Top Online MBA Programs in Leadership

While a bachelor's degree is required for most managerial positions, an MBA in leadership can help accelerate your career. Find out which online programs to consider. is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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The world always needs leaders, and this is especially true in business. Organizations need dynamic individuals who can make decisions, solve problems, communicate effectively, and inspire others. An online MBA in leadership prepares you to pursue management positions.

A growing market for business leaders awaits. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects a faster than average job growth rate for management positions.

Discover the top online MBA programs in leadership, including typical courses and potential careers after graduation.

Top Online MBA in Leadership Programs
School Admissions Insights Outcomes by the Numbers
1. Creighton University | Omaha, NE
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 3.0
  • Graduation Rate: 81%
  • Tuition: $31,317
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required for applicants with a 3.0 GPA or above
2. Messiah College | Baldwin City, KS
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 3.0
  • Graduation Rate: 78%
  • Tuition: $27,976
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required
3. Baker University | Baldwin City, KS
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: None
  • Graduation Rate: 59%
  • Tuition: $23,016
  • Average GMAT Score: Not required
4. Marist College | Poughkeepsie, NY
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: 2.5
  • Graduation Rate: 83%
  • Tuition: $37,421
  • GMAT/GRE Required
5. Bentley University | Waltham, MA
  • Minimum Undergrad GPA: None (3.2 for GMAT/GRE waiver)
  • Graduation Rate: 89%
  • Tuition: $38,720
  • GMAT/GRE Required (Waivers available)

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Online MBA Programs for You

Grow your career, leadership, and business acumen with an accredited online MBA program.

What Is an MBA in Leadership?

An MBA in leadership provides a broad foundation in the basics of business and a highly focused course of study in management. The traditional MBA takes an overarching view of finance, economics, accounting, and marketing, grounding students in each subject. An MBA in leadership also features a core curriculum in the fundamentals of management, teaching participants how to effectively run an organization.

An online MBA in leadership readies graduates for executive roles. The BLS projects that management positions will continue to grow at a rate faster than other occupations from 2018-2028. Distance learners gain skills in the areas they need to step into these jobs, including communication, decision-making, problem-solving, personnel management, and strategic thinking. The top online MBA in leadership programs offer a modern perspective on timeless leadership skills, combining business wisdom with current best practices.

Why Should You Get an Online MBA in Leadership?

Every organization needs management, whether in the corporate boardroom, a government office, or a local nonprofit. The opportunities remain vast for graduates of online MBA programs. Distance learners in online MBA programs gain the kind of transferable skills that employers value. Problem-solving, communication, critical thinking, strategic vision -- these never go out of style, and an online format offers a convenient platform to learn these skills.

Many students in MBA programs continue to work while they earn their degree, making school more affordable. Some already hold down executive roles, bringing great experience to the discussion and opening avenues for networking.

With an online MBA in leadership, you can pivot in many directions. Some who earn an online MBA advance into CEO roles, earning wages of more than $157,000, according to PayScale. Others might land a job in operations, administrative services, or district management, earning annual salaries from $75,000-$125,000.

What Can You Do With an MBA in Leadership?

Chief Executive Officer

CEOs run companies and nonprofits. They serve as the final decision-makers on all aspects of a business or organization, overseeing the entire operation. PayScale reports that they tend to make the highest salaries in the nation, with the median income in the $157,000 range. Incomes, of course, tether to the industry in which the company operates, and many CEOs earn far more.

This position requires an array of skills, including communication, critical thinking, strategy, personnel management, and leadership. Because every company needs a CEO, job growth remains strong.

Vice President, Operations

Sometimes called the chief operating officer, the VP of operations sits just below the CEO in the chain of command. These executives typically run the day-to-day functions of a business, supervising all department heads. They enjoy substantial compensation packages, too; PayScale reports median earnings of $128,000, which again depends on the industry. Many profit further from bonuses and company shares.

Much like CEO, this position requires strong interpersonal skills, the ability to strategize and make shrewd decisions, good communication, and excellent problem-solving abilities. VPs of operations remain in high demand.

Divisional Vice President, General Manager

Divisional vice presidents oversee individual divisions or departments of a company, usually reporting to the VP of operations or the CEO. They take charge of personnel and projects, set goals, and strategize to achieve goals. Like other high-ranking executives they earn a comfortable living; PayScale reports median earnings of $135,000 for this position.

