Your Complete Guide to

Master’s in Executive Leadership

Online Masters Degree
on February 13, 2024

Why We Love It

  • Better Salary
  • Upward Mobility
  • Options Galore

* The Why We Love It section is solely based on the opinion of's Editorial Team. Any salary & growth research or estimates should be referenced further at the Bureau of Labor and Statistics data published at for your specific desired career.

What is a Master’s in Executive Leadership?

What do all of the best and most successful organizations have in common?  They all have great leaders.

Leaders understand not only the value of an organization as a whole but also the value of the individual people who make it up.  It is not enough to be a manager; the most successful people must be leaders. Some people are born leaders, but all people have leadership potential.

As the saying goes, the best leaders are only formed after rigorous challenges. The most effective leaders understand that their potential is not enough; they must work to develop those skills if they want to lead an organization to success.

A master’s in executive leadership is designed for working professionals who wish to develop their leadership, interpersonal, collaborative, and critical thinking skills.  These are all important traits for productive, constructive leadership, and they could help you to achieve success in your current career . . . or a new one.

And with all the additional emphasis on real-world application, this degree can help young professionals launch a successful career with many potential advancement opportunities waiting at the door.

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What Can You Do With a Master’s in Executive Leadership?

Well, you’re the leader.  What do you want to do?

A human resource manager ensures that the people in their organization feel that they are heard, understood, and valued.  A training manager develops the skills of their team to increase productivity, effectiveness, and overall success.

A C-level executive leads their company into the next era of business by cultivating a corporate culture that ensures growth, excellent profits, and a high level of employee satisfaction.

Specifically, since the novel pandemic, organizations are hunting for leaders. Moreover, with changing world dynamics, and the rise of start-ups, leaders are sought after the most.

These are only a few examples.  The sky’s the limit.

You get to choose what you’ll do, and you don’t have to know what that is right now.  A master’s in executive leadership could give you the tools you need to do a wide variety of jobs, so you’re not committing to a career before you even finish your degree.

Best Programs for Master’s in Executive Leadership

Here’s the best part: We’re going to give you the secrets to finding the best programs for adults, programs that could help you get your master’s in executive leadership faster and with as few headaches as possible.

We know planning for college can be confusing, and is dedicated to helping you find the right path for you so that you can complete your degree and start your new career as soon as possible.

Why We Love a Master’s in Executive Leadership

  1. Better salary:  Master’s in executive leadership holders can sometimes command a better salary based on their degree alone. This is simply because the skills acquired during the program are valued in, safe to say, all organizations across industries. Lucrative job opportunities are good news for long-term employment as well as financial stability.
  2. Upward mobility:  A master’s in executive leadership is a versatile degree that could allow you to choose a path where you’re more likely to get ahead. Professional advancement comes with financial uplift and employment stability as well and that is something to prioritise during unstable economic situations like the present.
  3. Options galore: A master’s in executive leadership could be your gateway to one of a broad array of careers that can be as challenging and professionally rewarding as they can be personally rewarding

Online vs. Traditional Campus Master’s Programs in Executive Leadership

Most people who think about going back to school and getting their master’s degree in executive leadership never even get started.  Not only are there various entrance hurdles like exams and application fees, but it’s also tough to make school work around your schedule, and for people with other commitments like work, family, or personal, this can especially be a make-or-break decision.

Fortunately, times have changed.

With adult-friendly schools, there is really no reason not to go back to school anymore.  What makes a school adult-friendly?  Here are a few key attributes:

  • Adult-friendly schools are totally online. Online learning is best for busy adults, who have to balance their ongoing education with work, kids, and everything else that comes with being a grownup. We have witnessed recently that online and distance education has boomed, especially since the pandemic let it pave a mark. Online schools offering a master’s in executive leadership allow you to work college around your life, not the other way around.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer accelerated programs, with ongoing enrollment.  What’s better than getting your master’s degree in two years?  Getting it in a year!  And with ongoing enrollment, you don’t have to wait until fall or spring to start on your new journey; many schools offer monthly enrollment periods, meaning you can start whenever it works for you.
  • Adult-friendly schools can offer more support than traditional schools.  This includes but is not limited to, career services, making it easier for you to begin your new career.  Because, at the end of the day, isn’t that why you’re going back to school?

