a room of leadership professionals listening to a speaker

Bachelor of Arts inOrganizational Leadership

Program summary

Learn to confront the complex social, cultural, and organizational issues that you will face as a leader or manager. This online leadership program features a flexible curriculum so students with prior learning can potentially complete their degree more efficiently.

Application deadline

Apply by March 15 to start May 13

Credits and costs

123 Credits$626/$671 per credit

Nationally Recognized

US News and World Report Bachelor's badge
Our bachelor's degrees are highly ranked by U.S. News & World Report.

Prepare for Advancement with an Online Bachelor's in Organizational Leadership

A rapidly growing global environment creates demand for professionals who are schooled in leadership. Employers look for individuals who exhibit strengths in problem-solving, teamwork, critical thinking, sound judgment and decision-making, listening, and conflict management.

Penn State's Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership focuses on contemporary labor management and supervisory leadership issues. This fully online program draws on the disciplines of the liberal arts, business, and sciences so that you can bring a broad and global perspective to the exercise of leadership. As a student, you can:

  • explore a leader's role and function within contemporary organizations
  • study the supervisory and managerial behaviors of successful leaders
  • learn how an organization's internal structure impacts employee performance
  • identify strategies for overcoming conflict and obstacles in the workplace
  • understand how leaders exercise influence in social groups and teams

Why Study Leadership Online at Penn State?

100% Online for Maximum Flexibility — Online courses are designed for working adults and provide you with the flexibility and convenience to study around your schedule. You have the option to study part-time or full-time, and you can even set your own pace by creating a customized path to completion.

Nationally Recognized — This top-ranked program is taught by highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines.

Practical Skills and Social Intelligence — Develop career-ready skills as you learn to manage and nurture business and professional relationships through motivational strategies, conflict management, and other forms of interpersonal and social influence.

Military-Friendly— The program may grant credit for military training courses, so you can get a head start on your degree.

A Degree to Meet Your Needs: B.A. or B.S.

While both degree programs include most of the same required leadership courses, the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership takes a more humanistic approach by integrating additional course work in the social sciences, humanities, and language. Additionally, the curriculum's enhanced flexibility is ideal for students who hope to leverage previously earned college credit to complete their degree faster and/or individuals who already possess some leadership experience.

If you have a more quantitative mindset, appreciate research and analysis, and/or have no leadership (or supervisory) experience, you might prefer the social-scientific approach and additional leadership course work required in our Bachelor of Science in Organizational Leadership.

Who Should Apply?

This 100% online degree program is appealing to professionals and students with a variety of backgrounds, particularly if you:

  • occupy a managerial/leadership position but must obtain a degree for further professional advancement
  • have faced challenges starting or completing your college education due to life circumstances or geographical constraints
  • are an active-duty soldier or veteran looking to advance in the military ranks or transition into civilian life

Talk to an Organizational Leadership Graduate 

If you would like to speak to a graduate of the program, complete this form to be connected with an Alumni Ambassador. These alumni have offered to answer specific questions about the student experience and discuss any concerns you may be having before you apply.

Courses

In addition to required courses in organizational leadership, you will also choose from courses in communication arts and sciences; crime, law, and justice; labor and employment relations; management; philosophy; political science; psychology; and sociology.

This program requires that you complete a minimum of 123 credits.

A student enrolled in this major must receive a grade of C or better in all courses required for the major.

Prescribed Courses (21 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    This course introduces key leadership concepts and practices based on current theory and research. It is designed to help students to discover the knowledge and skills that are characteristic of effective leaders.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the nature of organizations along with its various interconnected functions such as leadership, financial, communications, technology, production, sales, etc.

  • 3
    credits

    Starts by examining different kinds of evidence and analyzing their quality and usefulness; students can then learn how to use that evidence to improve their leadership.

    • 3
      credits

      Theory- and research-based communication skills for leaders dealing with work-related problems in contemporary groups and organizations.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Surveys the theory, research, and practice related to the communication processes by which individuals in groups and organizations exercise influence, whether or not they occupy positions of acknowledged leadership.

