Credits and costs
Lead Strategically to Drive Peak Performance in Your Organization
Penn State’s Master's in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership is designed to help you develop your ability to think strategically and embrace the language and process of strategy. You can learn how to form and implement effective strategies and how to achieve buy-in across your organization.
This specialized master’s degree builds on your extensive experience and previous education to help you transition to an executive leader who rises above the day-to-day operations. This career-focused program helps you develop strategic thinking skills to:
- interpret and read macro trends (political, economic, sociocultural, technological, demographic)
- determine how these trends will impact the organization
- analyze the competitive landscape to carve out a strong market position and competitive advantage
- develop a long-term plan to accommodate a changing environment
- share your ideas with multiple stakeholders and gain alignment from them
- effectively implement strategy while making ethical decisions
Experience a Unique and Flexible Online Curriculum
Learn when it's right for you thanks to flexible, asynchronous online courses. Meet your work and school deadlines by completing your assignments when it’s most convenient for you. You can also attend optional synchronous online sessions to engage with your peers and professors throughout the program. All sessions are recorded so you can access them at any time.
Why Strategy and Leadership at Penn State?
Top Producer of CEOs — In 2018, LinkedIn ranked Penn State second in the country for producing the most CEOs, ahead of many Ivy League institutions. You can leverage our reputation to advance your career.
Top 25 in Faculty Research — Faculty from the Penn State Smeal College of Business rank internationally for research productivity, according to the UT Dallas Business School Research Rankings.
Flexibility and Engagement — Penn State’s flexible online platform allows you to earn a world-class education while you continue to gain valuable work experience. You will interact with dedicated, goal-oriented peers from around the world, creating a network of great ideas.
An Online Degree for Executive Leaders
With the Master’s in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership, you can acquire in-depth expertise in leading an organization at the highest level. This program adopts a focused emphasis on strategic thinking and leadership — with topics that include strategic management, strategy implementation, organizational change, leadership and identity, power and influence, ethical responsibilities, and leading diverse organizations. The program ends with a capstone course that entails a comprehensive analysis of your company and yourself, drawing upon your experience and lessons learned.
Additionally, as a student of the program, you will join a community of other driven business leaders who value collaboration. You will have the ability to participate in small group discussions and case analysis teams and engage in interactive online discussion forums.
Who Should Apply?
This fully online program is ideal for managers, executives, and directors with 7–10 years of work experience and at least five years of managerial or organizational leadership experience.
The typical audience for this program includes experienced managers who desire continued advancement into senior leadership positions. They have their sights set on taking a primary guiding role in their organization and therefore want to develop their ability to think strategically and position their organization for growth and success in a changing environment. Individuals with extensive military leadership experience are also encouraged to apply.
The students you will learn with in your program will come from a variety of backgrounds, including business, IT, engineering, life sciences, and more. They will likely have at least five years of managerial experience, knowledge of organizational change, and while not required, may already possess an MBA or other graduate-level degree.
Customize Your Master's Degree With a Concentration
Tailor your degree by selecting a concentration that suits your unique career goals, plays to your strengths, and/or improves your overall marketability. You may select from one of four concentrations:
Architecting Strategy and Innovation — Advance the knowledge, perspectives, and skills needed to effectively execute business strategy and implement effective corporate innovation strategies.
Business Sustainability Strategy — Gain the knowledge to implement sustainability practices into core business strategy and operations.
Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship — Explore the principles of innovation and entrepreneurship so you can support a corporate culture that fosters positive change and forward thinking.
Negotiation and Influence — Develop critical negotiation skills and knowledge that can help you identify and gain sources of power at work.
Start When You're Ready
There are three intakes per year, so you can begin the program in the fall, spring, or summer, according to your own schedule and needs.
Set Your Own Pace
Take one or two classes per semester based on what your life will allow. Need a semester off? No problem. Want to speed up or slow down? This program gives you the flexibility to do so.
Looking to earn your degree as quickly as possible?
If you take two courses per semester, it's possible to complete this degree in roughly 20 months.
Looking to fit your degree around a busy life?
Alternately, you can take your time and complete courses at your own pace. Some students take just one course per semester.
Study with a Trusted Leader in Online Education
Penn State has more than 100 years of experience in distance education and more than two decades of experience in online education. Our online learning environment offers you the same quality education our resident students experience in a face-to-face setting.
