Best Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Earn an online organizational leadership master’s degree to learn the crucial skills needed for success in a managerial role in any field.

Not everyone is a natural at managing others. Most aspiring managers need practice and training to learn to bring out the best in a team. Whether you work for a private company, government agency, or nonprofit organization, an online master’s degree in organizational leadership helps you develop and sharpen your skills so that you can combine the knowledge you already have of your industry with the qualities that make a great leader. To learn more about master’s in leadership online programs—including what the curriculum covers, how much schools charge for this graduate program, and what jobs people who complete these programs may land—continue reading the comprehensive information below.

College Spotlights: Top Online Organizational Leadership Master’s Programs in 2021

Going to graduate school is a huge investment of time and money, so when you’re exploring options for an online master’s in organizational leadership you want to gather all of the information you can to make the right choice. To get you started, these best-in-class programs compare what you’ll find at some of the premiere schools around the country, based on their curriculum, affordability, and convenience. Check back later in 2021 for comprehensive rankings for master’s in leadership online programs to give you a deep dive into what dozens of these programs are like.

Colorado State University Global

After students have worked through the curriculum in the organizational leadership master of science program at Colorado State University Global, they are able to apply a strong understanding of human behavior to a managerial role in an organization. Some of the competencies graduates develop include the ability to analyze the interactions of individuals and groups in the workplace, evaluate current organizational problems based on historical data, and apply leadership theories to specific challenges in a company. To foster these skills, students take core classes that cover organizational research, decision theory, and business ethics. In addition they choose a specialization, such as human resource management, finance, criminal justice leadership, or strategic innovation and change management.

When applying to this program, prospective students are expected to have a bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited school and at least a 3.0 GPA. However, students with a grade point average below a 3.0 may be admitted on a provisional basis.

Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU)

Those interested in enrolling in the SNHU M.S. in organizational leadership online, which can be completed in about 15 months, are required to have a bachelor’s degree with at least a 2.75 grade point average and a personal statement to submit with their application and transcripts. Those who graduate from this program can go on to work as human resources managers, CEOs, training and development managers, and school superintendents.

SNHU’s 36-credit program includes coursework on human behavior in organizations, leading change, human resources management, and corporate leadership. Through these courses students build a foundation of vital skills, such as communication, problem solving, and leadership abilities, to help them thrive in managerial positions.

Arizona State University (ASU)

The ASU online master of science in organizational leadership helps students develop the skills they need to be successful in different sectors, from technology to management to education to healthcare. To be admitted, applicants are expected to have a minimum 3.0 grade point average in an accredited bachelor’s degree program. An applicant sends official transcripts, a letter of intent, two letters of recommendation, proof of English proficiency, and a professional resume.

To prepare students for various careers, ASU offers classes that cover leadership theory, social and psychological leadership perspectives, leadership assessments, and qualitative and quantitative research. Students learn how to lead team members from diverse backgrounds effectively, resolve conflicts within a team, and develop and use emotional intelligence to manage employees.

Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Great leaders aren’t born, they’re made—and often that leadership development is accomplished by earning an online master’s in organizational leadership. You’ll discover many compelling reasons to earn this degree online, including the following.

  1. Career Advancement

    No matter what field you’re in, stepping into a management role requires advanced skills. To help students acquire these skills, online master’s degrees in organizational leadership train students on the communication, research, team building, and problem solving that they’ll need to manage people in any field.

  2. Affordability

    Graduate programs can be costly, so sometimes going to a traditional school to earn a degree is not an option. Online programs can help to lower the cost of graduate school because there’s less overhead and students often pay for classes by the number of credits they take, rather than a lump sum for the semester or year. This can go a long way toward saving money and ensuring that students can affordably pursue their master’s in leadership online to meet their career goals.

  3. Specialized Learning

    Leadership principles can be transferred to different industries, however online master’s in organizational leadership programs also allow students to enroll in a specialization so they can apply principles to a specific field. This gives students another level of learning that helps them be even more prepared for the next step in their career.

  4. Time

    Online master’s in leadership programs often have accelerated courses that are conducted in weeks rather than months, which also helps students earn their degrees because they aren’t required to dedicate as much time to being in school. With terms that may last six to eight weeks, depending on the school, students quickly work through the curriculum so that they can complete a master’s in leadership online in as little as 12-18 months.

What You’ll Learn in Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Development Programs

As the workplace constantly evolves, today’s leaders have a lot to learn to successfully guide their teams to meet or exceed their company’s objectives. Whether you’re working with employees based in another country, creating policies that address conflicts within a department, or helping team members navigate problems related to sexual harassment or discrimination, you’ll need to be adept at handling many challenging situations. Online master’s in organizational leadership and development programs offer courses like these to prepare you for those challenges.

