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Published on January 4, 2021

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A bachelor's degree in organizational leadership prepares graduates to work in a variety of management careers. With the degree, professionals work in the business sector, in healthcare, and in human resources, providing valuable leadership services. Many of these career paths, such as management analyst, training manager, and healthcare manager, offer growing employment opportunities, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projecting these fields to grow between 10-20% by 2026.

Prospective organizational leadership students benefit from the increasing number of colleges and universities that offer online degree options, allowing students to earn a degree from a top program regardless of residency status. This article outlines the career opportunities for graduates with a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership, how to identify the best programs for career advancement, and how to limit the costs of a bachelor's degree.

What are the bestOrganizational Leadership Programs of 2020? Here are our top 10:

#1 Arizona State University Scottsdale, AZ
#2 University of Charleston Charleston, WV
#3 University of Iowa Iowa City, IA
#4 Lewis University Romeoville, IL
#5 Union University Jackson, TN
#6 Southeastern University Lakeland, FL
#7 University of La Verne La Verne, CA
#8 California Baptist University Riverside, CA
#9 Buena Vista University Storm Lake, IA
#10 John Brown University Siloam Springs, AR

Should I Get a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership?

Prospective students seeking to work in healthcare management, human resources management, or sales management benefit from earning a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership. During the program, students build analytical, business, and communication skills, completing coursework in behavioral theory, organizational management, and leadership for managers.

Organizational leadership students often complete internships to gain hands-on skills and expand their professional network. Programs often help students with job placement assistance as they near graduation. After completing an organizational leadership degree, graduates benefit from increased competitiveness in the workforce.

Before applying to organizational leadership programs, prospective students should consider whether an on-campus or online program best fits their needs. Students moving directly from high school into an undergraduate program, or those with a strong local program, may prefer an on-campus option. On the other hand, working professionals or people considering a career change may prefer an online degree. With an online program, students can attend one of the top programs in the country regardless of residency status.

What Can I Do With a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership?

With a bachelor's degree in organizational leadership, graduates qualify for many lucrative and growing career paths. In many of these fields, a bachelor's degree plus work experience qualifies professionals for management-level positions, such as management analysts, healthcare managers, or sales managers. Many of these roles involve overseeing employees, designing programs based on organizational leadership knowledge, and improving efficiency. The skills gained in an organizational leadership program apply to industries such as business, education, healthcare, and human resources.

Management Analyst

Management analysts assess an organization's productivity, efficiency, and structure, creating plans to improve these metrics. They may also be known as management consultants. In this field, professionals often work with managers to reduce costs while increasing revenue and profitability. An organizational leadership bachelor's degree meets the entry-level requirements for this role.

Median Annual Salary: $82,450*

Medical and Health Services Managers

Within the healthcare system, medical and health services managers oversee a facility, medical practice, department, or division. They run daily operations and create policies to meet laws and regulations. A bachelor's degree meets the entry-level educational requirement for this field.

Median Annual Salary: $98,350*

Sales Manager

Sales managers oversee an organization's sales representatives. They create training programs, organize the sales team, and analyze data to create sales goals. Sales managers may also travel for their job. Most positions require a bachelor's degree and relevant work experience.

Median Annual Salary: $121,060*

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers create lessons, classes, and programs to build the knowledge and skills of an organization's employees. They may also oversee a staff of trainers and direct training programs. Most positions require a bachelor's degree plus relevant work experience.

Median Annual Salary: $108,250*

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers oversee the recruiting and hiring of new employees, direct an organization's administrative functions, and connect management with employees. Working in a variety of industries, HR managers help an organization run smoothly and provide benefits for employees. The position typically requires a bachelor's degree and some work experience.

Median Annual Salary: $110,120*

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

How to Choose a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Program

With so many bachelor's in organizational leadership programs, prospective students may feel overwhelmed. However, by focusing on a few key factors, such as cost, location, and time to completion, students can find a program aligned with their goals and interests.

When researching cost, prospective students should consider not only tuition, but also related expenses, such as housing and technology fees. Students may lower costs by choosing an in-state, public school and considering financial aid. Private organizations, colleges and universities, and the federal government offer scholarships, grants, and other financial aid to help students afford their degree.

Location also helps students narrow their choices. Students who prefer an on-campus program can start by researching local options. Working professionals or students with family obligations may benefit from the accessibility of an online degree. During an online program, students arrange coursework around other responsibilities while completing internship requirements locally. Students interested in an online degree can research the top online organizational leadership programs.

Prospective students looking to graduate quickly can pursue an accelerated program while working students may prefer taking courses part time, which lengthens the time to completion. Students with college credits from prior learning should pursue programs with a generous transfer credit policy to graduate faster. Finally, students should be sure to choose an accredited program.