    • 3
      credits

      Application of theories of decision-making to work-related issues in groups and organizations requiring collective resolution and action.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Application of theories of decision making to work-related issues in groups and organizations requiring collective resolution and action.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to general psychology; principles of human behavior and their applications.

  • 3
    credits

    Survey of theory and research with respect to attitudes, morale, and motivation of employees and management.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100; PSYCH 200 or STAT 200

Additional Courses (12 credits)

Select one course from each area.

Critical Thinking (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    The use, analysis, and design of information systems and technologies to organize, coordinate, and inform human enterprises.

    • Note

      The credits earned in this course may be applied toward the Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS) requirement.

  • 3
    credits

    Discussion of the validity, soundness, and fallacies of everyday language use and reasoning; informal logic; and manipulative arguments and propaganda.

    • GH

      The credits earned in this course may be applied toward the Humanities (GH) requirement.

Organizational Behavior (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    The course will be offered at an introductory level. It is designed to encourage students to explore individual and group behavior at work.

  • 3
    credits

    Personnel selection, training, accident prevention, morale, and organizational behavior.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

Conflict Management (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Theories and strategies important for conceptualizing, developing, and managing conflict negotiation, mediation, and third-party intervention.

    • Prerequisite

      3rd Semester Standing or 6 credits of CAS

  • 3
    credits

    The objective of this course is to enhance students' abilities to use a range of methodologies to evaluate and conduct research in the field of employment relations and human resource management.

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines dispute resolution procedures in unionized and nonunion workplaces.

    • Prerequisite

      LHR 100 or 3 other credits of LHR or 6th 5th Semester standing

  • 3
    credits

    Experiential-based course covering the four main social research methods: available data, survey research, experiments, and field research.

    • Prerequisite

      3 credits in Sociology

Ethics (select 3 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Explores ethics from both a normative and behavioral perspective; four interrelated and mutually reinforcing subject areas will be explored in the course at the individual, organizational and transnational levels business ethics, ethics in unionized firms, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability.

    • Prerequisite

      LHR 100 or fifth-semester standing or 3 other credits of LHR

  • 3
    credits

    Leaders, in whatever context, make difficult decisions, distribute scarce resources, direct and influence the conduct of others, and represent the goals of the enterprise they lead. Thus they ought to exemplify prudence, fairness, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, and morally upright behavior. This course investigates these concepts and the moral dilemmas that arise in developing or applying them.

Supporting Courses and Related Areas (select 3–4 credits)

Select 3–4 credits at the 400-level from the following list of courses. Courses that are used in the Additional Courses category may not be double-counted to satisfy this requirement.

  • 3
    credits

    The course examines the continuing influence of social and environmental factors in shaping leadership and leadership development.

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores the science and practice of leadership around the globe through pertinent scholarly literature and related instructional resources.

    • Prerequisite

      OLEAD 100 and sixth-semester standing

  • 3
    credits

    Through the review of literature and research on leadership, problem-solving in leadership scenarios, and self-assessment, students will gain a working definition of leadership and identify and develop leadership traits/competencies to encourage more women to be successful future leaders.

    • Prerequisite

      OLEAD 100 and sixth-semester standing

  • 1–12
    credits

    Supervised practicum in organizational leadership.

  • 1–18
    credits

    Creative projects, including research and design, which are supervised on an individual basis and which fall outside the scope of formal courses.

  • 3
    credits

    The study of social influence, leadership and status, and social cohesion and commitment processes in small groups.

  • 3
    credits

    Work and occupational life in modern society; work in the past, present, and future.

  • 3
    credits

    The role of gender in shaping contemporary North American patterns of employment, occupational roles, and statuses.