Benefit from Partnering with Smeal College of Business
You'll benefit from the Penn State Smeal College of Business' commitment to being your partner in lifelong learning. Smeal offers programs, support, and resources for every career stage and life circumstance that will prepare you not only for your next great opportunity but also for the one after that. You'll receive:
- personal advising
- access to global immersion trips
- specialized career coaching upon graduation
- additional networking opportunities
Global Immersion Program Opportunity
Students will have the opportunity to participate in an optional Global Immersion trip. For one week, you will join fellow Penn Staters from the Smeal College of Business to visit a pivotal global business region in order to develop critical awareness of international business practices and diverse cultures. Visit our courses page to learn more.
Information for Military and Veterans
Are you a member of the military, a veteran, or a military spouse? Please visit our military website for additional information regarding financial aid, transfer credits, or application instructions.
The 30-credit Master's in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership is designed to help you think more strategically; enhance your ability to formulate, articulate, and implement strategy; and lead in an ethical and responsible manner.
Depending on the semester of admission and course offering schedule, you can complete the program in as little as five semesters of study with each semester consisting of at least two courses.
Your courses are primarily asynchronous — meaning you are not required to attend online classes at a specific time. Most courses, however, will include a voluntary synchronous session weekly or bi-weekly that allows you to interact with professors and peers virtually. These engaging sessions are recorded, giving you the chance to watch them at a later date, if your schedule allows.
Your education will also blend self-study with peer-to-peer interaction over an online learning network. You'll complete weekly assignments, readings, discussions, and occasional group work, as well as exams and other activities designed to enhance your learning outcomes, all at times that are most convenient for you.
Core Courses (15 credits)
Concentration Courses (6 credits)
In addition to the core courses, students will select a 6-credit concentration in Business Sustainability Strategy, Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or Negotiation and Influence.
Architecting Strategy and Innovation (6 credits)
Business Sustainability Strategy (6 credits)
Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship (6 credits)
Negotiation and Influence (6 credits)
Electives (select 6 credits)
Students may select any two courses from the following list of electives maintained by the program. This list may change over time in response to market demand.
Capstone Experience (3 credits)
Optional Global Immersion Experience
This learning experience is designed to enhance your ability to communicate cross-culturally, adapt to evolving business environments, and manage some of the key risks and benefits of operating on a global scale. The Global Immersion trip may include visits to corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities, as well as meetings with executives and government officials to learn about international business from those experiencing it firsthand in the country you are visiting.
The Global Immersion trip and corresponding course(s) will be offered each spring. Please note that course work is required both before and after the trip. Online students may pursue the Global Immersion experience/courses in one of two ways:
- Option 1: Take BA 836 for 1 credit in a spring semester. The 1-credit course will include the trip and associated pre/post-work. BA 836 would be an additional credit on top of the 30 required to graduate.
- Option 2: Take BA 836 for 1 credit AND BA 835 for 2 credits during spring semester. Together, the 3 credits will involve more extensive course work in this subject area and will include the trip. The 3 combined credits for BA 835 and 836 may replace one 3-credit program elective course with approval. Please contact the program office with any questions.
We aim to have enough students across programs to allow students to choose from 3–4 locations each spring. Past trips for the full-time and executive students have included Johannesburg, South Africa; Shanghai, China; Prague, Czech Republic; and Santiago, Chile. The trip choices will be made by the program faculty directors based on global business climate and corporate and alumni relationships that will allow for the most fruitful experience. Please contact the program office for more details, including fee structure, upcoming dates, and locations. Please note that students pay course tuition as well as an additional trip fee to participate in the Global Immersion experience.
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
Graduate tuition is calculated based on the number of credits for which you register. Tuition is due shortly after each semester begins and rates are assessed every semester of enrollment.
|How many credits do you plan to take per semester?||Cost|
|11 or fewer||$1,236 per credit|
|12 or more||$14,832 per semester|
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, should be received by the following deadlines to be considered complete.
- Fall Deadline: Apply by July 1 to start August 21
- Spring Deadline: Apply by November 1 to start January 8
- Summer Deadline: Apply by March 30, 2024, to start May 13, 2024
Space is limited and you are encouraged to apply early. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all seats are filled.
If you have questions about the admissions process, contact our admissions counselors.
