Top 25 Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs for 2019

Graduate business programs are the most popular master's degrees in the country. As online education opportunities become more and more common, it's not surprising that the popularity of web-based master's degrees in business has grown at nearly the same pace as campus-based programs.

While the master of business administration (MBA) is the most popular degree in the field, there are other options for aspiring business leaders. The online master's in organizational leadership is similar to the MBA in that it prepares graduates for management-level positions within an organization, but organizational leadership focuses more on personnel management strategies, workplace psychology, and communication. An MBA, by comparison, hones skills in analytical decision making, quantitative methods, and business strategy.

Many modern organizations seek out managers who work with staff members on an emotional level. Most online master's of organizational leadership degrees teach students about conflict management, communication techniques, and organizational behavior -- all leadership strategies that recognize the value of employee welfare.

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This shift in leadership focus is increasingly important for many organizations that want to adapt to the different personalities, generations, and cultures filling the ranks of the workforce. Managers with the skills to treat employees as individuals have shown the ability to inspire them and help them reach their true potential.

Top 25 Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs


Johns Hopkins University Baltimore, MD

For years, the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership was only offered at Johns Hopkins University campus in Maryland. Recently, the 36-credit Master of Science in Organizational Leadership was reformatted for online study. Now, online students have access to the same nationally recognized program that has produced some of the nation's best leaders. This MS in leadership online teaches professionals to lead with integrity and responsibility. Graduates gain an understanding in organizational analysis and evolution. While the schedule is flexible, students enroll as part of a cohort, typically taking two or three courses (three credit hours each) per semester. The average student completes the degree in less than two years.


Gonzaga University Spokane, WA

Gonzaga University has long been providing higher learning of the highest quality within the Jesuit, Catholic tradition. Within each of its programs, including its online programs, Gonzaga University’s ideals show through. The online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, a program that fosters interpersonal communications and management within the nation's future leaders is intended to align with the Jesuit tradition of community building. The 30-credit online master’s of organizational leadership has start dates every eight weeks and takes about two years to complete on average. The master's degree in organizational leadership is similar to Gonzaga University's Master of Business Administration (MBA) except that it doesn't include courses in finance, accounting, or statistics. This degree program also offers concentrations in servant leadership and global leadership. While the program is fully online, there is a three-day immersion required at the Spokane, Washington campus.


Regis University Denver, CO

Located in Denver, Colorado and backing onto the Rocky Mountains, Regis University is one of 28 Jesuit Catholic colleges and universities in the United States. One of the biggest changes since the school was founded in 1877 has been the addition of online degree programs. Today, nearly all of Regis University's graduate degrees are available online. The 30-credit online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership, for example, is accessible for working professionals from all over the world looking to advance their careers. The MS in leadership online is built to cultivate leaders that are able to think creatively and remain socially responsible. With six start dates in the year and an eight-week accelerated course format, the entire degree is completable within two years.


Champlain College Burlington, VT

Overlooking Lake Champlain in Vermont, Champlain College has provided career-focused higher learning for almost 140 years. The addition of online degree programs, like the intensive Master of Science in Executive Leadership, has enabled Champlain to continue that tradition in a new format. This one year MS in executive leadership is designed to create visionary and transformational leaders for the ever-evolving globalized world. Students have their choice of six start dates per year, enrolling as part of a cohort. Each cohort then proceeds through six consecutive eight-week terms, totaling 36 credit hours. Successful applicants to this accelerated master's degree have a completed bachelor's degree with at least a 2.5 GPA.


Messiah College Mechanicsburg, PA

While Messiah College's scenic 471-acre Pennsylvania campus has long been a draw for students, the institution's online programs allow students from all over to benefit from an influential curriculum without ever leaving their homes. The Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership is a program designed to teach leaders to foster teamwork and lead diverse populations for the betterment of an organization. The 30-credit online master’s in leadership is delivered through both asynchronous and synchronous eight-week courses. At the end of the program, students engage in a fully customizable field project to demonstrate their understanding. This online master's degree is two years in length and accepts bachelor's degree graduates with at least a 3.0 GPA.