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Admissions Requirements for Master’s in Executive Leadership

What are the basic requirements for grad school?  Step one is obviously the GRE or another entrance exam, right?

Maybe not.

Many adult-friendly schools do not require GRE or entrance exams.  Online master’s in executive leadership programs generally require only a bachelor’s degree to get started, and there are no application fees to worry about–meaning you start when you’re ready.

Master’s in Executive Leadership Curriculum

As mentioned above, a master’s in executive leadership program is designed to develop your leadership, interpersonal, collaborative, and critical thinking skills.  These traits are all essential to leading a successful organization, whether it’s one you currently work for, one you join after graduation, or one you start yourself.

What Courses Will I Take in My Master’s in Executive Leadership Program?

Because leading others as an executive is a challenging endeavor that requires a broad spectrum of knowledge and business acumen, the core curriculum of a master’s program in executive leadership will include a healthy mix of courses designed to build and develop your knowledge and skills in these crucial areas.

Examples include:

  1. Dynamic Leadership: This could teach you how to be an effective leader through decision-making, identifying strengths and weaknesses, and motivating others.
  2. Managing Change: In the current business environment, it is important for leaders to be able to identify areas that require organizational change, initiate that change, and motivate others through the process of change.
  3. Organizational Culture: This would likely deal with identifying the culture of an organization, harnessing its elements to effect positive change, and building effective teams and communities.
  4. Business Communication: This is designed to strengthen your public speaking skills, including persuasion and confidence, as well as your ability to develop arguments in written form.
  5. Conflict Resolution: A leader must be able to mediate, resolve conflicts, and prevent future conflicts, both at the interpersonal and organizational levels.
  6. Mentoring and Coaching: Active listening, empowering, and enabling positive change are all important skills to master so that you can support the development of future leaders.
  7. Innovation: Innovation is crucial to success in business, and effective leaders foster an organizational culture that encourages creative thinking.

Specializations and Concentrations

Depending on the school and program you choose, your master’s in executive leadership could fall under one of the following titles:

  • Executive Master of Leadership (EML)
  • Master of Science in Management (MSM)
  • Master of Advanced Studies (MAS)
  • Executive Master of Business Administration (Executive MBA or EMBA)
  • Master of Science (MS) in Organizational Leadership

Additionally, you would find that a different, related degree is a better fit for your career of choice.  Options could include:

  • Master of Business Administration (MBA): The gold standard for executives in the US, this is usually more business-oriented, covering topics such as accounting, economics, and finance.
  • Master of Public Administration (MPA): Similar to an MBA, but with an emphasis on public service and related issues, this is often the degree of choice for those who are starting a career in running government organizations.

Master’s in Executive Leadership Program Length

Most master’s degrees in executive leadership require between 30 and 36 credits to graduate.  Normally, a master’s program in executive leadership takes two to three years to complete.  An accelerated plan, however, could take closer to a year.  This is where adult-friendly schools really shine.

They know their students have jobs, kids, and other obligations that make a traditional school schedule unrealistic.  The best adult-friendly schools make the process as convenient as possible, and they could get you into the workforce as fast as possible because they know that’s what adults want. Getting enrolled in an adult-friendly school can be a professional as well as a financially smart decision – you end up with quality education and that too with tons of savings.

Choosing the Right University or College Master’s in Executive Leadership Program

Choosing the right school for you can be exciting, but it can also be a hassle.  Tuition costs, application fees, accreditation, enrollment windows, and entrance exams are just some of the variables to consider.

