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Organizational Leadership

mercyhurst organizational leadership


We are all familiar with the changing landscape of today’s working world: fast-paced, globalized and complex. Leaders are now faced with the challenge of being more sensitive, flexible and adaptable to the demands and expectations of stakeholders. Because of these changes, many organizations have abandoned the traditional top- down hierarchical management structures for more “organic” and fluid forms. 

What if you could better communicate your vision, empower and motivate your colleagues and have cutting edge knowledge of your field?

Leadership development through the Organizational Leadership (OL) program helps students adapt to this new paradigm better than most M.B.A. programs. The M.B.A. degree will prepare you for management; a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership prepares you to lead in practically any setting. The OL program empowers its students with leadership skills that prepare them to create vision, direction and alignment within an organization in order to achieve shared objectives.

Our 33-credit graduate program is designed to meet the needs and schedules of working professionals who currently hold leadership positions or are aspiring to achieve leadership roles in organizations. We believe exemplary leadership in organizations is evident when organizational participants at all levels are growing, and people in communities outside the organization are benefited as a result of the organization’s activities. We aim to inspire and equip our students to become exemplary leaders in service to others.

The OL program focuses on strengthening our students' skills and competencies in:

  • Leadership
  • Communication
  • Problem-solving
  • Critical thinking
  • Research and analysis
  • Aligning human resources toward organizational objectives
  • Strategic planning
  • Team building
  • Ethical decision-making

Download the  OL graduate program brochure to learn more.

So what's the difference between an M.B.A and M.S. in Organizational Leadership?

The M.B.A. degree emphasizes the management and administrative functions in organizations; management and administration functions produce order and consistency. The Master's of Science in Organizational Leadership degree emphasizes leading in organizations; leadership produces change and movement.

M.B.A. Degree 
Master's of Science in OL 
  • Planning and budgeting by setting time tables and allocating resources
  • Establishing direction by creating a vision and setting strategies 
  • Organizing and staffing by providing structure, establishing rules and procedures
  • Aligning people by communicating, seeking commitment and building teams 
  • Controlling and problem solving 
  • Motivating and inspiring by energizing, empowering others and satisfying unmet needs


Comparison of Curricula

MBA Curriculum SAMPLE Organizational Leadership Curriculum 
  • Survey of Financial Accounting
  • Statistical Applications
  • Mathematical Tools in Business
  • Survey of Economics
  • Organizational Behavior I
  • Management of Marketing
  • Financial Management
  • Managerial Price Theory
  • Management Information Systems
  • Legal/Ethical Environment of Business
  • Production Management
  • Buyer Behavior
  • Strategic Financial Management
  • International Accounting Practice
  • Management of International Operations
  • International Finance
  • Leadership and Change
  • Management Accounting Concepts
  • Business Policy  

Core Courses

  • Leadership Theory and Practice
  • Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • Research Methods
  • Organizational Ethics
  • Organizational Communications for Leaders
  • Financial Operations and Analysis
  • Thesis or Research-Based Project

Elective Examples

  • Law for Leaders
  • Human Resource Management
  • Marketing for Leaders
  • Entrepreneurial Leadership
  • Internship
  • Governance in Higher Education
  • Human Resource Development
  • Coaching Leadership and Psychology
  • Grant Writing
  • Financial Accounting and Reporting

Our M.S. in Organizational Leadership will provide you with the latest leadership theory as well as the opportunity to specialize in your personal area of interest.

Masters Organizational Leadership
Certification/Concentrations Accounting
  Higher Education Administration
  Human Resources
  Organizational Leadership
  Sports Leadership
  Strategy and Innovation
Independent Courses

CPA & HR Exam Preparation Courses

Apply online today -- it's free and getting your application started takes only a few brief minutes.  Interested students may also consult graduate admissions or the graduate course catalog for more information. 


Admission Requirements

Prospective applicants for the Master's of Science Degree in Organizational Leadership must fulfill the following admission requirements. At the discretion of the Director of the Organizational Leadership Graduate Program, acceptance may be granted to applicants who have not fulfilled all the admission requirements provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

