and professionally as you hone your leadership skills and become the confident leader who can motivate, resolve conflicts, inspire, and see project through to their completion. Students here study workplace behaviors and learn to apply psychological theories and principles to the individuals and teams they lead. Just some of the topics explored in this dynamic course of graduate study include communication, strategic planning, and management best practices. Convenient, eight-week terms and your choice of on-campus, online, or hybrid course delivery make this program a popular choice for today’s busy, working professionals.
Everglades University (private)
MS in Leadership (on-campus, online)
Everglades University offers the MS in Leadership, a flexible and convenient graduate program that is designed to prepare students to become leader of people, teams, and organizations in nearly any context. We love this program’s flexible format that includes your choice of on-campus or online study, and its accelerated format that allows you to earn your graduate degree in as little as 12 months. The MS in Leadership offers an optimal blend of theory and practice, preparing students with the theoretical foundations of leadership alongside real-world case studies that allow them to examine contemporary topics and issues in leadership.
University of Georgia (public)
MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership (on-campus)
Also offers: Master of Education in Learning, Leadership, and Organization Development
The University of Georgia’s MA in Nonprofit Management and Leadership is a superb course of graduate study that’s designed to refine and elevate your skills to become a confident leader of nonprofit organizations. The dynamic curriculum includes a blend of theory and practice that explore topics such as fundraising and development, social entrepreneurship, and organizational financial management. Students of this program complete internships that are located on-campus, in Athens, and across Georgia.
Wartburg College (private)
MA in Leadership (online)
Also offers: Graduate Leadership Certificate
Wartburg College’s MA in Leadership is expertly designed for the working professional who’s looking for a convenient and flexible path to a graduate degree in leadership. This exciting course of study, which is offered in a fully online format, is focused on problem-based learning from different perspectives. Despite the online format, students of this program enjoy strong mentorship and outstanding faculty support throughout the program. In addition to a thorough examination of the leadership and professional skills that today’s leaders possess, this program includes the creation of a portfolio of work.
St. Ambrose University (private)
Master of Organizational Leadership (on-campus, online)
Also offers: MBA with a concentration in Leadership
St. Ambrose University’s Master of Organizational Leadership is where emerging and practicing leaders learn to lead, inspire, and motivate individuals and teams. Offered both on-campus and online for maximum convenience and flexibility, this graduate course of study comes complete with a dedicated, esteemed faculty; convenient, eight-week sessions; a core curriculum that includes study in leadership theory, conflict management, strategic planning, communication, and leading change; and the opportunity to personalize your program through carefully selected electives. Interested in completing your program quickly? St. Ambrose offers the MOL in an accelerated format that allows students to complete their degree in as little as 12 months!
Adler University (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (online)
Adler University’s MA in Organizational Leadership offers a fully online format and an exciting course of study that’s focused on producing leaders who can influence and revitalize organizations using a socially responsible approach. Whether you’re an emerging or seasoned leader, this program will help elevate your skills to build effective teams and motivate people to meet an organization’s goals. We love this program’s Social Justice Practicum – a 200-hour internship that’s offers students a dynamic, real-world experience in the civic-minded category of their choice.
North Central College (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (online)
North Central College’s MA in Organizational Leadership offers a fully online course of graduate study that’s designed to create leaders who can make meaningful change in the organizations and lead. Whether you’re looking for new approaches to making strategic, evidence-based decisions or interested in elevating your leadership skills to better motivate and lead others, this exciting graduate program is designed with you in mind! Students of this program learn how to apply evidence-based decision making, creative problem-solving, and strategic planning to become more effective, confident leaders. We really like this program’s Weekend Leadership Conference – your opportunity to connect with your peers, learn from and network with leadership experts, and engage in dynamic panel discussions and hands-on training experiences.
Southwestern College (private)
MS in Leadership (online)
Operational Leadership certificate
Organizational Communication certificate
Executive Leadership certificate
Southwestern College’s MS in Leadership boasts an exciting course of graduate study that’s offered in a convenient and flexible online format! Whether your career goals include entering or rising through the ranks in healthcare, education, or business, this program is designed with you in mind! Students of this program are taught by an esteemed faculty of industry experts who have extensive experience teaching in a virtual classroom setting. You’re sure to love the asynchronous design of this course of graduate study, which allows you to study anytime, anywhere. And if you want to take your program one step further, consider stacking it with Southwestern’s Executive Leadership or Quality Management certificate.
