If you aspire to attain a career in management where you’re helping others maximize their potential, then you should consider earning a master’s in management and leadership.
These degree programs are designed to enhance your leadership and business management skills, so you can be better positioned to elevate your organization to a higher level of success.
What is a master’s in management and leadership?
Advanced leadership degrees, which can include an online master’s in management and leadership as well as an online master’s in organizational leadership, are designed to help individuals achieve business goals through more effective management. These degrees generally combine foundational business courses with content that can improve soft skills such as communication, problem solving, and teamwork.
Management and leadership degrees are sometimes confused with the Master of Business Administration (MBA), but there are key differences.
MBA programs offer a broader range of study that includes finance, marketing, accounting, and statistics, whereas graduate degrees in management and leadership focus on developing leadership skills. The coursework covers topics that can help you develop effective leadership strategies, including social psychology, workplace dynamics, leadership theory, team development, and communications. These programs typically emphasize the creation of empathetic and personalized approaches to management, which makes them useful for helping you to build your own personal management style.
What is the difference between a management and leadership degree and a master’s in business management?
Graduate business management and leadership degrees sound similar in practice to a master's in business management (MIM), but these degree paths are actually very different. People often pursue a MIM because they want to specialize in a single area of business, like marketing or accounting. While an MIM program may cover leadership skills, it primarily focuses on the operational side of the business.
An online master's in management and leadership emphasizes building soft skills. While some coursework may include topics like finance and accounting, you will also learn how to resolve workplace conflicts, best practices for hiring and managing employees, and other human resources areas to help enhance your understanding of the personal element of a business.
The M.Acc. is typically designed to prepare students for relevant exams and certifications in the field, such as the Certified Management Accountant (CMA), the Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), and the Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This degree focuses more on in-depth, technical accounting skills along with business acumen.
What does a master’s in management and leadership focus on?
As the name suggests, an online master's in management and leadership is designed to build your management and leadership skills. Coursework typically focuses on areas like communication, organizational behavior, leadership styles, and human resources. These programs often include what is known as a capstone experience course, in which you apply the leadership skills you developed in your coursework to address a real-world workplace challenge.
When pursuing your master's in management and leadership online, you'll be required to take foundational courses on topics such as:
Human resources development
Strategic personnel decisions
Some programs may allow you to customize your studies. This can include specializations in a specific type of organization, such as nonprofit management, or you can build on your skills in areas such as legal, ethical, or financial matters.
Graduate degrees in management and leadership can be beneficial if you want to broaden your career opportunities and build on the skills that can help you manage teams, departments, or even entire organizations effectively. Here are some of the areas of study in which you may focus:
Team leadership coursework is key to showing you how to create and manage teams that can efficiently complete tasks. Here, you can learn:
Elements of psychology and social psychology
Whether you work in general management or a human resources department, human resources is a vital area of study that can give you insights on how the human side of the business works. This coursework teaches you:
Training and employee development strategies
Employee rewards systems
All leaders have their own unique styles. This coursework can teach you:
Typical leadership styles among management
How to develop your own leadership styles
How ethics relates to leadership
How to inspire and motivate
Communication is an important component of being a good leader. To be effective as a manager, you will need to develop communication strategies for your workplace setting. In this coursework, instruction will be offered on topics including:
Communication as it relates to diversity
Group development and socialization
Concepts and theories of workplace culture
Employee management skills are important for organizing and directing the workforce. This coursework can build on your skill set in the following areas:
Master's in management and leadership concentrations and electives
Graduate programs in organizational leadership may offer you a selection of concentrations. These are designed to help you focus your skill set in a specific area or to fill in gaps in your current knowledge base. This is a helpful way to position yourself for certain career tracks.
Online master’s in management and leadership concentrations include:
Health care management
Business data analytics
Under these specializations, you will have the chance to take courses that allow you to explore these topics at a deeper level. You can also use electives to complement your education and build on the core areas of study featured within the organizational leadership program.
Common electives include:
Ethical theory and practice
Finance and accounting
Choose your coursework wisely — it should map to your career goal to help increase your starting salary and job opportunities.
Online vs. on-campus: What’s the difference?
There is no one-size-fits-all model for a graduate education. Master's programs come in various forms, each with its own benefits. Here are some of the most common questions you should ask when researching your master’s in management and leadership:
How long will earning my master's in management and leadership take?
You can finish a typical master’s in management and leadership degree program in 18 months to two years if you choose to study full time. Accelerated programs are also available to help you finish more quickly.
Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.
Master's in management and leadership accreditation
There are two types of accreditation — regional and specialized.
Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. Regional accreditation confirms that the provider has met and maintained adherence to a minimum set of academic standards.
Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.
Schools often apply to gain specialized accreditation for specific areas of study, departments, or degree programs. The leading authority for business schools is the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) International. Enrolling in an accredited program makes you more marketable to employers and can affect your career growth over the long term.
Why accreditation matters
Accreditation is key if you want to:
Transfer your credits, as most schools will only accept transfer credits from accredited institutions
Apply for financial aid, as federal aid is only granted to students who are studying at recognized accredited institutions
Universities that offer a master’s in management and leadership often hold accreditation through business-centric accrediting boards. These include:
AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business)
ACBSP (Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs)
IACBE (International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education)
Check for both national and regional accreditation at your university of interest. You may also find that your degree program or academic department of interest has additional and specialized accreditations.
You have goals. We have a path.
Effective leadership is critical for achieving organizational success in major corporations, as well as sectors like finance, health care, and even government. As the world’s learning company, we proudly partner with universities to offer a suite of online graduate degrees in management and leadership. Whatever your career goals, we have a path for you.