Master of Science in Organizational Leadership

CU Boulder’s New Fully Online Master’s Degree Designed for Working Professionals

Program Overview

The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) is an interdisciplinary, fully online professional master’s degree that prepares early and mid-career professionals to succeed as tomorrow’s dynamic leaders. Through coursework that blends business, communication, and social sciences, the program develops the knowledge and skills students need to think critically about organizational challenges and how to address them using best practices. Students learn to align others around a shared vision, build and manage effective teams, and apply the leadership skills necessary to excel in an increasingly fast-paced and complex work world. The MSOL program allows students to focus their studies on Strategic Leadership or Human Resources, or to pursue a general, broad-perspective Organizational Leadership degree.

“CU Boulder’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership is designed to prepare the next generation of leaders by giving them specific tools and knowledge to be successful. Graduates of the program will know how to be globally aware leaders prepared to address the challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Sara Thompson, Ph.D., M.B.A.,
Dean of the Division of Continuing Education


The Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) was designed for working professionals. This program allows you to advance your education and career while balancing personal and professional obligations.

  • 100% Online
  • Accelerated 7-week courses allow you to concentrate on a single course at a time.
  • A focused, 10-course curriculum allows you to complete your degree in 5 semesters (i.e., just over one-and-a-half years).
  • A strong connection to the business community means that while you may be out of the physical classroom, you’re not out of the loopOrganizational leaders teach our classes, employ our students, help guide the curriculum as part of the Curriculum Advisory Committee, contribute to oversight of the program, and engage in classes as subject matter experts.
  • A cohort model provides opportunities for networking and community building among your peers. This program connects you to a dynamic learning community. You progress through the coursework with the same group of students resulting in a strong professional network and a ready group of peers to help you in your courses. We also provide opportunities for students to connect virtually outside of class.
  • A customizable program to fit your career. Choose to focus your studies on Strategic Leadership or Human Resources, or to pursue a general, broad-perspective Organizational Leadership degree.
  • A streamlined admission process makes getting started easyNo GMAT or GRE required. We offer rolling admissions so you can apply when you’re ready and receive a prompt response. Our simplified application requires less supporting documentation. It’s just one more way we acknowledge that you’re a busy, working professional.


The program is composed of ten courses: six core courses and four specialized “track” courses (30 graduate credit hours in total).

Core Courses

Core courses ensure that students have the necessary understanding of the complexities of organizational leadership and the varied dimensions of change within the context of public, private, and nonprofit organizations. The curriculum prepares graduates to be successful in understanding organizational cultures, anticipating and managing change, and enhancing performance and human capital management.

  • Leadership and Organizations
  • Leading Change and Innovation
  • Analytics and Data-Driven Decision Making
  • Strategic Communications
  • Performance Management
  • Capstone

What is the Capstone?  The purpose of the Capstone, the final course of the program, is for students to apply knowledge and skills acquired during their program to addressing actual challenges facing an organization. Students do this—under the guidance of the instructor and other subject matter experts—by collecting, and processing, and analyzing data and information about the organization and applying appropriate analytic methods to develop, propose, and substantiate their recommended solution to the organization’s problem.

Track Courses

You may choose to specialize in one of the following tracks.

Human Resources

This track is ideal for students who wish to transition to a new career in Human Resource Management or who want to focus on enhancing employee satisfaction and organizational performance as they ascend their career ladder. Courses include:

  • Negotiation and Conflict Resolution
  • Human Resources Law
  • Compensation and Benefits
  • Training and Development

Strategic Leadership

This track is geared for students who want to develop knowledge and skills to move from functional- or technical-based positions into general management including the ability to think, plan, and operate strategically, lead personnel in the allocation of organizational resources, and accomplish organizational objectives. Courses include:

  • Strategic Planning in Organizations
  • Competitive Analysis and Communication
  • Organizations and the Law
  • Operations and Designs of Organizations

Organizational Leadership (Broad Perspective):

A great track option for those who want exposure to both strategic leadership and HR concepts:

  • Select any four courses from among the offerings of the Strategic Leadership and Human Resources tracks.


Both the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) and the Master of Business Administration (MBA) are popular options for professionals seeking to move up the career ladder. Learn more about the key differences between the MSOL (and similar degrees) and the MBA.


Academic programs often focus only on classroom learning, but CU Boulder’s MSOL program includes the Professional Skills Mastery Lab (ProLab), a co-curricular initiative that offers professional development experiences and resources to supplement your coursework and advance your career. All MSOL students have access to ProLab offerings, with many ProLab components fully-integrated into the MSOL courses and program.

Components of ProLab include:

  • Leadership Advisory and Mentorship Program (LAMP)
  • Career Consultancy & Coaching Program (C3P)
  • Leadership Education, Assessment & Development Across the Curriculum (LEADx)
  • EXEConnect: Executive guests, speakers, and executives-in-residence
  • PComm Studio: Professional communication workshops and assistance
  • MSOLutions: Web-based student, professional & management resources

Gain the skills that employers want.


You may have received a degree, and entered a career, in, say, biology, history, or marketing, and worked in that field for a few years.  And, now you’re ready to move up the career ladder.  Typically, as you look at higher-level job opportunities, you will see that they focus less on technical expertise and more on managerial expertise – i.e., the ability to lead people, analyze information, make good decisions, plan strategically, etc.  The MSOL program is designed to supplement one’s technical background with the necessary management, leadership, and communication knowledge and skills needed to progress up the career ladder.  As such, the program provides an excellent complement to almost any academic or professional background.

