Master's in
Strategic Management and Executive Leadership

Program Summary

Prepare to lead organizations at the highest level. This program focuses on strategic thinking and leadership and is designed to help you master organizational strategies that drive effectiveness and performance.
How To Apply
Apply by March 30 to start May 15

How To Apply 

Costs and Financial Aid

30 Credits $1,236 per credit

Costs and Financial Aid 

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.

Earn a Valuable Credential along the Way

Maximize your ROI by earning multiple credentials along the way to your master’s degree. Thanks to shared courses across programs, students can further specialize their knowledge and earn a graduate certificate in a wide variety of concentration areas.

To learn more about these added credentials, contact an adviser by emailing [email protected].

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.

Penn State World Campus Student

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