Organizational Leadership

Program Overview

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Organizational Leadership program will enhance students' leadership, supervisory, and administrative skills. Students learn how to be more effective, strategic, and creative in complex organizational settings — and graduate with a vision of leadership, values to guide their decisions, and the knowledge to transform vision into a reality.

While cultivating the ability to ethically lead organizations is the focus of the program, students will also develop and refine their critical thinking and problem solving skills, approaches to change management, ability to motivate and empower others, and aptitude to communicate effectively and persuasively. Through a concentration of courses, students will apply the concepts of leadership as they pertain to the advanced study of another academic discipline. 

By successfully completing the program, students will develop a core set of leadership competencies that will enable them to:

  • develop a personal leadership philosophy and approach to ethical leadership practice;
  • understand approaches to leadership practice;
  • communicate, interact, and engage effectively with a diverse workforce;
  • facilitate major leadership processes;
  • lead organizations in a changing landscape; and
  • be proficient in enhancing human and organizational performance.

In addition to developing a core set of leadership skills and knowledge, the program (depending on the selected area of concentration) will provide students with skills and knowledge requisite to:

  • Higher Education Leadership
  • Developing People and Organizations
  • Leadership in Counseling-Related Services
  • Life and Career Coaching

Curriculum Overview

Students’ broad understanding of leadership and organizations is accomplished through the study of the program’s core courses.  Developing an effective leadership practice takes self-knowledge, knowledge of others, financial and strategic acumen, a grasp of contextual forces and organizational dynamics, and a rigorous approach to making decisions and solving problems creatively.

In addition to the study of organizations, students pursue deep study of focal areas.  One area is higher education administration and the unique opportunities of academia, particularly from a student learning and development perspective.  Students become more aware of the history and processes involved in executing higher education missions.  

Another area is the field of organizational development, with an emphasis on enhancing organizations through knowledge of contemporary issues, the development of individuals and the cultivation of organizational change.  Students become more adept at creating and delivering initiatives for improved effectiveness in teams and organizations.  

A third curriculum area is the study of human services from the point of view of those in the helping professions.  Acquiring knowledge of the foundations of counseling and mental health enables students to gain greater awareness of how human services organizations and agencies fulfill their promise to clients.

A fourth area is in the area of life and career coaching.  Students gain understanding of organization members from the perspective of human growth and development and gain skills in forming coaching relationships for the purpose of aiding others in areas such as life transitions, career choices and work/life balance.

Forms of Study

Students take their core courses in an online or hybrid format.  Depending on their chosen concentration, they will complete their 30 credit degree in one of two ways.  They will complete their studies entirely online, or with a set of classroom, online or hybrid courses.  The fully online MA in Organizational Leadership is composed of the 6 core courses (18 credits) and 4 courses in the Developing People and Organizations concentration (12 credits).

Degree Offered

  • M.A. in Organizational Leadership


Tricia Nolfi, Ed.D.
Assistant Professor II
Memorial Hall 202L

Program Website: Organizational Leadership
Associated Department: Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling

Related Programs

Program Requirements

(30 credits)

Group I - Core Courses (15-18 credits)

Group II - Concentration Courses (12 credits)      

Organizational Leadership (M.A.)

  • Comply with the general requirements concerning graduate study at the master’s degree level.
  • Enroll in graduate study at Rider for no fewer than two academic semesters or the equivalent thereof.
  • Complete at least 30 credits of graduate study.
  • Successfully pass a culminating research experience and related written requirements.
  • Maintain a GPA of “B” (3.0) or better for work submitted for the master’s degree.
  • Complete the program within six years of the date the student enrolled in his/her first course unless an extension is approved by the Department of Graduate Education, Leadership, and Counseling.

Group I - Core Courses - Required

LEAD 500The Practice of Leadership3
LEAD 510Organizations: Design and Dynamics3
LEAD 531Developing The Human Side of Organizations3
LEAD 540Strategic and Financial Decision-Making in Organizations 10-3
LEAD 550Organizational Research3
LEAD 598Project Seminar in Leadership3
Total Credits15-18

Group II - Concentration Courses

Students will be expected to meet the requirements for any one of the four concentrations outlined below.

