MS in Organizational Leadership

Expand Your Leadership Skills

Leadership is a component of nearly every position in today’s challenging global arena. Current and emerging managers who take a thoughtful approach to leadership and invent their own solutions to complex issues are invaluable.

The Masters of Science in Organizational Leadership degree at Union Institute & University will prepare you to be an innovative leader in just 12 months. Building on your professional experience and expertise, our online degree program will help you confront challenging organizational situations, understand the political and social factors creating them, and devise equitable and sustainable solutions. It’s designed for individuals in public, private, nonprofit, government, and social enterprises ready to take the next step in their careers or reinvent their futures.


The program is ideal for current or aspiring managers in:

  • Criminal justice/law enforcement
  • Business (non-profit and for-profit organizations)
  • Healthcare

Program Benefits

  • The cohort-based distance learning model creates a vibrant learning community.
  • The online format provides flexibility for today’s working adult.
  • Leadership mentors work with students from their chosen profession.
  • Students prepare professional portfolios.
  • Students adapt course assignments and projects relevant to their professions and work-related issues.
  • Integrative activities enable students to further develop their professional leadership styles.


  • Develop systemic and integrative thinking skills.
  • Expand innovative, solution-building and critical thinking skills.
  • Create socially responsive decision-making skills.
  • Advance collaborative and networking abilities.
  • Improve cultural sensitivity.
  • Foster a foundation of ethics and justice.

Program Format

  • Online format with a virtual learning community
  • Cohort program completed in 3 modules (16 weeks in length) – August-December (Fall Term), January-April (Winter Term), May-August (Spring/Summer Term)
  • Each 16-week term split into two 8-week sessions (2 courses every 8 weeks)
  • Full-time and part-time options available

Each course includes:

  • Two 90-minute interactive webinars with scholar-practitioners who are experts in their field
  • Weekly online dialogues with professionals, organizational and leadership subject matter experts, and peers
  • A minimum of two 30-minute one-on-one video/teleconference coaching sessions
  • Weekly readings, assignments, and integrative activities
  • Individual and team practical application projects (e.g., case studies analyses, problem-solving presentations)

Admissions Requirements

  • Statement of Purpose – Criteria information included on application
  • Resume – Work experience and professional accomplishments for *3-5 years
  • Letters of Recommendation – Must have two letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts – An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a *cumulative grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.0. Transcripts from all previous colleges or universities attended are required.
  • Interview – 30-60 minute phone interview that discusses the core components of your statement of purpose and provides an opportunity to ask questions about the program

*Candidates who do not have a 3.0 GPA and/or 3-5 years of work experience may be considered for admittance to the program. Exceptions are considered on a case-by-case basis and may require additional coursework beyond the 12 core courses.

Core Curriculum

Module 1: Innovative Leadership

Term 1:

LDR501: Leading Complex Organizations: An Entrepreneurial Perspective
Organizations continuously evolve to effectively operate in an interdependent global social and economic environment. Today’s leader is called to be an integrative thinker who can envision the future, “think outside-of-the box,” and be willing to try alternative possibilities. With entrepreneurial leadership development as the focus, this course critically examines the networked nature and dynamics of contemporary organizations and the needed qualities and skills to innovatively lead them, manage their diverse workforces, orchestrate their inter-organizational partnerships, and establish vibrant community relationships.

LDR502: Professional Ethics: Organizational Integrity in an Age of Globalization
As explored in LDR501, organizational leaders face complex situations and make decisions that have long term effects for a wide range of local and global stakeholders, including the environment and future generations. Through examining current organizational issues and challenges, this course examines how to practically analyze situations and make decisions grounded in professional ethical principles and strategies, organizational integrity, socially responsible practices, sustainability principles, social justice perspectives, and being a contributing community partner. Central to this course is the refinement and articulation of one’s own professional code of ethics and the principles that guide it.

Term 2:

LDR503: Managing Talent: Engaging a Diverse Distributed Workforce
One of the greatest challenges for current leaders is to attract and retain highly talented and creative employees, as well as to manage them in a distributed work environment in a manner that engages them to fully utilize their expertise. With human resource management concepts and processes as the backdrop, this course discusses the essential collaborative managerial qualities, skills, strategies and practices needed to develop a dynamic, innovative and highly motivated workforce. Central to this discussion is the ethnically diverse nature of the workforce, how to lead across cultures, and ways to address the challenges posed by four generations with differing work styles working side-by-side.

