Innovative Leadership Degrees: Master's, PhD & Online Training Info

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What will you learn in an innovative leadership degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and PhD degree and potential careers.
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Studying Innovative Leadership: Degrees at a Glance

Innovative leadership is a broad field that pertains to the application of management and organizational principles in order to spur new ideas, solutions, services and products. Individuals who hold graduate degrees in and related to innovative leadership may qualify for upper-level management and executive positions with companies and organizations.

If you're interested in an executive or management career, note that there's expected to be strong competition for these positions in the coming years; the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reveals that, although fields like management analysis and consulting were expected to see faster-than-average growth of 22% from 2010-2020, many job seekers are attracted to these high-paying positions, which may make landing such a position difficult. This is especially true for aspiring chief executives and operations managers, who were expected to see slower-than-average job growth of 4%-5% in 2010-2020.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? Individuals interested in management and other upper-level positions People interested in working in management or as professors and researchers
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean annual salary) -Chief executive ($200,000)*
-Operations manager ($145,000)*
-Management analyst or consultant ($99,000)*
-Operations research analyst ($85,000)*
-Career paths for the PhD are similar to those of the MBA, although MBA-holders may have greater advancement opportunities.
-Business professor ($87,000)*
Time to Completion Two years after the bachelor's 3-5 years after the master's
Common Graduation Requirements -About 40 graduate-level credits
-Capstone project
-Around 60 graduate-level credits
-Comprehensive or competency exam
-Residency component
-Dissertation proposal
-Dissertation completion and defense
Prerequisites Bachelor's degree Master's degree and five years of relevant professional experience
Online Availability Similar programs are available Similar programs are available

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Innovative Leadership

A master's degree program in innovative leadership focuses on developing the creative-thinking, communication and decision-making skills needed to solve problems and implement change in the business world and other settings. These programs are generally designed for individuals with some leadership experience, although these programs typically do not require you to have prior management experience. You may find these degrees in the form of Master of Science or Master of Arts programs, and some programs allow you to focus your coursework in a specialty track such as business or education.

Pros and Cons


  • Broad field of study can apply to many leadership careers in various settings
  • Admission requirements typically do not call for a bachelor's degree in a specific major
  • Opportunities to gain practical experience during capstone courses


  • Master's programs specifically in innovative leadership are rare
  • Careers in this field often require extensive, industry-specific experience
  • Some employers prefer applicants with Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees

Courses and Requirements

In this program, you'll take a set of core master's courses as well as courses specific to the innovative leadership concentration. These concentration courses can vary greatly by program. Depending on your specific program, you might take courses in innovative management strategy, consumer relationships, leadership creativity and global change. These master's degree programs do not require completion of a thesis project, although you may be expected to complete a capstone course, which can involve completing a master's project or an experience component.

Online Degree Options

Master's degree programs in innovative leadership were generally not available in online format as of January 2013; however, you can find closely-related online programs in leadership and organizational leadership. These programs, like traditional on-campus programs, focus on topics such as creativity and decision-making, and they tend to require completion of a master's or capstone project.

Stand Out with This Degree

During your master's degree studies, you may benefit from taking coursework in computer technologies specific to management and business careers. These professionals commonly use database and query programs, analytical software, enterprise resource planning software and project management software. Additionally, since management and executive careers tend to require relevant experience, you may want to work part-time while earning your master's degree. Fortunately, these master's programs tend to offer flexible schedules to accommodate working professionals.

PhD in Innovative Leadership

While there are no doctoral degree programs specifically in innovative leadership, you can find similar PhD programs in subjects such as leadership and change or organizational leadership. These degree programs are geared toward seasoned professionals looking for instruction on how to generate innovative ideas and implement organizational change. You can expect to focus on main concepts including leadership theory and methodology, and these programs lay strong emphasis on research within the discipline.

Pros and Cons


  • Opportunity to focus studies on a particular aspect of leadership
  • Can qualify you for postsecondary teaching and research positions
  • Networking and collaborative learning opportunities through residencies


  • Admission to PhD programs require a master's degree and extensive experience
  • Tenure positions for professors are rare, and there's strong competition for such positions
  • Completion requires extensive research and a dissertation project

Courses and Requirements

PhD programs related to innovative leadership are flexible and allow you to gear your studies toward your areas of interest. In fact, many allow you to further concentrate your studies on a specific facet of leadership, such as entrepreneurial leadership, nonprofits or human development. Along with completing a dissertation, attending seminars and participating in residencies, you'll take courses in topics such as organizational behavior, quantitative and qualitative research methods, cultural aspects of leadership and organizational design.

Online Degree Options

As with traditional, on-campus programs, you won't find any online master's degree programs specifically in innovative leadership; however, you can find online programs in leadership and similar majors. These degree programs may be offered entirely online or in hybrid format, and coursework is similar to on-campus programs, including research-based studies and dissertation requirements.

Stand Out

If you intend on using your PhD in leadership to become a professor, you may benefit from pursuing a teaching assistantship during your studies. In fact, the BLS reports that teaching experience can be a requirement for employment as a professor, and teaching assistantships are a common way to gain such experience. Additionally, you may want to take courses that familiarize you with the technology common to business teachers; in the classroom, you may use course-management programs such as Blackboard as well as spreadsheets and databases.

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