​Master's in Executive Leadership Curriculum

Our curriculum builds on leadership skills you already possess, while introducing you to new methodologies that are relevant in business today. Through simulations, assessments and presentations, you will learn how to use concepts such as servant leadership, proper succession planning and ethical influence to transform your organization.

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2020-2021, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on April 1, 2020. Access the catalog of record at https://catalogs.sandiego.edu.

MSEL 520 , MSEL 521 , MSEL 522 , MSEL 523 , MSEL 524 , MSEL 526 , MSEL 527 , MSEL 528 , MSEL 529 , MSEL 530 , MSEL 531 , MSEL 532 , MSEL 533 , MSEL 534 , MSEL 535 , MSEL 537 , MSEL 538 , MSEL 539 , MSEL 540 , MSEL 541 , MSEL 542 , MSEL 543


Units: 3

This course, the first one-week track, serves as the orientation to the master’s program. Students explore the relationship between personality and behaviors of the socially responsible leader. Topics include personality theory, disposition, beliefs, values, presentation of self in the workplace, and the competencies required to effectively lead values-driven organizations. Students learn what values and character they bring to their management roles, as well as how to discern the disposition and values framework others bring to the workplace. Approaches include diagnostic instruments for self and others, role plays, case studies, a writing project to establish a personal mission statement and formulating strategies for balancing work and personal values.


Units: 1.5

Focusing on the Leader as Learner, students develop an understanding of the relationship between leading, learning and teaching in an effort to maximize individual and organizational performance. The Leader as Learner is the main theme of this course. Students assess how they best acquire and process information to help them advocate for what they need as leaders and learners. Common business processes and skills practiced will assist in defining, understanding, and developing a learning orientation and optimizing leadership so individuals in organizations can out-learn, out-think, and out-create competitors while maximizing individual and organizational performance.


Units: 1.5

This course covers the analysis, explanation and evaluation of power and politics in organizations. It offers frameworks for assessing the sources of power in organizations, the conditions that lead to its attainment and its effective use from both a practical and an ethical perspective. Our discussions will cover how people in organizations try to get what they want by influencing others (a key aspect of leadership), how their ability to do so is affected by power distributions and how people try to change power distributions in their favor. We will evaluate these behaviors and discuss how, as a leader, you should participate in these behaviors.


Units: 1.5 Repeatability: No

This course examines the moral features of activities and decision-making within and among organizations. Beginning with the assumption that most people want to act ethically most of the time, we must also recognize that people and relationships are complex. Determining the proper course of action is at least as difficult as taking that action within an elaborate network of stakeholder relationships. Toward improving moral analysis in organizations, this course will cover topics such as: the effects of time pressure, division of loyalties, conflicts of obligations, effects of bureaucracy, nature of authority, cultural relativism and international ethical differences, among others.


Units: 1.5

Contemporary research demonstrates that effective leaders articulate a clear and consistent Leadership Point of View. Students will explore the importance of developing a clear leadership point of view in an organizational context. In addition, students will reflect on the principle of Servant Leadership and its application as the foundation for any leadership point of view. Each student will be asked to present his or her leadership point of view in oral and written formats. The teaching methods include self-diagnosis, role-plays, case studies and presentations by both faculty and students. The MSEL program as a whole provides a framework for leadership with six specific areas of concentration. MSEL524 concludes the formal self-leadership segment of the MSEL curriculum and focuses primary attention on Leadership and Best Business Practices.


Units: 1.5 Repeatability: No

This course takes you through the practical elements of building a workplace culture where people engage in work each day, contribute to something bigger than themselves, learn and feel they belong, are liberated by values, and go home happy. Students will learn strategies and tools for identifying and developing people’s capabilities so that they can design a culture that promotes individual needs and behaviors as well as managing performance and developing potential. Research shows that making sure the right people are moving at the right pace and into the right jobs at the right time can significantly impact the sustainability and competitive advantage of any business enterprise. Topics include leading a purpose-driven organization; leadership development and succession planning; importance of vision, values and culture; employee engagement; leadership competencies; and coaching fundamentals. The content focuses on best practices that help ensure sustained employee fit, effectiveness and mastery. You will leave the course with specific insights for changes and enhancements to your workplace culture and an implementation strategy for people’s growth and success.