For admission to the Graduate School, an applicant must hold either (1) a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution or (2) a tertiary (postsecondary) degree that is deemed comparable to a four-year bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution. This degree must be from an officially recognized degree-granting institution in the country in which it operates.
Applicants may come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines and typically have about 10 years of post-undergraduate, professional work experience. We recommend that applicants have at least 5 years of current managerial or team leadership experience. Extensive leadership experience in the military will also be considered. Exceptional students that fall outside of these general guidelines may be considered.
What You Need
Applications are submitted electronically and include a nonrefundable application fee. Applicants who are in the military qualify for an application fee waiver. Contact us to request the military fee waiver code. You will need to upload the following items as part of your application:
Official transcripts from each institution attended, regardless of the number of credits or semesters completed. Transcripts not in English must be accompanied by a certified translation. Penn State alumni do not need to request transcripts for credits earned at Penn State, but must list Penn State as part of their academic history. If you are admitted, you will be asked to send an additional official transcript. You will receive instructions at that time.
GRE/GMAT scores are NOT required.
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 Proficiency section on the Graduate School's "Requirements for Graduate Admission" page. Visit the TOEFL website for testing information. Penn State's institutional code is 2660.
References (2) — you will need to initiate the process through the online application by entering names, email addresses, and mailing addresses of two references. Upon submission of your application, an email will be sent to each reference requesting they complete a brief online recommendation. References must be able to attest to your readiness for graduate study.
Please inform all recommenders they must submit the form in order for your application to be complete. Recent work or military supervisors are preferred.
Vita or Résumé — A one- to two-page listing of your professional experience and education.
Personal Statement OR Statement of Purpose — A two- to three-page essay articulating career and educational goals that demonstrate your written communication skills.
Video Interview – Some candidates may be asked to participate in a video interview as part of the admissions process.
Start Your Application
You can begin your online application at any time. Your progress within the online application system will be saved as you go, allowing you to return at any point as you gather additional information and required materials.
Begin the Graduate School application
- Choose "Degree Admission" as the enrollment type
- Choose "WORLD CAMPUS" as the campus
- Choose "Strategic Management and Executive Leadership" as the degree
Checking Your Status
You can check the status of your application by using the same login information established for the online application form.
Review the general technical requirements for this program.
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.
Ready to take the next step toward your Penn State master's degree?
Start or Advance Your Career
Start or Advance Your Career
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.
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way
Maximize your ROI by earning multiple credentials before your degree is complete. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can often earn a certificate along with their degree in less time than if they earned them separately.
For questions about the curriculum, you may contact the academic home directly:
Penn State Smeal College of Business
Professional Graduate Programs Office
For general questions about the application process, please contact:
World Campus Admissions Counselors
Email: [email protected]
DegreePh.D., Management, MIT Sloan
DegreeB.A., Harvard College
Forrest Briscoe is a professor of management and a Frank and Mary Jean Smeal Research Fellow in the Penn State Smeal College of Business. He teaches courses in strategic management, business ethics, social entrepreneurship, and organizational theory. His research examines strategic decision-making in relation to a variety of topics, including corporate stakeholders, workforce management, resource allocation, social responsibility, and data governance.
Jennifer L. Eury
DegreePh.D., Higher Education, Penn State
DegreeM.S., Business Administration, Penn State
DegreeM.Ed., Higher Education, Penn State
DegreeB.A., Advertising-Public Relations, Penn State
Dr. Jennifer Eury is a clinical assistant professor of management and organization at the Smeal College of Business, and an affiliate faculty member in the Rock Ethics Institute at Penn State. She teaches courses in ethical leadership, leadership and change in organizations, and management and organization. Her research focuses on individuals’ and organizations’ responses to identity threat, and organizational culture, specifically how culture can foster integrity and ethical behavior.
DegreePh.D., Management and Labor Relations, Rutgers University
DegreeM.Phil., Industrial Relations, IIT, Mumbai, India
DegreeM.S., Political Science, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, India
DegreeB.A., Political Science, Elphinstone College, Mumbai, India
Aparna Joshi is the Arnold Family Professor of Management at the Penn State Smeal College of Business. Her research is focused on resolving diversity and leadership challenges across a number of industries and occupations. Her teaching focuses on building leadership competencies — including self-awareness, empathy, and perspective-taking — that are directed toward leading inclusively across differences. She also teaches courses on diversity and leadership in the undergraduate MBA, MOL, and EMBA programs at Smeal.
