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M.A. Organizational Leadership: Courses

Overview     Application    Courses    Cost     Faculty

MA in Organizational Leadership curriculum overview:

Provide opportunities for students to develop leadership skills that can be applied to business, government, nonprofit, or educational setting. Includes instruction in organizational planning, dynamics of leadership, communication, creativity and innovation, team building, conflict resolution and mediation, communication and other management skills. Students will not only grow as professionals through action-based learning, but they also make a positive impact on their communities and workplaces through a practical application of cumulative skills.

The program is intended for currently working adults. Consequently, program delivery is flexible with courses being offered online and as hybrid courses at WOU’s Salem site. .The program draws on WOU’s learning management system (Moodle) for all flexible format course delivery (including face-to-face), including instructional and curriculum design support from WOU’s Center for Academic Innovation.  In addition, WOU’s electronic library resources will be central to providing access to students who may spend relatively little time on WOU’s main campus.

Your plan of study:

Once admitted to MA in Organizational Leadership , you will work with an advisor to plan the courses you will take and how you will complete the academic requirements of the program. By filing this Program Plan, you have a road map for completing your degree and clarity on what to expect.

Courses for the MA in Organizational Leadership

The Masters in Organizational Leadership degree consists of 45 credit hours of approved graduate-level courses. At least 33 credits must be taken at the 600-level. The degree has four areas:


  1. Operational Leadership Core (12)
  2. Executive Leadership Core (18)
  3. Executive Leadership Electives (9)
  4. Exit requirements (6)

Program Design

The course work within the Masters Degree program is embedded within two certificate programs: An Operational Leadership Certificate and Executive Leadership Certificate. Conferral of the Masters degree requires students must complete the coursework for both certificates at the graduate level (e.g., 500 and 600 level courses) and complete the exit requirement of a work action project. Qualified students may earn an Operational and Executive Leadership Certificates either as part of the Masters degree program or as standalone certificates.
The stand alone Operational Leadership Certificate equips students with the critical capabilities and skills needed to assume entry-level leadership positions (e.g., managers and supervisors of individual contributors, first-level managers, or people who have been recently promoted to a management role). Students will earn the certificate by completing the Operational Leadership core courses. This certificate may be earned at either the undergraduate or graduate level (undergraduate course work e.g., 400-level courses, will not count towards the Masters degree).
The stand alone Executive Leadership Certificate equips students with the critical capabilities and skills needed to assume top-level leadership positions. The certificate is designed to help people who want to assume top-level leadership roles to build knowledge and skills in the areas of: leading change; leading people; driving results; business acumen; and building coalitions. Students will earn the certificate by completing the Executive Leadership core and elective courses.

Course Descriptions

Catalog Descriptions:

OL 491/591 Fundamentals of Leadership (3 credits)

This course is designed to provide a basic introduction to leadership by focusing on what it means to be a good leader. Emphasis in the course is on the practice of leadership. The course will examine topics such as: the nature of leadership, recognizing leadership traits, developing leadership skills, creating a vision, setting the tone, listening to out-group members, handling conflict, overcoming obstacles, and addressing ethics in leadership. Attention will be given to helping students to understand and improve their own leadership performance.

OL 492/592 Building Effective Teams (3 credits)

This course provides students with opportunity to increase self-awareness of their existing teamwork skills, develop stronger teamwork skills, as well as learn and apply social psychological principles aimed at increasing group effectiveness. Topics covered include: group development, social interdependence, group communication and decision making, managing conflict, enhancing group creativity, and leveraging diversity. Course activities may include several large scale group projects and meetings with other students in their groups outside of regularly scheduled class time.

OL 493/593 Leading for Creativity and Innovation (3 credits)

This course is designed to orient students to significant theoretical perspectives on organizational communication and apply those perspectives to various aspects of organizational life. Detailed case study analysis of organizational communication provides the basis for explanation and evaluation.

OL 494/594 Leading Across Cultures (3 credits)

Today’s leaders must be able to communicate and lead effectively and efficiently across cultures domestically, as well as internationally. This class will demonstrate the importance of understanding culture, leadership, and the interaction between them in different contexts. We are typically familiar with the culture(s) we live in, but what happens when we move across cultures and the rules change? What if we are expected to communicate, collaborate or even lead the ‘culturally different’? What do we need to know to be effective and efficient cross-cultural leaders? This cross-culturally focused course is designed to address these questions, along with many others. In this class we will focus on leadership effectiveness across cultures.

