Masters of Science in Strategic Leadership (MSL) Catalog Overview

The MSL is a degree that prepares students to assume leadership roles and to effect organizational change.  A strong interdisciplinary curriculum provides course work in leadership development, organizational change, and strategic planning.  The degree requirements culminate in a master's project in which students examine an organization, applying theory to organizational practice and leadership.

Ethical and sound decision-making and financial analysis are developed throughout the curriculum, and service and leadership to the larger community are considered features of professional leadership development.  The degree prepares learners to assume an increasing responsibility within organizations and to lead and manage change.

Graduates with an MSL will work in a variety of fields and sectors, including business, non-profit organizations, and government agencies.

The MSL program will be delivered in six, eight-week sessions each year. Students who take continuous classes can graduate in two years. The program will offer a mix of classroom-based, internet-based and blended classes, providing flexibility and varied learning experiences.

MSL Courses & Program Requirements

  • An undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution of higher education
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher (waivers can be granted based on professional work experience and other factors)
  • Be at least age 25
  • A minimum of 3 years of professional leadership/management experience
  • Time to devote to your coursework; in an accelerated program, time spent outside of class is considerable.

The first step is to meet with an admissions counselor who will explain the program and its format, and answer any questions you may have.

Required Courses

(10 Courses)

MSL 510: Foundations of Leadership

(3 credits)
This introductory course provides a foundation for the study of Strategic Leadership through a comprehensive examination of the history, theories, and processes of leadership.  Opportunities will be provided for learners to explore the application of specific leadership strategies and techniques within the context of current challenges leaders face.  Learners will be engaged in self-reflection and feedback activities geared toward assessing current strengths and formulating plans for building their own leadership skills.   

MSL 520: Strategic Communication for Effective Leadership

(3 credits)
This course will focus on the strategic nature of communication and its role in being an effective leader.  Coursework will include exploring the role of ethics in communications, feedback, team collaboration and persuasion.  Learners will evaluate effective presentations and develop strategies for creating clear and compelling messages.  Discussions will include reflection on constituent needs and communication channels as well as an analysis of one’s leadership communication style. The course will make use of the case study analysis method and learners will have the opportunity to create a communication plan based on an organizational need.  

MSL 530: Applied Research for Strategic Leadership

(3 credits)
This course develops the learner’s ability to think critically, with an eye toward the long term view, in identifying and analyzing problems, data interpretation, and decision making, while avoiding common decision errors. Fundamentals of scientific research, including the application of quantitative and qualitative research methods are incorporated to achieve valid, reliable results.

MSL 540: Ethical Dimensions of Leadership

(3 credits)
This course will focus on the integral part ethics plays in the work of leaders and in the life of organizations.  Learners will articulate their personal ethical philosophy and reflect upon how it is incorporated into their leadership practice.  Discussions will include a leader’s professional ethics development and the role of the leader in the ethics of teams, units, and organizations, both domestically and globally.  Contemporary leaders and organizations will be studied from an ethical perspective.  The course will make use of the case study analysis method and require learners to prepare reflection papers and conduct an examination of ethics in action in organizations.

MSL 550: Organizational Design & Development

(3 credits)
Through an exploration of various theories, organizational models, case studies and experiential activities, learners will come to understand the systemic nature of organizations and how to apply that understanding to organization design.  The course will focus on how vision and goals strategically drive an organization and are integrated into an organization’s structure.  Learners will apply their knowledge and understanding of design concepts through a strategic review of an organization’s current design and develop recommendations to better align design with organizational goals.   

MSL 580: Fiscal Management for Strategic Decision Making

(3 credits)
This course explores leadership through the lens of sound fiscal management and accountability that drives an organization’s mission and team/project goals.  Fundamental terminology and principles for finance and accounting will empower learners to ask critical financial questions that lead to sounds decisions within a project, team or organization.  Learners will engage in case studies that explore how to leverage relationships with those assigned day-to-day fiscal responsibilities and effectively communicate with financial staff members, executives, and other stakeholders with an emphasis on budgeting and the essential factors that drive this process.    

MSL 595: Leadership for Today & Tomorrow [Capstone] 

(3 credits)
Within today’s ever-changing world, effective leadership is pivotal in determining the success of mobilizing others to reach their fullest potential in an environment where resources continue to be limited.  Organizations are required to be very strategic in the decisions that are made.  This capstone course challenges learners to integrate what they have learned from previous MSL courses by assessing an organization’s current strategy and identifying areas of opportunities where the implementation of strategic leadership principles could have a positive impact on creating a culture and climate where individuals are able to effectively and efficiently contribute to the overall mission of the organization. 

MOD 560: Leading Individuals and Teams 

(3 credits)
Successful leadership of individuals and teams requires strategic leaders to employ aspects of situational and transformational leadership principles. This course will examine how individual personalities, team dynamics, corporate structures and organizational needs provide direction for a strategic leader. Learners will explore how tasks and goals impact team design and function, leading to building effective teams, including team leadership. Learners will also take a look at best practices in face-to-face and virtual teams.

MOD 562: Innovation & Change

(3 credits)
Successful strategic leaders must lead and facilitate innovation, creativity, change, and collaboration within and amongst diverse organizations---including local, regional and international partners in the public, private, and service sectors. These partners will have varied and often conflicting goals, incentives, power bases, resources, and cultures.  Participating in a course-long student-led cross-sector strategic planning case study, students will strengthen their capacity to create and implement strategies and methodologies for leading and facilitating innovation, creativity, change, and cross-sector collaboration to effectively address complex community problems.  

MOD 564: Leading Conflict Resolution & Negotiation 

(3 credits)
This course addresses the prevention and management of internal and external conflicts that managers encounter daily; as a part of working in medium and large organizations. Learners will identify their habitual responses to conflict situations; learn the various conflict styles and how to utilize alternatives to address conflict in a proactive rather than reactive method.  Our focus will include:  conducting fact-finding workplace investigations, building the skills to resolve conflict through basic negotiations, and Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes.  Learners will model how to conduct constructive discussions with employees on topics including the setting of performance goals, giving feedback and Performance Improvement Plans. Learners will examine internal workplace conflict from individuals and teams; and external conflict with customers. The strategies and skills learned and applied will be of use in many life roles and professional career.