A master’s in leadership online degree provides a great way for working business professionals to climb the ladder into upper management positions. Prospective students may wonder what factors to consider when choosing such a program, however. To help these students choose the ideal online master’s in leadership program, we’ve compiled the following ranking.
Awards and Recognition (Related to Leadership)
• National Level – 2 points
• Regional Level – 1 point
20-Year Net ROI
• Above 500,000 – 5 points
• Above 400,000 – 4 points
• Above 300,000 – 3 points
• Above 200,000 – 2 points
• Content Customizations (e.g. Concentrations and Specializations) – 1 Point
• Format Customizations (e.g. Hybrid, Synchronous, etc.) – 1 Point
Innovative Programs and/or Teaching Methods in Leadership – 1 point
Internship Opportunities in Leadership – 1 point
Scholarship Opportunities in Leadership – 1 point
Related Student Organizations and Societies – 1 point
• 1 point awarded for each unique feature or program that “wowed” us
Best Value Colleges for an Online Master’s in Leadership
To create the following ranking, we began with an initial pool of 50 master’s in leadership online programs. Please note that our editors considered not only MS and MA programs in leadership, but also MBA programs with concentrations or specializations in leadership. To narrow this initial pool, we then selected the 25 schools with the highest ROI according to PayScale.com. To rate these programs, we applied the methodology above. In cases where two or more schools received the same number of points, graduate tuition and fees (as reported by NCES College Navigator) were considered, and the most affordable school was awarded the higher ranking.
#25 – Lindenwood University
Online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
St. Charles, Missouri
The master’s in leadership online offering from Lindenwood University’s School of Business and Entrepreneurship’s Department of Management is a 36-credit hour program comprised of ten required core courses and two elective courses. Students who hold a non-business undergraduate degree may be required to take additional prerequisite courses, however. Unlike many of the other programs in this ranking, no prior work experience is required for admission. Students may enter this online master’s in leadership program immediately after completing their undergraduate degree.
Tuition & Fees: $16,022
#24 – Creighton University
Online MBA: Leadership
Creighton University’s online master’s in leadership is technically an MBA with a concentration in leadership offered through the Heider College of Business. The 33-credit hour program is comprised of 9 credit hours of core courses such as Leadership and Organizational Behavior; Business, Ethics, and Society; and Business Policy and Managerial Action as well as 24 credit hours of elective classes specific to the leadership concentration. Online master’s in leadership students who do not hold an undergraduate degree in business will be required to take certain prerequisite courses as part of their 24 elective credit hours.
Tuition & Fees: $16,664
#23 – Webster University
Online Master of Arts in Management and Leadership; MBA: Management and Leadership
Saint Louis, Missouri
Webster University offers two master’s in leadership online programs from its George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology: an MA in Management and Leadership and an MBA with an emphasis in Management and Leadership. Both programs require the same 25-credit hour core, which includes courses like Basic Finance for Managers, Managerial Leadership, Integrated Studies in Management, and Career Success in the 21st Century. Students can also take advantage of the school’s dual degree option, earning a related degree while completing the online master’s in leadership program.
Tuition & Fees: $12,300
#22 – Belhaven University
Online MBA: Leadership
Bellhaven University’s MBA with a leadership concentration is the school’s master’s in leadership online offering. The comprehensive 42-credit hour program is comprised of core MBA courses such as Quantitative Decision-Making, The Legal Environment of Business, and Ethical Problems in Business as well as classes specific to the leadership concentration such as Leading High Performance Teams; Coaching, Mentoring, and Resolving Conflict; and Leadership and Organizational Change. Please note that this particular online master’s in leadership curriculum is based in traditional Christian values.
Tuition & Fees: $9,990
#21 – Concordia University—Wisconsin
Online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Administration
Concordia University offers a master’s in leadership online founded in Christian values. The accelerated 32-credit hour program consists of six week courses and can be completed in just one year. Specialty course topics include Leading Change in Organizations, Ethical Dimensions of Leadership, Organizational Communication and Negotiation, and Selecting and Implementing Information Systems. Students must also complete a Leadership Practicum and a Research Practicum prior to earning their online master’s in leadership degree.