Common Courses You Can Expect to Take

  • Human Behavior in Organizations

    This course looks at how individuals and groups interact within an organization. Specific topics include theories about motivation, communication, decision making, and power. Also, students study how to create systems that motivate employees to perform better and contemporary issues in organizational human behavior.

  • Leading Diverse Teams

    As the workplace becomes more diverse with people from different racial, economic, and cultural backgrounds, it’s up to managers to ensure that they understand one another and form strong and effective teams. This course provides the groundwork by teaching students about diversity initiatives, cultural change, and strategic planning.

  • Analyzing Organizations

    This course teaches students how to analyze organizations to understand how they run and to make decisions that improve operations. To do this, the class covers qualitative and quantitative research methods used to analyze an organization and methods for reporting and utilizing research findings.

  • Group Communication

    Students in this class learn how group communication works and the best ways for leaders to communicate effectively with the groups they manage. Specific topics include negotiation, group development and socialization, creativity and innovation within groups, and conflict management. Students may simulate the group interactions they’re likely to encounter as organizational leaders.

  • Human Resources Law

    This class covers the complexity of human resources law and how it applies to the daily operations of the workplace. For example, students learn about the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act, and Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations.

The Importance of Accreditation for Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Programs

Accreditation is the vetting process that schools and degree programs go through to get a seal of approval based on the quality of their curriculum, the expertise of the faculty, the research the school has produced, and the services offered to students to help them succeed. The accreditation process is rigorous to ensure that schools give students the education they need and the skills employers expect. As a result, you should only consider online organizational leadership programs that have been accredited by organizations like the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Organizational Leadership

Organizations of all types need strong and skillful leaders. No matter what field you choose, you’ll find applications for your master’s in organizational leadership after you graduate. The following are some of the common careers that people who earn a master’s in leadership online go on to pursue.

Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals

Elementary, middle, and high school principals run the daily operations of their schools, which includes managing the activities of teachers and supporting staff, observing and evaluating student performance, creating staff professional development opportunities, and creating and managing the school’s budget. That’s in addition to working with parents, community members, school administrators, and the district superintendent.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$65,150 $98,490 152,500

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers are responsible for every step of the hiring process within an organization, from the determination that a position needs to be filled to posting job ads to interviewing and assessing candidates. In addition, after employees are hired these professionals play a role in the onboarding process, including ensuring that new employees get the training they need and understand compensation packages, the company’s culture and values, and the company’s policies.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$68,300 $116,720 $205,720

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Postsecondary Education Administrators

When colleges and universities need someone to manage faculty research, student services, and academics, they rely on postsecondary education administrators to ensure that these tasks get done. Postsecondary education administrators work in the admissions, student affairs, registrar’s, or dean’s offices.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$55,320 $95,410 $194,090

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Training and Development Managers

Training and development managers create and manage the programs that increase employees’ skills and knowledge. Specific job duties include developing training budgets, establishing training programs based on the specific needs of employees in different departments, and reviewing training materials from vendors and selecting materials that are appropriate for the company.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$64,720 $113,350 $196,070

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Management Analysts

Organizations that need advice on how to run more efficiently bring in management analysts to observe their operations and offer recommendations about improvements. To do this, these professionals analyze financial records, interview and observe employees, and consult with the business’s leaders to learn about the problems they believe need to be solved in the organization. With all of the data management analysts collect, they are able to provide advice on how people can meet their goals.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$49,700 $85,260 $154,310

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Organizational Leadership

No doubt you’re interested in what you’ll study in an organizational leadership master’s degree online, but you’re also likely to be concerned about the cost of the program and the financial aid options that are available. Here’s a list of programs and costs to give you an idea of how much students spend when they enroll in online master’s degree in organizational leadership programs. Also, to find out information on the options for funding, visit our financial aid page.

What Your Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Total Tuition Cost

Southern New Hampshire University




Colorado State University Global




Bellevue University




FAQs About Online Organizational Leadership Master’s Degrees

What are the admissions requirements for an online master’s in organizational leadership?

When applying to an online organizational leadership master’s degree program, different schools will have different standards. Generally you’ll be expected to:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree
  • Have at least a 2.5 grade point average
  • Write a letter of intent explaining your interest in the program
  • Supply letters of recommendation
  • Submit a resume
  • Prove English proficiency

How long will it take to finish my master’s in organizational leadership online?

Depending on the program, full-time students may be able to complete their master’s degree in organizational leadership in about 18 months. Part-time students will take longer to finish, perhaps as long as three years depending on your course load.

Can I earn a master’s in organizational leadership 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

You can earn an organizational leadership master’s degree 100% online. However, some programs may be delivered in a hybrid format, which means students visit campus for certain courses, such as a capstone project, and take the rest of their courses via the Internet.