Online Degrees in Management and Leadership

Article Sources


  • 7 Leadership trends to expect in 2018, The Skills Portal, 2018 https://www.skillsportal.co.za/content/7-leadership-trends-expect-2018?page=1
  • Administrative Services Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/administrative-services-managers.htm
  • Associate of Science in Management, UMass Lowell,https://continuinged.uml.edu/degrees/undergrad/online-associates-management-degree.cfm
  • Associate's degree in Human Resources and Organizational Leadership, Rasmussen College, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/hr-organizational-leadership/associates/
  • B.S. Management and Leadership, Franklin University, https://www.franklin.edu/degrees/bachelors/management-leadership
  • Business Management, Northcentral Technical College, https://www.ntc.edu/academics-training/programs/all/associate-degree/business-management
  • Certificate Program in Leadership and Management, University of California, Berkeley Extension, https://extension.berkeley.edu/public/category/courseCategoryCertificateProfile.do?method=load&certificateId=17110#collapse_1
  • Human Resources Managers, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/human-resources-managers.htm
  • Leadership Essentials, Cornell Certificate Program, https://www.ecornell.com/certificates/leadership-and-strategic-management/leadership-essentials-certificate/
  • Leadership Specialization, Doctor of Philosophy in Business Management, Capella University, https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/phd-leadership/
  • Malvik,C., What can you do with an associate's degree in business management? Rasmussen College, March 2018, https://www.rasmussen.edu/degrees/business/blog/associates-degree-in-business-management/
  • Management and Leadership (MA), Webster University, http://www.webster.edu/catalog/current/graduate-catalog/degrees/management-and-leadership.html#description
  • Management and Leadership Specialization, Bachelor of Science in Business, https://www.capella.edu/online-degrees/bachelors-management-leadership/courses/
  • Management Occupations, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, April 2018, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/home.htm
  • Master of Science in Management and Leadership, Purdue Global University, https://www.purdueglobal.edu/degree-programs/business/online-master-management-degree/
  • PhD in Management, Walden University, https://www.waldenu.edu/online-doctoral-programs/phd-in-management
  • Top Executives, Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/management/top-executives.htm
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies, Florida International University, https://pa.fiu.edu/programs/certificate-programs/undergrad-certificate/
  • Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies, UK College of Education, https://education.uky.edu/edl/undergraduate-certificate-in-leadership-studies/
  • What Can You Do With A Master's In Organizational Leadership?, Northcentral University, https://www.ncu.edu/blog/what-can-you-do-masters-organizational-leadership#gref

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. Managers and leaders combine experience and education to keep business moving. They combine their knowledge of business and industry-specific skills with motivation and communication skills to help the business succeed.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) states that it is important for managers to have analytical, communication and leadership skills. While some people may be born leaders, management and leadership programs provide the practical and theoretical base to put those skills into action in the workplace.

Online management leadership degree programs are often offered as a specialization within a business degree program. However, dedicated management or leadership degree programs do exist as well. So whether you are a recent high school graduate, a career changer or are looking to advance your career prospects, you can earn an online management leadership program while keeping your job, family commitments or other pursuits you may have.

Students who complete online management and leadership degree programs may have the opportunity to pursue a number of careers, according to the BLS. Some management roles and their associated duties are outlined below.

Administrative services managers:

  • Supervising clerical and administrative personnel
  • Developing policies or making changes to existing ones to improve them
  • Setting goals and deadlines for their departments and individual staff members

Human resources managers:

  • Acting as a link between management and other employees
  • Making sure that the organization is making optimal use of its talent pool by organizing the workforce
  • Handling staffing issues include resolving disputes, hiring new employees and firing staff when necessary

Top executives:

  • Establishing and overseeing organizational goals, policies and procedures
  • Managing financial and budgetary decisions in order to ensure the organization remains profitable
  • Negotiating and approving contracts and agreements
More than ever, leaders are being expected to keep employees creative, so that they come up with new ideas before the competitors.

Choose a degree that can help you meet your career goals

Online management and leadership programs are available at multiple levels. Certificate management and leadership courses online can be most suited for retail supervisory positions or similar service roles or used to move into leadership positions in other industries. Many certificate programs may not have any academic prerequisites but may prefer students to have some job experience in supervisory roles.