“In the new economy, where value comes increasingly from the knowledge of people, and where workers are no longer undifferentiated cogs in an industrial machine, management and leadership are not easily separated. People look to their managers, not just to assign them a task, but to define for them a purpose. And managers must organize workers, not just to maximize efficiency, but to nurture skills, develop talent and inspire results.”

The Wall Street Journal

Wall Street journal. “What is the Difference Between Management and Leadership?”, 2016


Combined with the right technical background, the MSOL degree can help lead to many of the management positions included in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ oft-referenced Occupational Outlook Handbook. (This publication offers excellent data regarding working conditions, needed qualifications, growth trends, and salaries for potential careers.) Another way to get a sense of the positions that might be available to you as an MSOL graduate is to search popular online job sites such as Indeed, USAJOBS, and Idealist using terms such as “organizational leadership,” “MBA,” or the name of your field (e.g., biology, history, marketing, whatever…) combined with the term “manager” or “management” – e.g., “biology management.”


Here’s a diagram that provides a sense of the growing job opportunities for MSOL and related graduates:

Job Opportunities for Graduates of MSOL and Related Programs

Graph of job opportunities for graduates of MSOL and related programs.

(Note: The Educational Advisory Board determined demand for Organization Leadership graduates using Burning Glass Technologies’ Labor Insight™ program, which collects millions of online job postings from close to 40,000 sources and applies a patented technology to mine and code detailed data from each posting per the job parameters and candidate backgrounds specified by client companies – in this case, identifying job postings of organizations seeking potential employees specifically with an MSOL-related professional/graduate degree and competencies similar to those of MSOL graduates.)

And, it’s still the case that earning a master’s degree can have a significant impact on your lifetime earnings and employability.  Here are some relevant articles:

The MSOL program offers a great way to advance your career.  Use the resources provided above to explore how completing the degree, and its integrated professional development components, might impact your professional standing.


We are currently accepting applications for the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) program for spring 2018.
Click Apply Now to begin your application. It can be completed over multiple sessions.

Important Note: We are currently upgrading our application software. In the interim, please use the fall 2017 application for spring 2018.

Spring 2018 (Please use the fall 2017 application.)

Start Date: January 16, 2018
Recommended application deadline: December 1, 2017

To apply, applicants must submit:

  1. Online application
  2. $50 application fee
  3. Admission essay (approximately 500 words), stating your purpose for undertaking graduate studies, your personal and professional goals, and how participation in the Master of Science in Organizational Leadership program will help you attain those goals.
  4. Two letters of recommendation.
    • At least one must be a professional recommendation from a former or current supervisor or colleague.
    • Please use the online application to request/submit your recommendations.
  5. A current résumé detailing your professional experience, education, awards, publications, volunteer activities, etc.
    • Applicants should typically have a minimum of 3-5 years of professional work experience; the average is 17 years.
  6. Transcripts from all colleges attended.
    • Applicants may submit unofficial copies with the application, but official transcripts are required before enrollment. If you request official transcripts from your college, please have them sent to:
      • Electronic:
      • Mail: Scott E. Battle, Asst. Dean
        Division of Continuing Education
        University of Colorado Boulder
        178 UCB
        Boulder, CO  80309-0178
    • Transcripts must provide evidence of completion of a regionally-accredited U.S. bachelor’s degree or its 4-year international equivalent.
    • Grade point average (GPA) is a factor in admission. The average undergraduate GPA is around a 3.45, with a recommended minimum of 2.75.
    •  All international transcripts must be accompanied by an English translation and an evaluation by a transcript evaluation service that is a member of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES®).
  7. GMAT or GRE scores, if desired.
    • These scores are optional. You are not required to submit scores from the GMAT or GRE.
  8. International students must also submit official scores from a test of English proficiency (TOEFL or IELTS scores).
    • After your application is submitted, request that the TOEFL testing agency report your official score directly to the University of Colorado (institution code 4841). IELTS scores should be reported in the application.


Tuition Rates:

Colorado Residents: $725/credit ($2,175 per course)
Non-Residents: $795/credit ($2,385 per course)

2017-2018 Academic Year Fees:

Total: $60.12/semester, comprised of:

Student computing fee (6 credits or less): $33.62
Student info system fee: $7.00
Career services fee: $12.00*
UGGS (Graduate Student Org.) fee: $7.50*

*Fee not charged during summer terms.

The Board of Regents reserves the right to change the tuition and fee rates at any time.

Other CU costs:

Textbooks/course materials
Incidental fees (e.g., graduation fee)

Please see the Division of Continuing Education’s MSOL Program Tuition Rates & Fees webpage for full details.

Contact Information

CU Boulder’s Master of Science in Organizational Leadership (MSOL) is offered through a cross-campus partnership. It is delivered by the Division of Continuing Education and awarded by the Graduate School.


Scott E. Battle, Program Manager

Request For Information

Now that you’ve selected your favorite Continuing Education courses, email or print the information, including class number, to more easily search MyCUInfo and enroll. Still have questions? Contact an advisor.