University of Denver Denver, CO

Established in Denver, Colorado in 1864, not long after the founding of the city itself, the University of Denver is the oldest private university in the Rocky Mountain region. The institution has since become a leader in offering innovative online programs, such as the master of science in leadership and organizations with a concentration in organizational development. This 48-credit master's degree program teaches aspiring leaders to create a productive culture within any type of organization. With multiple start dates throughout the year, students take part in courses that are delivered asynchronously within 10-week terms.


Norwich University Northfield, VT

Since 1819, Norwich University has been an innovator in the field of education. While the school was founded in Norwich, Vermont, the addition of online programs has enabled Norwich University to have a more global reach. As the first private military college in the United States, Norwich University has a long tradition of teaching future leaders, a tradition continued with its online Master of Science in Leadership. This program is designed in such a way that each course coordinates with the course before it and the course after it. Students take one course at a time, studying during the hours of the day that suits them best. This seminar-style degree program allows students to complete the degree in as little as 18 months.


Saint Mary's University of Minnesota Minneapolis, MN

Grown from the small local college it was founded as in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1912 to the global university it is today, Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is an institution dedicated to serving the diverse learning community of the world. Like many of the school's degree programs, the online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership is designed to meet the challenges of tomorrow. The 36-credit master's degree helps mold professionals into adaptable and ethical leaders, organizational managers able to make real and lasting change. The online master’s degree in leadership consists of five semesters of themed courses that build off of each other. The fully online program is delivered asynchronously and the schedule is flexible, though most graduates complete the program in 20 months. Additionally, every online student at Saint Mary's University of Minnesota is set up with an iPad preloaded with the school’s mobile learning platform.


Piedmont International University Winston-Salem, NC

Since 1945, Piedmont International University has been offering its Christian-based higher learning out of Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In 2004, the institution merged with Spurgeon Baptist Bible College and began offering online programs. Now, a program like the Master of Arts in Leadership is available online to students across the world. In this 36-credit master's degree program, students prepare to take on leadership roles in a variety of organizational settings. With a range of leadership electives to choose from, students focus their learning in the areas of business and leadership they are most interested in. The flexible online delivery allows for program completion in less than two years. Successful applicants have at least a 2.5 GPA and a bachelor's degree.


Duquesne University Pittsburgh, PA

More than 130 years ago, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit established Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Today, as the only Spiritan university in the nation, Duquesne University wears its roots and traditions proudly but also seeks out innovative ways to bring its programs to the world. Online courses, like the Master of Science in Leadership, allow students to study after work or whenever is most suitable. The 30-credit MS in leadership from Duquesne University has a heavy focus on ethical leadership, teaching students to lead in an evolving professional landscape. With start dates in August, January, or May and self-paced learning, the program is one of the more flexible programs available. Depending on the course load, it is possible to complete the entire degree in less than two years.


Olivet Nazarene University Bourbonnais, IL

Since 1907, Olivet Nazarene University has offered education with a Christian foundation to students in the Bourbonnais, Illinois area. Throughout the years, Olivet Nazarene University has grown at an enormous rate, now with more than 100 different locations in the country and offering online degree programs. The Master of Organizational Leadership is a 36-credit-hour online degree that offers accelerated classes and a degree completion time of less than two years. Students are taught to lead while sustaining a community culture, utilizing resources effectively, and developing innovative and ethical leadership approaches for their respective organizations. There are several start dates throughout the year, and the master’s in organizational leadership online consists of twelve eight-week courses. Applicants are eligible to transfer up to six credits from another graduate-level program and must have a 2.5 GPA from their undergraduate degree.


Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion Marion, IN

Founded in 1920, Indiana Wesleyan University is a Christian university of The Wesleyan Church and the largest private university in Indiana. With a main campus in Marion, 15 regional education centers, and online degree programs available, Indiana Wesleyan's programs are available to almost everyone. The online master of arts with a major in organizational leadership offered by the School of Service and Leadership is one of the more popular programs for aspiring leaders. The 36-credit degree is designed for completion in under 23 months. The program fosters authenticity and integrity in future leaders and integrates concepts of wisdom, followership, and stewardship into foundational leadership principles. Successful applicants earned a 3.0 GPA in their undergraduate degree and are in a position of leadership currently or aspire to assume one in the near future.


Crown College St. Bonifacius, MN

For more than 100 years, Crown College has been preparing students for a future of Christian service and community leadership at its St. Bonifacius, Minnesota campus. In recent years, Crown College has expanded its offerings to include online degree programs, such as the online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership. This 36-credit degree typically takes two years to complete if students take only one course at a time. Participants learn different leadership philosophies from a Christian perspective and prepare for a career in leadership in any public, private, and/or nonprofit organization. Crown College also has various emphasis tracks available, including community development, nonprofit leadership, and social science research.


California Baptist University Riverside, CA

California Baptist University (CBU), located in Riverside, California, has long been one of the nation's top private Christian institutions. To meet the demands of today's students, CBU introduced CBU Online, an online university that offers more than 40 bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs online. The Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership is one of those programs, an online master's degree teaching professionals how to properly manage and motivate people and how to best create change within an organization. The organizational leadership master's degree consists of 30 credits and typically requires 12 months to complete. Eligible applicants must have a 2.5 GPA from their undergraduate degree and management and/or professional work experience.


Baker University Baker City, KS

When it was founded in Baker City, Kansas in 1858, Baker University became the first university in the state. While history and tradition play a big role in Baker University's mission, the institution is also dedicated to innovation. That's why online programs, like the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, are so important to the university. Students from all over the world can now receive a Baker University degree without ever leaving their home. The 39-credit-hour online master's degree in organizational leadership takes approximately two years to complete (22-24 months) and has start dates every seven weeks. Courses are taught asynchronously, which enables students to study at the times that best suit their lifestyle. The degree program also offers concentrations in finance, health care administration, and human resources, for a more focused learning experience.


Lincoln Christian University Lincoln, IL

Lincoln Christian University in Lincoln, Illinois, was originally designed to teach the future leaders of the Christian church. Over time, that mission evolved into teaching future leaders of the nation with a Christian foundation in their education. The online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership exemplifies this mission. Students enrolled in this program learn what makes the best leaders in this country great. The program teaches strategies for interpersonal leadership and gracious conflict resolution, and students learn all of this completely online, studying anytime of the day or night. Once enrolled, students take one class at a time for approximately 21 months.


Point Loma Nazarene University San Diego, CA

Point Loma Nazarene University is one of the premiere Christian universities in the nation. Students in the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership have the option of studying 100% online or taking courses at the Mission Valley campus in San Diego, California. In this 36-credit online master’s in organizational leadership, students join a cohort and work their way through 12 six-week courses of asynchronous learning online. Graduates learn the problem-solving and decision-making skills necessary of leaders while gaining the ability to support leadership practices with Christian virtues. Though students are eligible to transfer in credits to shorten the completion time, the organizational leadership master's degree is designed to be completed in less than two years (approximately 20 months).


University of Mary Bismarck, ND

The University of Mary is a Catholic University in Bismarck, North Dakota that prepares its students to be ethical leaders in their careers. The online master's in business administration (MBA) with a concentration in virtuous leadership is perfect example of this mission in action as the program provides students with the understanding and ability to apply ethical leadership to their professions. In addition to the required MBA curriculum, students take courses in social teachings, virtuous leadership, and philosophy of happiness. With start dates every five weeks and an accelerated online program option, the online virtuous leadership concentration is completable within 18 months. This program is also partnered with the Havard Virtuous Leadership Institute. Together, these institutions host a four-day leadership immersion seminar for students in the program at several different locations across the country.


