Best Online Applied Leadership Degree Programs of 2022

Learn more about the top Applied Leadership programs, what to expect, job prospects, and how to choose the program that’s right for you.

Applied leadership is the study of the principles and practices of leadership, with a focus on the application of those principles in real-world settings. Applied leadership degrees can prepare students for a variety of leadership roles in business, government, and the nonprofit sector.

Applied leadership degrees offer a broad overview of the principles of leadership, covering topics such as motivation, team building, and conflict resolution. Students in applied leadership degree programs learn about the different styles of leadership, and how to adapt their leadership style to the needs of their organization. They also learn about the ethical considerations of leadership, and the ways in which leaders can use their power to effect positive change.

How to Choose the Right Applied Leadership Program

When it comes to applied leadership programs, there are many factors that prospective students need to consider. With so many different programs available, it can be difficult to know where to start. By taking the time to research your options and consider your goals, you can find the program that is right for you.

One of the first things you need to consider is your career goals. What do you hope to do with your degree? Are you looking to move into a leadership role in your current field? Or are you hoping to change careers entirely? Once you have a good idea of your goals, you can start to narrow down your choices.

Another important factor to consider is the cost of the program. Applied leadership programs can be expensive, so you need to make sure you can afford the tuition. You should also research financial aid options and scholarships to see if you can reduce the cost of your education.

Finally, you need to think about the location of the program. Do you want to study online or in a traditional classroom? Are you looking for a program that is close to home or are you willing to travel? Consider your lifestyle and needs when making your decision.

By taking the time to consider your goals, budget, and lifestyle, you can find the applied leadership program that is right for you.

Best Online Bachelor’s in Applied Leadership Programs

The best online programs for Applied Leadership ranking is based on key statistics and student reviews using data from the U.S. Department of Education. Some of the metrics influencing how the rankings are determined include graduation rate, average salary for graduates, accreditation, retention rate, and cost.

Rank 1
Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion
Marion, IN

The Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from Indiana Wesleyan University-Marion takes approximately 24 months to complete and focuses on applied leadership. Students will take 15 core courses that cover topics such as introduction to leading, developing the self as leader, critical thinking for leaders, ethics and decision-making for leaders, and leading in a diverse and global context.

Rank 2
Abilene Christian University
Abilene, TX

The Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership degree from Abilene Christian University is designed for busy working adults. The program is structured to allow students to balance work, life and other commitments. The program focuses on vocational formation and provides students with a deeper understanding of their identity, relationship to the world and connection to the life and mission of God.

Rank 3
Buena Vista University
Storm Lake, IA

The Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership from Buena Vista University is a degree that is best suited for students with work experience and/or a strong interest in interdisciplinary studies. The degree provides students with the cross-disciplinary tools and skills necessary to effectively perform administrative roles within an organization. The organizational leadership core courses cover topics such as accounting, marketing, management, and business law. The human services track courses cover topics such as human services in rural communities, human services programs and policies, and research methods. The business track courses cover topics such as human resource management, organization theory, and business marketing.

Rank 4
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Leadership from Arizona State University is designed for students who have already completed an Associate of Applied Science degree. The focus of the program is on practical leadership skills that can be applied in a variety of vocational settings. The program covers topics such as behavioral dynamics, conflict management, cross-organizational communication, and cultural competencies.

Rank 5
Point Park University
Pittsburgh, PA

The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree from Point Park University is designed to help students develop key professional skills, including ethical management, strategic planning and organizational change. The curriculum focuses on career preparedness and is taught by professionals with years of experience and expertise in their fields.

Rank 6
Mount Vernon Nazarene University
Mount Vernon, OH

The Bachelor of Arts in Leadership from Mount Vernon Nazarene University is an online degree program designed for working adults. The program can be completed in as little as 21 months and prepares students for leadership roles in organizations across all fields and industries.

Rank 7
University of Cincinnati
Cincinnati, OH

The University of Cincinnati Online Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership program provides a clear pathway for students who wish to become leaders across all organizations, by targeting skill areas essential for leadership, organizational success and a lifetime of personal and professional achievement.

Students will study the foundations of leadership, leading diversity in the workplace, the social influence and persuasion for leaders and more. The broad range of topics and focus on leadership skills create a comprehensive experience.

Rank 8
William Paterson University of New Jersey
Wayne, NJ

The Bachelor of Arts in Leadership and Professional Studies from William Paterson University of New Jersey is a highly versatile degree that focuses on developing students knowledge, skills, and abilities in areas such as communication, collaboration, negotiation, and emotional intelligence. The curriculum is designed with input from leaders in the field. The online format of the program allows students to complete your coursework at their own pace and the capstone project gives students the chance to showcase their skills in a real world environment.

Rank 9
Minnesota State University
Mankato, MN

The Bachelor of Science in Applied Leadership degree from Minnesota State University is a degree completion program that allows students to use their existing credits to create an individualized plan that emphasizes communications, critical thinking and leadership skills.

Rank 10
University of Louisville
Louisville, KY

The Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership and Learning from University of Louisville is an online degree completion program designed for adult professionals 22 years of age or older. The program is skills-driven and focuses on equipping students with the knowledge required for career advancement or a possible career change. The program offers 9 specialized tracks to choose from, and students have the opportunity to earn college credit for work experience through the Prior Learning Assessment component.

What to Expect From an Online Bachelor’s in Applied Leadership Program

The Bachelor’s in Applied Leadership program is designed for those who wish to pursue or advance their career in a leadership role. The program focuses on developing the skills necessary to be an effective leader in a variety of settings.