Units: 1.5

This course explores the issues, possibilities and prescriptions when ethically leading in a one-on-one context. Topics include defining leadership in the one to one context, diagnosis of employee competence and commitment, the use of directive and supportive behaviors, the consequences of over and under supervision, assessment-based feedback on leadership style, leader behaviors and employee satisfaction and the dynamic impact of an individual’s DiSC® profile on leader effectiveness. Teaching methods include assessments, role plays, case studies and one paper demonstrating the application of these tools and techniques in the student’s workplace.


Units: 1.5

Business people operate in environments in which political and economic pressures are strong and in which resources–natural, human, time and money–may be scarce. Moreover, various diverse and competing groups (both within and outside of the organization) often do all they can to influence the goals and direction of the organization. Given such circumstances, negotiation is a central skill in managing conflict, creating value and distributing resources. This course explores the science and art of negotiation. The “science” is learned largely through seminar style discussions and lectures. The “art” is learned by experience in simulated negotiations. Multi-faceted negotiation simulations provide opportunities to develop multi-party and cross-cultural negotiation skills and engage in open discussion and direct feedback requiring special attention to issues of leadership, ethics and trust.


Units: 1.5 Repeatability: No

This course examines the challenges and possibilities of leading teams and developing the skills to lead teams successfully. Topics include stages of team development; team dynamics and observation skills; leadership interventions; team chartering; conflict management; and the effects of social diversity on leading teams. Teaching methods are highly experiential and include assessments, role-plays, case studies, simulations, skill practice and a writing project documenting a team leadership experience.


Units: 1.5

Managing organizations and people of diverse national cultures is a critical leadership skill that enriches organizations and contributes to success in a global business environment. Emphasis is placed on viewing global awareness as a necessary operational tool to global business strategy. Attention will be devoted to critical interpersonal skills of the Global Leader, including among other things, multi-cultural communication, ethics, managing hierarchy in mixed cultures and differing views on time. Also, the course will explore the complex decision-making processes associated with cross-cultural management, the context of international business, the economic and social impact of corruption and culturally consistent leadership. Teaching methodology includes case studies, video examples, experiential exercises, role plays and discussions.


Units: 1.5 Repeatability: No

Change agents play a critical role in organizations. This course explores the problems and possibilities when leading an organizational change effort. Students will learn the stages of concern that individuals experience when dealing with change and why people resist change. In addition, several models of change are shared and students will identify successful and unsuccessful change efforts in their own organizations and do a final project on leading a change initiative. Topics include change management strategies, alignment of organizational systems and theories of change. The main intent of this course is to design and develop your own “tool kit” with strategies and models to help you make change comfortable or even exciting for others in your organizations. Teaching methods include simulations, guest speakers, videos, lecture and small group discussion and facilitator-assisted analysis of the group’s learning.


Units: 1.5

Culture is explored as an expression of how things get done within an organization, with the aim of distinguishing why some cultures become a source of competitive advantage, while others don’t. The course explores the abstract concept of culture - what it is, how it is created, how it evolves and how it can be changed - and practical tools that managers and leaders can use to understand the dynamics of organizations. Leaders learn to assess how members read their organizational culture to identify embedded values and norms. Intervention strategies are developed to realign cultural elements with mission, vision and strategic direction. Class materials and activities demonstrate the crucial role leaders play in successfully applying the principles of culture to understand organizational effectiveness and achieve organizational goals. Topics include: accountability, belief systems, boundary systems, communication in organizations, control systems, motivation, organizational behavior, organizational development and values.


Units: 1.5

Common business processes and skills practiced will assisting defining, understanding and developing a learning organization. The focus is on optimizing leadership so individuals in organizations can out-learn, out-think and out-create competitors while maximizing individual and organizational performance. Topics include systems thinking, customer feedback, diagnostic control systems, employee development, employee empowerment, entrepreneurial management, innovation, interactive control systems, knowledge management and knowledge transfer. Teaching methods include assessment tools, role-plays, lecture, participant presentations and an “Action Learning” project.


Units: 2.25 Repeatability: No

An examination of the integrated set of commitments, decisions and actions designed to give a firm competitive advantage. Drawing from Designing Organizational Culture students continue their analysis of organizational core competence. The focus is on an exploration of the marketing process in the firm and in society in relation to identified organizational strategies. The most important objective of this course is for each participant to develop an understanding of the scope, challenges, opportunities and limitations of strategic marketing. Topics include customer value, satisfaction and loyalty; consumer research; market analysis; market segmentation and targets; brand equity; designing and managing services; pricing; and integrated marketing communications.