LDR504: Organizational Development: Innovation, Change Management, and Design Thinking

To remain viable and resilient, organizations must continuously grow and, at times, even transform themselves into something new. Critical to this process is establishing a culture of innovation supported by entrepreneurial leadership that fosters on-going learning, ability to thoughtfully experiment, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. Integrating the organizational concepts, human resource management philosophies and leadership practices explored in the other Innovative Leadership Module courses, this course focuses on leading strategic organizational change and development, including utilizing design thinking principles in envisioning and creating change, formulating strategies, and implementing organizational initiatives.

Module 2: Networking Leadership

Term 3:

LDR505: Organizational Communication: Agile Organizational Structures, Social Networks and Partnerships

Leading organizations today involves facilitating a web of internal and external networks that form as needed. With social networking and organizational partnerships as the backdrop, this course explores the dynamics of organizational communication and the advantages and disadvantages of hierarchical, relational, networking and culture-based approaches. Central to this exploration is enabling students to determine the appropriate organizational communication structures and communication processes needed for an organization to effectively function, be adaptive and innovative, and best serve its customers or clientele.

LDR506: Leveraging Technology: Strategic Information, Communication and Collaboration Systems

Organizations are collaborative information enterprises that utilize technology to communicate and network people and partner with other organizations. Leaders must leverage technology and information to improve organizational performance. Building upon LDR501 and LDR503, this course explores the vital role technology plays in daily organizational decision making, operations, teamwork, and supply chain management. Central to the discussion is how managers and information technology professionals can work together to design and implement effective information and collaboration systems that enable strategic business analysis and planning, increase workplace productivity, enhance worker performance, create dynamic knowledge management systems, and improve the quality of the work environment.

Term 4:

LDR507: Collaborative Work Environments: Telework, Teams and Conflict Management

Organizations are distributed enterprises with both human and technological infrastructures. With organizational collaboration as the backdrop, this course expands upon the distribute workforce concepts and issues examined in LDR503, focusing on the challenges of managing a diverse distributed workforce utilizing various forms of technology. Central to this discussion is a critical examination of telework, the virtual office, distributed team configurations, group development in non co-located work environments, team conflict resolution processes, and outsourcing strategies.

LDR508: Leading Knowledge Workers: Establishing Organizational Knowledge Sharing Cultures and Systems
There has been a shift from an information age to a knowledge age. Innovative leaders create cultures that foster and reward knowledge sharing, generation and application. This course builds upon the Innovative Leadership Module and draws together the core concepts and competencies examined in those courses. Its primary focus is on enabling students to expand their skills as leaders of knowledge workers. Central to this leadership development process will be assisting students to expand their networking skills that enable knowledge sharing, on-going learning and the formation of communities of practice.

Module 3: Analytical Leadership

Term 5:

LDR509: Strategic Analysis and Operations in a Global Economy
Leaders, whether they manage for-profit, non-profit or government organizations, must be business savvy while being socially responsible. In light of global economic strategies and world trends, this course addresses complex issues pertaining to organizational operations, financial management and organizational performance. Central to this examination is the use of organizational research and statistics in forecasting, strategic planning, problem solving, decision making and innovation.

LDR510: Organizational Research, Analytics and Innovative Solution Building

Organizational analytics that draw upon quantitative and qualitative data are critical for leading successfully, analyzing operations, making decisions, and innovatively solving problems. This course synthesizes the knowledge and skills in research methods emphasized throughout the program and further prepares students to develop and utilize various forms of data collection, statistical analysis, and report writing to make organizational decisions and the needed changes to organizational operations.

Term 6:

LDR511: Responsible Organizational Governance

Organizations, being legal entities and accountable civic members, must adhere to the regulations, laws, ordinances and policies that govern the society in which they reside. This is complex and challenging because organizations operate in a global arena with diverse standards. With current issues, laws and legal rulings as the backdrop, this course explores the principles of responsible organizational governance, discusses how organizational leaders can ensure that ethical governance processes and policies can be developed, communicated, and implemented, and how organizational decisions and operations can be properly monitored.

LDR512: Leading Strategically and Implementing Succession Planning Processes

Strategic leaders make decisions that are aligned with the organization’s mission. Each decision moves the organization toward its target goals and serves its clientele. This course builds upon the preceding Innovative Leadership and Networking Leadership Modules and draws together the core concepts and competencies examined in all preceding courses. Its primary focus is on organizational strategic leadership models and practices fundamental to working in an interdependent global setting. Central to this concluding discussion are the exploration of sustainable strategic management principles, successful execution of strategic plans, and the value of grooming high potential candidates for future organizational leadership opportunities.