Earning an Online Organizational
Leadership Bachelor's Degree

Prospective students should conduct thorough and careful research before committing to earning an online degree in organizational leadership. This guide covers the basics of organizational leadership programs, which are popular for students who desire careers in areas such as management, education, and human resources.

This page explains important details about the application process and programmatic accreditation, along with common courses and careers graduates often pursue. This guide can help you evaluate schools and programs to find the best fit for your academic and professional goals.

Overview of Organizational Leadership Degrees

Organizational management programs take a focused, goal-driven approach and prepare learners for management positions in public and private organizations. Students learn to achieve organizational goals by encouraging team members to draw on their individual strengths. Students pursuing an organizational leadership degree online explore motivational and management techniques and learn how to apply them in professional settings.

Organizational leadership professionals need strong leadership and interpersonal skills, and they are typically interested in helping others unlock their potential. Successful professionals tend to display high levels of empathy and prioritize the ethical application of their abilities. While many schools offer fully online organizational leadership degrees, other schools offer hybrid programs that combine distance and in-class learning. Because of the discipline's emphasis on interpersonal interaction, even online programs may have some on-campus requirements.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects the creation of more than 800,000 new management jobs between 2016 and 2026. This projected growth means graduates of organizational leadership programs will have plenty of career opportunities.

Application Process

While application requirements vary by school, students pursuing an accredited online degree in organizational leadership must typically submit a completed general application form, high school and/or college transcripts, and SAT or ACT scores.

Many programs also require a personal statement or essay through which applicants must demonstrate they have the mindset and attitude necessary to succeed in the field. Applicants may also need to submit letters of recommendation from qualified individuals, such as teachers.

Some bachelor's programs in organizational management only accept applicants who hold an associate degree or have completed equivalent college coursework. GPA requirements vary, and more competitive programs tend to have higher admission standards. However, most programs require a minimum 2.5 high school GPA or at least a 2.0 college GPA.

What Will I Learn?

Students earning an organizational leadership online degree prepare to assess job applicants, guide the professional development of new and existing employees, and solve organizational challenges and problems. Organizational leadership professionals use these skills to help businesses grow and succeed. These professionals are becoming increasingly valuable; as large numbers of workers retire, businesses need organizational leadership professionals to help develop the entry-level workers who replace them.

Most bachelor's programs require about 120 credits. Specific curricula vary, but general education coursework often comprises up to half of the total credit requirements. Remaining coursework typically includes major classes and degree-related electives, which allow students to customize their program.

The following sample curriculum includes six courses students typically complete while earning an organizational leadership degree online.

Organizational Theory

In this course, students learn about the theoretical principles that guide historical and contemporary approaches to organizational design. By exploring the systems used to govern organizations, students learn to recognize patterns and commonalities across time periods and organizational styles.

Organizational Behavior

This course examines the practical applications of the theoretical models used to create organizations. Students consider how human psychology and the individuality of an organization's employees can impact the practicality of specific organizational theories.

Leadership Theory

This course examines various leadership models, including common styles such as behavioral, contingency, participative, trait, and transactional leadership. Students explore the strengths and weaknesses of each style and learn when and how to apply particular techniques to achieve specific outcomes.

Leadership Practice

Students explore practical applications of various approaches to leadership. Using resources such as case studies and situational modeling, students examine ways to implement leadership structures and learn to adapt strategic approaches to obtain better results.

Cross-Cultural Leadership

In the increasingly global business landscape, effective leaders must understand the role cultural differences can play in the way particular groups of people respond to specific management styles. Emphasizing inclusivity and cultural sensitivity, this course prepares students for professional roles involving varied and multicultural communities.

Leadership in History

This course explores qualities of great leaders and the impact of strong leadership on organizational outcomes. Learners study well-known political and business leaders from throughout history, focusing on the tangible, replicable qualities these leaders exemplified.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Leadership?

An online degree in organizational leadership can lead to a variety of careers in areas such as human resources and other employee-related aspects of business management. An organizational management degree and a commitment to ongoing professional development can qualify graduates for entry-level jobs with potential for advancement as professionals gain experience and advanced skills.

Core Skills

Earning an online organizational leadership degree builds competencies that professionals need to effectively develop and manage human resources. Organizational leadership curricula emphasize different aspects of the field and employ various philosophical approaches. However, accredited programs typically include a standard set of learning outcomes.

