Guide to an Online MBA in Leadership


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An Online Master’s in Business Administration (MBA) can be a remarkable asset for a working professional. This degree helps and inspires employees and guide organizations toward success. The desire to help others, provide effective communication, and compassion are all required for a business leadership position. A leadership Online MBA is one of the best tools to help professionals get one.


Have you considered an Online Master of Business Administration in organizational leadership? If so, you’ve begun your initial research and are seeing how much there is to consider. Is a graduate degree in strategic leadership or an MBA right for you? What are your professional and personal goals? Are you looking to fine-tune leadership skills for a promotion? Do you want more flexibility in your professional life? Understanding your career goals is an essential factor. Especially before setting off for an MBA.

What is an Online MBA in Leadership?

A leadership MBA can position graduate students for noteworthy positions. They can work as development and training managers. They can also serve as management analysts, school principals, and career counselors. These professionals thrive as instructional coordinators, sales managers, and administrative service managers. They work as human resources managers and even top-level executives. These jobs often attract ambitious candidates. They contain high-level responsibilities and attractive salaries. For example, training and development managers can expect a median salary of $150,000 per year, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.


Typically requiring 18 months to two years to complete, MBAs in leadership degrees are a two-sided coin. On one side, they take an analytical approach to business and strategic management. They emphasize areas like statistics, finance, accounting, and marketing. They’re perfect for graduate students who plan to shift into managerial or executive positions. The main goal is to equip distance learners with a comprehensive working knowledge of business operations.

On the other side of the coin, they also can involve coursework that teaches the human component of business. There are lessons on strategic leadership theory, organizational behavior, and communication techniques. They also study team development and multicultural workplace dynamics. The robust leadership program emphasizes creative and personal approaches to business management. These help colleagues and employees reach their full potential.

MBA programs with a concentration in organizational leadership are offered through an online or on-campus experience. A combination of both is a blended or hybrid programs. This guide explores the features of a distance-based MBA program in organizational leadership. 

Let’s dive into what to expect from MBA admissions, the program, and curriculum. Let’s also look at ways to be successful within an Online MBA program. We’ll also discover the history of this prestigious program.

What is the History of the Leadership Online MBA? 


The Master of Business Administration is synonymous with strategic management skills and business knowledge. It also includes accelerated career progression throughout today’s modern business world. How did we get to where we are with the MBA?

The MBA degree has a rich and interesting backstory, as it was introduced over a century ago in the early 1900s. Colleges and universities saw a rapidly industrializing and globalizing business world. They also noticed a gap in the market for graduates with a holistic understanding of organizational functions.

That demand is yet to slow since, although it’s evolved over the years, the MBA remains the world’s most popular graduate management degree. It has garnered respect from employers. It is offered by top business schools worldwide. 

Here’s a quick look at what you need to know about the history of the MBA. Let’s discuss its birth to its modern maturation in the business world:

The Introduction of the MBA to the World


The MBA was designed in Boston, Massachusetts. The business degree was introduced in 1908. Harvard University Graduate School of Administration (now Harvard Business School) designed it. It was in response to the United States’ demand from businesses and organizations.

At the dawn of the 1900s, the United States was experiencing rapid industrialization. Manufacturers were offloading assembly and manufacturing processes to machines. The growth created meant these businesses required a new type of workforce educated in business management and financial best practices.

Characteristics of the World’s First MBA Program

The inaugural MBA program at Harvard was offered as a two-year degree, just like its present-day counterpart. It attracted eighty students and was led by 15 faculty members.

The ground-breaking curriculum was drawn from the pioneering research of Frederick Winslow Taylor. He was an American engineer. He led efforts to improve industrial efficiency through the discipline of “management science.”

Harvard offered these management principles through its now-universally known case study method. They were inspired by how law students digested court cases at Harvard Law School. Business students in the first MBA program referenced and examined specific business issues. They used the same analytical and critical mindset.

What Business Students Studied Before the MBA

college students

Harvard was the first institution to offer a formal MBA degree. The concept of business education and training emerged in Europe almost a hundred years earlier.

The world’s first business school was Ecole Spéciale de Commerce et d’Industrie. Today, it is known as ESCP Business School. This business school opened its doors in Paris, France, in 1819. It would be another sixty years plus before the United States began to follow suit. The opening of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania was in 1881.

The business school is named after Joseph Wharton. He was a famed American entrepreneur and industrialist. His goal was to prepare young college graduates for the growing U.S. business landscape.

Before Wharton’s founding, business fundamentals and management practice in the United States were found through apprenticeships. Budding business professionals would learn by doing without any theoretical training.

A Bachelor of Finance was the first program offered at Wharton. Taking its cue from Harvard, Wharton’s MBA was eventually ready for applicants in 1921.

