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Organizational Leadership

Master of Science

Leadership is about adapting to change, earning trust and gaining support, creating vision, and making ethical decisions. As today’s professional settings become increasingly complex and globalized, leaders are now faced with the challenge of being more sensitive, flexible, and adaptable to the demands and expectations of stakeholders.

The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (OL), which began in 1998, equips you with an understanding of leadership principles and opportunities to help you adapt to this changing paradigm and further develop your leadership and problem-solving skills.

This 30-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. This program complements almost every background, offering instruction in the complexities of leadership that can be applied in any field.


Program Overview

Options: Master’s, Graduate Certificate, 4+1 available to Mercyhurst undergraduates
Location: Online
Credits: 30 
Duration: Minimum 12 months
Cost: $452 per credit; $13,560 total
Deadline: Rolling admissions
Start term(s): Fall, spring, or summer semesters
Career Options: Manager, director, administration, entrepreneur

Learning Outcomes

Mercyhurst's graduate programs are designed to give our students a competitive edge in the marketplace. Our curriculum will prepare you as a leader who is able to:

  • Distinguish contemporary leadership theories and models, articulate a personal leadership philosophy, and apply appropriate models to an organizational setting.
  • Consistently demonstrate exemplary written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills for effective organizational communication.
  • Assess the characteristics of self, others, groups, and organizations as an integral part of the process of leadership, including applying ethical and professional standards to the organizational setting.
  • Engage in independent research by applying critical thinking and inquiry skills in data gathering, synthesis, problem-solving, and decision-making.
Available Programs

    The M.S. in Organizational Leadership is a 30-credit program offered exclusively online. With full-time enrollment, students can complete the program in as little as 12 months.

    Coursework focuses on collaboration, interactive exercises, case studies, and the study of theory to develop leaders who know how to drive performance and motivate others to achieve results.

    In this 30-credit program, students are required to complete the following core requirements:

    • OL 500: Leadership Theory and Practice
    • OL 502: Leadership and Organizational Behavior
    • OL 504: Research Methods
    • OL 530: Organizational Communication for Leaders
    • OL 677: Leadership Capstone

    Students also complete five elective courses in areas of interest. Elective course offerings could include:

    • OL 507: Human Resource Management
    • OL 528: Human Resource Development
    • OL 532: Law for Leaders
    • OL 603: Strategic Marketing
    • OL 605: Innovation and Entrepreneurship
    • OL 607: Strategic Management and Planning
    • OL 635: Change Management
    • OL 638: Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
    • OL 651: Financial Operations and Analysis
    • OL 645: Special Topics
    • OL 675: Internship

    Prospective students looking to earn a quick credential or ease into graduate school may opt for the three-course, nine-credit Graduate Certificate in Organizational Leadership. Available 100 percent online, the graduate certificate can be completed in as little as nine months. Those credits can then be applied to the master’s degree, should you choose to continue your education. Learn More.

    Course Requirements

    • OL 500 Leadership Theory and Practice
    • OL 502 Leadership and Organization Behavior
    • OL 530 Organizational Communication

    Available to qualified Mercyhurst undergraduate students, the M.S. in OL allows students to begin earning graduate credits during their junior year at no additional cost. Students starting the 4+1 in the fall of their junior year may earn up to 12 credits, shortening their time to master’s completion and saving more than $10,000. 

Bringing Leadership Development into Reach

Since its inception, Mercyhurst’s Organizational Leadership program has made its name developing leaders, and improving career prospects and earning potential for recent college graduates and established professionals in the process. Part of OL’s continued success can be found in its ability to adapt to changing paradigms in the professional world. Celebrated for its broad applicability across different professional disciplines, OL provides a theoretical and practical framework for professionals who currently hold leadership positions or are aspiring to leadership roles in organizations. Students in the program learn to synthesize contemporary scholarship with insight from Mercyhurst’s service-oriented heritage to articulate their own leadership philosophy and put leadership theories into practice in professional settings.

A Modern Approach to Leadership

The OL program is an excellent alternative for those considering MBA programs, though it differs in several key ways. Whereas MBA programs primarily focus on organizational rules, administrative functions, and procedures in a business structure, the OL program emphasizes entrepreneurship, vision and strategy, team building, motivation and empowering others to meet needs.

Mercyhurst’s Organizational Leadership program emphasizes:

  • Aligning people by communicating, seeking commitment, and building teams.
  • Motivating and inspiring by energizing, empowering others, and satisfying unmet needs.
  • Establishing direction by creating a vision and developing strategies to solve problems.
Course Spotlights

    This foundation course focuses on theories and models of leadership in a variety of organizational settings to illuminate the behavior dynamics of effective leaders. Students examine present and future leadership issues while developing leadership strategies for making a positive difference in their organization and their community.

    This course challenges students to integrate the concept of strategy with the concepts of management and leadership. Students will explore how leaders develop a timely and responsive strategic plan, evaluate action alternatives, and make tactical decisions, while building skills including understanding organizational systems, applying effective business practices, and recognizing the competitive challenges.

Alumni Employers and Job Titles

    OL graduates go on to do great things. Our graduates have been employed with organizations including:

    • Airborn
    • Align Technology
    • Allegheny Health Network
    • Blue Origin
    • Chicago Blackhawks
    • Emory University 
    • Erie City School District
    • Erie Insurance
    • Internal Revenue Service
    • Nokia
    • PNC Financial Services
    • Spinal Cord Injury Ontario
    • The Plastek Group
    • University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC)
    • Wegman's
    • World Wildlife Federation 

    If you're wondering what type of position you can obtain with an OL degree, some job titles that our alumni have held are:

    • Athletic Director 
    • Chief Human Resource Officer
    • Consultant/Business Analyst 
    • Director of Community Engagement 
    • Director of Strategic Communication
    • Director of Youth Ministry
    • Major Gifts Officer
    • Product Manager
    • Project Development Officer
    • Recruiting Coordinator
    • Senior Strategy Analyst 
    • Social Media and Marketing Manager
    • Sustainability Manager 
    • Training Specialist
    • Vice President, Community and Client Relations
    • Vice President, Government Relations 
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