Tuition & Fees: $9,984
#20 – Troy University
Online Master of Science in Management: Leadership
The master’s in leadership online offering from Troy University is technically a Master of Science in Management with a concentration in Leadership. To complete this graduate degree program, students take 21 semester-hours of core courses such as Theories of Organizational Behavior, Leading and Developing High Performance Teams, and Leadership of Innovation and Change as well as 9 semester-hours of courses specific to the leadership concentration. These include Management Information Systems for Leaders, Foundations of Leadership and Development, and Advanced Leadership. Prospective students with and without backgrounds in business are encouraged to apply to this online master’s in leadership program.
Tuition & Fees: $7,948
#19 – Fort Hays State University
Online MBA: Leadership Studies
Fort Hays State University’s master’s in leadership online is actually an MBA with a concentration in Leadership Studies. In addition to foundational and core MBA courses, students pursuing the leadership concentration must also take Theoretical Foundations of Leadership and Leadership in Teams and Collaborative Environments. As their single elective class, students will choose between Organizational Systems, Change, and Leadership and Organizational Intervention Strategies. State-of-the-art technology enables this online master’s in leadership program to be both convenient and interactive.
Tuition & Fees: $3,853
#18 – Pepperdine University
Online MBA: Leadership and Managing Organizational Change
The master’s in leadership online program at Pepperdine University is actually a part-time MBA in Leadership and Managing Organizational Change. The concentration is a well-balanced one, consisting of 6 core units and 6 elective units. Some specialty topics include Creating and Leading Effective Teams, Cross-Cultural Management, and Leadership and Ethics. An undergraduate business major is not required for this online master’s in leadership, and more than half of the applicants to the program come from non-business backgrounds. Although all course requirements can be completed online, Pepperdine does offer an optional study abroad program.
Tuition & Fees: $30,320
#17 – Widener University
The master’s in leadership online program from Widener University is an MBA program specializing in leadership concepts. Students enrolled in this program have the option to further customize their degree by choosing a Business Process Innovation concentration or a Health Care Management Concentration. The 33-credit hour program consists of 24 required core credits as well as 9 elective credits. Specialty course topics include Managerial Economics in an Innovative Environment, Accounting, and Managerial Decision-Making, Leadership Presence, and The Strategic Management of Diversity. This online master’s in leadership can be completed in as few as 18 months.
Tuition & Fees: $22,440
#16 – Baker University
Online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
Baker University’s master’s in leadership online offering features three optional concentrations: Finance, Health Care Administration, and Human Resources. The 39-credit hour program can be completed in as few as 22 months and includes unique courses such as Sustainability for Future Success; Traditions, Trends, Treaties, and Tradeoffs, Winds of Change, and Methods of Inquiry for Business Decisions. Prospective students must have 2 years of full-time work experience in order to be eligible for admission into this online master’s in organizational leadership program.
Tuition & Fees: $10,110
#15 – Southeastern University
Online MBA: Executive Leadership; Missional Leadership
Southeastern University is home to two distinct master’s in leadership online offerings: an MBA in Executive Leadership and an MBA in Missional Leadership. The curriculum for each of these programs is rooted in Christian principles and includes core business courses in accounting, finance, and management. Depending on which track they choose, students will also take elective courses such as Servant Leadership, Spirit-Empowered Discipleship, and Homiletics: Methods of Biblical Preaching & Teaching. Students can choose to complete their online master’s in leadership online completely online or via a hybrid program.