These managers need similar skill sets to CEOs and COOs, including strategic thinking, decision-making, problem-solving, and personnel management skills. Growth in the field remains steady.

Administrative Services Manager

Administrative service managers supervise the support services of an organization. These might include areas such as manufacturing, HR, record keeping, training, or facilities management. These professionals often operate at an executive level.

Like other managers, they must make decisions, create strategies, solve problems, and oversee personnel. Job growth is faster than average, and the BLS reports a median annual salary of $96,000 for this position.

Project Manager

As their title suggests, these managers run projects for companies. They lead staff teams from the beginning to the end of a major operation. Some serve as executives, but most sit in middle management.

This position requires the ability to strategize, communicate, solve problems effectively, and delegate. It usually requires an ability to see both the big picture and the fine details. PayScale reports the median annual income for project managers is $75,000.

Online MBA in Leadership Curriculum

The curriculum for an MBA in leadership program combines business management and leadership, and the focus at every school varies. Make certain to check with the schools that interest you to explore how their offerings align with your career goals.

  • Managing Personnel

    Participants in this course learn how to effectively communicate, negotiate through conflicts, work with stakeholders, and encourage staff. They also explore how to delegate and set priorities within an organization.
  • Developing Talent

    In this course, future leaders study the most effective ways to reach high employee performance goals. Skills include setting goals, assessing work, and recognizing the stages of professional growth.
  • Business Immersion

    This course series puts students in positions of leadership at the head of a team. They lead their colleagues on several projects, putting what they've learned about management into practice.

How to Choose the Right Online MBA in Leadership Program

Many schools now offer online MBA in leadership programs, so contemplating which program to choose can be daunting. You must weigh an array of considerations, including the rigor of the program, the cost, the online format, and the internships and networking opportunities it provides.

Cost ranks as one of the primary factors for most students preparing for college. Web-based learning offers good value for the investment, and many of the top online MBA programs pay for themselves in short order. On digital campuses, savings come from the lack of commuting costs and room and board fees, and many schools offer in-state tuition to distance students.

The ability to work while you learn is another great bonus of an online program. Of course, holding down a job affects whether you can attend full time or part time, so keep that in mind.

Another factor is the caliber of the school itself. The best online MBA programs carry regional accreditation and usually subject-specific accreditation, as well. Check to see if the universities that interest you hold accreditation from organizations such as the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs or the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

Finally, make certain you do your homework on the particularities of individual programs. A master's in management studies will not offer the same coursework as a master's in organizational management or a master's in business leadership. Check the curriculum of each school carefully, making sure you understand the classes, internships, and practicums required of each.

Scholarships for Leadership MBA Programs

Several foundations, corporations, and communities provide scholarships specifically for business programs. Others offer financial assistance to college students no matter their major. These sources of funding can significantly help with all of the various expenses associated with higher education. A few ideas follow below.

INKAS Rising Star Scholarship

Who Can Apply: Sponsored by Inkas Armored Vehicle Manufacturing, these scholarships go to eligible students in business programs in the U.S. and Canada. Applicants must hold a 75% average or better at an accredited university.

Amount: $1,500 Canadian dollars

Apply for Scholarship

American Association of University Women Selected Professions Fellowships

Who Can Apply: Women of color in MBA programs may apply for these fellowships awarded by AAUW. Candidates should be U.S. residents in their second year of full-time graduate studies.

Amount: Varies

Apply for Scholarship

Business Leaders of Tomorrow Scholarship

Who Can Apply: The Mortgage Reports sponsors these scholarships for promising graduate students in business or finance programs. Applicants must be 17 or older and hold a 3.0 GPA or better.

Amount: $1,000

Apply for Scholarship

Helen B. and Lewis E. Goldstein Scholarships

Who Can Apply: The Jewish Community Federation and Endowment Fund supports Jewish students in undergraduate and graduate programs who demonstrate financial need. The funds must go to an accredited, nonprofit institution.

Amount: Up to $10,000 annually

Apply for Scholarship

CustomerServ Scholarship

Who Can Apply: CustomerServ awards scholarships to full-time undergraduate and graduate business students at accredited universities. Applicants must hold a 3.0 or better GPA and submit a 500-word essay.

Amount: $7,500

Apply for Scholarship

Professional Organizations for Leadership

The networking alone makes professional organizations worth joining. These associations sponsor conferences, workshops, and webinars where professionals in the same industry can meet and greet to share ideas. Most professional organizations disseminate the latest industry news updates, offer continuing education, and host job boards. They can serve as vital career resources for students and young professionals, especially in business.