Southwestern Assemblies of God University Waxahachie, TX

In 1996, the private Christian university, Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU), expanded its degree offerings to include graduate degrees. Today, most of those degrees are available online to accommodate working professionals. The 36-credit Master of Organizational Leadership is one such program. This two-year degree allows students to take six credits per semester for six semesters as part of a cohort. At the beginning of each semester, the cohorts come together on the beautiful 70-acre SAGU campus in Waxahachie, Texas and participate in a three-day meeting, attending lectures and discussion groups led by various industry leaders.


Pfeiffer University Misenheimer, NC

Pfeiffer University is an institution built of a network of North Carolina campuses, such as the Misenheimer, Charlotte, and Raleigh-Durham regional locations. The addition of online programs has allowed students from all over the world to study with this United-Methodist-Church-affiliated university. The Master of Science in Leadership (MSL) is a popular option for future leaders looking for teachings in advanced organizational behavior science and conflict resolution. The 27-semester-hour program offers concentrations in human resources management and international management and is completable in as little as 15 months. The asynchronous classes at Pfeiffer University enable students to control their schedules, studying when it's convenient for them.


Colorado Christian University Lakewood, CO

For the last 100 years, Colorado Christian University (CCU) has provided higher learning to students in the Colorado and Rocky Mountain region. Online courses have enabled CCU to provide even more students with continued learning opportunities. The online master's degree in organizational leadership, for instance, incorporates the teachings of Jesus Christ into contemporary leadership issues, helping future leaders learn how to approach real leadership concerns with care and grace. This 36-credit-hour online master’s in organizational leadership is made up of courses that are typically completed in five-week blocks, meaning the average degree takes less than two years to complete. At CCU, however, up to six graduate credits are eligible for transfer and the online program schedule is very flexible. Students complete courses at their own pace, finishing the degree in as short as 14 months or as long as four years.


Juniata College Huntingdon, PA

For more than 140 years, Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania has prepared students to give back to humanity and their communities. With online programs now available, such as the Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership, Juniata College has expanded its reach. The online master's degree offers two options, a 30-credit program for experienced professionals and a 42-credit program for those with little leadership experience. Students may transfer up to six credits into the program as well, allowing the 30-credit option to be completed in less than one year. Most of the online courses at Juniata College are taught synchronously with scheduled meeting times to offer students a similar experience to traditional courses, with the added comfort of studying from home and after work.


Cleary University Howell, MI

Since 1883, Cleary University has been dedicated to fostering vital business skills in its students. Recently, the specialized business university in Howell, Michigan has expanded its offerings, but the business focus is still there. The 33-credit online Master of Business Administration in Global Leadership provides graduates with the skills necessary to lead in a globalized market. Students within each cohort take one course every seven weeks, taking a one-week break between courses and completing the program in 22 months. Graduates learn management strategies for many business sectors, including marketing, accounting, economics, finance, and global operations.


North Park University Chicago, IL

Founded by the Christian church in 1981 on Chicago's north side, North Park University still holds its Christian roots close. In its online master's degree in organizational leadership (MOL), North Park University prepares future leaders with the understanding and awareness to be competent and impactful in their leadership positions, but still remain socially responsible. The 36-semester-hour online master’s in organizational leadership provides various leadership techniques and is completable in less than 21 months. Graduates of this program are eligible to take any other business courses, certificates, or degrees at North Park University at a 50% tuition discount.


University of Wisconsin - Platteville Platteville, WI

UW-Platteville's online MS in organizational change leadership prepares graduates to navigate and lead positive change in a constantly evolving global business environment. The program introduces students to several subject areas, such as communication, conflict resolution, critical thinking, and problem solving. Students may also select one of several concentrations, including healthcare, human resources, project management, and safety risk control. The program is 30 to 39 credit hours, depending upon one’s concentration.

