Online Degrees in Management and Leadership

Managers and leaders combine experience and education to keep business moving. In addition to training in business fundamentals or industry-specific skills, effective leaders must also be skilled in motivation, communication and business ethics. As one school offering a management and leadership program puts it, "The curriculum gives you practical business knowledge as well as a social and economic perspective on your work."

Choosing The Right Online Management Degree

Management and leadership degrees are often offered as a specialization within a business degree program. However, dedicated management or leadership degree programs do exist as well. Online management & leadership degrees include a broad curriculum that focuses on both people skills (courses may include psychology, conflict resolution and motivation techniques) and business fundamentals (for example, economics, labor law and government).

Online business degrees in management and leadership are available at a range of levels and with a number of specializations, allowing students to tailor training to their needs:

  • Certificate/diploma: Requiring the smallest time commitment, this training is most suited for retail supervisory positions or similar service roles. It can also be paired with additional education for those looking to move into leadership positions in other industries.
  • Associate: A two-year degree that offers versatility; training can lead to more education or low-level supervisory positions.
  • Bachelor's: Degree training at this level is adequate for many non-specialized management jobs in business.
  • Master's: Often paired with subject-specific undergraduate training, the master's degree can add the necessary business education required for career advancement into supervisory and higher-level management.
  • Doctoral: Focused more on research or higher education. Doctoral students contribute to policy and theory on management and leadership and often work in academic rather than applied disciplines.

Some management & leadership degrees are so broadly focused that they could prepare students for advancement in virtually any industry, others, like health care management degrees or degrees in information systems management, are designed to offer leadership training that complements an existing technical skill set.

Many individuals looking to move into management roles may already be working. Online education offers the convenience of Web training, allowing students to log on from anywhere to complete coursework. With online management & leadership degrees, students enjoy the added benefit of interacting with other students and instructors across the country, painting a fuller picture of management and leadership challenges in a variety of economies.

Career Opportunities For Graduates Of Management Programs

Managers combine solid industry know-how with a wide range of qualities that inspire, motivate and direct those working under them. While some people may be born leaders, management & leadership degrees provide the practical and theoretical base to put those skills into action in the workplace.

Average Salary
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Social and Community Service Managers141,830$70,53015.7%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers67,300$127,69010.4%
Training and Development Managers34,500$117,69010.3%
Administrative Services Managers270,100$103,38010.1%
Marketing Managers218,970$145,62010%
General and Operations Managers2,212,200$123,4609.1%
Human Resources Managers136,310$123,5108.9%
Source: 2017 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2016-26 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov; 2016-26 State Occupational Projections, Projections Central, projectionscentral.com

Management And Leadership At A Glance:

  • Common industries: Management of companies and enterprises, local government, computer systems design and related services, management, scientific, and technical consulting services
  • Common careers: General and operations managers, food service managers, supervisors of retail sales workers, supervisors of office and administrative support workers
  • Popular concentrations: Nonprofit, organizational, clinical, engineering, sports

Organizations must constantly adapt the way they do business to reflect shifts in technology, the law, and the economy. In order to weather these advancements, companies need strong leadership in place. An online bachelor's degree in management and leadership can give students the tools they need to contribute to the new organizational climate and help organizations navigate their way through the changing world of business. Core curriculum in these programs typically covers topics such as finance and accounting, human resource management, leadership principles, management information systems and international management.

What Does a Bachelor's Degree Program In Management Entail?

Students enrolled in online management and leadership bachelor's degree programs on a full-time basis generally complete their degrees within four years. Curriculum is designed to help prepare students for the realities of the business world, and give them the tools they need to take a leadership role in an organization. Coursework in this program is designed to teach students the theory and practice of management, as well as how to apply these theories to real-world scenarios. Examples of course topics include:

  • Project Management: Organizations accomplish their goals by completing projects, and project management courses strive to give students the fundamental knowledge they need to successfully oversee projects from start to finish. Concepts that students can expect to learn in this course include managing employee resources involved in a project, using a project as an opportunity to form and build workplace teams, maintaining relations with all of a projects' stakeholders, and minimizing potential risks during the execution of a project. In addition, students should get a sense of why time is of the essence during a project and how to use time to their advantage in terms of planning and scheduling a project. In order to give students hands-on experience with the course material, they may be required to participate in exercises such as creating a schedule for a hypothetical project or writing case studies on projects completed by professionals in the field.
  • Introduction to Marketing: Students in this course can expect to learn the basics of marketing and how marketing influences consumer behavior. This class typically covers marketing topics such as the creation, distribution, and promotion of products and services; strategic planning; target marketing; marketing products on a global scale; and branding strategies. In addition, this course strives to teach students about consumer psychology and behavior and the role human cognition plays in the choices consumers make. Class exercises may include developing a marketing plan for a new product, writing case studies that solve potential problems that may arise during a marketing campaign, and participating in a mock focus group that accompanies a product launch.
  • Principles of Business Law and Ethics: In light of the corporate scandals that made news in recent years, organizations must work harder than ever to keep the public trust -- and ensure that a few bad apples in the company do not tarnish the whole organization's reputation. Business law and ethics courses cover the legal and moral standards that companies should follow in order to maintain that public trust and work within the law. Topics covered in this course include contracts; torts; the corporate ethics and professional responsibilities of an organization; and local, state, and federal laws that organizations must adhere to. In addition, this course covers employment law concepts and the legal and ethical duties of both employers and employees. Exercises like drafting a defense to a discrimination lawsuit and role playing employee conflict scenarios may be required.

