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 graduate certificate in Organizational Leadership (OL) 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 nine-credit, fully online 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. Upon completion, you can continue your education and count these nine credits toward the 30-credit Master of Science in Organizational Leadership.

Program Overview

  • Options: Graduate certificate, master’s completion
  • Location(s): Online
  • Credits: 9
  • Duration: Minimum 9 months
  • Cost: $452 per credit; $5,340 total
  • Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Start term(s): Fall, Spring, or Summer semesters
  • Careers: Manager, director, administrator, entrepreneur

Mercyhurst has been offering leadership coursework for more than 20 years. This program’s three-course curriculum emphasizes: 

  • Aligning people by communicating, seeking commitment, and building teams 
  • Controlling and solving problems
  • 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.

Course Requirements

This program is ideal for individuals looking to earn a quick credential or ease into graduate school. 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. Required courses include:

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

OL 500: Leadership Theory and Practice

Effective leadership is critical to organizational performance and health. This course focuses on theories and models of leadership in diverse organizational settings. These fundamental concepts enable one to understand and lead individuals, teams and groups in a variety of situations. Students will analyze and apply associated concepts as they develop both their personal leadership style and philosophy.

OL 502: Leadership and Organization Behavior

Successful leaders are sincere, authentic, and supportive of all in their organizations. A foundational understanding of individuals, teams, and systems in the work context is vital to the viability of any enterprise. This integrative course considers multiple disciplines and includes an experiential approach through which students explore topics such as motivation, group dynamics, decision-making, conflict and negotiation, and organizational culture. Students are challenged to apply content knowledge and critical thinking to relevant and timely scenarios.

OL 530: Organizational Communication

Strong communications skills are key to success in any organization. This course offers a variety of exercises designed to develop students’ abilities to research, write and present information in a clear and compelling manner. The practice-intensive course environment teaches students to communicate effectively with a wide variety of audiences. Students also learn how organizations manage their communication processes to deliver concise, strategic messages to multiple stakeholders. Additional topics explored include internal and external communication, corporate image and reputation, crisis management, and social responsibility.

Career Paths

Leaders are needed in every organization. For 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 degree or certificate to earn a promotion with their current employer 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 graduate certificate in Organizational Leadership must fulfill the following admissions requirements. At the discretion of the director of the Organizational Leadership graduate program, admission 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 300- to 500-word personal statement outlining your reasons for enrolling and personal and professional goals
  • 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.

Explore Financial Aid

Earn an affordable graduate certificate in organizational leadership with competitive per-credit costs. Visit our Graduate Cost and Financial Aid webpage or contact us at or 814-824-3351.

Contact Us

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

Colleen Hordych
Assistant Director, Graduate Admissions
Phone: 814-824-2297

Meet the Faculty

Organizational Leadership
Peter Zohos, MBA, DES
Dean, The School of Business and Applied Business
Anne Zaphiris, Ph.D.
Program Director, Organizational Leadership, Associate Professor
Cheryl Moore, Ph.D.
Program Director, Accounting, Assistant Professor
Jessica Spanogle, MBA
Chair, Department of Business, Assistant Professor
Kimberly Zacherl, MBA, SPHR, SHRM-SCP
Program Director, Human Resources Management, Assistant Professor