Applicants only need to submit transcripts from the school from which they received their bachelor's degree -- there are no GRE or GMAT scores required. Once enrolled, students can complete their coursework without ever visiting campus. Distance learners also pay the same tuition rates as their on-campus counterparts, regardless of their state of residence.

UW-Platteville is located in southwestern Wisconsin and is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The school is part of the University of Wisconsin System, which includes 26 public two-year and four-year institutions across the state.

What Will I Learn in an Online Organizational Leadership Master's Program?

Although curriculum requirements differ between schools, students who pursue an online master's in organizational leadership generally complete coursework related to several common themes. Students pursuing an online master's in leadership often study topics similar to those addressed by the sample courses listed below.

  • Introduction to global systems: This course familiarizes students with global issues related to organizational performance. Students examine case studies, simulations, and current issues, using systems thinking to analyze the relationship between interdependence and accountability. Developing global leadership soft skills, such as self-awareness and cultural sensitivity, prepares future human resources managers to oversee diverse workforces.
  • Leadership and organizational behavior: In this course, students assess the influence of leaders on organizational behavior. They examine individual, group, and cultural systems and explore organizational behaviors related to communication, quality control, and marketing. This course is particularly relevant for students who hope to become senior executive officers within an organization.
  • Organizational change and transformation: This course equips students to confront change within an organization by familiarizing them with theories from the change management field. Students learn to evaluate which intervention strategy best suits a given situation. Change management is a particularly valuable skill for prospective management analysts.
  • Organizational communication: In this course, students examine how communication affects organizational functioning in private businesses, nonprofit associations, community groups, and governments. Students also discuss organizational communication research topics related to culture, technology, and globalization. Developing organizational communication skills is especially important for aspiring labor relations specialists.
  • Principles of financing for organizations: This course introduces students to the basic financial concepts used in public, private, and nonprofit organizations. Students compare and contrast various financial processes, examining their applicability to different organizations. This knowledge prepares students for careers in financial management.

Job Outlook and Salaries for Organizational Leadership

Most workers in organizational leadership hold a master's degree. Since businesses look for a combination of education and experience in their leaders, graduate degrees have increasingly become a prerequisite for managerial positions.

In 2015, 53% of the organizational leadership degrees awarded were at the master's degree level. Comparatively, 40% of the degrees were bachelor's degrees. An online master's in leadership is a major with broad focus. It teaches students to build teams, make important business decisions, and lead effectively.

Most students combine a master's in organizational leadership with an undergraduate business degree, giving them the foundation and analytical expertise -- as well as the flexible leadership skills -- they need to excel in the field. This helps explain why the online master's in organizational leadership is more popular than the bachelor's degree.

There are other reasons why the online master's of organizational leadership is so popular. The placement rates for graduate-level leaders is 95.6%, almost 4% higher than those with a bachelor's degree alone. The financial benefits are substantial as well. Experienced graduate degree holders earn a median salary of $93,000, which is approximately 35% more than the $69,000 median salary earned by professionals with a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership.

Furthermore, while all business fields are projected to grow over the next several years, careers that typically require an online organizational leadership master's degree are projected to increase at equal or faster rates than positions that require only a bachelor's degree. In some fields, such as human resources and administration, leadership positions are projected to grow at rates four times faster than specialist positions.


Placement Rates: 92%

Median Salary (Entry-Experienced): $44,000 - $69,000

Career Growth:

  • Human Resources Specialist – 2%
  • Training and Development Specialists – 7%
  • Sales – 5%
  • Office and Administrative Support – 2%


Placement Rates: 95.6%

Median Salary (Entry-Experienced): $52,000 - $93,000

Career Growth:

  • Human Resources Manager – 9%
  • Training and Development Managers – 7%
  • Sales Managers – 5%
  • Administrative Services Managers – 8%

