Since the last major economic recession in 2008, the US economy has been on the upswing, nowhere more than in management. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a 7% growth in management jobs is expected by 2024, and the average salary of a manager with a master’s degree is $102,640. With numbers like that, it’s no surprise that many working professionals are returning to school to earn the credentials they need for competitive managerial positions.
The Master’s in Leadership has become an appropriate alternative to the MBA as educational preparation for top-level executive and administrative positions in industry, non-profits, higher education, and other non-finance or banking businesses. This includes positions like Business Analyst, Corporate Recruiter/Trainer, Operations Manager, and more.
Program coursework prepares professionals to motivate and organize employees, develop strong leadership skills, conflict resolution, effective team building, and project management. Because it is a relatively new degree type, the name is still somewhat up in the air – prospective students may find a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, a Master of Science in Organizational Development, a Master of Organizational Development and Leadership, and any number of combinations of those words.
They all mean the same thing: an education in leadership. For busy working adults, an online leadership master’s is the logical choice. Value Colleges has put together a list of the most affordable online leadership graduate degree programs in the US, drawn from a variety of school types, from small, religious liberal arts colleges to large public institutions. All are accredited, reputable, and probably much cheaper than you would expect.
Colorado Christian University
Originally founded as a bible college in 1914, Colorado Christian University is a small liberal arts university in Lakewood, a suburb of Denver. Part of the strong evangelical culture of Colorado, CCU is regionally accredited and dedicated to combining faith, moral and ethical behavior, and top-quality education. CCU is also a part of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. Like many Christian colleges, CCU has extended its reach with a growing slate of online programs.
Colorado Christian University offers a fully online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership designed for working adults. The MOL curriculum brings together an understanding of the most pressing issues facing managers and administrators in industry, government, and non-profits, along with Christian ethics and servant leadership concepts. With courses scheduled in accelerated 5-week blocks, students can complete the 36-credit program in only 14 months, making CCU’s reasonable tuition a downright bargain.
MS Organizational Leadership
$551 per credit hour
California Baptist University
A small, Southern Baptist-affiliated institution in Riverside, CA, California Baptist University is primarily known for its professional and technical education programs, including engineering, nursing, and business, as well as well-respected education and music programs. A regional-accredited, highly-regarded university, CBU is recognized by U.S. News & World Report for the quality of its online programs, including more than 40 online majors and concentrations.
One of CBU’s most impressive online degree programs is the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, an accelerated 30 credit-hour program. With the CBU Organizational Leadership program, students can complete their master’s degree in as little as one year, getting a full education in management, ethics, motivation, problem-solving, and more. Their reasonable tuition rate, plus the convenience and speed of the CBU plan, makes California Baptist University a low-risk investment.
MA Organizational Leadership
30 credit accelerated program – finish in as early as 12 months!
$589 per credit hour
Mid-America Christian University
Mid-America Christian University began its life in Houston, TX, as the Gulf Coast Bible College, a Church of God-affiliated institution that moved to Oklahoma City in 1984. Since the move, Mid-America has developed and grown, adding professional and career-preparation degrees to its foundation of religious studies, and today is a regionally-accredited, small evangelical liberal arts university highly respected in the region.
Mid-America has built a number of strong online programs that allow it to bring its mix of evangelical worldview and liberal arts education to a greater number of students. MACU offers a fully online Master of Arts in Leadership degree program that takes 18 months to complete. With 36 credit hours and a strong grounding in leadership skills, MACU’s MA in Leadership also has optional concentrations in Business Management, Public Administration, and Higher Education so students can match their education to the field they are already in, or want to be in.
MA in Leadership
$594 per credit hour + $75 per credit in graduate fees
St. Mary’s University of Minnesota
A private, Catholic institution, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota is a small liberal arts university affiliated with the Brothers of the Christian Schools, a la Salle religious order dedicated to education. A top 50 regional university for the Midwest, according to U.S. News & World Report, St. Mary’s has been oriented toward adult education and working professionals since they began offering weekend and evening courses in the 1980s, an experience that led to the formation of their many online bachelor and graduate programs.
St. Mary’s offers a fully online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree program. This 36 credit hour program is very carefully designed and administrated, taking students through 5 semesters of coursework dedicated to particular themes such as Adaptive Leader, Connected Leader, and Strategic Leader. The program is intended to be completed in as little as 20 months, and every online student is given an iPad as part of their package, making St. Mary’s reasonable tuition cost even more of a value.
MA Organizational Leadership
$595 per credit hour
Azusa Pacific University
One of the largest evangelical Christian colleges in the US, Azusa Pacific University is a model for other schools of its kind, highly respected by both the evangelical community and secular ranking and accrediting bodies. Located in the Los Angeles suburb of Azusa, APU is a Wesleyan-Holiness institution, though it retains ties to its Quaker founders and welcomes all denominations. Azusa Pacific’s mission to adult learners is also evident in its many online programs in a variety of professional and technical fields.