Or any 400-level course from:

ACCTG, AFAM, AFR, AGBM, AMST, ANTH, ASIA, BA, BBH, BLAW, CAS, CEDEV, COMM, CRIM, CRIMJ, ECON, EDUC, ENTR, FIN, FR, GER, HIST, HDFS, HLS, HPA, IB, IST, IT, LA, LAS, LAWSC, LHR, MATH, MGMT, MIS, MKTG, OLEAD, PHIL, PLSC, PSYCH, PUBPL, RUS, SCM, SOC, SPAN, STAT, WMNST

Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements

Some Bachelor of Arts requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major, General Education courses, or electives. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Foreign Language: 0–12 credits
    Students must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language.
  • B.A. Fields: 9 credits
    Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (cannot be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)
  • Other Cultures: 0–3 credits
    Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Foundations: 15 credits  
    All courses require a grade of C or better. Inter-Domain courses may not be used for foundations requirements. 
    • Writing/Speaking: 9 credits 
    • Quantification: 6 credits 
      3-6 credits are selected from mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics; 3 credits may be selected from computer science or symbolic logic. 
  • Knowledge Domains: 15 credits  
    Inter-Domain courses may not be used for knowledge domain requirements.
    • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits 
    • Arts (GA): 3 credits 
    • Humanities (GH): 3 credits 
    • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits  
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    • Inter-Domain course work: 6 credits  
  • Exploration: 9 credits 
    • Natural Sciences (GN) (may be Inter-Domain): 3 credits
    • GA, GH, GN, GS, and Inter-Domain courses: 6 credits  
      May include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the requirements of the student’s degree program or at the 12th credit level, whichever is higher.

These General Education Requirements are for students who started in summer 2023 or later. Students who started earlier can review the prior version of the general education requirements

Elective Courses (select 18-24 credits)

Among the degree requirements, students should incorporate at least:

  • 3 credits in U.S. cultures
  • 3 credits in international (IL) cultures
  • 3 credits in writing-across-the-curriculum courses

The course list includes only courses offered by World Campus. An official degree audit or the recommended academic plan for this program may include additional course options and detailed requirements. All students are expected to complete at least 36 Penn State credits to earn this degree. Please consult an academic adviser for details.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

Costs and Financial Aid

Undergraduate Tuition

Undergraduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register and the number of total credits you have accrued at or transferred to Penn State.

Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.

2023–24 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2023, spring 2024, and summer 2024 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$626 per credit$671 per credit
12–19$7,602 per semester$8,206 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

2024–25 Academic Year Rates

Tuition rates for the fall 2024, spring 2025, and summer 2025 semesters.

How many credits do you plan to take per semester?If you have 59 or fewer creditsIf you have 60 or more credits
11 or fewer$632 per credit$678 per credit
12–19$7,678 per semester$8,288 per semester

Undergraduate students taking more than 19 credits will be charged the flat tuition rate plus the regular per credit hour rate for each credit above 19. 

Financial Aid and Military Benefits

Some students may qualify for financial aid. Take the time to research financial aid, scholarships, and payment options as you prepare to apply. Military service members, veterans, and their spouses or dependents should explore these potential military education benefits and financial aid opportunities, as well.

How to Apply

Deadlines and Important Dates

Your degree application, including receipt of all transcripts, must be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.

  • Summer DeadlineApply by March 15 to start May 13
  • Fall DeadlineApply by June 30 to start August 26
  • Spring DeadlineApply by October 31, 2024, to start January 13, 2025

New students are encouraged to complete the FAFSA by March 1. Please visit the Office of Student Aid website for more information about applying for financial aid and recommended deadlines.

Admissions Help

Thank you for your interest in applying to this program. Contact an admissions counselor to discuss your educational goals, financial aid options, and application deadlines.

Admission Requirements

To apply for this program, you must be a high school graduate, or have completed your GED. 

What You Need

Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. You will need the following items to complete your application:

High school transcripts or GED transcript - First-year applicants are required to submit Self-Reported Academic Records (SRAR). Official high school transcripts will only be required at the time a student accepts an offer of admission to Penn State.

Official college or university transcripts, if you attended another institution, and/or official military transcripts (if applicable). (All college or university transcripts are required regardless of the length of time that has passed, the grades earned, or the accreditation of the institutions attended. Acceptance of transfer credit toward your degree is subject to final approval by the academic department. For detailed information, see the Transfer Students page.)

Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Please send your transcripts by mail or electronically through Parchment, eScrip-Safe, or the National Student Clearinghouse directly to Penn State from the college/university where coursework was attempted.