Developing People and Organizations

Program Goal: Prepare graduates to be strategic professionals who work effectively through others, particularly in the area of organization and human development. This concentration helps students to understand broad organizational concepts that apply to private and non-profit sectors. Students build conceptual understanding and explore connections to applied settings.

Required courses:
Must take four courses:12
Select at least two of the following:
Facilitating Culture and Process Change in Organizations
Forms of Diversity in Organizations
Program Design for Training and Development in Organizations
Conflict and Crisis Resolution in Organizations
Team Effectiveness and Creativity in Organizations
May take up to two from the following:
Vocational/Career Development
Multicultural Counseling and Relationship Development
Holistic Wellness Counseling
Total Credits12

Leadership in Higher Education

Program Goal: Prepare graduates for a variety of institutional roles in higher education, with emphasis on developing leadership skills for organizational change.

Required courses:
EDUC 525The Higher Education Organization3
EDUC 535Legal and Ethical Issues in Higher Education3
EDUC 540Leading Operations, Change and Assessment in Higher Education3
Select two electives from the following:6
Student Affairs & Experiences in Higher Education
Assessing Organizational Performance in Higher Education
Assessment in Higher Education
Communicating Educational Data
Forms of Diversity in Organizations
Total Credits15

Leadership in Counseling-Related Services

Program Goal: Prepare graduates with knowledge of mental health issues in order to increase their effectiveness as leaders and change agents in the organizations that serve consumers with mental health needs.

Required courses:
COUN 500Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions3
COUN 530Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy3
Select two electives from the following:6
Vocational/Career Development
Substance Abuse Counseling
Multicultural Counseling and Relationship Development
Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling
Holistic Wellness Counseling
Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions
Total Credits12

Life and Career Coaching

Program Goal:  Prepare graduates to form mentoring and coaching relationships in order to aid others in achieving goals in areas such as life transitions, career choices and work/life balance.

Required courses:
COUN 500Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions3
CNPY 502Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions3
COUN 505Vocational/Career Development3
Select one elective from the following:3
Facilitating Culture and Process Change in Organizations
Forms of Diversity in Organizations
Program Design for Training and Development in Organizations
Conflict and Crisis Resolution in Organizations
Team Effectiveness and Creativity in Organizations
Total Credits12

Courses and Descriptions

CNPY 502 Theories of Counseling and Helping Professions 3 Credits

Introduces the theoretical constructs of the primary contemporary counseling psychology theories being used in the counseling profession today. The theoretical constructs will be explored for use for self-reflection and self-development and to serve as the basis for development of psychological maps for understanding purposes of clients’ behaviors.

Prerequisite(s): COUN 500 or as corequisite.

CNPY 514 Psychopathology 3 Credits

A survey of the study of abnormal psychology. Includes classification, assessment, and treatment and prevention of psychopathology. Characteristics of healthy psychological functioning are examined. Biological, psychological, and sociocultural bases of well-adjusted and maladjusted behavior patterns are considered. Stress, anxiety, and milder forms of psychopathology are considered, as are more severe psychopathological conditions.

COUN 500 Introduction to Counseling and Helping Professions 3 Credits

Educational, social, and psychological foundations of counseling services. Basic theories, principles, and techniques of counseling and related helping professions, such as coaching, and their applications to professional services. Emphasizes self-awareness as related to becoming a facilitator of helping skills. The team approach to counseling services and the contribution of the various specialties within the total counseling services program are stressed.

COUN 505 Vocational/Career Development 3 Credits

Includes organizational change and vocational development theories, research, and literature in the field to inform practice with clients with vocational/career concern. The problems and techniques of using occupational and career information, assessment tools, educational and vocational goal setting, conflict management strategies, and individual and group processes are stressed. Includes concepts of career/life planning and counseling and coaching techniques, lifespan transitions, and the interrelationships among work, family, and other life roles.

