What You Can Do (and Become) with a Master's in Leadership Studies

Published on: July 2, 2020

If you’ve ever considered heading back to school for a graduate degree, you’ve probably walked yourself through the recommended questions: how long does the program take? what does it cost? what more will I be able to do with this degree under my belt? will this program help me hit my professional goals?

These are important questions to ask and answer. But we think there are other more fundamental questions you can ask too. How will this program help me grow and develop as an individual? Is this program likely to challenge me? Will this program increase my self-awareness and my awareness of others? Will this program expose me to diverse points of view and allow me to learn from my peers?

A truly transformative graduate degree will not only help you grow professionally, it will set you more clearly on the path to becoming the person you want to be, equipped to navigate life, career, and relationships with greater insight and awareness. At least, this is how we think in the Master's in Leadership Studies program at USD.

Today, we're exploring what you can do and become through a graduate degree in leadership.

Be sure to explore our full resource—How to Transform Yourself, Professionally  and Personally, with a Master’s in Leadership Studies.

The Benefits of Studying Leadership

The Master’s in Leadership Studies program at USD helps you discover more about your unique strengths through the process of becoming a great leader.

Throughout the program, students learn how to be self-reflective and grow in awareness of their own perceptions, emotions, and habits. They look critically at their workplace dynamics, their family dynamics, and the dynamics between systems and groups. Through self-reflection, students begin to clarify who they are and what they value. They learn to articulate and define their personal moral code and how they desire to make change in the world.

Leadership begins and ends with self-knowledge; the program prompts and encourages the exploration of identity in order to build up effective leadership capabilities within each individual.

This emphasis on self-reflection and personal clarity makes the Master’s in Leadership Studies program unique, but reflection becomes powerful only when translated into action. Students take the fruit of their reflection and incorporate it into hands-on application, putting principles into practice in their work. The combination of reflective, interior work and exterior, intentional action makes this program truly transformational. 

What You Can Do through an MA in Leadership Studies

Leadership studies is a broad field, but the concepts and insights gained can be applied directly into many sub-fields like

  • education,
  • nonprofit management,
  • the military,
  • athletics,
  • diplomacy,
  • international business,
  • policy,
  • and more.

The professional outcomes for a master's degree in leadership studies are contingent on your goals and interests during the program.

Customize Your Degree Based on Goals and Interests

Flexibility and multidisciplinary learning are part of what make the USD Master’s in Leadership Studies so impactful. The program is designed to be customizable based on experience, interest, and goals. Students have access to a wide variety of electives both within the Department of Leadership Studies and across other graduate programs at USD.

Interested in entrepreneurship? Activism and community building? Policy? Education? Sustainable development? The Master’s in Leadership Studies gives you the freedom to chart your own course through the program while offering you the support and guidance of experienced faculty. 

The complexity of leadership demands that students adopt a multidisciplinary approach to solving problems. 

Pursue Certifications in Coaching or Restorative Justice

While there is tremendous flexibility in the USD Master's in Leadership program, we do offer specific tracks that can lead to certification in the areas of coaching and restorative justice.

Leadership Coaching Certificate

The Leadership Coaching Certificate provides students an opportunity to complete the requirements necessary to earn a nationally recognized credential in an emerging field. This comprehensive program uses proven approaches to prepare established and aspiring coaches with the skills needed to bring quality and depth to their work in a range of professional settings. 

The Department of Leadership Studies at USD is a BCC founding CCE-approved coach training provider for the Executive Leadership Coaching certification preparation. Participants who successfully complete all five courses will be eligible for the Board Certified Coach credential (BCC) exam through the Center for Credentialing and Education. In addition, they will have the training and mentor hours required to apply for an ACC or PCC credential through the ICF via the Portfolio Path. Details regarding what this entails can be found on the ICF’s website www.coachfederation.org.

Upon successful completion of the certificate, participants will be able to:

  • Coach individuals, teams, and groups
  • Consistently demonstrate coaching skills aligned with ICF core competencies
  • Self-observe and self-correct to avoid situations that compromise coaching
  • Use a holistic, developmental approach to coaching
  • Apply performance/situational coaching practices where relevant
  • Recognize and deal with cultural differences and assist clients in doing the same
  • Co-create fieldwork tailored to support and stabilize client development
Certificate in Restorative Justice Facilitation and Leadership

Restorative Justice is a philosophical approach that embraces the reparation of harm and healing of trauma.

The field of restorative justice is growing rapidly, and demand for skilled practitioners is growing faster than supply. As a result, many people are hired to deliver RJ facilitation who have little background in practice or limited training. The result is often poor-quality RJ programs that fail to meet the needs of the communities they serve.

USD’s Graduate Certificate provides a comprehensive introduction to RJ facilitation through online coursework and a skill-building intensive workshop at USD. The academic certificate offered at USD SOLES is designed to

  • Provide participants with the broad knowledge about restorative justice necessary to evaluate good from bad practice.
  • Connect participants to practitioners with years of experience across a variety of settings and a range of cases from simple to highly complex.
  • Ensure skillful practice by including academic study and experiential learning.
  • Create an apprenticeship that includes a community of learners who can support one another while receiving close mentoring and support from advanced trainers/facilitators.
  • Build a strong, diverse community of practitioners that can obtain restorative justice job positions and provide leadership in the field.

This certificate enables you to work as a facilitator in a variety of settings including K-12 schools, higher education institutions, workplaces, community organizations, and criminal justice agencies. 

About USD SOLES Master’s in Leadership Studies

The SOLES Master’s in Leadership Studies is designed for candidates who seek to create innovative and dynamic approaches to learning and leadership. The MA offers a unique degree of freedom and flexibility. Students are invited to examine, reflect and act on passionate concerns, working closely with faculty and fellow students, to bring theory and practice together to meet academic and professional goals.

All students in the Leadership Studies Program take required courses in the leadership core. These courses are designed to enhance students’ understanding of leadership theory, its practical applications and the ethical dimensions of leadership. Students also take a 3-unit research design and methodology course and are required to take a 3-unit internship/leadership in action course and engage in a practicum experience at a site of their choosing. Finally, students will enroll in three units of Capstone Seminar.

  • The program is a 36 unit degree that can be completed in two academic years. Students can also elect to undertake their studies on a part-time basis. 
  • Classes are held at night and on occasional weekends; the majority of our students work full time while participating in the program.

Interested in learning more about USD's Master's in Leadership Studies? Explore our full guide to discover how this graduate degree can transform your personal and professional life.

Explore the Guide

Written By:

SOLES Admissions Team

We are the admissions team at the School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES). SOLES offers graduate and doctoral degrees in Counseling & Marital and Family Therapy, Leadership Studies, and Learning and Teaching. Through inquiry and practice, we combine educational equity with compassionate service to help our students develop the skills and vision necessary to become powerful agents of change.

Topics: Leadership Studies

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