Baker University (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (online)
Graduate Business Certificate in Leadership and Organizational Change
Leadership Studies minor
Baker University’s MA in Organizational Leadership is where emerging and practicing leaders become extraordinary leaders! This superb course of graduate study offers an examination of leadership fundamentals, leadership and organizational behavior, corporate social responsibility and accountability, maximizing technology in organizations, and more. You’re sure to love this program’s online design, which allows you to earn your graduate degree from the comfort of your home in as little as 18 months. Seven-week classes here are expertly designed for today’s working professional who demands convenience and flexibility, and the program’s esteemed faculty are experts at inspiring and motivating teams and setting strategic goals. New classes start every seven weeks, so you can start at any time throughout the year!
Suffolk University (private)
Master in Management and Organizational Leadership (on-campus)
Suffolk University’s Master in Management and Organizational Leadership prepares students to effortlessly manage the responsibilities of leadership and become effective, confident leaders who form and manage teams, negotiate, provide feedback, leverage their influence, and more. Here you’ll learn how to lead teams, establish successful client relationships, and manage conflict through a robust, industry-focused curriculum that’s led by an esteemed faculty of instructors. You’ll participate in real-world, client-focused experiences for unparalleled, hands-on experiences that are designed to prepare you for leadership roles in a variety of sectors.
Michigan State University (public)
MS in Management, Strategy and Leadership (online)
Graduate certificate in Leadership and Managing Teams
Graduate certificate in Organizational Communication for Leadership
MA in Nonprofit Leadership, Global Cultures, and Social Enterprise
Michigan State University’s MS in Management, Strategy and Leadership offers a superb course of online graduate study that can be completed in just 20 months. This program is designed to produce future-focused leaders who can inspire and motivate the individuals and teams they lead, face any challenge, and effectively guide their organization in today’s fast-paced global environment. You’re sure to love the format of this program, which blends video-based lectures, an interactive online environment, and plenty of personal instructor time. Thanks to its accelerated format that features 15 sequential, five-week courses, students can earn their master’s degree in under two years.
Madonna University (private)
MS in Business Leadership (online)
Non-Profit Leadership certificate
MS in Humane Leadership
Madonna University’s MS in Business Leadership is a convenient, online course of graduate study that prepares students to become highly skilled, competent, executive-level leaders in a variety of business sectors. Focused on team-building, conflict-resolution, critical thinking, and data-informed strategic decision-making, this program ensures that students are prepared to confidently lead individuals and teams in multicultural, global settings. Through this program, you’ll take study leadership theories and then apply them to solve real-world problems. Just some of the topics explored include conflict management, contemporary leadership, technology management, organizational leadership, managerial accounting, ethics, and corporate responsibility. You’re sure to love the highly interactive and engaging online courses that are taught by an esteemed faculty with diverse backgrounds!
Spring Arbor University (private)
MA in Management and Organizational Leadership (hybrid)
Also offers: MBA Executive Leadership concentration
Spring Arbor University’s MA in Management and Organizational Leadership boasts an exciting curriculum that explores both current and emerging organizational leadership and management theories and best practices to create professionals who confidently lead for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. You’re sure to love the convenient and flexible format of this program, which features a supportive learning environment for today’s adult learners. Courses here are offered every seven weeks, thereby allowing students to begin their program throughout the year. And a virtual classroom option allows students to combine the convenience of online learning with on-campus instruction. With an average class size of just 15, you’ll enjoy a dynamic, student-centered learning environment that prepares you for success!
University of Minnesota - Twin Cities (public)
MA in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (on-campus)
Integrative Leadership minor
Leadership for Managers postbaccalaureate certificate
Leadership for Science Professionals postbaccalaureate certificate
Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development Ph.D.
Public Affairs Leadership postbaccalaureate certificate
The University of Minnesota – Twin Cities is home to the MA in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, a dynamic course of graduate study that explores how individuals learn, grow, and relate to one another within the world’s systems and policies. It also examines how today’s leaders create strategies for increasing social and economic development, encouraging human flourishing, disrupting power structures, and working toward creating a more just society. You’ll be able to design your MA degree according to your own career goals and personal interests by choosing a track in Comparative and International Development Education; Education Policy and Leadership; Evaluation Studies; Higher Education, and Human Resource Development.