APU offers a Master of Arts in Leadership and Organizational Studies that can be completed entirely online. As a Christian university, APU’s leadership degree program emphasizes ethical decision-making and personal integrity alongside motivation and managerial expertise. APU’s MLOS program is made up of 33 program units, their equivalent to credit hours, and the average time for completing the program is 22 months for working professionals. It’s time and money that APU is sure will pay off in the long run.
33 program units (22 months average)
$600 per unit (similar to credit hour)
University of Denver
In many ways, the University of Denver made Denver, CO, what it is today. The oldest private college in the Rocky Mountains, UD helped mature Denver from a small, roughneck mining colony to a modern city. UD is especially known for the Daniels College of Business, a highly-ranked business school that has been recognized for its undergraduate business, accounting, and MBA programs.
That expertise in business informs the online master’s degree in Leadership and Organizations offered through UD’s College of Professional and Continuing Education. The Leadership and Organizations master’s provides the option for concentration in five areas: Human Capital in Organizations, Organizational Development, Philanthropic Leadership, Project Management, or Strategic Innovation and Change. The L&O program is 48 credits, with a reasonable tuition rate that can make the University of Denver one of the most affordable master’s in the field.
Master’s in Leadership and Organization – Human Capital in Organizations
$628 per credit hour
University of Wisconsin- Platteville
Part of the excellent University of Wisconsin system, one of the most respected public higher education systems in the US, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville is a mid-sized regional institution specializing in adult education and professional programs. UWP began offering distance education for working adults in the 1970s, eventually opening its residency requirements to offer their programs nationwide, and in 1999 UWP inaugurated its online degree programs.
UW Platteville offers a fully online Master of Science in Organizational Change Leadership, a 30-39 credit hour program that focuses on innovation, conflict resolution, and positive growth. The length of the program depends on the concentration, of which there are three possible specializations: Project Management, Healthcare, and Human Resources. The online master’s can also be shortened for a graduate certificate, for students who already have a graduate degree and want a specialized credential.
MS in Organizational Change Leadership (Certificate also available)
$650 per credit hour
Founded in 1932 by the de la Salle Christian Brothers, an international religious order that makes teaching and learning its primary mission, Lewis University is named for the philanthropist who funded much of its campus. A highly Catholic, small liberal arts institution, with 60% of students identifying as Catholic, Lewis is nonetheless highly diverse, with a third of the student body belonging to ethnic minority groups.
Lewis University’s location in the suburbs of Chicago has given it access to one of the top economies in the US, and strong ties to the business community, making for a strong business program. Lewis offers a fully online Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership, a 36 credit hour program targeted toward working adults. Short, 8-week classes help busy professionals arrange their schedules and earn their degrees in as little as a year. With concentrations in Organizational Management, Not-for-Profit Management, and more, Lewis’s online MAOL can take graduates wherever they want to go.
Opportunity is available to add Organizational Management, Not-for-Profit Management, Training and Development, Leadership Coaching, or Higher Education- Student Services as concentrations.
MA Organizational Leadership
$760 per credit hour
Saint Joseph’s University
One of U.S. News & World Report’s top regional institutions for the North, Saint Joseph’s University is a highly-respected, small liberal arts university with Catholic roots. Founded in 1851 by Jesuits, SJU is one of the oldest Catholic colleges in the US, but its long history has not kept Saint Joseph’s from growing, changing, and innovating. During the 21st century SJU has expanded and found new paths, especially in online degree programs.
Saint Joseph’s online Master of Organizational Development and Leadership sees management and administration in much the same way – as a process of self-discovery and challenge. Saint Joseph’s MODL program is designed to prepare leaders for success in many different professional settings by teaching leadership not as a set of tactics, but as a mode of inquiry and thought. With just a one-weekend residency required (offered 6 times per year for convenience), each session is 8 weeks long and fully online.
$853 per credit hour
Robert Morris University
A small liberal arts institution in the township of Moon, PA (a suburb of Pittsburgh), Robert Morris University has been around for almost a hundred years but has really begun coming into its own in the 21st century. Long seen as one of the best regional universities in the North, RMU has vaulted into the national U.S. News & World Report rankings, especially due to its growing online presence and reputation.
That newfound renown appears in RMU’s online Master of Science in Organizational Leadership degree program, a 30 credit hour program perfect for working professionals who want to learn to motivate employees, develop the potential of their teams, and make ethically sound, change-oriented decisions. Through 7 courses and 6 electives, the RUM MSOL prepares students for leadership in a variety of fields, a smart investment in the future of management.
MS Organizational Leadership
$870 per credit hour