Skip main navigation

Leadership master’s degrees – a complete guide

Discover what a leadership master's degree entails and what you can do with one in this in-depth guide.

Office worker with manager

In today’s world, effective leadership is essential across all sectors and industries. In the realm of business, government or non-profit organisations, strong leadership drives innovation, growth and positive change. A leadership degree provides students with a solid foundation in leadership theory, principles and practices, equipping them with the tools they need to excel in leadership roles. Keep reading to learn more.

What is leadership?

Leadership is a concept that describes the ability to inspire, influence and guide others towards a common goal or vision. At its core, leadership is about recognising and nurturing the potential of individuals and teams to achieve group success.

It involves effectively communicating a clear vision, motivating others towards common objectives and enabling collaboration and teamwork. Leadership can emerge at all levels of an organisation or community. It requires empathy, integrity and the ability to build trust with others.

Effective leadership requires various skills, such as communication, strategic thinking, emotional intelligence and resilience. It’s ultimately about making a positive impact and driving meaningful change.

Great leaders can inspire others to reach their full potential and foster a shared sense of purpose and belonging. Pursuing a leadership degree is the first step towards driving progress and nurturing collective growth.

Online Degree

Master of Leadership

  • 1-2.5 years
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

How can I get a master’s degree in leadership?

If you’re interested in earning a master’s degree in leadership, you’ll need to follow these steps:

  • Research: Explore different universities or institutions offering master’s degrees in leadership. Consider factors like course structure, faculty expertise and reputation.
  • Check requirements: Review the admission criteria for each course, including qualifications, references/letters of recommendation and personal statements.
  • Prepare: Collect all necessary application materials, including a well-written personal statement that outlines your strengths when it comes to academic and professional achievements, career goals and your reasons for wanting to earn a master’s in leadership.
  • Apply: When you’ve completed the above steps, it’s time to submit your applications (before the deadlines.) Follow each application instruction, double-check the information, and submit all required materials on time
  • Complete requirements: So, you’ve been accepted onto a course. Now it’s time to fulfil all academic requirements, including completing coursework, attending classes or seminars and participating in leadership development activities.
  • Graduation: When you’ve completed all course requirements (like coursework, exams and any final projects or presentations), you’ll be awarded a master’s degree in leadership.

What do you need to get a leadership master’s degree?

Are you getting closer to starting a master’s degree in leadership? Take a look at the below:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: Most courses require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. While the specific undergraduate major may vary, some institutions may prefer applicants with a background in business, management, sociology or a related field.
  • Academic prerequisites: Some courses may have specific prerequisites, such as coursework in management, organisational behaviour or statistics. Remember to review the admission requirements of each course you’re interested in before moving on to the next stage.
  • Work experience: Although not always required, many courses ask for relevant work experience, especially in leadership or management roles. Some places may even require a minimum number of years of professional experience.

What will I learn from a master’s degree in leadership?

If you decide to pursue a master’s degree in leadership, you can expect to learn knowledge and skills that will prepare you for leadership roles in various industries. Below are some common topics you may encounter:

  • Leadership theory: Gain a greater understanding of different leadership theories, models and approaches, such as transformational leadership, servant leadership and situational leadership.
  • Organisational behaviour: Study human behaviour within organisations, including motivation, communication, conflict resolution and team dynamics.
  • Strategic leadership: Develop necessary skills in strategic thinking, decision-making and planning to lead organisations towards their goals and objectives.
  • Change management: Learn how to lead and manage organisational change effectively, including techniques for overcoming resistance to change.
  • Ethical leadership: Explore the ethical considerations and responsibilities that leaders face, including principles of ethical decision-making, integrity and social responsibility.
  • Leadership communication: Enhance your communication skills, including public speaking, persuasive communication, active listening and even written communication.

How much is a leadership master’s degree?

As of 2024, pursuing a master’s degree in the UK for students typically falls within the price range of £7,000 to £36,000 per year. This range varies based on factors such as the university, course type and location.

In the United Kingdom, the cost of a master’s degree in leadership can vary depending on the institution, course format and duration. On average, tuition fees in the UK typically range from £6,000 to £20,000 per year for domestic students. For international students, tuition fees may be higher, typically ranging from £12,000 to £30,000 per year or more.

Online degrees are generally cheaper than traditional on-campus courses, as they don’t require physical classroom space or campus facilities. They also tend to be more flexible in delivery, allowing students to access course materials, lectures and assignments from anywhere with Wi-Fi.

Plus, online students typically avoid additional expenses like transportation, campus housing and meal plans, which can result in significant cost savings.

Students may also have access to financial aid options such as scholarships, bursaries and student loans to help offset the discussed costs and fees. Researching and comparing different courses, alongside exploring financial aid opportunities, can help you find a master’s degree that suits your financial situation.

What can I do with a leadership master’s degree?

Earning a master’s degree in leadership or an MSc leadership degree can unlock diverse career pathways across multiple industries. Here are some potential avenues to explore:

Leadership and Management Roles

You could fill leadership positions such as team leader, department manager, project manager or executive director within corporations, government agencies and educational institutions.

These positions may offer salaries in the range of £30,000 to £60,000. Others may offer higher salaries, particularly in sectors such as finance, tech or healthcare.

Human Resources Management

Another option is to advance towards human resources management roles, such as HR manager or talent development manager, focusing on recruiting, training and retaining top talent.

In the UK, these positions generally offer an average base salary of around £42,000.


Why not consider starting your own leadership consulting firm? Or you could join a consulting firm, providing strategic guidance, coaching and advisory services to organisations looking to improve their leadership effectiveness.