Units: 2.25 Repeatability: No

This course introduces the financial reporting system that business entities use to measure and communicate their financial results. Together with MSEL 539, this course presents the responsibilities, analytical approaches and leadership strategy implications of the accounting and financial officer of a company. This course integrates the external (investor) and the internal (financial leadership) perspectives, and explores the role of ethical decision making in financial reporting and capital markets. Learning methods include lecture, in-class case analysis, discussion, an ethics essay and a comparative analysis project.


Units: 1.5

Execution is essential for all great strategies. As such, the focus of this course will be on developing excellence in execution and the breakthrough thinking and leadership foundations which that requires. Focus will be on integrating individual, interpersonal, team and organizational leadership with the critical financial, customer and strategic initiatives explored in the preceding courses. This will lead to a richer understanding of the complexity associated with organizational leadership and the mastery of executing organizational strategy. The purpose of this course is to help you develop a better understanding of the layers of complexity associated with being an ‘executive’ and the link between execution and strategy.


Units: 1.5

As the culmination to a 22-month journey, students are provided the opportunity to synthesize and bring closure to this formal stage of their learning. Students review their learning goals and assess the extent to which they have developed the necessary competencies to perform as high potential executive leaders who impact high performing organizations. The role of leaders in defining and building socially responsible organizations is explored. Students also present and discuss their final portfolio submission (embedded assessment) containing their personal leadership plan, leading others plan and current business plan. Teaching methods include lecture, presentations, simulation and guest lecturers. Note: Course offerings and descriptions are subject to change.


Units: 2.25 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSEL 535 with a minimum grade of C- (Can be taken Concurrently)

This course covers the responsibilities, analytical approaches, and leadership strategy implications of financial officers in public and private organizations. The course will review how investors view the corporation as an investment, and the responsibilities of the financial manager in maximizing the company’s shareholders’ wealth. To help guide manager’s strategic direction decision-making, we will develop valuation techniques and processes in capital allocation, with emphasis on data analytics using a spreadsheet program. Learning methods primarily include lecture, problem solving, in-class case analysis and discussion, and a comprehensive valuation project.


Units: 1.25 Repeatability: No

Leadership is a reciprocal process expressed through individuals, groups, and organizations. This course provides a survey of leadership theories, including behavioral and trait-based leadership approaches, situational and transformational leadership philosophies, and adaptive and integral leadership methodologies. The leadership frameworks covered in this program will set a foundation for the leadership discussions throughout the program. Learning methods include contemporary readings, self-assessment, lecture/dialogue, experiential exercises, case studies, and film.


Units: 1.75 Repeatability: No

This course introduces basic techniques for analyzing data and using data effectively for strategic decisions. Teaching methods include lecture, case studies and projects. The objective of this course is to apply decision tools and analytical techniques to evaluate and resolve decision problems faced by organizational leaders. Understanding these quantitative and non-quantitative decision techniques will enable leaders to evaluate alternatives, understand risk and achieve optimal results when faced with complicated decision problems.


Units: 1.5 Repeatability: No

Leaders of organizations need to be successful corporate entrepreneurs to take their corporations to the next levels of growth. The focus in this course will be on enabling organizational leaders to develop their individual skills as corporate entrepreneurs, as well as how to develop their organization’s competences for innovation by designing organizational cultures and structures to foster corporate entrepreneurship. Topics include entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial orientation, different roles in the corporate entrepreneurial process and the roles that leaders must play well, designing effective cultures and structures. This capstone course is offered in two parts and includes an experiential learning project.


Units: 0.75 Repeatability: No

Prerequisites: MSEL 542 with a minimum grade of C-

Leaders of organizations need to be successful corporate entrepreneurs to take their corporations to the next levels of growth. The focus in this course will be on enabling organizational leaders to develop their individual skills as corporate entrepreneurs, as well as how to develop their organization’s competences for innovation by designing organizational cultures and structures to foster corporate entrepreneurship. Topics include entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial orientation, different roles in the corporate entrepreneurial process and the roles that leaders must play well, designing effective cultures and structures. This capstone course is offered in two parts and includes an experiential learning project.