What is Organizational Leadership?

Take an in-depth look to see if this UC major aligns with your goals

By Erinn Sweet

What happens when companies and organizations value people over profit? Can leadership in the workplace be taught, or is it a practiced skill? These and other questions are just few of the topics addressed in the University of Cincinnati's organizational leadership major, designed to teach students to cultivate and apply leadership skills in corporate, nonprofit or community settings.

Offered through the College of Arts and Sciences, the program combines a liberal arts education with a curriculum that focuses on theoretical and practical study of leadership. In the classroom, students gain tactical career experience through class projects, guest lectures, and certifications that provide them with marketable knowledge.

“This degree is a pathway,” says assistant professor Thomas Mobley.

He notes that at least one-third of students graduate with a professional certification (for example, certification through the Society for Human Resource Management). Mobley adds that about 60% of undergraduates in the program complete an internship, giving them vaulable work experience.

Real-world experience

Outside the classroom, the program offers a networking approach to learning by connecting students with community leaders, companies, and organizations in the Greater Cincinnati area and beyond for internship and co-op opportunities. UC is ranked fourth in the nation for co-op and internships in U.S. News Best Colleges 2022.

“We are interested in helping our students find work with nonprofits and companies. We have a network of over 100 nonprofits in areas like child development, homelessness, animals, and international food banks, that work with our students,” says assistant professor Megan Church-Nally.

My organizational leadership degree equipped me to be able to handle the many challenges facing leaders today.

Maurice B. Stewart, UC organizational leadership graduate

Classroom learning combined with hands-on work experience provide students with an edge when marketing themselves to prospective employers. Some students after graduation get hired by the companies that provided their internship or co-op.

UC College of Arts and Sciences student Lindsay Stover decided to major in organizational leadership.

This major fit well in my professional career,” Stover said. “I was given a great gift of learning exactly what I needed to help me be a better employee.”

Notable classes

Students may choose one of two tracks to complete their degree: talent development or nonprofit. The talent-development track is tailored for students who have a specific interest in working with people and organizational psychology. The nonprofit track is for students who have a specific interest in nonprofit work and community leadership.

Regardless of which track one takes, the program offers seminars like “How to Change the World,” “How to End Modern Day Slavery,” “Women and Activism,” “Organizational Behavior for Effective Leaders” and others.

Although the courses above are not always offered each semester, some of the course material in these organizational leadership classes overlaps with disciplines such as Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, psychology and communication, among others.

Conveniently, students may pick up minors and certificates in other areas of study to round out their academic resumes.

Career and graduate study possibilities

Equipped with leadership skills and practical knowledge, students can use their degree across many professional sectors, including corporate, nonprofit, government, and education. Graduates from the program have gone on to pursue varied careers such as:

  • Health care administrator
  • Marketing manager
  • Financial loan officer
  • Restaurant owner
  • Employee relations representative
  • Educator
  • Government official

Graduates, however, are not bound to a college-to-career pipeline. Some students pursue graduate education and doctoral degrees before or instead of immediately moving into the workforce.

Take it from a graduate

Maurice B. Stewart graduated from the program in 2016. Prior to discovering organizational leadership, he worked in the hospitality industry. Now, Stewart is the program director for a local nonprofit that serves children experiencing homelessness.

“My organizational leadership degree equipped me to be able to handle the many challenges facing leaders today,” Stewart says. “These courses and this degree helped me become the organizational leader I am today. My ability to motivate my colleagues and manage projects are some of the greatest skills I possess because of this degree program.”

This article is one of a series exploring the features of majors offered through UC’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Featured image at top: Depiction of people working on laptops. Credit/Marvin Meyer on Unsplash.

Find out more

Want to find out more about the Organizational Leadership major at UC? Explore the program here.