Submit official documents by mail to:

Undergraduate Admissions Office
The Pennsylvania State University
201 Shields Building
University Park PA 16802

English Proficiency — The language of instruction at Penn State is English. With some exceptions, international applicants must take and submit scores for the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS). Minimum test scores and exceptions are found in the English Language Proficiency section on the Undergraduate Admissions International Requirements page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.

Start Your Application

Former Penn State students may not need to complete the admissions application. Please visit our Returning Students page for instructions. 

If this is your first time applying to Penn State, you'll need to complete the following steps:

  1. Review the application instructions before beginning.
  2. Complete the online application and submit all official documents.
  3. Pay the application fee.

Checking Your Status

You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form and choosing "MyPennState — Check Application Status." Your decision letter (confirming your acceptance or denial) will be mailed four to six weeks after receipt of all application materials. An admissions counselor will contact you if additional information is required.

Technical Requirements 

Review the technical requirements for this degree program.

Ready to Learn More?

Get the resources you need to make informed decisions about your education. Request information on this program and other programs of interest by completing this form.

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Start or Advance Your Career

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You can use the knowledge gained from this program and the support of Penn State career resources to pursue careers in a variety of fields, depending on your goals.


Job Titles Related to This Degree

The following roles are often held by people with this type of degree:

  • Account Manager
  • Business Manager
  • Client Relationship Manager
  • Development Director
  • Regional Sales Manager

Employment Outlook for Occupational Fields Related to This Degree

Estimates of employment growth and total employment are provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and are subject to change. While these occupations are often pursued by graduates with this degree, individual outcomes may vary depending on a variety of factors. Penn State World Campus cannot guarantee employment in a given occupation.

General and Operations Managers

4.2%
employment growth (10 years)
3,376,680
total employment

Sales Managers

4%
employment growth (10 years)
536,390
total employment

Fundraising Managers

5.1%
employment growth (10 years)
26,240
total employment

What Can You Do with a Leadership Degree?

A Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership can prepare you to work in a range of relationship-focused careers in which your leadership skills can contribute positively to the overall business climate and interpersonal interactions, including:

  • manufacturing
  • service industries
  • government
  • communications
  • charitable and nonprofit organizations
  • multinational organizations

Career Services to Set You Up for Success

Student having a virtual meeting on a laptop with a career counselor

From the day you're accepted as a student, you can access resources and tools provided by Penn State World Campus Career Services to further your career. These resources are beneficial whether you're searching for a job or advancing in an established career.

  • Opportunities to connect with employers
  • Career counselor/coach support
  • Occupation and salary information
  • Internships
  • Graduate school resources 

Contact Us

To learn more about the Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership, offered in partnership with the Penn State College of the Liberal Arts, please contact:

World Campus Admissions Counselors
Phone: 814-863-5386
Email: [email protected]

School Director

Elaine Farndale

Director, School of Labor and Employment Relations

  • Degree
    Ph.D., Cranfield University of Management, United Kingdom
  • Degree
    M.A., Personnel Management, Kingston University, United Kingdom
  • Degree
    B.A., French and Modern Dutch Studies, University of Hull, United Kingdom

Dr. Elaine Farndale ​is director of the School of Labor and Employment Relations and a professor of human resource management. Dr. Farndale's areas of specialization and research include international and comparative human resource management (HRM); the power, professionalism, and roles of the HR department; HRM and firm performance; change management and HRM; eHRM and new HR delivery mechanisms; and HRM and employee engagement. She has presented numerous papers at international conferences and has published articles and chapters in both the practitioner and academic press. Dr. Farndale has also worked as an HR specialist for several years.

Lead Faculty

Brian Redmond

  • Degree
    Ph.D., I/O Psychology, Graduate Center, City University of New York
  • Degree
    M.A., I/O Psychology, New York University
  • Degree
    B.A., Psychology, Castleton State University

Dr. Brian Redmond is a teaching professor and the lead faculty for labor and human resources and organizational leadership. He worked in several organizations (manufacturing, financial, education, management, and service) before deciding that education was his true calling. He still performs organizational consulting, specifically in the realms of leadership, organizational behavior, and online education. Dr. Redmond teaches and authors courses in leadership that span the undergraduate, graduate, and professional levels. He has been teaching online since 2004. He has published and presented research and applied solutions regarding online education since 2003.