Keys to How the MBA Develop in the 20th Century

1. The Race is On

After Wharton and Harvard’s success, some of the most well-known MBA programs were offered quickly thereafter. Stanford School of Business was the first California-based business school to enroll MBA students. It opened its doors in 1925. Chicago Booth School of Business designed its MBA program in 1935. Northwestern University established the Kellogg School of Management’s MBA program in 1920.

2. Options Abound


As MBA degrees became more popular in graduate education, unique options arose. Chicago Booth became the first business school to offer an Executive MBA program in 1943. The executive MBA was aimed at working professionals with some years of experience.

The first MBA program outside the United States was offered in 1948 at Canada’s University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business. South Africa’s University of Pretoria became the first MBA outside North America one year later.

3. Europe Plays Catch Up

It took some years for the MBA degree to reach Europe. By 1957, Europe’s inaugural MBA was available at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France. INSEAD’s MBA made history as the world’s first one-year program. These programs remain more common in Europe than in the U.S.

Why Choose a Leadership Online MBA?


A Leadership MBA is a true asset to the business community. Elite MBA leadership development degrees develop business and interpersonal skills. Successful managers in leadership roles use these skills. Decision-making, communication, coaching, and consulting are skills gained through an Online MBA program. Graduates of MBA degrees in leadership go on to lead teams, finances, and projects to reach organizational goals. They do so not just in the short term, but for organizational sustainability.

While working toward an Online Leadership MBA degree, distance learners learn how to be effective in business. They work within small companies and global firms. MBA students specializing in leadership often work in management and executive roles. A leadership Online MBA is not the golden ticket to the C-suite. It is an effective tool for graduates to use on their journey.

What’s the difference between an MBA in Leadership and a Master’s in Leadership?

How do business students know if an MBA with a leadership emphasis or a master’s degree in leadership is right for them? Both can be instrumental in developing their careers. A few differences should be considered when choosing a distance program.

capstone choice

A Master’s in Leadership is a good fit for those planning to move through the ranks within their organization into a leadership position. It is also good for strengthening their leadership skills. Master’s programs in leadership focus on skills and techniques. These include communication, human resources, and project management. Most Master’s in Leadership degrees are completed in less than two years. Many can be completed without much previous professional experience.

An MBA with a concentration in leadership covers various business topics. These include finance, marketing, and HR. The leadership specialization allows for leadership-focused electives to go with the core curriculum. An Online MBA program may take longer to complete—twenty-six months to complete in some cases—than a master’s. It is geared toward working professionals needing greater flexibility in their careers.

How Do I Apply for a Leadership Online MBA?

application copy

Ready to apply for a master’s or MBA program? You will discover the application process as your first step. Adequate planning and preparation will help ensure the admissions process goes smoothly. This is true from submitting your application materials to the final interview with the admissions team.

Once you’ve decided to pursue an MBA with an emphasis on leadership, you’ll begin the admissions process. Make sure to review all application steps. Ensure you meet all admissions requirements. Business school admissions requirements are:

  • Transcripts
  • Essay questions
  • GMAT or GRE as a placement test
  • Previous work experience
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Admissions interview


This stage of the application process is pretty straightforward. Applicants need to read the fine print and carefully handle all of the details. Most MBA programs will ask applicants to send official transcripts. These include all higher education entities they have graduated from. First, students must be aware of any accreditation standards that must be adhered to. Second, students must research their previous schools and their transcript request process. Many business schools have online forms. Some might need paper forms. Others might require payment. Some might just need a phone call. Prospective Leadership Online MBA students must stay organized and consider time constraints.

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Essay Questions

Typical business school applications require candidates to respond to two essay questions. Responses to essay questions are meant to reveal the applicant’s strengths. They tell the admissions team more about them. Applicants need to highlight their leadership skills in their responses. This is done by detailing work and project experiences. They include where they utilized leadership qualities.


Students entering business school need to take either the GMAT or GRE for admittance into many online MBA programs. Either placement test is usually accepted. There are differences between the two exams.  The GMAT is specifically for MBA programs, while the GRE is accepted across other programs. Some universities waive exam requirements if a candidate qualifies for a leadership online MBA program. Each year, more MBA programs drop the GMAT need for admission.

Previous Work Experience

Several years of professional work experience are often required when applying for an Online MBA program. At some schools, a minimum of two years of relevant work experience is ideal. Previous academic achievements are also considered. It’s common for incoming MBA students to report at least three to five years of managerial work experience.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation are often a part of the admissions process. Current or past employers should write these formal letters. They detail the candidate’s professional achievements. The letters should highlight any teams or projects that the future MBA student has successfully led. Two letters of recommendation are the norm for most programs.

Admissions Interview


Upon the approval of MBA students’ applications, the next step is to sit for an interview with the program director. For the interview, applicants meet with the director on campus or via Skype or Zoom video conferencing. Telephone interviews are also popular. Interviews can seem nerve-racking. There are plenty of resources available to help MBA candidates. They prepare for questions that get asked and questions interviewees should consider asking.

