Leaders are needed in any organization. They play a crucial role in mapping out strategies, managing resources, and guiding employees to steer companies in the right direction. So, it’s not surprising that leadership training statistics show this trait is highly valued by organizations across the globe. In fact, investments toward leadership training were estimated to be at $357.7 billion in 2020 (Training Industry, 2021).
With this demand, having an organizational leadership degree can only be an asset. Taking up this program equips you with knowledge in management and behavioral theory as well as develop your analysis and communication skills. As such, you can be prepared for careers in business, human resources, education, and other sectors.
If this is the academic path that you feel best fits your long-term goals, then this guide is for you. This article discusses everything you need to know about organizational leadership degree programs, from their cost and requirements to the most common jobs that require this credential. In this way, you can make an informed decision before you pursue this major.
An organizational leadership degree is an academic program centered on the theoretical and technical aspects of management. While curricula in different higher education institutions may vary, the goal is often to help prepare students for managerial or executive roles where they can exercise their understanding of organizational best practices and leadership strategies.
Among the subjects that students can expect to tackle are:
In some cases, organizational leadership degree programs also offer specializations. For instance, you may take up units in healthcare administration, educational leadership, and business. In this way, you can concentrate on organizational leadership for the sector you intend to work in.
Based on the organizational leadership degree definition stated above, degree holders of this program hone skills that can be applied to various career paths. Among the different tasks they can perform once they complete their studies include:
Their expertise allows them to bridge the leadership gap that has plagued many organizations since well before the COVID-19 pandemic. What is more, considering only 5% of companies have concrete leadership development programs in place (SpriggHR, 2020), those degree holders specializing in organizational leadership have an edge over other employees.
Organizational leadership degree tuition fees depend greatly on your choice of school and type of program. In most cases, programs in public schools can cost less compared to private institutions. However, it is important to note that public universities and colleges often charge different rates for in-state and out-of-state students. As such, it is possible that this option can cost more or less the same as private institutions if you are not a resident of the state.
Aside from the tuition fee, students must also consider the additional costs of earning a degree, such as transportation, room and board, as well as course requirements that may not be already included in the tuition.
Data from College Board reveals that as of the academic year 2020-2021, the average undergraduate tuition in public in-state universities and colleges is $10,560 (Ma, Pender, & Libassi, 2020). Meanwhile, the fees in public out-of-state higher education institutions are at an average of $27,020. Private four-year institutions, on the other hand, charge more at an average of $37,650. Students can expect to spend roughly the same amount if they opt to take up organizational leadership
For those who are looking to pursue further studies like a master’s degree or doctorate degree, the tuition may be higher than undergraduate programs. In fact, the average debt of a master’s degree holder is around $71,000 which is almost double the $37,000 average debt of students with bachelor’s degrees (Heinzerling, 2021). However, the silver lining here is that there are more financial aid and scholarship options for graduate students. Plus, if you are undertaking an assistantship or fellowship at your school, you may receive a stipend to cover your living expenses while managing educational and research pursuits.
|Public In-State||Public Out-of-State||Private|
|Associate Degree||From $3,770||From $14,800||From $28,000|
|Bachelor's Degree||$8,700 -$10,000||$19,000 - $24,500||$33,500 - $36,000|
|Master's Degree||$10,590 - $12,000||$14,000 - $19,000||$35,000 - $37,550|
|Doctoral Degree||$20,000 - $24,800||$25,200 - $32,000||Up to $60,500|
|*Values are estimates.|
Organizational leadership degree programs can lead to lucrative careers so taking it up may be well worth the time and money you invest. According to ZipRecruiter, professionals in this field can earn an average of $51,115 annually at the entry-level (ZipRecruiter, 2021). Meanwhile, a similar study by PayScale reveals that across job roles and levels, graduates of a Bachelor of Science program in Organizational Leadership earn an average base pay of $68,000 per year (PayScale, 2021). This figure is on par with the average $65,910 income per year in the United States (WorldData.info, 2020).
The nature of organizational leadership as a field of study makes it easy for graduates of this major to be flexible when it comes to employment opportunities. They are equipped with general knowledge on people management that can be applied in different industries as well as job roles. As such, they can expect to thrive in different work environments.