Programmatic Accreditation for Bachelor's Programs in Organizational Leadership

Colleges, universities, and programs receive accreditation from independent organizations known as regional, national, and programmatic accrediting agencies. These agencies review institutions and programs based on student learning outcomes, graduation requirements, and faculty qualifications. Unlike regional and national accreditation, which assesses an entire institution, programmatic accrediting agencies review specific programs, such as educator preparation, social work, or counseling programs. Most organizational leadership programs receive programmatic accreditation through the business school, where three agencies confer accreditation: Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business, the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs, and the International Accreditation Council for Business Education.

Accredited degrees are more likely to meet the requirements for certification, licensure, and graduate programs. Accreditation can also affect financial aid eligibility and employment prospects upon graduation.

Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Program Admissions

During the admission process, prospective students demonstrate their ability to succeed at the bachelor's level. Most colleges and universities require standard admission materials, including an application, transcripts, and test scores. However, each school sets its own admission process, which may require essays or letters of recommendation. Many schools also set a minimum GPA for admission or to accept transfer credits.

The admissions process may differ between on-campus and online programs. Many online programs operate a more involved application process, assigning admissions advisers to assist applicants. Some programs may require an interview before granting admission. Prospective students should plan to spend several weeks compiling their applications, paying particular attention to deadlines and required materials.


Some programs set a minimum GPA for admission or to accept transfer credits. Applicants who do not meet the minimum requirement may qualify for provisional admission.

Admission Materials

The application asks prospective students to list their educational history and relevant background. It may also require an essay. Students can use The Common Application to apply to multiple schools simultaneously. Most programs require high school transcripts for incoming freshmen and college transcripts for transfer students. Applicants can typically request transcripts online. Many colleges and universities require two or three letters of recommendation which speak to the applicant's academic preparation for college. Students should give their writers at least three weeks' notice. Applicants may need to submit SAT or ACT scores. Some programs waive this requirement, particularly for transfer students. Most programs charge an application processing fee. Qualifying students may receive a fee waiver from the institution.

What Else Can I Expect From a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Program?

Each bachelor's program in organizational leadership sets its own curriculum, graduation requirements, and concentrations. Before applying to programs, prospective students should carefully research these areas to ensure that the program leads to their desired career path. For example, prospective students interested in healthcare management should pursue a program that offers specialized classes in that area.

Concentrations Offered for a Bachelor's Degree in Organizational Leadership
Concentration Description Careers
Management A general management concentration covers the theories, research, and techniques behind leadership in many industries. Students may study entrepreneurship, small business management, and leadership skills. Specialized management classes may include organizational behavior, foundations of leadership, and leadership communications. The concentration also prepares graduates to enter an MBA program. Sales representative, sales manager, management analyst
Project Management A project management concentration prepares graduates to work as project managers. The specialization covers the principles of management, leadership skills on a team, and change management. Students may also study project management in fields such as business, construction, and IT. Project manager, management analyst
Human Resources Management A human resources management concentration trains students in managing teams and provides HR skills, such as recruitment, retention, and legal framework for the workplace. Because HR managers work in a variety of sectors, the concentration may include an introduction to different types of organizations that rely on HR. Human resources manager, human resources associate
Finance Organizational leadership students interested in finance benefit from a concentration in this area. Students complete courses on financial management strategy, portfolio management, and investment strategy. With a background in finance, graduates can work as financial managers or in management positions that coordinate with finance professionals. Financial manager, financial analyst
Healthcare Management A healthcare management concentration prepares graduates to work in medical, health, and human services. The concentration includes classes providing a background on healthcare services, with an emphasis on management and human resources skills. Healthcare manager, health services manager

Courses in a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Program

During an organizational leadership degree, students take courses in management, strategic organization, and leadership. Each program designs its own curriculum around these goals, with variations depending on the program's focus. While curricula vary, the following are common core courses in an organizational leadership program.

Organizational Management

Many organizational leadership programs open with an introductory course on organizational management. Students analyze leadership and management theories and practices. The course may involve case analysis to understand leaders and leadership practices.

Finance and Accounting for Managers

This course introduces the principles of finance and accounting that apply to managers. Students study the theories and practices behind financial management. Students also gain an accounting background and learn about terms and concepts relevant to accounting and finance.

Human Resources Management

Classes in human resources management prepare students to work as HR managers. Coursework addresses the role of HR in managing an organization, including recruitment, hiring, development, and retention. Students also study the legal regulations on HR and topics like sexual harassment policies, diversity training, and benefits.