Tuition & Fees: $8,681
#14 – Concordia University—St. Paul
Online Master of Arts in Leadership
St. Paul, Minnesota
Concordia University—Saint Paul’s unique master’s in leadership online is a master of arts program designed to facilitate healthy and productive relationships between leaders and followers in the workplace. The 36-credit hour program is comprised of courses such as Applied Moral & Ethical Leadership, Legal Issues for Today’s Leaders, Organizational Culture Management, and Strategic Organization Research. Students also have the opportunity to study abroad as part of the elective course titled Contextual Global Experience. It is important to note that this particular online master’s in leadership approaches leadership topics from a Christian perspective.
Tuition & Fees: $8,550
#13 – Ottawa University
Online MBA in Leadership Development
The master’s in leadership online offering from Ottawa University is technically an MBA with a concentration in Leadership Development. Students will take core MBA courses such as Strategic Marketing, Managerial Economics, and Management of Information Systems as well as courses specific to the leadership concentration. These include Developing Leaders and Leadership Capabilities, Developing Leaders to Create Value, Servant Leadership, and Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace. After completing this 36-credit hour online master’s in leadership, graduates will be well-prepared to lead in large and small corporations as well as non-profit organizations.
Tuition & Fees: $11,305
#12 – Regis University
Online Master of Organizational Leadership
Students enrolled in Regis University’s master’s of leadership online program can choose to tailor their degree around one of four available specializations: Leadership and Management, Enterprise Resource Leadership and Planning, Human Resource Management and Leadership, or Project and Leadership Management. To earn the online master’s in organizational leadership degree, students must complete 15 credit hours of core courses such as Making Decisions in Organizations, Leading Change and Innovation, and Strategic Management and Financial Report Analysis as well as 12 credit hours of courses related to their chosen specialization and a culminating capstone course. Start dates are offered year-round.
Tuition & Fees: $10,800
#11 – Southwestern College
Online Master of Science in Leadership
Southwestern College offers a master’s in leadership online program intended to prepare students for leadership roles in a variety of different settings including corporate environments, small businesses, non-profits, and government agencies. To earn their degree, students take six-week online courses in topics such as Leadership Styles and Theories, Ethics in the Global Marketplace, Leadership Coaching, and Leading Quality Improvement Initiatives. Despite its virtual format, this online master’s in leadership program includes hands-on activities and projects that enable students to apply course concepts to real-world scenarios.
Tuition & Fees: $9,495
#10 – Norwich University
Online Master of Science in Leadership
Norwich University offers an accelerated master’s in leadership online that can be completed in as few as 18 months. Students have the option to customize their program by choosing one of five available specializations: Organizational Leadership, Hospitality Leadership and Management Systems, Public Sector/Government/Military Leadership, Human Resource Leadership, or Leading Change Management Consulting. Students are required to take six 6-credit courses to earn this online master’s in leadership, and there are four start dates available each year.
Tuition & Fees: $19,675
#9 – Villanova University
Online Master’s in Church Management
Villanova University’s master’s in leadership online is a unique offering designed especially for those individuals who wish to take on leadership roles in a church or religious setting. The 30-credit hour program includes specialty course topics such as Civil Law and Church Law for Church Administrators, Human Resource Management in a Ministry Setting, and Pastoral Strategic Planning. The program is designed to be completed in just two years, and although all coursework can be completed online, a one-week residency is required for online master’s in leadership students at the beginning of the program.
Tuition & Fees: $17,219
#8 – Indiana University—Bloomington
Online Master of Science in Strategic Management
Indiana University-Bloomington’s master’s in leadership online offering is actually a master of science in strategic management. This 30-credit hour program is comprised of core courses such as Decision-Making and Leadership and Developing Strategic Capabilities as well as elective courses like Strategic Entrepreneurship. Although the program can be completed in as few as 15 months, students have up to five years to complete their coursework. Ambitious students may choose to take advantage of the school’s dual degree program by adding an MBA as they work towards their online master’s in leadership.