Most programs require between 120 and 130 credits for graduation. Coursework covers topics such as leadership theory, communication, ethics, and conflict resolution. Many programs also require students to complete an internship or capstone project.

Applied leadership programs are typically offered online, and most do not require any campus visits. The flexible format is ideal for working adults. Students in the program should expect to spend 20 to 25 hours per week on coursework.

Common Applied Leadership Courses

The courses you’ll take for an applied leadership degree will depend on the focus of your program. However, there are some common courses that are often included in these programs.

Disruptive Change

This course explores the concept of change and how it affects organizations. Emphasis is placed on the role of the leader in times of change, developing a change vision, understanding the change process, leading teams through change, and managing resistance to change. Upon completion, students should be able to develop a change vision and plan, lead a team through change, and manage resistance to change.

Foundations of Applied Leadership

This course introduces students to the study of leadership from an applied perspective. The course focuses on the development of leadership skills and knowledge related to self, others, and organizations. Topics include an overview of leadership theories, effective communication, team building, conflict resolution, and ethical decision making. Upon completion, students should be able to apply leadership skills to real-world situations.

Organizational Psychology

This course covers psychological theories and research related to work and organizations. Topics include individual differences, motivation, leadership, teamwork, job satisfaction, organizational change, and stress management. Emphasis is placed on how psychological principles can be applied to improve individual and organizational effectiveness. Upon completion, students should be able to apply psychological principles to understand and predict individual and group behavior in organizations.

Motivating People

This course covers the art and science of motivation and how it can be used to influence the behavior of individuals and groups. Topics include major theories of motivation, work motivation, organizational citizenship behavior, employee engagement, and how to create a motivational climate. Emphasis is placed on how to use motivation to improve individual and organizational performance. Upon completion, students should be able to apply motivation theories to real-world situations and use motivation to improve individual and group performance.

Labor Relations

This course covers the legal framework of labor relations in the United States and the impact of public policy on the employment relationship. Topics include the history of labor relations, the National Labor Relations Act, the role of unions, and the collective bargaining process. Upon completion, students should be able to analyze the impact of labor relations laws and policies on the employment relationship and explain the role of unions in the labor market.

Career Options for Applied Leadership Graduates

Graduates of applied leadership programs work in a variety of industries, including business, education, government, and non-profit organizations. They may also work in fields such as human resources, project management, and event planning.

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers work in a variety of industries, including business, healthcare, education, and government, to develop and oversee programs that train employees to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They may design and implement training programs, assess employees’ needs and skills, develop curriculum, choose instructors, and monitor outcomes. Training and development managers typically need at least a bachelor’s degree and several years of experience in training or a related field.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers plan, direct, and coordinate the administrative functions of an organization. They oversee the recruiting, interviewing, and hiring of new staff; consult with top executives on strategic planning; and serve as a link between an organization’s management and its employees. Human resources managers also handle employee relations, benefits, and training. They may also be responsible for safety, wellness, and health programs.

Organizational Development Consultant

Organizational development consultants work with businesses to improve efficiency and effectiveness. They assess how well an organization functions and identify areas that could be improved. To do this, they often interview employees, observe work processes, and review documents such as job descriptions, employee handbooks, and performance evaluations. Once they have a good understanding of the organization, they develop recommendations and create plans to implement changes. This might involve redesigning work processes, developing training programs, or changing the way employees are compensated.

Instructional Designer

Instructional designers develop educational materials and experiences for students in both formal and informal settings. That might include creating curricula for online courses, developing training materials for employees, or designing educational games for kids. In all cases, instructional designers start by assessing what learners need to know and then figuring out the best way to help them acquire that knowledge. They use a variety of methods, including educational psychology, to design materials that are effective and engaging.

Chief Learning Officer

A chief learning officer (CLO) is responsible for an organization’s learning and development initiatives. The CLO designs and implements programs that improve employee productivity and engagement by helping employees learn new skills and knowledge. The CLO also works with other senior leaders to identify training and development needs and ensure that the organization’s learning and development programs are aligned with its business goals.

Insights From an Applied Leadership Graduate

Tate Lowery is a Project Manager at IBM. He has a bachelor’s degree in applied leadership from the University of Central Florida. Tate has over 7 years of experience in project management.

ClimbtheLadder: How did you make the most of your Applied Leadership degree program so that it prepared you for post-graduation jobs?

Tate Lowery: I made the most of my degree program by taking advantage of all the resources my university had to offer. I joined clubs and organizations related to my field of study, and I also did internships in order to gain real-world experience. In addition, I made sure to network with professionals in my field so that I could learn from them and make connections for future opportunities.

ClimbtheLadder: What type of person is successful and thrives in an Applied Leadership career?

Tate Lowery: I would say that someone who is successful in an Applied Leadership career is someone who is able to work with a team, but also take charge when needed. You need to be able to be a leader when the situation calls for it, but also know when to step back and let others take the lead. You need to be able to take direction well, but also be able to give direction when needed.

ClimbtheLadder: What misconception(s) do people have about an Applied Leadership degree, and what would you tell them?

Tate Lowery: I think the biggest misconception is that an Applied Leadership degree is only for people who want to be managers. While the degree does prepare you for management roles, it is also beneficial for anyone who wants to improve their leadership skills. The degree taught me how to be a better leader and how to better manage my time and resources.


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