American Management Association

AMA ranks among the world's largest business management membership organizations. An international nonprofit based in New York, AMA provides education and professional development opportunities.

Future Business Leaders of America - Phi Beta Lambda

An association designed for students, PBL offers academic competition, travel, networking, and career services. Members can develop professional portfolios, access publications, and attend conferences.

Business Professionals of America

As a membership organization intended for students, BPA strives to provide educational opportunities for personal development and professional growth. To that end, BPA sponsors regional and national leadership conferences and webinars.

NMA - The Leadership Development Organization

A nonprofit membership organization based in Dayton, Ohio, NMA promotes management skills and professional development. Through chapters across the country, the organization sponsors workshops, conferences, and publications.


One of the world's largest executive coaching organizations for small and mid-size businesses, Vistage boasts members all across the country. The organization offers professional development and mentoring opportunities for all levels of management.

Top Online MBA Programs in Leadership

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How We Rank Online MBA Programs

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  1. Creighton University

    Omaha, NE



    Creighton University, a Jesuit-affiliated higher education institution in Omaha, Nebraska, offers one of the top online MBAs in leadership. The program comprises 33 credits of coursework, including core and concentration courses in leadership and organizational behavior, leadership insights from modern media, and management of environmental risk.

    Distance learners may also pursue dual degrees, adding fields like law or negotiation and conflict resolution to their graduate studies. Graduates from Creighton's MBA program over the past 15 years earn about 20% more each year than the national median annual salary for all occupations.

    Creighton applicants should possess a bachelor's degree demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants whose GPAs fall below this threshold may submit applications along with GMAT scores.

    Other Concentrations

  2. Messiah College

    Mechanicsburg, PA



    Based in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, Messiah College offers an online MBA with a concentration in strategic leadership. Distance learners can complete the 36-credit program in two years.

    Courses last eight weeks during the fall and spring semesters, and six weeks during the summer terms. Students can expect to dedicate 10-15 hours on coursework every week; this follows an asynchronous format and includes streaming lectures and participating in digital forum discussions.

    The strategic leadership concentration includes courses like leading leaders and followership, teamwork, and group dynamics. Each learner must also enroll in a capstone course, which allows them to pursue a field project with the guidance of a faculty member of their choice.

    Applicants should possess bachelor's or master's degrees demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA. They must also submit a personal statement and one recommendation letter.

    Other Concentrations

  3. Baker University

    Baldwin City, KS



    Located in Baldwin City, Kansas, Baker University offers distance learning MBA with a concentration in leadership and organizational change. The curriculum for this top online MBA focuses on upper-level management, featuring courses like sustainability for future success and corporate social responsibility and accountability.

    The full program requires 30 credits of coursework. Students can finish the degree in 18-20 months, or even in one year if they take two courses at a time. Distance learners who double up on their coursework must maintain a minimum 3.5 GPA.

    Distance learners must also complete a capstone course called strategic planning for competitive organizations. During this capstone MBA, candidates complete simulated projects, designing long-term strategies for businesses.

    Prospective students who hold bachelor's degrees can apply for this MBA. Baker does not set minimum GPA requirements or mandate that applicants submit GMAT scores.

    Other Concentrations

  4. Marist College

    Poughkeepsie, NY



    Marist College, based in Poughkeepsie, New York, offers its distance learners an online MBA in ethical leadership. Online students can pursue this degree while working full time. The program focuses on management and administration skills using ethical decision-making.

    This degree comprises 36 credits, and part-time students graduate in 2.5 years. Distance learners can petition to enroll full time, which allows them to pursue the degree at an accelerated pace. Courses last eight weeks, and they follow an asynchronous format. This allows distance learners to stream lectures and complete assignments on their own time.

    Concentration courses include ethical management of organizations and leadership, power, and influence. Students can also choose from electives covering collective bargaining, nonprofit management, and healthcare ethics.

    Marist requires applicants to submit GMAT or GRE scores. They should also submit their undergraduate transcripts, a resume, and a personal essay.

    Other Concentrations

  5. Bentley University

    Waltham, MA



    Waltham, Massachusetts-based Bentley University allows students to pursue an online MBA in leadership at an accelerated pace. Through this program, MBA candidates can graduate as quickly as in 18 months.