Jeffrey A. Krug
DegreeMLE, Institute for Management and Leadership in Education, Harvard University
DegreePh.D., Strategic Management, Indiana University Bloomington
DegreeM.S., International Business, Penn State
DegreeB.A., Economics, Penn State
Dr. Jeffrey A. Krug is the program director for the Master’s in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership program in the Penn State Smeal College of Business, where he teaches courses in strategic management. He also advises startup companies through the Penn State Startup Leadership Network and Happy Valley LaunchBox. His research focuses on corporate strategy, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), global strategy, and the effects of M&As on acquired top management teams.
Vilmos F. Misangyi
DegreePh.D., Strategic Management, University of Florida
DegreeB.A., Financial Administration, Michigan State University
Dr. Vilmos F. Misangyi is a professor of strategic management, the BNY Mellon Fellow, and chair of the Management and Organization Department of the Smeal College of Business. He teaches courses in corporate strategy, strategic management, and power and influence. His research seeks to contribute to an understanding of strategy that extends beyond standard economic and financial accounts by taking a social and behavioral approach to examining how executive and organizational actions influence, and are influenced by, their surrounding environments.
Albert A. Vicere
DegreeD.Ed., Higher Education, Penn State
DegreeM.Ed., Counselor Education, Penn State
DegreeB.A., Advertising, Penn State
Dr. Albert A. Vicere is professor of business administration in the Smeal College of Business where he teaches courses in strategic leadership. He has served as Smeal's associate dean for executive education, faculty director of the Smeal Executive MBA program, and director of the College's Institute for the Study of Organizational Effectiveness. His research interests focus on leadership development and strategy implementation.
Penn State Smeal Advantage
More options, greater flexibility and a commitment to lifelong learning
The desire for knowledge and professional growth spans a lifetime. That is why the Penn State Smeal College of Business offers a portfolio of professional graduate programs for all stages of your career. In partnership with Penn State World Campus, Smeal makes it easy to customize a learning plan to your unique career aspirations and busy schedule. Penn State Smeal offers you a lifetime of learning with more concentrations and one of the most integrated, flexible offerings of online and residential programs in the United States.
An entire team dedicated to your success
Personal advising – Our experts will explain the many options that Penn State Smeal offers and will help you refine your career strategy and craft the educational experience best suited to your interests. It all starts with a simple, but critical question: “What are your goals?”
Career coaching* – Our Alumni Career Services team will support you across all career stages with professional advancement opportunities and coaching to help you stay focused on achieving your goals.
Delivering the best of online and in-person learning for a rich educational experience
We understand that today’s professional learners want meaningful discussion and interaction with faculty and classmates along with the technologies and flexible approaches of contemporary online learning. By aligning the best of both worlds, we bring richness, depth, and diversity to the overall educational experience.
Courses designed to engage and motivate the professional student
Creative Teams consisting of a lead faculty member, a Teaching Support Specialist (TSS), and an Instructional Designer use advanced analytics to develop and deliver contemporary graduate courses that promote application and engagement. We strive to innovate in ways that others don’t.
A real-world perspective
- Industry professionals inside the virtual classroom – Many of Penn State Smeal’s courses feature industry professionals who have been in the trenches and work hard to make an impact every day. These individuals, most of whom hold a Smeal graduate degree, partner with our renowned faculty to provide a rich academic context with real-world application.
- Global immersion* – This unique, optional experience will enhance your ability to communicate cross-culturally, adapt to evolving business environments, and manage the risks and benefits of operating on a global scale. Any student pursing a full degree from Smeal may participate in this optional, faculty-led experience for elective credit. Previous destinations have included Shanghai, China; Johannesburg, South Africa; Prague, Czech Republic; Santiago, Chile; and Zagreb, Croatia.
One of the largest and most influential networks in the country
At Penn State, you are part of a worldwide community of instructors, learners, and more than 750,000 alumni who support one another and make a meaningful impact.
More than 90,000 Smeal alumni benefit from connections around the globe as well as networking events, podcasts, webinars, a powerful LinkedIn community, and opportunities for volunteerism.
* Services are available only to students and alumni of Penn State Smeal’s degree programs and online degrees led by Smeal and delivered through the World Campus. Students and alumni of online graduate certificates are not eligible to receive these benefits unless they are also enrolled in a degree program.