OL 611 Ethics in Leadership (3 credits)

In this course, we examine the theory and practice of ethical leadership in organizations. The terminology, theories, and practice of the ethics of organizational leadership will inform analyses of the ethical dimensions of organizational leadership. Case studies will provide the context of analysis and application.

OL 612 Conflict Management (3 credits)

In this course we focus on both the theory and the practice of managing conflict within the organization. Organizational conflict is explained through readings and case study analysis. Students will develop and produce a guide to organizational conflict.

OL 613 Human Behavior in Organizations (3 credits)

This course is an in-depth review of the current theories about the behavior of individuals and groups within organizations. We will examine the behavioral knowledge and skills necessary to be an effective leader in today’s organizations. Topics including individual differences, attitudes, decision making, motivation, group structure, team building, communication, leadership, power and politics, social responsibility, organizational ethics, and diversity management.

OL 614 Communication in Organizations (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize students with the collaborative creative process as well as factors that influence the success of team-based creative endeavors. Topics include the basic cognitive processes that underlie creativity, personal influences on creativity including: traits, attitudes, and cognitive abilities, the elements of the creative process, and social forces such as team and organizational climates influencing the creative process in teams.

OL 615 Strategic Leadership (3 credits)

This is an advanced integrative course on the process of systematically formulating and implementing firm strategies. Topics are covered from a general management perspective and include setting corporate goals and objectives, analyzing external competitive environments, understanding business models, identifying strategy options, and designing appropriate organization systems and structure for implementation of plans. International and e-business issues are integrated throughout.

OL 619 Leading Organizational Change and Development (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize students with the topics and challenges around today’s changing organizations. We will examine how organizations anticipate change and what leadership is needed to effectively manage that change. Topics include change management, organizational development, sustainability, leading change, organizational environments, and implementation strategies.

OL 622 Critical Thinking (3 credits)

This course is designed to enable students to improve their intellectual skills with an emphasis on critical thinking as a leadership skill. Topics include Socratic questioning, the eight elements of reason, nine intellectual standards, egocentric and sociocentric thinking, and becoming an advanced thinker. This course will include the application of critical thinking in making decisions and solving problems.

OL 624 Talent Management (3 credits)

Talent management is the science of using strategic human resource planning to improve business value and to make it possible for companies and organizations to reach their goals. Everything done to recruit, retain, develop, reward and make people perform forms a part of talent management as well as strategic workforce planning. The course focuses on talent management strategies and initiatives which are integrated with organizational strategy and bottom line objectives.

OL 625 Executive Coaching (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize students with the knowledge needed to create collaborative, innovative, and thriving teams within their organizations. Students will strengthen their management wisdom and interpersonal skills to build effective teams capable of successfully navigating and proactively responding to the ever-changing demands of the organization. Topics include the leadership skills needed to create and sustain effective teams including: personality and group dynamics, emotional intelligence, the cost of incivility in organizations, and the importance of succession planning for organizational health.

OL 626 Leading Sustainability (3 credits)

This course examines the role of leaders to understand sustainability and advance sustainable initiatives in their organizations’ operations. We will examine the current sustainability research, efforts, and impacts. Students will conduct research related to the future of sustainability and organizations. Topics including leadership, innovation, strategies, financial implications, and measuring performance.

OL 627 Leadership: Keys to Mental and Physical Health (3 credits)

This class will cover theories of maladaptive, adequate and optimal psychological functioning. In addition, we will study the processes which may lead to the development of adaptive functioning and its maintenance and how these processes may be brought into play in the individual’s environment or community. Moreover, this class will examine the interplay between mental health and social issues and support systems.

OL 628 Leadership and Work-Family Balance (3 credits)

This course is designed to familiarize students with the issues involved in work-family balance. Through qualitative data collection and collaborative class discussion, students will offer an assessment (to a particular industry) on the benefits of leaders and how they influence work-family balance. Topics include the historical content, gender issues, as well as empirical research on the influence of leaders.


If you haven’t found the information you need or are still not sure where to direct your question, contact Dr. David Foster at or 503-838-8805