    Bentley designed this MBA program for distance learners who work full time. The six-week terms let students enroll in one asynchronous course at a time, though professors may require occasional scheduled meetings.

    Students may take courses in emotionally intelligent leadership and leading change, and the global strategy course serves as a capstone. This course explores how multinational companies maintain strategic innovation, and students participate in research projects and discussions of international case studies.

    Other Concentrations

  6. Gwynedd Mercy University

    Gwynedd Valley, PA



    As a part of the 17-institution Sisters of Mercy higher education system, Gwynedd Mercy University offers an online MBA in strategic management and leadership. The 30-credit degree explores topics like ethical decision-making and corporate social responsibility, managing human capital, and organizational theory and design.

    Professionals who work full time can enroll in this distance learning degree, which only requires students to take one course at a time. Distance learners must complete weekly assignments, but they can log on at their own convenience. In addition, each course only lasts seven weeks. At the end of the program, MBA candidates design business plans, which fulfill their capstone requirements.

    Individuals may apply for this program if they earned a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Prospective students can apply even if they did not complete business courses during their bachelor's degree, but they would need to take one extra foundational course at GMercyU.

    Other Concentrations

  7. Salve Regina University

    Newport, RI



    The online MBA at Salve Regina University offers two concentration options for individuals interested in pursuing leadership programs: nonprofit management and healthcare administration and management.

    This 36-credit top online MBA requires students to take 12 courses, including 10 required core courses and two electives. Distance learners may complete the program in 18-24 months. Courses that fall within the leadership and management fields include leading innovation and managerial decision-making.

    Master's candidates may complete an independent study course or internship. The independent study option involves writing a 20-page research paper on a topic of interest to the student. Those who chose the internship experience must work for 120 hours over the course of a semester. All students must take a capstone course in strategic management.

    Applicants do not need to submit GMAT scores. They should send in their undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement, and two professional letters of recommendation letters.

    Other Concentrations

  8. Regis University

    Denver, CO



    At Denver-based Regis University, distance learners can pursue an online MBA with a concentration in health industry leadership or project leadership and management. The program requires at least 39 credits of coursework, and students who choose two specializations must complete an additional six credits.

    Courses follow an accelerated, eight-week format. Distance learners may keep their full-time jobs while studying, and they can graduate in just over two years.

    Courses for the health industry leadership emphasis area cover strategic management, organizational ethics, and marketing in healthcare settings. Students pursuing the project leadership and management concentration enroll in courses exploring employment law, strategic compensation, performance management, and labor relations. Learners must also complete a culminating project during their final capstone course.

    In making admissions decisions, Regis considers undergraduate GPA, work experience, recommendations, and an admissions essay. Applicants do not need to take the GMAT or GRE.

    Other Concentrations

  9. Pepperdine University

    Malibu, CA



    A private school of about 9,000 students based in Malibu, California, Pepperdine University offers an online MBA in leadership and organizational change for individuals with at least two years of business experience. The degree comprises 54 credits, which students can finish over the course of six terms (two years).

    Pepperdine's web-based MBA program uses synchronous and asynchronous formatting. Students participate in a live, online class each week, which allows them to interact with their professors and fellow students. Courses may also include small group discussions and live chats. Distance learners can finish assignments at their own convenience.

    Although the curriculum features primarily online courses, students must also participate in an immersion experience at one of Pepperdine's corporate partners in Los Angeles. MBA candidates complete this one-credit course during their first semester.

    Applicants with less than three years of work experience should submit GRE or GMAT scores. All applicants must submit a statement of purpose along with their application.

    Other Concentrations

  10. Union University

    Jackson, TN



    Union University offers an MBA in leadership, which students can complete at the university's Jackson, Tennessee campus and online. The program requires 36 credits, and the curriculum prioritizes ethics and social issues in management.

    Students who choose the leadership concentration take courses like business and the legal environment, ethical management, and social issues in management. The degree only requires distance learning courses, but students can also opt to take part in an internship experience. All learners must earn a minimum 3.0 GPA to graduate.

    Union allows undergraduate business majors to take MBA courses during their senior year, allowing them to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees at an accelerated pace. Incoming students from other programs may also transfer in up to nine credits.

    Applicants must submit their undergraduate transcripts and GRE or GMAT scores. Union offers a GRE/GMAT waiver for individuals with at least five years of professional business experience.

    Other Concentrations

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