Leadership development is one of the top priorities of learning and development programs across industries in 2021, with 53% of L&D professionals globally reporting it as among their goals (LinkedIn, 2021). After all, as existing managerial or executive employees retire or move on to other endeavors, companies will need new leaders to take over. Unfortunately, This is where companies will need organizational leadership professionals to help them out.
Currently, there are 11.5 million organizational leadership professionals in the workforce as of 2019 and it is growing further at a rate of 2.51% (DataUSA, 2020). This suggests that the demand for experts in this field is not about to dwindle anytime soon.
For instance, training and development managers, which are among the most common jobs for organizational leadership majors, are currently needed across different industries. Data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that the demand for this job is projected to grow 11% between 2020 and 2023, with roughly 4,300 job openings each year. This is faster than the average growth rate for all occupations (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2020).
Organizational leadership degree graduates are employed by companies in different sectors. However, their job responsibilities are often related to the management of employees and organizational structure. Some of the most common jobs that you can land upon earning a degree in this major include:
As mentioned previously, organizational leadership degree jobs often come with competitive pay. After all, while they may start out as assistants or staffers, professionals trained in this area are trained to handle middle management positions as well as executive job roles.
To give you a more concrete idea, organizational leadership degree holders who go on to become employee relations managers can earn roughly $53,585 yearly. Meanwhile, those who snag top positions in human resources can yield about $72,525. Graduates who opt to pursue organizational development and become directors of operations can earn up to $87,637 (PayScale, 2021).
It is also good to note that there are organizational leadership professionals who go on to become C-level executives and earn higher wages than those mentioned in the chart. However, these often entail gaining more work experience as well as earning professional certificates and postgraduate degrees. From there, they can become vice presidents of operations or even chief executive officers (CEOs).
Source: PayScale, 2021
Similar to other fields of study, there are several organizational leadership degree types that prospective students must take note of.
For starters, associate degrees are great options for students who would like to start their professional careers sooner rather than later. Meanwhile, a bachelor’s degree is a better route for students who want to gain a more technical and theoretical understanding of organizational leadership before entering the workforce. Students can also pursue master’s or doctorate degrees should they want to have a specialization in a particular sector.
1. Associate Degree in Organizational Leadership
Average time to complete: Two years
Associate degrees in organizational leadership are undergraduate programs that require the completion of 60 to 65 credits of coursework. These aim to provide basic practical training and academic knowledge of leadership to prepare students for the workforce.
Upon the completion of this program, graduates should have a mastery of organizational structures, business strategies, and leadership best practices. They should be able to recognize and analyze practical organizational problems and use quantitative reasoning to solve them to develop data-backed solutions to the issues.
Common courses in this program include public speaking, critical reading and thinking, project management, business organization, and workplace communication.
Entry-level jobs: Human Resource Assistant, Administrative Assistant, L&D Training Assistant
2. Bachelor Degree in Organizational Leadership
Time to complete: Four years
Bachelor’s degrees in organizational leadership, similar to associate degrees, aim to equip students with the necessary skills to enter the workforce. However, it takes 90 to 120 credits to complete. As such, it requires more academic coursework and hands-on practical experience.
This program delves deeper into subjects, such as behavioral theory, organizational management, and workplace communication. Students are also expected to complete internships where they can expand their professional network and further hone their leadership skills.
Some of the most common courses in this program are human resource management, finance and accounting, organizational research, and leadership theory.
Entry-level jobs: Human Resource Specialist, Organizational Researcher, Corporate Instructional Designer
3. Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership
Time to complete: Two to three years
A master’s degree in organizational leadership often requires 30 to 36 credits of coursework. These are designed to help students hone their ability to communicate and develop advanced skills in people management and business processes.
The focus of this program is to provide students with a more in-depth understanding of the core concepts surrounding organizational leadership. In addition, it also gives students opportunities to specialize in a particular aspect of organizational leadership. Some examples of popular concentrations include healthcare administration, leadership coaching, global business, and human resource management.
Among the typical courses one can expect when taking up this program are strategic human resource management, leadership theory, organizational behavior, as well as conflict resolution in the workplace.
