Organizational leadership refers to a field in which theories of behavioral science are applied to the processes of persuading and motivating others in order to direct the actions and energies of individuals and groups. Students of organizational leadership learn about social hierarchies, organizational structures, and professional communication. They study the interplay between individuals and organizations in various environments and develop negotiation, conflict resolution, and decision-making skills. While most MBA programs offer training in this area as part of a general MBA curriculum, there are programs that provide more advanced training in leadership and organizational science through a designated track or concentration in organizational leadership.
An MBA in organizational leadership is a Master of Business Administration degree program that incorporates a cluster of two or more intermediate and advanced courses in the theories and practices of effective leadership in business. Students in an MBA program with this specialization complete core coursework in general business functions, including accountancy, finance, operations and logistics, personnel and project management, and sales and marketing. In addition, an MBA in organizational leadership allows students to spend more time studying topics like group behavior, decision-making skills, management science, and organizational cultures, providing students with the tools to cultivate advanced proficiencies in areas relevant to business leadership.
An online MBA in organizational leadership provides general and specialized MBA training and instruction using distance learning technologies that allow students to view lectures and complete other coursework from anywhere with a secure Internet connection. Like other types of online MBA programs, online programs with an organizational leadership track offer all or most of their coursework through online learning platforms. These platforms, often referred at learning management systems (LMSs), facilitate a range of instructional activities, including online discussion groups, interactions with instructors and administrators, exams, and other types of assignments. Online MBA programs are generally thought to be a more flexible and convenient alternative to traditional, campus-based MBA programs. This is especially true for students who would prefer not to relocate, travel, or commute in order to complete an MBA degree with an organizational leadership specialization.
OnlineEducation.com examines MBA curricula and researches other key aspects of MBA programs in order to identify online programs that offer specializations in various areas, including organizational leadership. In order for a program to be listed on the site, it must be offered by a regionally accredited, non-profit college or university, and be housed within a school of business or management that has additional accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB International), the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), or the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE). Online MBA programs must provide all or most of their instruction online; programs that require more than two campus visits per year are not currently listed on the site. Finally, in order for an online MBA program to be classified as an online MBA in organizational leadership program, it must provide a designated track of two or more courses in that area of specialization.
These programs have several formal designations, including:
Students in an online MBA program usually complete most of the core business administration curriculum before beginning coursework within a specialization. While there is some variation by program, the general MBA curriculum is fairly standardized. It includes courses in the following areas: accounting and financial reporting; business law and corporate responsibility; managerial economics and finance; human resource and personnel management; operations and project management; strategic sales and marketing; and professional communication and leadership. An organizational leadership specialization builds on this foundational coursework, offering additional training in theories of leadership and their application to various management functions. This may include classes that provide case studies in effective business leadership, coursework that explores the social and psychological principles of group behavior, and an opportunity to apply organizational leadership theories to a specific issue in business management through a capstone project.
The table below provides an overview of courses that may be part of an online MBA program’s organizational leadership specialization, which is generally comprised of between two and six classes.
|Course Title||Course Description|
|Communication for Leadership||An analysis of leadership concepts, organizational culture, conflict in interpersonal and organizational settings, power in professional relationships, and group communication theories.|
|Leading Organizational Change||Integrating theories of leadership with models and strategies for approaching change within an organization and for responding to changes that take place outside the organization.|
|Psychology of Leadership||An examination of research, case studies, and real-world situations that illustrate how psychological theories can be used to assess and improve leadership skills.|
|Contemporary Issues in Organizational Leadership||An overview of contemporary and historical issues in organizational leadership, including theories, concepts, and research in the behavioral sciences.|
|Managerial Decision Making||The use of analytical tools in the decision-making process, and the application of behavior decision theory to situational and qualitative decision-making.|
|Strategies & Processes of Negotiations||An overview of how business negotiations take place, with an emphasis on power dynamics, persuasive techniques, and theories of conflict resolution.|
The application process for online MBA programs with an organizational leadership specialization does not differ significantly from the application process for general online MBA programs. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university and submit undergraduate transcripts with a formal application, which may require written answers to one or more essay questions, a personal goals statement, and/or two or three letters of recommendation. More selective online MBA programs may have a minimum grade point average (GPA) preference or requirement, and some programs expect applicants to provide GMAT or GRE test scores. While an undergraduate degree in business is typically not an admissions requirement, some online MBA programs may have one or more undergraduate prerequisites (typically a college-level mathematics course and/or an introductory economics/business course). Admissions policies vary by program, so prospective applicants should check with an admissions officer to determine a program’s specific eligibility requirements.
Online MBA programs are generally thought to offer more flexibility than campus-based MBA programs, and they may be more accommodating to students who have work or other commitments outside of school. However, not all online programs are the same. There are three distinct formatting differences that can affect the relative convenience of an online MBA program. These include: whether a program utilizes synchronous or asynchronous instruction for its online courses; whether a program offers full-time, part-time, or a variety of enrollment options; and whether a program requires students to attend on-campus sessions. For a more in-depth explanation of these structural factors, see our general page on Online MBA Programs.