Associate degrees can lead to more education or low-level supervisory positions. Bachelor's degrees are often the minimum requirement for management-level roles across multiple industries while online master's degrees in management and leadership can add the necessary business education required for career advancement into supervisory and higher-level management. Holders of doctoral degrees often work in academic rather than applied disciplines and can contribute to policy and theory on management and leadership

What can I expect to learn in an online certificate program?

Online certificate programs can act as an introduction to basic management and leadership topics. Curriculum is designed to help prepare you for the realities of the business world, and give you the basic tools you need to take a leadership role in an organization.

Typical duration: Up to one year of part-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: You can learn the practical daily applications of management theory, understand how power dynamics work within organizations and develop the communication skills you need in a leadership role. Coursework can include topics like:

  • Effective hiring and interviewing
  • Leadership power, ethics and impact
  • Managing team performance
  • Organizational communication strategies for managers
  • Principles of leadership

Possible electives: Leadership for entrepreneurs; mediation and conflict resolution; analysis of organization behavior

What can I do after earning a certificate?

A certificate may help you obtain entry-level supervisory roles in small establishments or move up the career ladder in your current place of employment. Some potential job roles are:

  • Property, real estate, and community association managers
  • Lodging managers
  • Food service managers
  • First-line supervisor of retail sales workers

What can I expect to learn in an online associate degree program?

Students of online associate management and leadership degree programs can learn how business processes work, how to organize their staff to meet organizational goals and may be able to choose a concentration in an area of their interest in the management and leadership field.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: Topics cover a cross section of business practices as students learn the fundamentals of business operations including marketing, financial accounting and human resource management. Some courses you may take include:

  • Employment law
  • Introduction to organizational leadership
  • Managerial accounting
  • Managing human resources and labor relations
  • Project management

Possible electives: Statistics for business and economics; marketing principles; professional communications

What can I do after earning an associate degree?

A study by Rasmussen College found that holders of an associate degree in business management were eligible for at least 30,000 more job postings than those with only a high school degree. You may be able to gain entry-level positions as:

  • Human resource generalist
  • Recruiting specialist
  • Customer service associate
  • Assistant store manager
  • Sales supervisor

An associate degree can also act as a stepping stone toward earning a bachelor's degree.

What can I expect to learn in an online bachelor's degree program?

An online bachelor's degree in management and leadership can give you the tools you need to contribute to the new organizational climate and help organizations navigate their way through the changing world of business.

Typical duration: Up to four years of full-time study

General prerequisites: High school diploma or equivalent

Typical coursework: 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. Some topics you may study include:

  • Fundamentals of management
  • Fundamentals of marketing and sales
  • Fundamentals of supply chain management
  • Organizational culture and performance
  • Organizational leadership

You may have to complete a capstone project or an internship as a part of your online management and leadership program

Possible electives: Business ethics for leaders; performance management; operations management

What can I do after earning a bachelor's degree?

Many management and leadership jobs require a minimum of a bachelor's degree. You may find that there are more varied job prospects available to you than those for holders of a bachelor's degree. Some jobs you may be eligible for include:

  • Administrative service manager
  • General manager
  • Human resources specialist
  • Medical and health services manager
Leaders who are still not using digital tools and don't know what it can do for business, must urgently get on the digital train.

What can I expect to learn in an online master's degree program?

Online master's degree programs in management and leadership can instill the skills and knowledge necessary to run a successful business.

Typical duration: Up to two years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Bachelor's degree

Typical coursework: 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. Some courses you may take include:

  • Organization development and change
  • Strategic human resources management
  • Management theories and practices
  • Leadership theory and practice
  • Action research and consulting skills

You may be required to complete a master's thesis, or a comprehensive examination, in order to complete your degree program.

Electives: Electives can depend on the concentration you choose. Read more about potential concentrations in the specializations section below.

What can I do after earning a master's degree?

Online master's degree programs in leadership and management can prepare you for managerial positions at private companies, nonprofit organizations and government agencies. Depending on your chosen concentration some potential occupations include:

  • Healthcare manager
  • Human resources manager
  • Postsecondary education administrator
  • Training and development managers

What can I expect to learn in an online doctoral degree program?