Job positions: Human Resource Manager, Organizational Management Analyst, Training and Development Manager
4. Doctoral Degree in Organizational Leadership
Time to complete: Five to seven years
A doctorate degree in organizational leadership is built to prepare students for high-level positions in their respective jobs. By completing this program, students can be qualified to become training directors, operations managers, or chief executive officers.
This program is often research-intensive in nature, with a significant amount of time and fieldwork allotted to complete dissertation requirements. In addition, students are expected to participate in classes where they will be immersed in plenty of problem-solving and decision-making.
Some of the courses tackled in this program are educational law, ethics, and organizational design. Plus, similar to master’s degrees, this program also allows students to earn specializations that they can apply for the industry that they are in.
Job positions: Post Secondary Teacher, Director of Human Resources, Director of Operations
Source: DataUSA, 2020
Universities and colleges have different academic standards so they will have different requirements for admitting students. In addition, organizational leadership programs require students to possess a particular set of skills to perform their coursework.
Higher education institutions will ask you to submit different documents for your program application. While the specifics will vary, there are some standard requirements that you will need to prepare. These include:
In a study “Characteristics and Skills of Leadership in the Context of Industry 4.0” published in Procedia Manufacturing, Valeria Guzmán and her colleagues concluded that “the main skills that could best contribute I4.0 context are based on the following groups of skills: cognitive skills, interpersonal skills, and strategic skills (Guzmán et al, 2020).” With this in mind, here are some of the most important organizational leadership degree skills that students must possess:
Organizational leadership programs across schools often share their core curricula. As such, students can expect that any program they choose can help them acquire the skills needed when they enter the workforce. However, a program’s curriculum is not the only factor that you should look at when deciding which school to attend. Among the other factors you should consider are:
Organizational leadership is a fairly broad field of study. So, in addition to the required courses, students often take up other subjects to reinforce their career plans. For example, students looking to work in healthcare might take up healthcare administration courses. Meanwhile, those who want to be in talent management could probably enroll in curriculum development or teaching subjects.
With this in mind, you should make sure that your prospective school or program has the organizational leadership degree prerequisites that you will need for your long-term academic and career plan.
Some of the most common concentrations for organizational leadership are global business, healthcare management, human resources management, leadership coaching, nonprofit management, and social entrepreneurship.
Before you set your heart on a particular program or course, you should verify its legitimacy first. In this way, you can ensure that the credentials you earn will be acknowledged by employers as well as other educational institutions should you decide to pursue further studies.
Start by checking if the program you are interested in is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The agency has a database of accredited postsecondary schools and programs that you can utilize when you do your research. You can also verify if it is accredited by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) or any regional and state accrediting agencies.
Student debt hit a record-breaking $1.73 trillion in the United States, with the average student loan amount of $38,792 per borrower (Federal Reserve, 2021). So, it comes as no surprise that four in 10 high school students say that cost is the most important factor in choosing a college or university to attend.
With this in mind, you should try to check with your prospective school what kinds of financial aid and scholarships they can extend to you. You may also inquire which state or federal grants they will acknowledge. In this way, you can offset some of the costs of studying and avoid accumulating a huge student loan debt.
Organizational leadership is a great major for students who want a broad understanding of people and process management best practices. Graduates of this program are often hired by companies in different industries, ranging from education and finance to information technology (DataUSA, 2020).
However, it is not the only route you can take if you aspire to have an influence on how a company operates. There are plenty of other college majors that you can consider, especially if you aim to specialize in managing people and processes in a particular sector. Among these majors are:
Source: DataUSA, 2020
Great leaders are made, not born. Contrary to popular belief, one can acquire skills, learn techniques, and gain experience that will allow one to become an effective leader. Pursuing an organizational leadership degree is a step towards this direction.
Organizational leadership degree programs equip students with technical and theoretical leadership knowledge as well as practical training to help them become competitive once they enter the workforce. These programs can also help students keep up with current leadership training trends so that they know the industry demands that they will deal with the moment they graduate.
Upon completing your studies, you can become managers, CEOs, and directors in a variety of sectors. You will be in a position where you can lead and influence people to help companies achieve long-and short-term goals. Moreover, you can be in charge of preparing the next generation of leaders for an organization. If you feel like you are up to the task, perhaps this is the profession worth exploring for you.