Tuition & Fees: $9,743
#7 – Colorado State University Worldwide
Online Master’s in Organizational Leadership
Greenwood Village, Colorado
Colorado State University Worldwide offers a master’s in leadership online for those working professionals who aspire to positions in upper management. The program is highly customizable, allowing students to choose from 15 different specializations, including Business Intelligence, Healthcare Administration, International Management, and Online Learning Innovation and Design. Students also have the opportunity to take advantage of the school’s dual degree option, earning both an online master’s in organizational leadership and an M.S. in Management with just 18 additional credit hours.
Tuition & Fees: $9,000
#6 – Penn State University—World Campus
Online Master of Professional Studies in the Psychology of Leadership at Work
University Park, Pennsylvania
Penn State University—World Campus’ unique master’s in leadership online offering is the Master of Professional Studies in the Psychology of Leadership at Work. The 33-credit hour program prepares students to become capable and effective leaders by understanding the dynamics between followers and leaders. Students are required to take just 3 core courses, meaning they can customize the rest of the program by choosing electives that match their interests and career goals. Specific course titles for the online master’s in leadership include Foundations of Behavior, Motivation, and Attitudes at Work; Leadership for Creativity and Innovation; and Conflict Resolution and Negotiation.
Tuition & Fees: $19,832
#5 – Michigan State University
Online Master’s in Management, Strategy and Leadership
East Lansing, Michigan
Michigan State University offers a master’s in leadership online program through the school’s Eli Broad College of Business. The accelerated program is comprised of 15 5-week courses and is designed to be completed in just 20 months. The asynchronous format allows students to access video lectures and other course materials anytime, anywhere, making this online master’s in leadership ideal for working professionals. The curriculum is less flexible than others in this ranking, however, as all classes are required. Some specific course titles include Managing the Learning Organization, Developing Reward and Compensation Systems, and Talent Management and Development.
Tuition & Fees: $16,122
#4 – University of Houston—Clear Lake
Online MBA in Management of Technology: Leadership Concentration
The master’s in leadership online program from the University of Houston—Clear Lake is technically an MBA with a concentration in Management of Technology-Leadership. To complete the requirements for this degree, students must take foundational courses such as Business Statistics for Decision-Making and Human Behavior in Organizations, as well as courses in the leadership concentration. These courses include Entrepreneurship and Corporate Venturing, Management of Technology, and Leading Technology. Although the online master’s in leadership program can be completed online, internships are also available.
Tuition & Fees: $7,488
#3 – University of Wisconsin—Platteville
Online Master’s in Organizational Change Leadership
The University of Wisconsin—Platteville offers a master’s in leadership online with three optional emphases: Healthcare, Project Management, and Human Resources. In addition to earning a minimum of six areas in their chosen emphasis, students will take core courses such as Applied Accounting, Business Analytics, Strategic Thinking and Change, and Intercultural Change Leadership. The 30-39-credit hour program can be completed in just two years and is completely online. There is no GMAT requirement for this online master’s in organizational leadership.
Tuition & Fees: $8,710
#2 – University of Texas—Dallas
Online Executive MBA in Global Leadership
The University of Texas—Dallas’ comprehensive, 53-credit hour master’s in leadership online offering is technically a Global Leadership Executive MBA. This cohort program is designed to be completed in 17 months over the course of five semesters. It is important to note that although the majority of coursework for the program can be completed entirely online, class retreats at the beginning of the first four semesters are required. In addition, students will take an international retreat and an international study tour as they complete their online master’s in leadership degree.
Tuition & Fees: $11,940
#1 – Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Online Master’s in Leadership
Daytona Beach, Florida
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University has designed a unique master’s in leadership online designed for those students who wish to pursue leadership roles in the aviation and aerospace industries. The 36-credit hour program is comprised of courses such as Management Skills for Leaders, Leadership Communication, and Organizational Change. The university maintains strong connections with groups like the Center for Aviation and Aerospace Leadership (CAAL), which provide many research opportunities for online master’s in leadership students. Those students who wish to study abroad may do so through an elective program.
Tuition & Fees: $6,960
Sources: NCES College Navigator
This concludes our ranking of the top 25 values for a master’s in leadership online degree in 2016-2017.