Whether you’re looking to lead a large company someday or you’re trying to improve your advancement prospects in your current career, you may be wondering, is organizational leadership a good degree to get?
With a degree in organizational leadership, you’ll develop the skills you need to help businesses and other organizations navigate difficult processes, tackle complex problems, and more.
In this guide, we’ll explore some of the benefits of organizational leadership degree programs. We’ll break down the basics of organizational leadership, describe the key skills you’ll acquire in a program, compare master’s and doctoral programs, and help you decide whether or not this degree track is right for your career.
What is an Organizational Leadership Degree?
If you’re asking yourself, “What is organizational leadership?” you’ll be glad to know that it’s a straightforward degree.
Graduate and post-graduate leadership programs often hone in on a few key elements like:1
- Theory – What do studied academics have to say about leadership? An organizational leadership degree program will expose students to the theories defining today’s leadership landscape, unpack those theories, and challenge students to analyze them.
- Strategy – Theory in a vacuum isn’t useful—leaders must apply their theoretical knowledge to develop strategies that produce results for organizations. But how do they do that? An organizational leadership program will teach students to create, implement, maintain, and assess strategies based on theoretical frameworks.
- Organization – Leaders have the capacity to create and shape organizations that have powerful, impactful reach: from private sector businesses to nonprofit organizations. Organizational leadership students will learn how to create, operate within, and curate highly functional organizations.
Benefits of an Organizational Leadership Degree
What are some of the benefits of an organizational leadership degree in practice?
- Development of organizational leadership qualities and skills – Simply put, an organizational leadership degree can help you become the organizational leader you want—or need—to be. Even if you’re a natural-born leader, formal training can help you hone your skills to help you produce tangible results during your career.
- Networking – One of the most valuable takeaways from any graduate program is your contact list. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran in your industry or you just finished your undergraduate program, the people you meet in grad school can help define your career trajectory—especially when your fellow students are tomorrow’s great organizational leaders.
- Rigor and challenge – Master’s and doctoral programs are time-consuming and challenging. To successfully complete a graduate program, students must study hard while fulfilling family responsibilities and (in many cases) maintaining their existing job performance. The rigor of graduate and post-graduate education produces a mental toughness that can help you stand out as a job candidate and as a leader.
So, what exactly will you learn in an organizational leadership degree program? Many programs will teach you to be a organizational leader in different ways:
- How to identify and embody different leadership types, like:
- Authentic leadership
- Transactional leadership
- Cross-cultural leadership
- Transformational leadership
- How leaders operate around the world—not just in your local culture
- How and why truly great leaders attract followers and cultivate those followers’ skills
- How to develop and apply your own distinct leadership style
At its core, organizational leadership degrees combine theoretical knowledge and practical experience to produce impactful, successful leaders.
Masters vs. Doctorate Degrees in Organizational Leadership
Students pursuing organizational leadership education have two choices:
- A master’s in organizational leadership – Organizational leadership MS or MA programs (depending on the institution that offers them) cover topics like organizational development, organizational behavior, the social responsibility of organizations, strategic organizational management, and human resources to produce high-quality leaders.2
- A doctorate in organizational leadership – Organizational leadership PhD programs cover in-depth leadership theories, help students develop a carefully curated leadership style, and implement their strategies in practical settings.
While programs vary across institutions, some programs (master’s and doctoral) might require students to write and defend a thesis or dissertation. But remember that a dissertation, like your diploma, is more than a long, detailed essay: it’s a symbol of your commitment, tenacity, and expertise.
Is Organizational Leadership Right for You?
Considering the numerous potential benefits of an organizational leadership degree program, should you enroll in one?
An organizational leadership program might be right for you if:
- You’re an entrepreneur – If you’re looking to start the world’s next Fortune 500 company, a degree in organizational leadership could equip you with the skills you need to be an effective leader and build a strong, well-led organization.
- You’re seeking career advancement – If you’re already established in your career, but you’re feeling stagnant or having trouble advancing to the next level, consider continuing education courses or a postgraduate program. An additional feather (or a few) in your professional cap might improve your opportunities for future leadership roles.
- You’re interested in an organizational leadership career – If you can see yourself at the helm of a major private sector organization, a non-profit, a university, or another large institution, an organizational leadership degree can equip you with the project management skills you need to effectively fulfill the demands of a key leadership role.
At the end of the day, a degree in organizational leadership could improve your long-term job prospects, help you achieve long-held goals, or pave the way for a successful career.
Invest in Leadership Competencies with Alliant International University
Is organizational leadership a good degree? For people looking to build strong effective leadership skills, advance their careers, and challenge themselves, absolutely. Whether you are a marketing manager, human resources manager or sales manager, effective organizational leadership is essential for a working professional take up a leadership position.
If you believe organizational leadership is right for you, explore the leadership PhD program at Alliant International University. Our unique higher education program combines the power of two esteemed schools—the California School of Management and Leadership (CSML) and the California School of Professional Psychology (CSPP)—to offer students an interdisciplinary, immersive approach and professional studies to leadership training, from business administration to professional psychology.
Take our business degree quiz to find out if organizational leadership is right for you and learn more about strategic leadership in organizational change. Or, if you already know you’re ready, start your application today.
- “PhD in Leadership.” Alliant International University. https://www.alliant.edu/business/leadership/phd. Accessed June 21, 2023.
- “Earning a Master’s in Organizational Leadership: Everything You Need to Know.” Forbes. May 30, 2023. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/education/organizational-leadership-mast…. Accessed June 21, 2023.