The average salary for consulting roles in leadership can vary depending on factors such as location, level of experience and industry. As a general estimate, however, the average annual salary for consultants specialising in leadership roles in the UK typically ranges from

£40,000 to £80,000 or more.

How long is a leadership master’s degree?

The duration of a master’s degree in leadership typically ranges from 1 to 2 years of full-time study, depending on the course structure, curriculum and format. Here is a list of the standard formats:

  • Full-Time: Normally requires 1-2 years of continuous study to complete all the necessary coursework, seminars and projects. Students tend to dedicate themselves to their studies full-time, attending weekday classes and completing assignments outside of class hours.
  • Part-Time: Designed to accommodate working professionals or individuals with other commitments who cannot attend classes full-time. This format may extend the length of the degree to 2-3 years or more.
  • Accelerated: Some institutions offer accelerated or intensive courses that allow students to complete their degree in a shorter time frame, such as 1-1.5 years. This option involves a bigger course load and may require students to attend classes during evenings and weekends.
  • Online: An online master’s degree in leadership offers flexible scheduling options, allowing students to complete their coursework independently. The duration can vary depending on the student’s preferred pace of study, but they typically follow a similar time frame to full-time or part-time on-campus courses.

Why get a leadership master’s degree?

There are lots of reasons why individuals may choose to pursue a master’s degree in leadership, including:

  • Career advancement: A leadership master’s degree can enhance your qualifications and create opportunities for career advancement into leadership and management roles. It provides you with the required knowledge, skills and credentials for senior positions.
  • Skill development: Leadership courses cover various topics related to leadership theory, strategic thinking, decision-making and team management. A master’s degree in leadership allows you to develop and refine essential leadership skills highly valued in the workplace.
  • Specialisation: Plenty of leadership courses offer opportunities for specialisation in specific areas such as healthcare leadership, nonprofit leadership and international leadership. Focussing on a particular area can help you develop expertise in a niche field and stand out in the job market.
  • Personal Growth: Pursuing a master’s degree in leadership is not just about learning professional skills. It can also be about personal growth and self-discovery, journeys that can help you become a more effective and empathetic leader.

Choosing if a leadership master’s degree is right for you

Deciding whether a master’s degree in leadership is the right choice for you requires careful consideration. Take a look at the list below to help you determine if it aligns with your goals and aspirations:

  • Reflect on your career goals: Are you looking to advance into leadership roles within your current field? Or do you want to transition into a new industry? Consider how a leadership master’s degree can help you achieve your career objectives.
  • Evaluate your skills: Take stock of your current skills, experience and qualifications. Do you already possess some leadership experience or have a background in management? Think about how a master’s degree in leadership would add to your existing strengths.
  • Research course options: Consider different courses to find one that suits your interests and preferences.
  • Assess your finances: Evaluate the cost of tuition, fees and other expenses associated with pursuing a leadership master’s degree. Consider how you’ll finance your education, including financial aid like scholarships, grants and student loans.
  • Seek advice: Consult with academic advisors, career counsellors and even leadership professionals to gain insights. Discuss your aspirations, educational goals and any concerns with trusted individuals who can provide support.

How will you be assessed on a leadership master’s degree?

Assessment methods vary depending on the course structure and learning objectives. But you can expect a combination of:

  • Written assignments: Essays, research papers, case studies and reports are often used to assess students’ understanding of leadership theories, concepts and principles.
  • Presentations: Oral presentations, both individual and group, may be used to assess students’ communication skills, public speaking abilities and presentation techniques.
  • Case studies: These are commonly used to simulate real-world leadership scenarios and challenges. Students may be asked to analyse case studies and identify key issues, develop action plans and present their recommendations for effective leadership strategies.
  • Group projects: Collaborative group projects allow students to work together to address complex leadership issues and develop practical solutions.
  • Exams: Written exams, quizzes and online assessments may be used to evaluate students’ understanding. Exams may include multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions or essay questions covering a range of course material.

Can I get a leadership master’s degree online?

You can earn a master’s degree in leadership online through several accredited universities and institutions. Online courses offer flexibility and convenience, allowing you to complete your degree from anywhere with an internet connection while simultaneously balancing other commitments.

Online programmes typically offer the same courses and learning outcomes as their on-campus counterparts. However, they make the most of digital technologies and online learning platforms to deliver course materials, lectures, assignments, and other necessary factors in a virtual format.

Key features of online courses may include:

  • Flexible schedule: Online courses offer asynchronous learning, allowing you to access course materials and complete assignments at your own pace and on your own schedule.
  • Remote access: You can easily participate in classes, discussions and group projects with Wi-Fi, eliminating the need for commuting.
  • Supportive resources: Online students have access to a range of supportive resources, including academic advisors, technical support, library resources and online communities.

Leadership and Career Vision nano-MBA

  • 6 weeks
  • postgraduate
  • Flexible Learning
Apply now

Final thoughts

As you consider whether to pursue a master’s degree in leadership, you must reflect on your career goals, personal aspirations and educational objectives. You’ll undoubtedly gain valuable skills, knowledge and credentials to advance your career, making a positive impact and achieving your professional goals.

Remember to research and evaluate different courses to find one that aligns with your interests, learning style and schedule. 

Plus, earning a master’s degree in leadership is not just about acquiring academic credentials. It’s also about personal growth, professional development and lifelong learning.

Ultimately, it’s a significant investment in your future. By taking the time to assess your goals and commit to your education, you can embark on a path of leadership excellence.

>> Explore our collection of online leadership degrees

Related stories on FutureLearn

FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now