Why Get an Organizational Leadership Degree?

Created by Henry Steele

By Henry Steele - April 17, 2017
Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

The field of organizational leadership has two main focuses, which are that of the group and that of the individual. Its main goal is to bring those two together. Organizational leadership is incredibly wide and varied, encompassing certain skills and ethics. Perhaps most important, however, is that it requires a worldview that goes beyond having an understanding of the impact of cultures, politics, and religions. It is about the truly comprehending what the worldview of individuals within an organization is, and how this aligns itself to the worldview of the organization itself.

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Organizational leadership, as the name suggests, is about taking charge of a company and ensuring that all its resources, particularly its people, are utilized in the best way possible. Through particular skills and knowledge, true leaders are able to drive their organization forward, navigate it through change, and make it profitable. This is a very complex field, therefore, and delivers very interesting opportunities for the right person.

Organizational Leadership Degree Opportunity

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) classifies organizational leaders as top executives. Within this, they have the subdivision of general and division managers, and chief executives. The BLS has stated that the average annual earnings for all top executives were around $102,690 per year as of May 2015, and that there is a 6% growth projection between 2014 and 2024, which is as fast as the national average. This translates into 147,000 new jobs.

The reason why the opportunity is so good, is because organizational leaders are required across all types of organizations. It is their skills and knowledge that will drive a company to success. The reason why growth is only at the national average rate, however, is because there has been a slow down in the formation of new companies over recent years. The result of this is that competition is incredibly strong, not in the least because so many people want to have a position with that much prestige and pay.

The best job opportunities, as a result, are available to those with the most experience and also the greatest amount of education.

Organizational Leadership Degree Career Paths

According to the BLS, there were around 2.5 million top executives in 2014, 2.1 million of which were general and operations managers. They are found in every industry, including public, private, and third sector. Payscale.com has reported on some specific career paths for organizational leaders, which are the:

  • General/Operations Manager
  • Operations Director
  • VP of Operations
  • Senior Operations Manager
  • President
  • Chief Executive
  • Chief Operating Officer
  • Executive Director

Meanwhile, Indeed.com has reported on popular career options within the field of organizational leadership and their associated salaries as the following:

  • Vice President of Operations, with average earnings of $127,722 per year.
  • Vice President, with average earnings of $137,566 per year.
  • Executive Director, with average earnings of $77,656 per year.
  • Chief Operating Officer, with average earnings of $127,938 per year.
  • Regional Vice President, with average earnings of $131,626 per year.
  • Director of Operations, with average earnings of $89,877 per year.
  • Vice President of Business Development, with average earnings of $144,526 per year.
  • Senior Vice President, with average earnings of $157,149 per year.

Organizational Leadership Degree Salaries

According to the BLS, the average annual salary for a chief executive in May 2015 was $175,110. The bottom 10% earned $68,600 or less, whereas the top 10% earned $187,200 or more. General and operations managers, meanwhile, enjoyed an average annual salary of $97,730, with the bottom 10% earning $44,190 or less, and the top 10% earning $187,200 or more.

A key factor in how much organizational leaders are likely to earn is where in the country they work. The BLS has therefore created reports on the five best states to work in. For general and operations managers, these are:

  • New Jersey, with average annual earnings of $168,510.
  • Delaware, with average annual earnings of $149,110.
  • New York, with average annual earnings of $148,910.
  • The District of Columbia, with average annual earnings of $146,710.
  • Connecticut, with average annual earnings of $144,280.

Meanwhile, the five best states to work in as a chief executive were reported by BLS as the following:

  • South Dakota, with average annual earnings of $242,220.
  • North Carolina, with average annual earnings of $226,540.
  • Rhode Island, with average annual earnings of $222,790.
  • New York, with average annual earnings of $219,410.
  • Texas, with average annual earnings of $218,880.

Organizational Leadership Degree Employers

Another key factor that determines how much someone can earn in the field of organizational leadership is the company that they work for. Payscale.com has researched several employers, and found that:

  • Amazon.com Inc. pays between $71,000 and $107,000 per year.
  • FedEx Ground pays between $42,000 and $58,000 per year.
  • The Federal Express Corporation (FedEx) pays between $$48,000 and $83,000 per year.
  • The Bank of America Corporation (BOFA) pays between $46,000 and $65,000 per year.
  • Target Corporation pays between $66,000 and $79,000 per year.
  • The United Parcel Service (UPS), Inc. pays between $51,000 and $107,000 per year.
  • The Home Depot, Inc. pays between $69,000 and $84,000 per year.
  • The Xerox Corporation pays between $45,000 and $77,000 per year.
  • The U.S. Army pays between $58,000 and $88,000 per year.
  • Sodexo, Inc. pays between $45,000 and $62,000 per year.
  • General Electric Co. (GE) pays between $86,000 and $147,000 per year.
  • LA Fitness pays between $32,000 and $44,000 per year.
  • The Sears Holding Corporation pays between $48,000 and $73,000 per year.
  • The Office Depot, Inc. pays between $28,000 and $35,000 per year.
  • Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. pays between $56,000 and $83,000 per year.

