MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership: Which One to Choose?

MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership male student smiling and working

If you’re considering continuing your education in pursuit of a leadership position, you might not be sure whether a master’s or MBA in organizational leadership is the right degree for you. 

Lucky for you, we’re here to help you with the choice.

But first, some facts to get us started.

You should know that the future is bright for MBA organizational leadership graduates as management-level employment will continue to grow by 5% in the current decade.

Not only that but a masters is considered a mandatory degree for many upper-level management positions across the industries. This means earning a masters of business administration leadership degree will give you an immediate career edge.

If you fancy the idea of gaining a competitive advantage on the market, let’s dive deep into the difference between MBA and masters in organizational leadership matter:

Defining MBA and Masters in Organizational Leadership Degree Programs

If your goal is to advance your career in your current company, potentially increase your income, or step into a leadership role in a new organization, you should start looking into which organizational leadership degree would be the best fit for you. 

MBA in Organizational Leadership 

You’re probably already familiar with a Master of Business Administration degree since it’s the most prominent and well-recognized degree within the business world. 

Through the pursuit of an MBA organizational leadership, students build upon the skills and knowledge needed to be work-ready within the corporate sector. 

The programme’s curriculum largely covers technical topics including marketing, human resources, finance, accounting, and other business-related topics. In addition to this, students also gain an understanding of leadership, motivational, and organizational skills.

Masters in Organizational Leadership

Masters in organizational leadership is yet another degree program growing in prevalence on the market. 

The programme is focused on developing a deeper understanding of leadership in students, teaching them what it means to lead, and how to implement quality leadership to influence change. 

Through focus on a variety of contemporary issues, students gain valuable insight on most effective leadership practices used in the workplace. 

The curriculum may also include the legal issues that surround management philosophies as well as the ways that leadership can be used in government and nonprofit organizations. 

MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership, did you know facts

MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership: Key Differences

The biggest difference between the MBA and masters in organizational leadership lies in the perspective related to one’s approach to management. 

Students of MBA programs draw knowledge from different business disciplines, like marketing, economics and finance, but the general focus of the degree is on learning business structures and applying these discipline-based skills to manage them. 

While it’s common practice for most students to take at least some coursework in leadership and organizational behavior, these courses are still aligned with the notion of treating business like a science, not an art.

On the other hand, masters in organizational leadership programs emphasize the importance of the people behind an organization and how to understand complex human processes that take place within it. 

The focus is on understanding what has to happen for organizations to function effectively as a team, preparing new leaders to better meet the challenges that all organizations inevitably face at a certain point. 

Though the focus of an organizational leadership degree might seem narrower than that of an MBA, the skills covered in these programmes are still fairly broad. 

Some masters in organizational leadership programmes even offer specializations with concentrations such as ethics, healthcare, higher education, civic engagement and human resources.

So, when it comes to the main differences between masters in organizational leadership vs business administration leadership degree, it’s good to keep following five key points in mind:

  1. Courses

While both degrees offer a wide range of courses on management and leadership, their point of focus greatly differs. 

While masters in organizational leadership is more focused on leadership principles, the MBA leadership degree expands its focus to include marketing, economics, finance, and other important areas of business knowledge. 

  1. Typical Roles

When it comes to the roles graduates can expect to fill, there is a lot of crossover due to the significant overlap between these two degrees. If you want to know if obtaining an online degree in leadership pays off, rest assured as graduates of both programs often ascend to the role of CEO. 

As masters in organizational leadership programmes offer a broader focus on different types of leadership, students may end up taking roles in churches, nonprofit organizations, community organizing, government, and more. 

  1. Earnings

The average masters in organizational leadership salary is about $71,821 per year. On the other hand, the median MBA in organizational leadership salary goes up to $88,494. This significant difference in income may be partially due to the more diverse roles that master of leadership graduates take on as nonprofit and pastoral work often pay less. 

  1. Interests And Personality Traits

Both degrees can turn out to be lucrative options for those with strong managerial or leadership skills. 

However, a masters in organizational leadership has a stronger emphasis on cultivating leadership skills, while an MBA degree highlights these skills in combination with other business-related knowledge in finance, marketing, and more. 