Questions asked during the admissions interview vary from program to program. There are some common questions. A few questions to be prepared for:

  • Why are you pursuing an Online MBA in Leadership?
  • What academic or professional qualifications do you have that will contribute to the leadership program?
  • How will our Online MBA program help you reach your goals?

Applicants can ask questions of the interviewer. These come once she finishes her interview questions relevant to the candidate’s application. Here is an example of questions one may consider asking interviewers:

  • Does the business school facilitate a study abroad program that an MBA global leadership graduate student may be interested in pursuing?
  • Does the curriculum include a field study course that helps apply the knowledge gained in the program?
  • What choices are available for leadership specializations?
  • Are there any student clubs or organizations you can recommend for a distance learner in this concentration to join?
  • What advice would you give incoming MBA students?
  • What can you recommend as the next step for an MBA in leadership graduate?

Career Options for Leadership Online MBA Graduates


What can one do with a leadership degree? There are countless career paths that a recent Online MBA grad can pursue. B-school students want to work in global corporations, start-up companies, or start their own businesses. They will discover that a leadership and management degree is an excellent asset.

Human Resource Managers

HR managers plan and manage policies, decisions, and processes that impact an organization’s employees. They oversee recruiting and hiring and sometimes assist leadership in strategic planning for employee programs and growth. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, HR managers’ job outlook is favorable, growing faster than average over years to come.

Median salary: $120,000

analytics professional

Management Analysts

An Online leadership MBA program can be beneficial for management analysts. These professionals, also known as management consultants, work within a business to make the organization more efficient. Often working on cost reduction and profit increasing strategies with upper management, these professionals need solid leadership skills like communication and empathy when interviewing employees and communicating proposed changes. This often travel-heavy position is growing in demand faster than average.

Median salary: $87,000

Professional Executives

Top business executives oversee strategic planning and decision-making. Along with several years of experience, these professionals must display proven executive leadership qualities for working with all employees within an organization. The demand for top executives will continue to grow at an average pace.

Median salary: $107,000


What Salary Can I Expect with an Online Leadership MBA?

Earning an online leadership MBA can set a professional up for success and financial security. MBA in organizational leadership salaries vary due to several factors. The type of industry, organization size, work experience, and geographical location will all impact the salary potential.

What Are the Keys to Success in a Leadership Online MBA?

Most graduate students complete an Online MBA in leadership in 12 months to three years. These distance degrees are marked by rigorous coursework and excellent future opportunities for graduates. Here are a few things to consider when making your way through business school:

1. Comparison is a Waste of Time

Unlike high school and undergraduate education, MBAs are constantly surrounded by other bright and motivated learners in business school. Comparing your performance to that of your leadership MBA peers is futile and will prove frustrating. Baselines vary since every student comes from a unique cultural, academic, and professional background.

Measure your performance by setting an individual baseline and comparing your academic progress against your personal benchmarks. You will find that your growth as an MBA student and as a person is substantial, and that will prove to be its own reward. While your program will be competitive, it is good to remember that the MBA experience is not about competition. MBAs enter business school to achieve unique career goals, not compete against other MBAs.

2. Nobody’s Perfect

learn from failure

As they begin MBA core courses, some graduate students quickly get overwhelmed by the amount of information they are responsible for knowing. Distance learners must remember they are not expected to master each new concept as their instructors introduce it.

When MBA students enroll in business school, they sign on to gain business understanding, acquire new skills and tools, and take steps towards becoming better leaders. Many steps along the way involve making valuable mistakes which are part of the process.

3. There is no Substitute for Practice

Scheduling informational interviews is an excellent way to get a lot out of an MBA experience. These mock interviews provide a wealth of information about careers and industries you may be interested in. Setting up an interview with an industry insider or looking within your network to find experts to answer questions about their professional experiences will pay huge dividends.

Conversations and Q and As occurring outside formal interview environments give business school students valuable information they would otherwise not get. Ask business experts what they do, how they got started, and their advice for potential business school students.

Action Plans

woman at computer

A Leadership Online MBA is an excellent tool for one’s professional career. This guide equips the reader with introductory information about the distance degree. It will include how Online MBA degrees have developed over the years. There are some things to consider while seeking a program. These include ways to manage business school. The following action steps are essential. They will introduce future MBAs to leadership programs available today. They can motivate them to apply to a high-quality program.

The first step toward an elite online degree in leadership is to go online. Look for programs that look like they match your professional aspirations. Online MBA programs in leadership are game-changers. They allow distance learners to sit under distinguished professors at business schools from across the nation. These programs give graduate students the chance to work in their current working positions. 

Once you discover programs that meet your standards, contact those schools’ admissions representatives. Ask specific program questions. Business schools employ career counselors and admissions experts. They are in place to inform and encourage you as you research the MBA in leadership program of your dreams. Then apply to your top programs. You are on your way to your future career.

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Get matched with top online MBA programs now!