That’s why we created the Smartplan.  We want to help people go back to school, to make college more accessible and affordable for everyone.  With our Smartplan, we make it easy for you to start on your path towards your master’s in executive leadership.  Here are just some of the benefits of your Smartplan:

  • No application fees
  • Accredited colleges and universities
  • No entrance exams or testing
  • Faculty and professors who understand adults
  • Discounts and scholarships available
  • Open enrollment dates

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Best Jobs for Those With a Master’s in Executive Leadership

What can you do with a master’s in executive leadership?  What kind of salary can you expect?  Here are some common careers for master’s in executive leadership holders, with salary data estimates provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics:

  • C-Level Executive: This includes CEOs, COOs, CFOs, and other positions responsible for directing the work activities of a company or organization.  You could make anywhere from $60,300 to well over $200,800 per year.
  • Sales Manager: Sales teams are most effective when they have strong leaders to develop training programs, set goals, and direct their activities.  You could make anywhere from $61,090 to well over $208,000 per year.
  • Corporate Training Manager: Needed in nearly every industry, this is someone who plans and coordinates programs to enhance the knowledge and skills of an organization’s staff.  You could make anywhere from $64,370 to $207,420 per year.
  • Human Resources Manager: This person handles administrative functions of a company, including hiring, strategic planning, and handling staffing issues.  You could make anywhere from $75,000 to well over $208,000 per year.
  • Health Services Manager: Also called a healthcare executive or healthcare administrator, a medical and health service manager plans, directs, and coordinates medical and health services.  You might manage an entire facility, a specific department, or a practice.  You could make anywhere from $60,780 to $205,620 per year.

We’ve compiled some of our favorite careers, but a master’s in executive leadership does provide you with broad skills to work in a variety of positions, as master’s in executive leadership holders are usually in high demand across many industries.

Best of all, you could work for a company to gain experience and then go into business for yourself, because at the end of the day, it’s the era of outsourcing and start-ups! These are just some of the endless possibilities you can choose from.

Cost and Tuition

Cost and tuition vary from school to school, and you’ll want to speak with each of your prospective schools directly.  Fortunately, online schools are generally more affordable than their in-person counterparts.

Adult-friendly colleges understand that you want to save. They also understand that the pandemic has left people with tight finances, and they could help you with financial aid if you’re eligible. You’ll definitely want to speak to a few schools, and can help you with that.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Do I need to know what job I want before I start a master’s program in executive leadership?

A: No!  A master’s in executive leadership could prepare you for a wide variety of careers.  You certainly don’t need to know what job you want today.

Q: Will I make more money with a master’s in executive leadership?

A: That depends on a variety of factors.  But as you can see above in the “Best Jobs for Those With a Master’s in Executive Leadership” section, your new degree could mean excellent earning potential.

Q: How long will I be in school?

A: That could depend on you, your current job, and any other obligations you might have.  A master’s in executive leadership program could take anywhere from one to three years, but our Smartplan is designed to help you find the right degree for you, so you can finish as quickly as possible!

How to save time and money

Our mission is to help you to avoid paying full price for college. We want your Master’s in Executive Leadership degree to be affordable and accessible. Here’s how you could save:

Create Your Free SmartPlan

There are many ways to make college affordable and accessible.

That’s why we created a helpful tool called SmartPlan.

It’s free, and helps you find potential ways to save and tons of information about each school you’re considering

Think of it as your “college blueprint”, to help you instantly craft a path to your degree:

  • Which Colleges Match Your Needs
  • Ways You Could Save Time & Money
  • Free Courses You Could Take for Credit
  • Valuable Data and Insights on Each College
  • Detailed Steps You Should Take!

See what’s possible for you and generate a free plan within just a few minutes

Create My SmartPlan

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About the Author
Grant founded with a purpose-driven mission: make college accessible and affordable for everyone. After graduating college with an overwhelming amount of debt, he was determined to change how students embark on their education. He's a frequent speaker and author in higher education, and has been featured in Forbes, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, American Express, AOL, MSN, Thrive Global, Reader's Digest, Inside Higher Ed, Evolllution, EducationDive, and nearly 100 radio shows and podcasts.

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