Doctoral degree programs are designed to give students a deeper understanding of the management process along with the theories that guide the field. They can help give students the skills and knowledge they need to potentially obtain high-level roles.

Typical duration: Four to seven years of full-time study

General prerequisites: Master's degree

Typical coursework: You can 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. Potential courses include:

  • Leadership theory and practice in a global environment
  • Leadership as personal practice
  • Organizational perspectives and implications for leaders
  • Challenging conventional leadership and influence
  • Leading dynamic systems with multi-dimensional thinking

Possible electives: You may have to choose electives based on your chosen field of specialization for your doctoral dissertation.

Dissertation: The dissertation phase can take up a majority of your doctoral degree program. You may need write and defend a doctoral thesis in order to obtain your degree. Some online doctoral degree programs may require you to complete an on-campus residency during the course of your study program. You may also be required to take a comprehensive examination that covers material taught throughout the program before moving on to the dissertation phase.


Accreditation is an important criterion to look at while choosing your online management and leadership degree program. Being enrolled in an accredited program is often a prerequisite while applying for federal funding or scholarships. Management and leadership programs may be accredited by a number of different bodies depending on their focus. Some concentrations and their associated accrediting bodies are:

Management professionals are needed in nearly every industry and at every level and you may choose to specialize in a particular aspect of the field. Some specializations you may be able to choose from are:

  • Health administration
  • Human resources
  • Information security
  • Organizational design and development
  • Project management

Certification and licensure requirements can vary depending on the industry and state you work in. Professional certifications can help demonstrate your expertise in the field and serve to show potential employers that you are committed to developing your abilities in the field. Some examples of professional certifications are:

Licensure requirements vary from state to state and not all industries require executives to be licensed. However, highly regulated industries like healthcare and finance usually required employees to be licensed by regulatory bodies. For example, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) is the main licensing body for individuals working in the field of finance.

As managers and leaders are required across practically every industry, there are plenty of scholarships available for eligible students. You may be able to find scholarships that specific to your chosen concentration, state or school. Some scholarships are:

Other resources for those aspiring to work in the field of Management and Leadership

Management executives are needed in many different fields — from the management of companies and enterprises and local government bodies to computer systems design and related services, scientific, and technical consulting services. With such an array of industries needing qualified managers, the BLS estimates that this demand can result in adding about 807,300 new jobs in the decade leading up to 2026.

The table below lists the occupations related to the field of management and leadership along with the projected job openings, average wages, total employment and job outlook for 2016 to 2026 using data from the BLS.

Average Salary
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
Social and Community Service Managers149,870$71,67015.7%
Public Relations and Fundraising Managers72,460$131,57010.4%
Training and Development Managers35,690$121,73010.3%
Administrative Services Managers283,570$106,05010.1%
Marketing Managers240,440$147,24010%
General and Operations Managers2,289,770$123,8809.1%
Human Resources Managers143,580$126,7008.9%
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

Employment Statistics

Training and Development Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Business Schools and Computer and Management Training
  • Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Educational Support Services
  • Technical and Trade Schools
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
  • Texas
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • San Rafael, CA Metropolitan Division
  • Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers, AR-MO
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  • Danbury, CT
  • Trenton, NJ

Administrative Services Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Monetary Authorities-Central Bank
  • Securities and Commodity Exchanges
  • Office Administrative Services
  • Management of Companies and Enterprises
  • Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Massachusetts
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains
  • Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
  • Camden, NJ Metropolitan Division
  • Trenton, NJ
  • San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA

General and Operations Managers

Industries with the highest concentration of employment
  • Lessors of Nonfinancial Intangible Assets
  • Grantmaking and Giving Services
  • Business, Professional, Labor, Political, and Similar Organizations
  • Office Administrative Services
  • Land Subdivision
States with the highest level of employment
  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Illinois
  • Florida
Top-paying metropolitan areas
  • Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk, CT
  • Trenton, NJ
  • Newark, NJ-PA Metropolitan Division
  • New York-Jersey City-White Plains
  • San Francisco-Redwood City-South San Francisco

Source: 2016 Occupational Employment Statistics, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.

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