Leadership is about adapting to change, earning trust and gaining support, creating vision, and making ethical decisions. As today’s professional settings become increasingly complex and globalized, leaders are now faced with the challenge of being more sensitive, flexible, and adaptable to the demands and expectations of stakeholders. Mercyhurst’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (OL) equips you with an understanding of leadership principles and opportunities to help you adapt to this changing paradigm and further develop your leadership and problem-solving skills. This 30-credit graduate program is designed to meet the needs and schedules of working professionals who currently hold leadership positions or are aspiring to achieve leadership roles in organizations. This program complements almost every background, offering instruction in the complexities of leadership that can be applied in any field.

An Alternative to an MBA

The OL program is an excellent alternative for those considering MBA programs, though it differs in several key ways. Whereas MBA programs primarily focus on organizational rules, administrative functions, and procedures in a business structure, the OL program emphasizes entrepreneurship, vision and strategy, team building, motivation and empowering others to meet needs.

MBA programs emphasize:

  • Planning and budgeting by setting time tables and allocating resources
  • Establishing direction by creating a vision and setting strategies 
  • Organizing and staffing by providing structure and establishing rules and procedures

Mercyhurst’s Organizational Leadership program emphasizes: 

  • Aligning people by communicating, seeking commitment, and building teams 
  • Controlling and problem solving 
  • Motivating and inspiring by energizing, empowering others, and satisfying unmet needs

Fast Facts

  • Coursework focuses on collaboration, interactive exercises, case studies and the study of theory to develop leaders who know how to drive performance and motivate others to achieve results.
  • The curriculum includes courses in Leadership Theory and Practice, Organizational Ethics, Law for Leaders, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Management and Planning, to name a few.
  • Since 1998, more than 90 percent of our OL graduates have leveraged their grad degrees to begin new careers or to accept promotions with their employers.

Learning Outcomes

All OL graduate students are expected to meet the following program Student Learning Outcomes (SLO) upon graduation:

  • Distinguish contemporary leadership theories and models, articulate a personal leadership philosophy, and apply appropriate models to an organizational setting.
  • Consistently demonstrate exemplary written, oral, interpersonal, and presentation skills for effective organizational communication.
  • Assess the characteristics of self, others, groups, and organizations as an integral part of the process of leadership, including applying ethical and professional standards to the organizational setting.
  • Engage in independent research by applying critical thinking and inquiry skills in data gathering, synthesis, problem solving, and decision making.

Program Curriculum

In this 30-credit program, students are required to complete the following core requirements:

  • OL 500 Leadership Theory and Practice
  • OL 502 Leadership and Organizational Behavior
  • OL 504 Research Methods
  • OL 505 Organizational Ethics
  • OL 530 Organizational Communications for Leaders
  • OL 651 Financial Operations and Analysis
  • OL 677 Research-Based Project

Students also complete three elective courses in areas of interest. Elective course offerings could include:

  • OL 507 Human Resource Management
  • OL 528 Human Resource Development
  • OL 532 Law for Leaders
  • OL 603 Strategic Marketing
  • OL 605 Innovation and Entrepreneurship
  • OL 607 Strategic Management and Planning
  • OL 638 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability
  • OL 645 Special Topics
  • OL 675 Internship

Program Acessibility

The OL Program offers flexible course offerings and scheduling for both recent graduates and working professionals. Year-round course offerings and full- and part-time options were designed with working professionals in mind, allowing you to earn your master’s without disrupting your career. 

In addition, a number of courses are available online. As online learning has becoming increasingly popular in higher education, it is essential for colleges and universities to maintain the same educational standards across on-campus and online course delivery. At Mercyhurst, the Office of Distance Learning ensures online course delivery is consistent and predictable for an engaging, rewarding student experience.

Each online course is carefully mapped out to provide you with a guided learning experience. Courses progress sequentially, building on previous concepts to help you gain mastery of the course material. In addition to lectures and individual assignments, you’ll have the opportunity to interact with classmates and professors in real time through group projects, review sessions, debates and presentations.

As with any Mercyhurst education, students benefit from close personalized attention from faculty, with opportunities to connect via email, phone, Skype or office hours.

Admissions Requirements

  • An application form, which can be found online at
  • An essay of 300-500 words outlining the student’s personal, professional, and educational goals.
  • All official transcripts from accredited higher education institutions. (All documents and credentials submitted must be translated into English; Mercyhurst recommends that international students contact World Education Services at, the foremost organization specializing in transcript and credential evaluation, to provide such translations.)
  • One recommendation from a supervisor or faculty member
  • A resume or curriculum vitae
  • International students from countries where English is not a native language must submit an official score report from the TOEFL or IELTS examination. 

Contact Us

Anne Zaphiris, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Organizational Leadership
Office: Preston 322
Phone: 814-824-3382

Kseniya Kampova
Graduate Admissions Coordinator
Phone: 814-824-3384