Advantages of an Online Master's in Organizational Leadership
Understanding the numbers
When reviewing job growth and salary information, it’s important to remember that actual numbers can vary due to many different factors — like years of experience in the role, industry of employment, geographic location, worker skill and economic conditions. Cited projections do not guarantee actual salary or job growth.
As technology advances and society changes, organizations need to keep up to stay relevant. With the right approach, executives and high-level managers can navigate shifts in the workplace and turn potential obstacles into new opportunities.
“Leadership by the few is not going to help solve the problems ahead,” said Dr. Michelle Caron, associate dean of business at Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). Rather than emphasizing the perspectives of leaders, workplaces need to be harmonious to address future changes in the workplace, like implementing artificial intelligence and adapting to social change.
Organizational leadership is a management approach wherein leaders set goals for an organization and guide the group toward these common objectives in concert. As an organizational leader, you’ll be the conductor of the orchestra, both setting the tone and ensuring all moving parts within the collective are working together to create harmony.
“We need to consider diverse perspectives towards achieving common goals,” Caron said. “This requires leaders to know how to create a strong vision for the future, inspire others to reach their greatest potential and develop empowered, high-performing teams. Always leading in an ethical manner and promoting transparency in decision-making.”
Effective leaders set a good example, build trust, inspire and generate a sense of purpose, according to Caron. She said earning a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MS OL) can help you develop these skills and prepare you to become an effective leader with the ability to foster a company culture, champion change and drive for excellence.
What Can You Do With a Master’s in Organizational Leadership?
If you're seeking a role near the top of an institutional ladder, an MS OL can prepare you for various upper-level management positions. Some potential roles for graduates include:
- Human resources (HR) manager: As a human resources manager, you’d be in charge of the administrative functions of an organization like coordinating employee benefits, BLS noted, and the annual salary for HR managers was $130,000 in 2022.*
- Management analyst: According to BLS, management analysts, also called management consultants, suggest methods to improve an organization’s efficiency, and the median annual salary for management analysts was $95,290 in 2022, with a higher-than-average 10% growth rate.*
- Operations manager: General and operations managers coordinate, direct and plan the operations of public or private organizations, and the average annual salary for this position was $122,860 in 2022, according to BLS.*
- Training and development manager: Training and development managers plan, coordinate and direct programs to enhance the skills and knowledge of an organization’s employees, BLS reports, and these professionals made a median salary of $120,000 in 2022.*
If you want to become a manager at any level, you'll need the right background. According to BLS, all the above positions require at least a bachelor’s degree plus several years of relevant work experience on the job, except operations managers who have more varied backgrounds. If you already have a bachelor’s degree and a foundation of experience in your field, a master’s degree could take your understanding of business concepts to the next level and further prepare you for a variety of management and leadership roles.
Although many organizational leaders are managers in high-level positions, anyone can benefit from improving their leadership skills, according to Caron. "You don’t have to be in a supervisory role or have ‘president’ or ‘director’ in your title to be a leader within your organization," she said. "When employees realize they don't have to be the boss to inspire and influence others, they can make a positive difference in their company and truly enjoy their work."
Dr. Linda Ellington, a business leadership faculty lead at SNHU, also emphasized the importance of collaboration through all levels of an organization. She said the MS OL program teaches leaders to define an organization's next horizon and seek out a variety of perspectives before making decisions.
"In your academic work and conversations, you will chart a course to innovation and competitive advantage," said Ellington. "We get greater ownership through the early involvement of people like stakeholders and customers, avoiding that classic show-and-tell, one-way conversation."
Is a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership Worth It?
A master’s degree can prove your advanced knowledge of management concepts and demonstrate your commitment to developing the qualities of a good leader. As hiring managers look to fill leadership positions, those with graduate degrees might stand out among applicants with similar skills and experience who only have an undergraduate education.
Christopher McGinnis '23G said earning his master's from SNHU helped him land a promotion before he even completed the program.
“I had applied for a development coach role previously and unfortunately, while I could get to the final selection pool, I was always passed over for someone who had just ‘that’ much more experience,” he said. “I decided to get my master's in organizational leadership to help boost my resume and potential, which worked better than expected as I was only in my first couple of semesters when they opened more development coach roles and I applied, this time getting the position.”
While earning an MS OL, you’ll take courses related to both the practical side and the human side of leadership to fully prepare you to work in the field, developing both your technical knowledge and your soft skills like communication and critical thinking.
Some courses you might take include:
- Human behavior in organizations
- Leading change
- Responsible corporate leadership
- Strategic human resource management
“Being able to compare successful organizational leadership against both my current and previous organizations helped put the lessons in a real and connected manner for me,” said McGinnis. “There were a great deal of real life and directly applicable lessons, the lessons focused on practical application as opposed to just theoretical.”
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What are the Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Organizational Leadership Online?
Earning a master’s online allows you to study anywhere with an internet connection. If you travel frequently, live in a rural area or have a busy schedule, an online degree could be the difference in allowing you to advance your education.
With an asynchronous learning model, there are no set class times, which promotes flexibility for students. Ten-week terms are designed to let you earn your degree at a pace that works best around your life and schedule.
In fact, many students in online graduate programs work full-time and take classes alongside their studies. That’s what McGinnis did when he earned his master’s in organizational leadership from SNHU.
“I work from home and have a family of four with a very active schedule, and being able to study and earn my degree online made it possible,” he said. “I was able to get support from both professors and staff whenever it was needed or necessary, I never felt disconnected or distanced from everything which can be a concern with online or remote learning.”
McGinnis said his academic advisor and professors supported him through his program and were there to answer questions whenever he needed.
Which is Better: an MBA or a Master’s in Leadership?
There several degrees to consider if you're interested in becoming a leader, but your decision between earning an MBA vs MS will depend entirely on your interests and goals.
Here are a few graduate degree options you might consider if you're interested in leading:
- Master of business administration (MBA): As opposed to other options, an MBA focuses on business strategy, offering concentrations in areas like accounting, finance and data analytics among others.
- Master's in educational leadership: You might consider an MEd in Educational Leadership if you're interested in a school administrator position or another high-level role in the world of academia.
- Master’s in human resource management: If you’re looking to become a human resources manager in particular, this devoted degree can prepare you for the position.
- Master’s in management: This program focuses on management as a whole rather than adhering to specific approach. Concentrations include construction management, emergency management and healthcare.
- Masters in organizational psychology: With a master’s in organizational psychology, you can study the mind and behavior within the business landscape.
No matter which degree you choose, advancing your education can introduce you to new ideas and opportunities to grow as a leader — and help others grow, too.
*Cited job growth projections may not reflect local and/or short-term economic or job conditions and do not guarantee actual job growth. Actual salaries and/or earning potential may be the result of a combination of factors including, but not limited to: years of experience, industry of employment, geographic location, and worker skill.
Mars Girolimon '21 '23G is a staff writer at Southern New Hampshire University where they earned their bachelor's and master's, both in English and creative writing. In addition to their work in higher education, Girolimon's short fiction is published in the North American Review, So It Goes by The Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library, X-R-A-Y and more. They're currently writing their debut novel, which was Longlisted for The First Pages Prize. Connect with them on LinkedIn and X, formerly known as Twitter.
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