Job Options for Organizational Leadership

Management Analysts
Management analysts help organizations and managers improve organizational processes. They analyze personnel and financials to make recommendations for streamlining business processes. The majority of management analysts work a 40-hour week, splitting their time between their own office and the client organization's location. While management analysts do need analytical skills to interpret and find solutions in the hard data and information, interpersonal skills are important as well. Professionals in this field typically need strong communication and creative problem-solving abilities to understand issues and find solutions to the unique challenges they face on the job.
Median Salary: $64,388
Human Resources Managers
Organizational leadership graduates who pursue a career as a human resources manager coordinate and manage the administrative side of a business. They are often in charge of connecting an organization's management personnel with employees, meaning they're in charge of staffing, interviewing, and workplace conflict mediation and resolution. Most human resources managers stay in one office location and work about 40 hours per week, but professionals in charge of several different organizational branches are often required to travel. To connect more effectively with employees, human resources managers benefit from knowledge in conflict management and business psychology. Other important capabilities necessary for the role are communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills.
Median Salary: $64,113
Training and Development Managers
Organizational leadership professionals who become training and development managers are in charge of enhancing the skills and knowledge of an organization's staff. These professionals manage a team of specialists and create training programs that help organizations strengthen staff and processes. Managers empower their team of specialists with the ability to run these programs individually, providing assistance and leadership when and where necessary. Approximately half of the professionals in this field work more than 40 hours a week, and travel between training locations is often required. The most important attributes of this field are communication, interpersonal, and leadership skills. Working with people closely requires an understanding of how to speak with people and how to communicate training methods and procedures to others. There is also a significant amount of critical thinking necessary to determine what the organization's individual needs are and how to craft a training program suitable to provide the right solution.
Median Salary: $73,343
Administrative Services Managers
Administrative services managers are in charge of coordinating and managing the support services within an organization. This position typically requires managers to supervise all administrative personnel and ensure that all administrative processes run as effectively as possible. Managers also need to suggest, create, and implement procedural changes for inefficiencies. The majority of administrative services managers work a standard 40-hour week alongside their team of administrative personnel. Since this is a leadership position, management skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills are expected. Managers are also detail-oriented and have the skills necessary to analyze organization processes and find more effective pathways if available.
Median Salary: $58,523

Professional Organizations for Organizational Leadership Graduates

Students who complete an online master's in organizational leadership can benefit from joining a professional organization related to the field. These organizations offer professionals career-enhancing resources such as leadership publications, job boards, and product discounts. Members may participate in continuing education events, online networking forums, national conferences, and local chapter activities.

Students pursuing a master's in leadership online may choose to join one of the following organizations.

  • National Management Association: NMA provides management professionals with opportunities to learn and practice new leadership skills. Members participate in leadership development activities at the local, regional, and national levels. They attend conferences, join company-based and community chapters, and receive discounts on professional products and services.
  • International Leadership Association: ILA promotes inclusive and interdisciplinary global leadership practices. Members receive access to leadership publications, webinars, advertising resources, and publishing opportunities. They may also participate in interest groups, learning communities, and ILA's online network of leadership professionals.
  • Association of Leadership Programs: ALP provides educational training and networking resources to leadership professionals. Member benefits include educational conferences, job postings, leadership publications, monthly teleconferences, an online resource library, and data access. Members may also build their web presence through the online ALP member directory and interactive map.



To determine the best master's degrees in organizational leadership, we looked at the most important factors prospective students, mainly common predictors of future success and a school's commitment to online programs. This boils down to admissions rate, student loan default rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and the percent of students enrolled in online classes. All data points are taken from information provided by colleges and universities to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Each factor is weighted evenly in order to give an objective view and determine the top 25 master's degrees in organizational leadership. To calculate our rankings, we looked at a school's ranking when organized by a single factor, and then averaged each category's ranking to find an overall score: Admissions Rate (20%) + Default Rate (20%) + Retention Rate (20%) + Graduation Rate (20%) + Percent of Students Enrolled in Online Classes (20%) = Final score.