Master of Arts in Leadership Studies

Department of Leadership Studies

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Program Overview

This program is designed for candidates who seek to create innovative and dynamic approaches to learning and leadership. This master's degree offers a unique degree of freedom and flexibility in how one seeks this degree. Students are invited to examine, reflect, and act on passionate concerns, working closely with faculty and fellow students, to bring theory and practice together to meet academic and professional goals.

Areas of specialization include:  Organizational Leadership/Consulting or Coaching. Students are also permitted to craft an individualized specialization using courses from Leadership Studies and other SOLES programs. Courses may also be selected from USD’s graduate programs with approval of advisor and program administrator.

What can I do with this degree?

This program prepares students for leadership positions in a wide variety of organizations, including (but not limited to) in education, mentoring and consulting. Students may go on to work as administrators, executives, instructors, coaches and consultants in the public, private, educational and non-profit sectors.

The program prepares "practitioner-scholars" to make significant contributions in a variety of organizational settings and aspires to enhance students' capacity to lead in ways that are creative, caring and inspirational. Students develop their understanding of leadership by examining best practices and studying leadership theories, research, ethics and organizational change. Students also build skills in assessing organizational dynamics, creating systemic interventions, leading groups, consulting, strategic planning, developing leadership in others, and more. To view a sample list of positions held by graduates, visit our Student Outcomes page.

Who should apply?

Students in the program have a wide variety of backgrounds. They include working professionals in the private, public and nonprofit sectors; educators and administrators; active duty military and veterans; Americorps alumni; and recent graduates interested in beginning careers in consulting, community organizing and leadership development. Most applicants have some professional experience, and some have decades. Additionally, applicants generally have experience in leadership roles, though not all have held formal positions of authority. Undergraduate coursework in the field of leadership is not required.