  • A completed application for admission
    • Complete your online application for FREE at
    • Should you experience technical difficulties, please contact the graduate admissions office at (814) 824-3351 or for other application options
  • Application Deadline
    • The Organizational Leadership graduate program has a preferred admission deadline of August 1st. After August 1st, applications will be considered until the class is full. International students should submit their applications by July 1st.
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited college or university with a min. overall GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended
    • Send directly to: Mercyhurst University c/o Graduate Admissions, 501 E. 38th St., Erie, PA 16546
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons with whom you have a professional or academic relationship (ex. employer, professor, or volunteer coordinator)
    • Send directly to: Mercyhurst University c/o Graduate Admissions, 501 E. 38th St., Erie, PA 16546
    • OR Email directly to
  • A current résumé or curriculum vitae
    • Send directly to: Mercyhurst University c/o Graduate Admissions, 501 E. 38th St., Erie, PA 16546
    • OR Email directly to
  • A 500-750 word personal statement discussing:
    • Your reason for choosing this program
    • Your short- and long-term professional goals
    • The strengths you bring as an applicant to this program
    • The skills you hope to develop while in this program
    • Send directly to: Mercyhurst University c/o Graduate Admissions, 501 E. 38th St., Erie, PA 16546
    • OR Email directly to
  • PLEASE NOTE, a professional or academic writing sample may be requested after initial review of your application and required supplemental materials.
  • An Interview
    • A personal interview (either on-campus or via Skype) is not required, but may be requested after initial review of your application and required supplemental materials.
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL Score of 550 on the paper-based exam, 213 on the computer–based exam, or 79-80 on the Internet-based exam or a score of at least 6.5 on the IELTS
  • International applicants must provide their transcripts through World Education Services (WES) for authentication and a WES evaluation report. International applicants can do this by ordering the WES ICAP service.

The Organizational Leadership major prepares students to become exemplary leaders and scholars who exercise leadership in service to others. Our goals are to challenge students to synthesize foundational and contemporary scholarship with insights from our service-oriented, ethically based heritage. We emphasize the 'scientific-practitioner' model in which leadership strategies are learned through applied practice.

Envisioned Future

We will become the region’s preeminent center for leadership education, development and research.

Core Purpose

To inspire and equip people to become exemplary leaders and scholars who exercise leadership in service to others.

Operating Principles

We aim to:

  • Know and understand the leadership development needs of the people in our region
  • Create and provide learning resources that address those needs
  • Emphasize the “Scientific-Practitioner” model in which leadership practices are learned through applied practice
  • Create an enduring organization that is a great place to work and can effectively meet the ongoing leadership development and research needs in our region

Our Core Values

We believe leadership is a process that creates direction, alignment and commitment in groups of people in order to achieve shared objectives. We believe exemplary leadership in organizations is evident when shared organizational objectives are achieved; organizational participants at all levels are growing; and people in communities outside the organization are benefited as a result of the organization’s activities.

Exemplary leaders exhibit Mercy values by being:

  • Socially Merciful: Mercy restores human dignity, expands social relations and empowers us to reach out in compassion to others
  • Globally Responsible: Globalization challenges us to learn how to steward the resources of the earth wisely and to act in solidarity with its diverse people
  • Compassionately Hospitable: Mercy hospitality begins with self-acceptance, welcomes peoples of different faith, ethnic and cultural traditions, and thus builds communities that transcend mere tolerance
  • Intellectually Creative: Generous, inquiring and critical habits of mind, which support the aspirations for excellence manifested within the academic community, encourages us in our lifelong search for what is true, good and beautiful
  • Reflectively Aware: Our Christian environment encourages self-reflection and the contemplation of human behavior as it promotes balance of mind, body and spirit, and ultimately offers the opportunity to develop a moral compass
  • Ambassador of Service: Our mercy values inspire us to exercise leadership in service toward a just world

The Organizational Leadership faculty has developed seven broad-based learning outcomes that serve as the framework for the program’s curriculum.  Upon completion of the Organizational Leadership program, graduates will be able to:

1.   Consistently demonstrate exemplary written and oral communication, interpersonal, and presentation skills.

2.   Distinguish contemporary leadership theories and models; articulate a personal leadership philosophy; and apply appropriate models to an organizational setting.

3.   Assess the characteristics of self, others, groups, and organizations as an integral part of the process of leadership.

4.   Demonstrate personal ethical and professional standards; apply standards to the organizational setting.

5.   Reflect on and assess communication-based skills required for effective participation in organizational life.

6.   Apply basic financial and budgeting techniques in an organizational setting.

7.   Demonstrate ability to engage in independent research by applying critical thinking and inquiry skills in data gathering, synthesis, problem solving and decision-making.  




Anne Zaphiris Ph.D. Office: Old Main 200 Phone: (814) 824-3382

Mary Breckenridge, D.Ed. Director of Organizational Leadership, Associate Professor Office: Main 200B Phone: (814) 824-2738

Meredith Bollheimer J.D. Assistant Professor Office: Old Main 300 Phone: (814) 824-3363