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 (MU Undergrads Only)
  • Location(s): On campus; online courses available
  • Credits: 30 
  • Duration: Minimum 21 months
  • Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Start term(s): Fall, Spring or Summer semesters
  • Career Options: Manager, director, administration, entrepreneur

An Alternative to an MBA

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.

MBA programs emphasize:

  • 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 and establishing rules and procedures

Mercyhurst’s Organizational Leadership program emphasizes: 

  • Aligning people by communicating, seeking commitment, and building teams 
  • Controlling and problem-solving 
  • Motivating and inspiring by energizing, empowering others, and satisfying unmet needs

Learning Outcomes

Mercyhurst 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.

The M.S. in Organizational Leadership is a 30-credit hybrid program offered primarily on campus in Erie, Pennsylvania. Some online coursework is offered as part of the program to help with schedule flexibility. With full-time enrollment, students can complete the program in as little as 21 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 505 Organizational Ethics
  • OL 530 Organizational Communications for Leaders
  • OL 651 Financial Operations and Analysis
  • OL 677 Research-Based Project

Students also complete three 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 638 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
  • 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 years at no additional cost.* Students starting the 4+1 in the fall of their junior years may earn up to 12 credits, shortening their time to master’s completion and saving more than $10,000. Learn More.

Program Acessibility

The OL Program offers flexible course offerings and scheduling for both recent graduates and working professionals. Year-round course offerings and full- and part-time options were designed with working professionals in mind, allowing you to earn your master’s without disrupting your career. 

In addition, a number of courses are available online. As online learning has becoming increasingly popular in higher education, it is essential for colleges and universities to maintain the same educational standards across on-campus and online course delivery. At Mercyhurst, the Office of Distance Learning ensures online course delivery is consistent and predictable for an engaging, rewarding student experience.

Each online course is carefully mapped out to provide you with a guided learning experience. Courses progress sequentially, building on previous concepts to help you gain mastery of the course material. In addition to lectures and individual assignments, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with classmates and professors in real time through group projects, review sessions, debates and presentations.

As with any Mercyhurst education, students benefit from close personalized attention from faculty, with opportunities to connect via email, phone, Skype or office hours.

Career Paths

Leaders are needed in every organization. From more than 20 years, alumni of the OL program have seized the opportunity to lead in business, non-profit, and governmental settings. More than 90 percent of our graduates leverage their OL degrees to earn promotions with their current employers or to begin new careers entirely. Our alumni are managers, directors, vice presidents, and CEOs. Many are entrepreneurs who are now leading companies of their own. 

Admissions Requirements

Prospective applicants for the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership must fulfill the following admissions 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 admissions requirements provided they agree to the conditions of the acceptance prescribed by the director.

Admissions decisions are made by the program director on a rolling basis after a holistic review. Applicants can choose to start in either the Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters.

  • Completed (free) online application
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from an accredited school with a preferred overall minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions you’ve attended 
  • A current resume 
  • A 500- to 750-word personal statement outlining your reasons for enrolling and personal and professional goals
  • A letter of recommendation (1) from a professional or academic source (such as an employer or professor)
  • International applicants whose records are written in a language other than English must have their documents translated into English and a notarized statement attesting to the accuracy of the translations
  • International applicants whose primary language is not English must attain a TOEFL score of at least 79 on the internet-based exam OR an IELTS score of at least 6.5 OR a Duolingo English Test score of no less than 100.

Cost and Financial Aid

Mercyhurst graduate programs are competitively priced. Our goals it to provide you with an education that earns you an excellent return on your investment.

Tuition for the M.S. in Organizational Leadership graduate program is $804 per credit (2019/20 school year rates).

Estimated total program cost for the M.S. in OL is $26,000.

Learn more about available financial aid for graduate programs including:

  • Graduate Assistant (GA) positions
  • Graduate Employment (GE) positions
  • Corporate partner tuition rates
  • Veteran benefits
  • Employer reimbursement
  • Federal Direct Loans

Contact Us

Anne Zaphiris, Ph.D.
Program Director, Organizational Leadership
Office: Preston 322
Phone: 814-824-3382

Kseniya Kampova
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Phone: 814-824-3384