COUN 508 Foundations of Clinical Mental Health Counseling 3 Credits

This course will provide the foundation of community counseling including roles, policies, history, diversity, systems, programs, interventions, fiscal issues, community resources, consultation, advocacy, and assessment that are unique to community counselors. Projects include searching for government and foundation funding, writing a grant proposal, developing a resource directory, visiting and writing reports evaluating community agencies. This course also meets Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP) standards for Community Counseling Programs.

COUN 515 Substance Abuse Counseling 3 Credits

This course analyzes the development, intervention and treatment of substance abuse. Family dysfunction and its results will be examined with the various addictive behaviors. This course is designed to help students understand addictive behaviors and how they function. Specialized techniques for treatment will be examined along with related elements, i.e., family, parenting, the characteristics of dysfunction, developmental growth problems, physical problems, effects on school and job performance.

COUN 520 Multicultural Counseling and Relationship Development 3 Credits

Introduces, examines, and critically analyzes and reflects upon major origins and dimensions of human similarities and differences. Explores and personalizes the social-psychological and behavioral implications of these similarities and differences. Examines issues of racism, reverse racism, age and handicapped discrimination, sexism, sexual orientation, etc., in the light of theories of individual and group identity development and the impact of these on, between and within group relationships. Each student is expected to utilize this knowledge for the development of healthy multicultural skills. A semester-long engagement in a multicultural interaction and a presentation of a multicultural discovery project are required.

COUN 530 Legal and Ethical Issues in Counseling and Psychotherapy 3 Credits

Examines and analyzes the legal, ethical, and professional parameters of counseling and psychotherapy. Discusses legal liabilities and malpractice cases arising from constitutional, tort, contract, family, privacy, and criminal laws. Examines client rights and counselor duties and responsibilities. Explores legal, ethical, and professional implications of third party payment, informed consent, medication, case documentation, client termination and abandonment. Advertisement of counseling services, crisis and case management, consultation and supervision, "duty-to-warn" and court appearances of an expert witness will be explored. Special attention will be given to child abuse reporting issues, dual relationships and to regional legal and ethical developments.

EDUC 525 The Higher Education Organization 3 Credits

This course allows students to gain perspective on the historical and societal context of higher education in America and the organizational structures, functions, behaviors, and cultures that exist within institutions.

EDUC 530 Student Affairs & Experiences in Higher Education 3 Credits

This course will highlight how individuals access higher education and how that education affects students’ development via programs, services and interventions designed to promote student growth. The course will explore multiple dimensions of the student experience and how student development theory is used to understand and enhance those experiences. Students will also explore student affairs organizational structures and functions common in colleges and universities.

EDUC 535 Legal and Ethical Issues in Higher Education 3 Credits

This course discusses the fundamentals of American law that directly and indirectly affect the environment of higher-education. Students will use diverse sources of law to understand the many different ways laws, code and common law affect the life of an higher education administrator. Ethical issues will be explored in relationship to critical issues in higher education such as admissions, affirmative action, dismissal procedures, academic honesty, and student loans.

EDUC 540 Leading Operations, Change and Assessment in Higher Education 3 Credits

In this course, students will gain an understanding of the daily and long-term operational challenges colleges and universities face. The course intends to cultivate a strategic mindset about higher education organizations and a recognition that institutions exist in a competitive environment that require them to change in order to survive.

LEAD 500 The Practice of Leadership 3 Credits

This course allows students to gain an understanding of the practice of leadership and how they can develop as leaders. Students will explore leadership models, creativity in organizations, and approaches to decision making as they begin to form their own leadership philosophy.

LEAD 510 Organizations: Design and Dynamics 3 Credits

This course will provide students with foundational knowledge in the area of organization studies. Students will gain insight into organizational structure and how it affects interdepartmental behaviors, communication and work flow. The course emphasizes how organizational environment and culture generate and reinforce the way organizational systems work and how leaders operate within these organizational contexts.