Saint Mary's University of Minnesota (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (online)
Also offers: Accounting Leadership certificate
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota’s MA in Organizational Leadership features a convenient and flexible online format, a clustered curriculum design, and a cohort environment for an unmatched graduate learning experience! Through this exciting course of graduate study, students learn to influence and expand their career by gaining the skills and knowledge needed to confidently lead individuals and teams to reach their fullest potential. Offered in a fully online format, this program comes complete with a faculty of real-world practitioners, a six-semester program of themed classes (called clusters), and your choice of graduate certificates to take your graduate degree to the next level!
St. Catherine University (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (online)
- Foundations in Leadership
- Change Leadership
- Equity-Focused Leadership
- Healthcare Leadership
- Information Services and Technology Leadership
- Leadership and Ethics
- Library Leadership
- Nonprofit and Public Leadership
- Strategic Management
St. Catherine University’s MA in Organizational Leadership boasts an online course of graduate study that’s designed to build better leaders! Through this exciting course of study, students explore the strategies that motivate and optimize dynamic teams and prepare to lead with confidence, integrity, and trust. Thanks to this examination of modern leadership, students learn to foster diversity, equity, and inclusion and bring out the best in the individuals and teams they lead. This online program is expertly designed for busy, working professionals and can be completed in just 20 months!
Rockhurst University (private)
MA in Organizational Leadership (on-campus)
Ed.D in Education and Leadership
Graduate Certificate in Advanced Leadership
Rockhurst University’s MA in Organizational Leadership prepares leaders with the knowledge and skills that allow them to make a difference in the world. Students of this program explore modern topics in leadership, including human resources, administration, functional decision-making, and team dynamics to become pros who can lead effectively, efficiently, and ethically. Designed for both emerging and seasoned leaders from a variety of backgrounds, this exciting course of graduate study is a great fit for students interested in careers in healthcare, information technology, human resources, education, and more. Just some of the other reasons we love this program include five start dates a year; convenient, eight-week terms; and a format that includes evening courses that are held just once per week on the Rockhurst campus.
Webster University (private)
MA in Management and Leadership (on-campus, online)
MA in Nonprofit Leadership
Ed.S. in Educational Leadership
MA in Educational Leadership and Administration
Webster University’s MA in Management and Leadership is offered either on-campus or online, making it a smart choice for today’s busy adult leaders. This exciting program produces graduates who confidently lead high-performing teams in today’s complex, global business environment. Your choice of emphasis in cybersecurity, digital marketing management, entrepreneurship, health administration, marketing, organizational development and change, or project management allows you to design a program that perfectly aligns with your career plans (you may also choose to complete a general program without an emphasis), while coursework in areas like group dynamics, interpersonal relations, and collaboration ensure a well-rounded course of study for emerging and seasoned leaders alike. You’re sure to love the format of this program, which features nine-week courses that are taken one or two at a time. Take one course per term and graduate in about 30 months; choose two courses and you can graduate in as little as 18 months!
Fontbonne University (private)
Master of Management and Leadership (online)
Also offers: Management and Leadership Certificate
Fontbonne University’s Master of Management and Leadership is where you’ll develop the tools and skills to become an effective leader in the private, nonprofit, or government sector. This program is designed with an emphasis on the internal operations of an organization, such as the management and leadership of people and projects. It features career-focused coursework and an interdisciplinary curriculum that explores areas like industrial/organizational psychology, coaching, and motivation. Convenient, eight-week courses delivered in an online format make this the ideal program for today’s busy, working adult!
Avila University (private)
MS in Organizational Leadership (on-campus, online)
Also offers: MBA with a concentration in Executive Leadership
Avila University’s MS in Organizational Leadership is the epitome of flexibility, offering students the option of studying on-campus or online and personalizing their graduate degree with a concentration in Strategic Human Resources, Executive Leadership, Workplace Instructional Design, Inclusion and Belonging, Psychology, or Change Management! Through this dynamic course of graduate study, students examine organizational psychology and learn to become adept at organizing initiatives, managing teams, and handling change. Students of this program elevate their knowledge and skills to become confident leaders who motivate people and teams and effortlessly manage organizational change. We love the option to study on-campus, online, or through a hybrid format, and the online learning here is always asynchronous, allowing you to study whenever and wherever it’s most convenient!