Organizational Research

Students learn how to conduct research, including quantitative research, market research, and competitor research. The course may require students to design a project that involves information gathering and analysis.

Strategic Economic Issues

Courses on strategic economic issues address challenges within an organization and in the organization's interactions with industry competitors and partners. Students study the principles of organizational economics and apply those principles to analyze an organization's activities. Topics include strategic price setting, resource analysis, and informed decision-making.

How Long Does It Take to Get a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership?

Earning a bachelor's degree requires a minimum of 120 credits at most institutions, which requires four years of full-time study. However, this timeline varies depending on program requirements, transfer credits, and whether the student chooses a full-time or part-time option. For example, programs that require an internship or a capstone project may take longer than those that do not.

Prospective students can shorten the time to completion by choosing an accelerated program or transferring credits to cover general education and major requirements. Some schools let students apply up to 90 credits toward a 120-credit degree, which means students with significant transfer credits may be able to complete a bachelor's degree in one year. Students balancing school with work or family obligations may prefer a part-time option, which lengthens the time to completion.

How Much Is a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership?

The cost of an organizational leadership degree varies by program and institution. Typically, public colleges and universities charge in-state students the lowest tuition rate. According to College Board, these institutions average $9,970 per year for undergraduate tuition. Out-of-state students pay higher tuition at public schools, averaging over $25,000 a year, while private schools charge the highest tuition rates at over $35,000 a year on average. In addition to tuition expenses, prospective students should consider additional fees, technology costs, and living expenses.

Students can lower the cost of a bachelor's degree in several ways. For instance, choosing a program that offers a lower tuition for state residents or fully online students can limit the cost. Furthermore, online students save on commuting and parking expenses. Prospective students can also pursue financial aid opportunities, such as scholarships and grants, to reduce the cost of the degree. Students with college credits from prior learning can limit costs by transferring credits toward a bachelor's degree. Because transfer credit policies vary, students should speak to a transfer adviser to learn more.

Certifications and Licenses a Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership Prepares For

Certified Business Process Associate

Offered by the Association of Business Process Management Professionals International, the CBPA credential recognizes early-career professionals with organizational leadership training. A bachelor's degree in organizational leadership meets the requirements. Professionals must pass a 130-question exam to earn the credential.

Project Management Professional

Professionals working in project management qualify for the PMP credential by earning a bachelor's in organizational leadership. Candidates for the credential must pass an examination, and the fees can exceed $500. The Project Management Institute, which offers the credential, reports that PMPs earn, on average, 20% more than noncertified project managers.

Society for Human Resource Management Certified Professional

Organizational leadership professionals interested in becoming human resources managers benefit from earning the SHRM-CP. A bachelor's degree and one year of work experience in HR meet the requirements for taking the exam. Candidates who pass the four-hour exam earn the credential. Students currently enrolled in a bachelor's program can take the exam if their program qualifies.

Resources for Organizational Leadership Students

ILA Jobs Board

The International Leadership Association offers a job board with current openings, internship opportunities, and other leadership opportunities. Job seekers can also use ILA resources to connect with employers.

Harvard Business Review

With articles, blog posts, and other digital resources, the Harvard Business Review provides organizational leadership students with knowledge from experts in the field.

AMA Women's Leadership Center

Offered by the American Management Association, the center provides resources for women leaders to network, advance their careers, and enroll in the women's leadership certificate program.

The Leadership Quarterly

Published by the ILA, the journal draws on leadership research in several fields. The articles feature current research in the areas of leadership theory, practice, and application.


Organizational leadership students can network, showcase their skills, and advance their careers by maintaining a current LinkedIn page while earning a degree.

Professional Organizations in Organizational Leadership

Students earning a degree in organizational leadership benefit from joining professional organizations. These associations help members expand their network and advance in the workforce. Many of these organizations offer tools for students, including career boards and early career professional development resources. Many also host annual conferences and events where organizational leadership professionals connect. By researching opportunities through professional organizations, students can jumpstart career planning.

International Leadership Association

Organizational leadership graduates benefit from conferences, events, and awards through ILA, including a student paper award and a competition. The association also publishes several journals.

American Management Association

Offering seminars, research materials, and publications for members, the AMA helps students and professionals advance in leadership positions. The association also hosts conferences and other events.

American Leadership Development Association

A networking association for leadership professionals in all industries, ALDA offers a members' directory, publications, and other resources.

Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda

Organizational leadership students can join the largest student business organization in the world, boasting over 500 chapters. FBLA-PBL helps students create a professional network while earning a degree.

American Finance Association

Students considering a career in finance can use the AFA's events, meetings, and career board to find job opportunities and network. The association also publishes a journal and gives awards.

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