Faculty

  • Carol Cameron

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Organization and Management, Capella University
    • Degree
      MBA, Organizational Behavior, Westminster College

    Dr. Carol Cameron has been a corporate leadership and organization development consultant for more than 20 years, working with a range of organizations, from Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial start-ups in industries that include health care, financial services, high tech, and more. She transitioned to the academic arena in 2012, joining Harvard University as an internal consultant and executive coach to its deans and department administrators, and leading curriculum design and facilitation efforts for executive education in Harvard's Center for Workplace Development.

  • Donna J. Dennis

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Human Development, Fielding Graduate University
    • Degree
      M.S., Master of Education, University of Illinois
    • Degree
      B.S., Elementary Education, University of Illinois

    Dr. Donna J. Dennis has worked as the vice president of company-wide talent management, designed leadership training, provided strategic planning and coaching programs, and provided executive development services, such as the facilitation of programs and identification of leadership and career development resources. Donna developed and facilitated the succession planning process for executive development at C.R. Bard, Inc. She also taught at the Wharton Business School and the University of Pennsylvania. Since launching Leadership Solutions Consulting, LLC, she has earned certification in executive coaching.

  • Michael Hamel

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Applied Psychology, Southern Illinois University-Carbondale
    • Degree
      M.S., Applied Psychology, Shippensburg University
    • Degree
      B.S., Biopsychology, Penn State

    Dr. Michael Hamel has worked for more than a decade as an organizational consultant in both private and public industry, including the USAF, to evaluate and enhance their force-wide suicide prevention program. In his career, he has served as an instructor for research methods and statistics, organizational psychology, and I/O psychology. He serves as the evaluation director for Penn State Extension, leading a team of evaluation specialists in providing support for a multitude of educational programming initiatives.

  • Carmen Jones

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Organizational Leadership, Argosy University
    • Degree
      MBA, Point Park University
    • Degree
      M.S., Project Management, Keller Graduate School of Management
    • Degree
      B.S., Point Park University

    Dr. Carmen Jones has held increasingly responsible positions with a major telecommunications company, providing business leadership in customer service, training and development, and upper management. She also uses her business expertise to work with a major health insurance company in its short-term disability division. Her research interests center on improving the understanding and performance of call center employees and their perceptions of motivation.

  • Douglas Lindsay

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Penn State
    • Degree
      M.S., Experimental Psychology, University of Texas at San Antonio
    • Degree
      B.S., Behavioral Sciences, United States Air Force Academy

    Dr. Douglas Lindsay served for more than 22 years in the Air Force, where he held various roles such as scientist, professor, psychologist, and director. Since leaving the military, he has worked for several higher education institutions, businesses, and consulting organizations, developing leadership programs and educational courses focused on executive education and development. In addition to his consulting and coaching, he is the executive editor for the Center for Character and Leadership Development at the United States Air Force Academy.

  • Allison Maurer

    • Degree
      Ph.D., I/O Psychology, Saint Louis University
    • Degree
      M.S., I/O Psychology, Saint Louis University
    • Degree
      B.S., Business Administration, Fontbonne University

    Dr. Allison Maurer has extensive experience in both the science and practice of management in the government (e.g., United States Secret Service and Department of Justice) and other business areas (e.g., Panera Bread, March of Dimes, and Badges for Vets). Her current research interests fall broadly into two categories: personnel selection and managerial decision-making. She has also taught a range of management courses at more than seven higher education institutions, including Penn State.

  • Kim Trahan

    • Degree
      Ph.D., Organizational Systems, Saybrook University 
    • Degree
      M.S., Counseling and Human Development, University of Rochester 
    • Degree
      B.A., Psychology/History, University of Rochester

    Dr. Kim Trahan is an assistant teaching professor in organizational leadership. She has spent her career serving as an educator, administrator, career counselor, and consultant. Her work within universities has included teaching online undergraduate leadership courses and working as a career placement administrator, career programming administrator, and career counselor. Her human resources background includes serving as a training and development administrator. Dr. Trahan's interest is in emotional intelligence–based mindfulness approaches to help build leadership capacity.

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