  1. Human And Organizational Behavior

While an MBA organizational leadership focuses on general management principles, a masters degree in leadership digs into the “why” behind these principles. 

It’s curriculum revolves around human and interpersonal psychology, organizational dynamics, the influence of culture on organizations, and similar topics. 

MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership, key differences graph

What Can You do With a Masters Degree in Organizational Leadership?

Since both mba in organizational leadership and masters degree in leadership offer training in leadership and management principles, neither precludes any specific list of jobs. 

Still, for students who are certain they desire a business career, going after an MBA leadership degree may be a better fit. 

Some of the most popular popular mba organizational leadership jobs include: 

  • C-suite executive
  • Business consulting 
  • Health administration and leadership roles 
  • Information systems manager 
  • Marketing roles, including upper management level 
  • Leadership jobs in startup companies 
  • Logistics manager 
  • Policy analyst 
  • Product manager 
  • Public relations and communications
  • Securities analyst 
  • Sports management and analysis 

When it comes to masters in organizational leadership jobs, graduates can pursue the roles listed above, with the addition of few more occupations including: 

  • Church leadership positions including pastor, elder, or board member 
  • Job positions in government including elected official, city manager, or policy expert 
  • Management of arts organizations 
  • Roles in nonprofit organizations including CEO, founder, or director of a nonprofit division 
  • School leadership, with emphasis on executive board
MBA vs Masters in Organizational Leadership,male and female students working

Masters in Organizational Management vs MBA: Defining Worth 

As you’re probably still deciding between these two, I suggest we look into some facts.

The master’s of business administration still defends its reputation of being the most popular (and apparently beneficial) business degree across geographies.

However, recently the demand for non-MBA management degrees is on the rise. 

This said, some consider a masters degree in leadership a “more contemporary,” 21st century degree, as it focuses on big-picture leadership skills rather than the nuts and bolts of finance, accounting or marketing.

On the other hand, employers sifting through resumes are better informed on an MBA’s worth, whereas they may be less sure what a master’s degree in leadership entails. This means if you choose a masters in organizational leadership, you’ll have to sell it a little bit on your job interviews. 

Choosing The Right Leadership Degree For Your Goals

To conclude, both master’s and MBA in organizational leadership can increase your employability, earnings, and management savvy. 

Still, there are significant differences between the two programs that you need to consider. Take some time to contemplate why you are going back to school and what you hope to achieve with your degree.

To help you along the way, we answered five burning questions regarding the degree in organizational leadership:

  • Is a masters in organizational leadership worth it?

You bet it is! Earning your masters degree in leadership provides a great return on investment in terms of career opportunities. Over the programme, you’ll gain hard skills that you can immediately apply to your workplace, in addition to the enhancement of your soft skills.

  • What can I do with an MBA in organizational leadership?

You can capitalize on a number of lucrative roles including top executive, financial manager, human resources manager, management analyst, administrative services manager and compensation and benefits manager.

  • Is it better to get a masters or an MBA?

If you come from an academic or professional background and aspire to attain greater career flexibility, management roles, or business ownership then the MBA is the way to go. On the other hand, if you want highly specialized knowledge in a specific area you should stick to masters degree.

  • How much do organizational leadership majors make?

According to Payscale, a masters degree in organizational leadership graduates can earn 85,497 per year on average. 

  • What is a master’s degree in organizational leadership?

It is a multidisciplinary area of study that focuses on understanding the organization of people rather than more business issues.

Are you ready to evoke the leader within? The University of Zambia’s online MBA in Organizational Leadership will sharpen your natural talents as a leader while developing strategic skills that are highly in demand. 

Having this degree in your hand, you’ll be ready to seize a successful career in executive and strategic leadership within almost any organization or industry. 

We know it’s not easy for working professionals to go back to school. That’s why our flexible online degree programs give you the freedom to stay on top of your commitments while still pursuing your career goals. 

Take the first step towards your dream career today. Learn more about the programme by downloading our prospectus.

Feel free to contact us in case you have any additional questions. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!