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Grad Program: Leadership

Basic Information

Are leaders born or made?

Many graduate schools would have you believe the latter: a growing number are offering degrees in leadership, either as an MBA concentration or a stand-alone degree. The curriculum is designed to help students develop skills that are essential to success in any field: critical thinking, problem-solving, communicating, negotiating, and acting ethically in professional situations.

Graduate programs in leadership prepare you to lead at the individual, team, and organizational level. You’ll analyze case studies and theories of leadership, discover your own leadership style, and practice exercising leadership under difficult circumstances. Classes will cover everything from communicating persuasively to developing a vision for an organization. You’re likely to take additional courses in business or public policy.

Although a leadership degree can be useful for those with limited professional experience, many programs are designed for mid-career professionals who want to step into leadership roles. That means flexible schedules are the norm, and classroom discussions often incorporate students’ real-life experiences. If you’re pursuing a leadership degree full-time, look for programs that offer internships or other opportunities to practice your skills.

Some programs offer training for leadership within certain fields, like health care, human resources, public service, non-profit organizations, or entrepreneurial ventures. However, the general leadership training is applicable to a wide range of careers.

Degree Information

If you want a business education in addition to leadership training, consider an MBA with a concentration in Leadership or Organizational Leadership. This is generally a two-year degree. You spend the first year taking management and business classes, and the second year focused on leadership.

Another option is a master’s degree (MS or MA) in Leadership or Organizational Leadership. These degrees are heavily focused on leadership skills, and offer less general business training. They can often be completed within a year.

If you’re interested in an academic career, some graduate schools offer a PhD in Leadership Studies or Organizational Leadership. You’ll study how leaders behave in society and within specific organizations.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • What are faculty members’ areas of expertise?
  • Is this program designed for established professionals, or those just starting their careers?
  • What opportunities are available to network with leaders in my area of interest?
  • Will the classes offered be relevant to my field?
  • What is the career trajectory of graduates?
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