Organizational Leadership Bachelor’s Degree

As previously stated, if you want to get a good job in the field of operational leadership, you must gain a good education. This starts with a bachelor’s degree. Numerous universities across the country offer this degree, including Arizona State University – ASU Online, which has developed the BA in Organizational Leadership. This includes courses in:

  • First-Year Composition
  • Humanities, Arts and Design
  • Mathematics
  • Introduction to Organizational Leadership
  • Behavioral Dynamics in Organizations
  • Natural Science – Quantitative
  • Computer/Statistics/Quantitative Applications
  • Resource Allocation in Organizations
  • Historical Awareness
  • Theory and Practice of Leadership
  • Organizational Skills
  • Social Processes in Organizations
  • Organizational Ethics
  • Foundations of Project Management
  • Diversity and Organizations
  • Project Leadership, Strategy and Scope
  • Leading Organizational Innovation and Change
  • Organizational Contexts
  • Assessment in Organizations
  • Assessment of Leadership Effectiveness
  • Organizational Contexts
  • Organizational Leadership Pro-Seminar I
  • Organizational Leadership Pro-Seminar II

Organizational Leadership Master’s Degree

To really further your career, you should consider pursuing a master’s degree. While this requires a significant investment of both time and money, it is an investment worth making if you are serious about entering this highly competitive field. To enable more students to complete a master’s degree level, numerous universities now offer their programs online. One example of this is Southern New Hampshire University, which offers the MS in Organizational Leadership in a fully online format.

Organizational Leadership Degree Admission Requirements

Southern New Hampshire University is quite unique in how it has set its admission requirements. Unlike many other schools, they do not require students to take the GMAT/GRE examination. However, they still determine whether or not someone has the capacity to study at the master’s degree level through their other admission requirements. Those include speaking to an admission counselor, who will determine what documentation and proof, other than transcripts from a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution, are required.

Organizational Leadership Degree Curriculum

Schools are entitled to set their own curriculum. This is why it is very important that you choose an accredited institution, as this will demonstrate to prospective employers that you have completed an education to a standard that meets or exceeds the national ones. Southern New Hampshire University is accredited through the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and will also attempt to gain AACSB accreditation once their program meets the requirements.

Their curriculum includes:

  • Human Behavior in Organizations
  • Strategic Human Resource Management
  • Leading Change
  • Organizational Leadership
  • Responsible Corporate Leadership
  • Organizational Leadership Capstone

Organizational Leadership Degree Financial Assistance

Unfortunately, going to university is an expensive endeavor, even if your salary when you complete your education will more than make up for it. All schools across the country offer students the opportunity to apply for financial aid, and most also offer scholarships and grants. External grants also exist, however, and you should consider applying for them.

Some of your options are the:

  • Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, which offers a $1,000 award to their students.
  • Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, which offers a $500 award to their students.
  • Fund for Adult Continuing Education Support (FACES) scholarship, with varying awards.
  • Fischer Family Scholarship, with varying awards.
  • Osher Foundation Re-entry Scholarship, with varying awards.
  • University of Houston, with varying awards.
  • Brevard College, with varying awards.
  • W. Linn DeBeck Fellowship in Psychology, with varying awards.
  • Anthony F. Grasha Memorial Scholarship Fund, with varying awards.
  • Project Management Institute, with varying awards.
  • United Negro College Fund, with varying awards.
  • Hispanic College Fund, with varying awards.
  • Paul & Daisy Soros Foundation Fellowships for New Americans, which awards up to $90,000
  • AAUW (American Association of University Women), with varying awards.

Generally speaking, in order to be eligible for any of these scholarships, grants, and fellowships, you need to meet a number of very stringent requirements. Those includes studying at a specific school (for college-related scholarships), demonstrating financial need, having and maintaining a certain GPA (usually at least 3.0), being a member of certain professional organization, belonging to a certain minority group, and/or being of a certain gender.

Organizational Leadership Degree Certifications

As someone involved in organizational leadership, you need to set yourself apart from other potential job applicants. One way to do this is by achieving certification. You have to take this into careful consideration, however. Obtaining certification means that you will have to study again, usually for at least six months, and you will have to pay for the examination as well. Furthermore, you must usually maintain certification through continuous education credits, which will require a further investment. Many people obtain certification through their employers, but if you are not yet employed, or are looking at changing your job, you will have to invest in this yourself. That being said, most people agree that it is very worthwhile to do so. Hence, while there is generally no legal requirement for organizational leaders to have certain certifications, the following may be of interest to you, as prospective employers look for them in their candidates:

  • Executive Certificate in Organizational Consulting and Change
  • Leadership coaching and mentoring
  • EIPM Certification: Purchasing Managers
  • Human Performance Improvement
  • Certificate in Leadership and Civic Engagement
  • Six Sigma Green Belt Certification

Organizational Leadership Degree Associations

As soon as you decide to study towards organizational leadership, you should join professional organizations and associations. One of the reasons for this is that many of these organizations offer scholarships to its members, which can be of benefit to you and your education. Membership also means that you are always up to date with new developments within your field, and it demonstrates, as certification does, that you are committed to furthering the profession as a whole.

Many times, professional associations also offer certification options, as well as access to the continuous education credits required to maintain your certification. But perhaps the greatest benefit of all is that membership means that you can build a professional network, which will serve your future career far more than anything else could. Some of the professional associations you may want to consider are:

  • NMA: THE Leadership Development Organization
  • American Leadership Development Association (ALDA)
  • American Society of Association Executives (ASAE)
  • Association of Leadership Programs


Henry Steele
Managing Editor
Henry is Managing Editor of BusinessStudent.com. He is a seasoned business professional who regularly consults with local business's throughout Southern California. Henry pursued his undergrad in Business and Economics at the University of San Diego and gained valuable life changing experience through a unique internship upon graduation.

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