Students may also be required to take elective courses designed to give them a well-rounded view of the business world. Electives may be taken in the management and leadership program, as well as through other departments. For example, business communications classes may help students learn best practices for written and face-to-face communication in the workplace; math classes can help students get more accustomed to accounting principles; and human resources classes are designed to give students an overview of how to manage and motivate employees. In addition, students in this program may be required to participate in an internship to gain first-hand experience with classroom concepts.

Career Outlook For Graduates Of Bachelor's Degree Programs In Management And Leadership

Students who complete online bachelor's degrees in management may have the opportunity to pursue a number of careers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. One option is human resources manager -- a career that the BLS reports is expected to grow 13 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. Though job duties may vary, these professionals typically perform tasks such as recruiting and interviewing candidates for jobs in an organization; creating workplace policies for a company; mediating disputes in the workplace; overseeing training of new employees; and handling firing and disciplinary procedures in a company.

Another career management and leadership graduates might pursue is advertising, promotions and marketing manager, which is also on the rise. In fact, the BLS reports that employment of these professionals is expected to increase by 13 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. This job typically entails planning an organization's radio, television, online and print campaigns; conducting market research and using the findings to guide their advertising decisions; working with clients to create promotional campaigns; and drafting contracts for advertising campaigns. Other positions that a management degree could lead to include sales manager, hospitality manager, retail district manager, officer manager, project manager, health services manager, and contract specialist.

The world of business is constantly evolving, and organizational leaders need to be prepared to make decisions that lead to a company's success. Online master's degrees in management and leadership can help give students the tools they need to take on these crucial roles by instilling the skills and knowledge necessary to run a successful business. Core curriculum in these programs is designed to teach students how to manage every area of business -- including the workforce, finances, projects, information technology, marketing and development of an organization.

What Does a Master's Degree Program in Management Entail?

Students enrolled full time in a online master's degree program in management or leadership can generally expect to complete their degrees within two years, depending on the school they choose. Coursework in the program is designed to prepare students for managerial positions at private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Students should expect to study advanced management principles as well as practical examples of how these ideas work in real-world situations. Examples of course topics include:

  • Financial and Managerial Accounting: This class offers a fundamental understanding of accounting principles used in organizations. Students can expect to learn about budgeting and control, cost analysis, cash flow, profitability in an organization, and measurement and disclosure. In addition, this course teaches students the best practices for creating financial statements and interpreting the data on these statements in order to make informed financial decisions for an organization. Students may get hands-on experience with the course material through exercises like creating a financial statement, going through the auditing process of a hypothetical organization, and keeping a balance sheet and financial ledger.
  • Project Management: Students in this course learn how to manage projects in an organization to ensure that the project stays on track through every stage of the process. Class topics include analyzing a project to determine the amount of resources needed to complete it, managing resources throughout the life of a project, setting the schedule for a project and ensuring it is adhered to, creating controls that help to minimize the risk associated with a project, and analyzing the feasibility of a project. Class exercises may include creating a budget for a hypothetical project, drafting a project plan, creating case studies that analyze the success or failure of a project, and role-playing scenarios that illustrate how a project manager can handle different problems that may arise during the course of a project.
  • Marketing and Public Relations: This course helps show students how marketing and public relations techniques can help an organization meet its goals and boost its bottom line. Course topics may include strategic analysis of a marketing campaign, consumer branding, market analysis, market research, product distribution and promotion, target marketing, and merchandising. Students may also learn about how consumers respond to marketing campaigns, and how to analyze consumer behavior in order to send out messages an audience is most likely to respond to. This course also covers the role that the Internet plays in marketing and public relations, and how techniques like search engine optimization, social networking and blogging affect the success of a marketing campaign. Students may be required to participate in exercises such as creating a public relations campaign in response to an organizational crisis, conducting target marketing for a hypothetical product, crafting a media kit to promote a product or service, or creating a blog designed to raise the profile of an organization.

Students may also be required to choose a concentration area to focus their studies on. Some examples of concentrations in management master's degree programs include finance, project management, human resource management, information technology, marketing and entrepreneurship. In addition, students may be required to complete a master's thesis, or a comprehensive examination, in order to complete their degree.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Master's Degree Programs in Management and Leadership

Online master's degrees in management and leadership are designed to give students a well-rounded view of business, which may help prepare them for a number of careers. One career that graduates might pursue is computer and information systems manager, a field which, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, is expected to grow by 15 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. These professionals perform duties such as determining the technology goals of an organization, evaluating the technology needs of a company, creating a plan to meet an organization's technology needs, handling the installation and upgrades of employees' hardware and software, and creating budgets that address the technology requirements of a company.