Students generally learn multiple strategies for motivating employees and team members to strive for higher levels of professional achievement. Learners prepare to evaluate employee performance, apply leadership and management skills to meet an organization's strategic goals, and identify opportunities and challenges related to employee diversity. Students gain advanced written and verbal communication abilities along with analytical and decision-making skills.

Most programs encourage students to develop their own unique approaches to leadership and help learners master a variety of leadership styles and techniques. Many organizational leadership programs also emphasize the ethical application of these proficiencies, as corporate citizenship plays an increasingly prominent role in business development and branding.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Organizational leadership is a broad field applicable to a variety of industries. As a result, job candidates typically focus on a specific type of organization rather than a particular sector of the economy.

Most organizational leadership professionals work for medium or large businesses that employ many workers. Graduates fill various roles within these organizations, but most work in human resources, management, or strategic development. Organizational leadership professionals may recruit, develop, and retain talented employees. They may also apply leadership skills to business operations.

Bachelor's degree holders qualify for entry-level positions, but more advanced roles typically require professional experience. Below are five common positions for organizational leadership graduates.

Career Profiles

Organizational Development Manager

Annual Median Salary: $86,254

Organizational development managers conduct regular evaluations of a company's policies and business practices. They identify strengths, weaknesses, inefficiencies, and areas for improvement. These professionals help businesses remain competitive by optimizing operational advantages and reducing operational weaknesses.

Management Operations Specialist

Annual Median Salary: $50,849

Management operations specialists perform a variety of functions within companies, including interfacing with executive-level staff on projects and managing relationships with vendors and clients. They also evaluate transactions and sales dealings to maintain desirable standards, resolve complaints, and track commission-based employee compensation.

Human Resources Manager

Annual Median Salary: $110,120

These supervisory professionals direct the hiring, training, and development of staff members. They also create and implement company policies and codes of employee conduct, and they assist executive leadership in strategic planning capacities.

Leadership Development Director

Annual Median Salary: $102,379

These specialists apply advanced knowledge of leadership and instructional design techniques to create, develop, and refine internal programs for building and supporting management skills. They may also coach individual employees and help with performance monitoring.


Annual Median Salary: $48,442

Recruiters may work for a company or for an external staffing solutions contractor. These professionals lead searches for people with the skills and experience needed to fill job vacancies. They communicate with candidates during career events, employment fairs, and interviews.

Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Organizational Leadership?

Experience plays a major role in professional advancement for human resources professionals. However, individuals who aspire to high-paying leadership positions can improve their job prospects by earning additional degrees. Additionally, specialist roles often require advanced degrees. Bachelor's programs generally provide broad, foundational knowledge on which learners can build specialized professional skills.

Although an advanced degree results in more employment opportunities, professionals with a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership qualify for a variety of positions and can improve their employability by participating in professional development workshops and continuing education courses. Pursuing additional training demonstrates a commitment to the field while improving professional skills and techniques. Additionally, many companies offer internal professional development opportunities, which individuals can use to complement their online degree in organizational leadership.

Accreditation for Organizational Leadership Bachelor's Programs

Students pursuing an online degree in organizational leadership should only consider schools with accreditation from an agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and/or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. Accreditation ensures the program meets set standards of academic quality.

In addition to institutional accreditation, students should look for programmatic accreditation from specialized agencies. For example, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs evaluates organizational leadership programs. However, institutional accreditation is more important than programmatic accreditation to the value of a degree. Students should ensure any prospective school holds national or regional accreditation.

Organizational Leadership Professional Organizations

Many human resources and organizational leadership professional organizations welcome students, and some offer discounted or free introductory memberships for students. Members of professional organizations can network with other professionals, take advantage of job boards and other career development opportunities, and attend events such as conferences and continuing education workshops. Professional organizations support members throughout their careers, helping them stay apprised to the latest trends and developments in the field.

American Leadership Development Association
ALDA encourages members to share their knowledge and insights with peers for the benefit of the leadership community. Students receive free membership and have access to ALDA's blog, online magazine, and member directory.

International Leadership Association
Founded in 1999, the ILA is the world's largest international association dedicated to the leadership profession. In addition to organizing annual conferences and webinars, the ILA supports members through targeted interest groups and learning communities.

International Organization Development Association
With a membership comprising academics, students, and working professionals, IODA provides regional, national, and international networking events. Members receive access to peer mentoring, coaching, training programs, and online learning platforms.