LEAD 511 Facilitating Culture and Process Change in Organizations 3 Credits

Organizational culture and existing processes can enable productive and effective environments, or they can be barriers to carrying out the central missions of corporations, not-for-profits, governmental or educational institutions. For organizations to thrive and survive in the future they must be able to change and develop rapidly. This course provides a working knowledge of the key theories and practices necessary to be an effective change agent. Students develop skills in diagnosis, design of interventions and strategies for communicating change.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 512 Forms of Diversity in Organizations 3 Credits

Increasingly, leaders and employees are part of a more diverse, multiethnic and globally influenced workforce. Students will become more conversant with forms of diversity, such as different cultural traditions, as well as differences in generational sensibilities, ableness, gender, and level of adult development. Students will learn about the different “worldviews” which organizational members bring into the organization, and how that affects their ability to work together. The course develops students’ knowledge of and skills in practicing: principles for optimizing human performance in organizations, cultural intelligence, human diversity, and leading multicultural organizations.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 531 Developing The Human Side of Organizations 3 Credits

This course examines Strategic Human Resources Management (SHRM) within today's organizations, and is designed to provide students with a comprehensive understanding of SHRM practices from a systemic and strategic perspective. Students learn approaches leaders use to recruit, select, evaluate, and develop employees and strategies to create a positive work environment.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 532 Program Design for Training and Development in Organizations 3 Credits

This course provides a full circle approach to workforce training and development that is applicable to professionals in human resources, organizational development, or other leaders who see themselves as trainers, mentors and coaches. The course is designed for students to explore “real world” applications for programs, services and operations in a training environment, and covers key principles such as adult learning theory, facilitation skills, curriculum development, needs assessment, training methodology and techniques, resources and constraints, as well as learning how to evaluate and improve the efficacy of training programs.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 533 Conflict and Crisis Resolution in Organizations 3 Credits

Leaders face conflict and crisis in their organizations. Being effective in their resolution is an important leadership attribute. Skills that support positive and integrative outcomes include mediation, negotiation and crisis resolution skills. This course will use multiple case studies and role-playing assignments to engage students in understanding how individuals and teams handle mediation and negotiation scenarios. The course will also use multiple case studies to enhance students’ understanding of the components of effective and ineffective leadership for crisis.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 534 Facilitation and Team Leadership 3 Credits

This course examines the characteristics and behaviors of teams that produce good results and/or generate new ideas. The focus of the course is on how to lead high functioning teams and the development of facilitation capabilities, so that students can effectively lead teams and organizations.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 510 or concurrent with LEAD 510.

LEAD 540 Strategic and Financial Decision-Making in Organizations 3 Credits

This course explores the importance of information and financial resources within the culture of organizations, and the necessary relationship that exists between the two. The course draws on current literature and student experience to explore resource management and focuses on the effective use of information resources within the boundaries defined by financial realities. The relationship between data analyses and effective decision-making will be explored.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 500 or concurrent with LEAD 500.

LEAD 550 Organizational Research 3 Credits

The purpose of this course is to prepare future organizational leaders to read professional journal articles, plan research, and critique research. The course covers basic research methods, such as experimental, ex post facto, correlational, case study, time series, interviews, surveys, and basic statistics in terms of understanding and selecting statistics. These concepts are taught within the framework of organizational leadership. This course should be taken at the end of your program.

Prerequisite(s): LEAD 500, LEAD 510.

LEAD 598 Project Seminar in Leadership 3 Credits

This course serves as a practicum for students about to graduate with their M.A. in Organizational Leadership. Reflecting upon their own leadership philosophy developed throughout the program, students will formulate, research, and write a leadership capstone paper. The project integrates the competencies and concepts from the core courses as students use research strategies to analyze an organizational problem. Class sessions will also be used for exercises and the practice of skills. Core and concentration courses should be completed before taking this course.

Prerequisite(s): Must be taken in last semester of study. Permission of Instructor required.