Another possible career for those with a master's degree in management is public relations manager. The BLS reports that employment in this field is expected to increase 13 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. The job of a public relations manager entails enhancing an organization's public image by writing and distributing press releases, coaching clients on how to effectively deal with the media and the public, speaking in public on behalf of a client, and evaluating the effectiveness of public relations campaigns. In addition, management graduates might also consider becoming human resources managers, financial managers, construction managers, marketing managers, or managerial consultants.

As the business world changes, strong leadership is needed to help organizations succeed. Online doctoral degrees in management and leadership are designed to help create the leaders of the future. This program also strives to help in giving students the skills and knowledge they need to potentially obtain these supervisory roles. Students enrolled in these programs should learn advanced business concepts in different aspects of the field, such as accounting and finance, organizational theory, leadership techniques, human resources management, and the role of management in a global economy.

What Does A Doctoral Degree Program in Management Entail?

When enrolled on a full-time basis, students in online management doctoral degree programs can usually expect to complete their degrees within four to six years. The curriculum of these programs is designed to give students a deeper understanding of the management process along with the theories that guide the field. Coursework focuses on the principles that managers need to know to succeed in the workforce, in addition to the practical applications of these principles. Examples of course topics include:

  • Understanding Research Methods: This course is designed to help prepare students to conduct their own original research in the management and leadership field. Topics in the course include qualitative and quantitative research methods, the research process, framing research questions, reading and evaluating research conducted by other professionals, and how research can be used to address knowledge gaps in the field. In addition, students in this course may expect to learn the ethics associated with conducting research, including how to avoid plagiarism and the ethical standards that should be used when human subjects are involved in a research study. The course also covers how to prepare a research paper for submission to a scholarly journal and the process of getting research published. In order to give students hands-on experience in this area, they may be required to conduct their own research studies, prepare a literature review for a paper, or evaluate the validity of research that has been published in academic journals.
  • Leadership Theory: This course examines the theories about management and leadership that are the foundation of the field. Students in this class should expect to learn about the historical perspectives of leadership theory, how leadership theory has developed and evolved, and leadership concepts such as confident leadership, socially conscious leadership, power struggles within an organization, leadership and decision-making, and how to lead a workforce that is racially and culturally diverse. Exercises in the course may include role-playing different scenarios that leaders face in the workplace, drafting case studies about well-known business leaders, and creating a theory of leadership using the seminal works in the field as starting off point.
  • Financial Accounting: This course helps give students an advanced look at how to manage the finances of an organization. Class topics include budgeting, quality control measures, financial systems, financial decision-making practices, data accumulation, disclosure issues and cash flow. In addition, the course covers the auditing process, including auditing theory, how audits are conducted and the role that financial managers play during an audit of a company. In order to give students first-hand experience with the material of the course, they may be required to participate in a mock audit of an organization, create a budget for a company and analyze how a hypothetical company is doing financially based on financial statements.

In addition to core courses, students may be required to choose an area of the field to concentrate on, such as managerial economics, human resource management, information systems management, entrepreneurship, innovation management and financial management. Students in doctoral degree programs may also be required to complete a dissertation and take a comprehensive examination that covers all of the material taught throughout the program.

Career Outlook for Graduates of Doctoral Degree Programs in Management and Leadership

Those who complete a doctoral degree in management and leadership may have a number of careers available to them, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Graduates might even have the opportunity to pursue executive roles in organizations -- such as chief executive officer, chief financial officer, chief information officer, or chief operating officer. According to the BLS, there will be an 11 percent increase in openings for these professionals between 2012 and 2022. People in these positions are responsible for creating goals for an organization and ensuring that those goals are carried out, overseeing the financial direction of a company, negotiating contracts, choosing employees to run departments of the organization, and creating organizational policies.

Another career option for management and leadership graduates could be management analyst, also known as management consultant. This career is also on the rise, the BLS reports, and is expected to grow by 19 percent nationwide between 2012 and 2022. Management analysts work to help organizations solve their problems by gathering information about issues and analyzing what the root of a problem is, speaking to personnel at an organization to discover how it operates, using a financial data to determine areas of waste in an organization, and making recommendations on how a company can change its business practices in order to improve. Other careers that management and leadership graduates might consider pursuing include college professor, human resources manager, compensation and benefits manager, financial manager, and training and development managers.

"Advertising, Promotions, and Marketing Managers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/advertising-promotions-and-marketing-managers.htm
"Computer and Information Systems Managers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, July 11, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/computer-and-information-systems-managers.htm
"Human Resources Managers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm
"Management Analysts," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/business-and-financial/management-analysts.htm
"Management Occupations," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/
"Public Relations Managers," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/public-relations-managers.htm
"Top Executives," Occupational Outlook Handbook (2012-13 Edition), Bureau of Labor Statistics, March 29, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm

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