2017-18 Catalogs

MA in Leadership Studies

The Master of Arts degree in Leadership Studies (MLS) program seeks students with the passion and dedication to join a new generation of leaders who will confront challenges in an increasingly complex and constantly changing world. MLS graduates have a deep understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of leadership, the convergence of leadership with other human relations, and the role of the individual as a leader in groups, organizations, and society. Through mastery of leadership theory and skills, graduates of the MLS program are prepared to perform as successful leaders in their work organizations, their communities, their nations, and the world.

The MLS is an interdisciplinary professional degree program that draws upon and helps students use the academic lens of social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, communication, public policy, law, and technology and science to explore and address complex leadership issues and dilemmas that go beyond a particular discipline or field of work. MLS students develop an understanding of leadership as a process and a relationship among people that transcends the setting, and gain a deep appreciation of the dynamics and responsibilities of leadership.

Consistent with the metropolitan university mission of USM and Lewiston-Auburn College’s commitment to citizen engagement and public and community service, this cutting edge program responds to real world challenges and issues. The curriculum encourages students to embrace differences, behave ethically, model social and environmental responsibility, and uphold a commitment to advancing the common good. Courses challenge students to think critically and examine issues from varied perspectives, anticipate and facilitate positive change, strive for innovative, sustainable solutions, and communicate effectively.

The Master's Degree in Leadership Studies is available both fully online and in a blended (partially online, partially face-to-face) format on both the Lewiston and Portland campuses.


An accelerated pathway option is available for current USM undergraduate students in any major. For more information on the accelerated pathway option, please click here. Students can also contact Director of Admissions, Andrew King, at (207) 780-5670 with questions about the accelerated pathway option.

For application instructions, visit the MLS reference page. Questions on the application process should be directed to the Office of Admissions at (207) 780-4386 or usmgrad@maine.edu.

Please visit the graduate student reference document, From Matriculation to Marching, for specific information on the program. This document can be found in the navigational links on the Leadership Studies website, under the heading "Graduate Students."

The Master of Leadership Studies requires at least 36 credits of coursework. 

Cornerstones (6 credits):

  • LOS 500 Foundations of Leadership Studies I: Theory and Practice 3 cr
  • LOS 501 Foundations of Leadership Studies II: Theory and Practice 3 cr

*Students start their coursework with two Foundations of Leadership Studies courses to ground them in the latest thinking in leadership theory and practice.


Competencies (9 credits): 

  • LOS 512 Deliberate Creativity and Innovation 3 cr
  • LOS 610 Methods of Inquiry (should be taken the semester prior to LOS 688) 3 cr
  • LOS 611 Communication and Relationship Building 3 cr

*Laid upon the cornerstones of this foundational work are the competency courses which are geared toward developing essential skills sets for leadership effectiveness.

Contexts (6 credits): 

  • LOS 550 Cultural Contexts (required) 3 cr

Plus one of the following courses:

  • LOS 571 International Leadership Association Annual Global Conference 3 cr
  • LOS 651 Technology in Society 3 cr
  • LOS 661 Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Leadership 3 cr
  • LOS 670 Leadership Study Abroad 3 cr

*The contexts courses place the rest of the work in situations, exploring the forces that environment places on leadership and followership.

Electives (9 credits): 

  • LOS 502 Foundations of Leadership Studies III: Theory and Practice 3 cr
  • LOS 525 Advancing Innovation in State and Local Government 3 cr
  • LOS 599 Topics (e.g., Collegiate Leadership Competition) 3 cr
  • LOS 614 The Conflict Process 3 cr
  • LOS 615 Leading Difficult People 3 cr
  • LOS 622 Leadership in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors 3 cr
  • LOS 625 Leadership Training and Development 3 cr
  • LOS 631 Leadership & Film 3 cr
  • LOS 639 Women's Ways of Leading: Building Partnerships, Creating Change 3 cr
  • LOS 641 Exploring Transformational Leadership 1 cr
  • LOS 642 Exploring Servant Leadership 1 cr
  • LOS 643 Exploring Authentic Leadership 1 cr
  • LOS 644 Exploring Chaos & Complexity Leadership 1 cr
  • LOS 645 Exploring Relational Leadership 1 cr
  • LOS 646 Exploring Followership 1 cr
  • LOS 662 Community Leadership and Civic Engagement 3 cr
  • LOS 665 Organizational Consulting: A Perspective on Leadership 3 cr
  • LOS 698 Independent Study 3-6 cr
  • LOS 699 Special Topics in Leadership 3 cr

*Students tailor their degrees to their particular interests through the selection of elective courses in leadership studies. If students wish, up to two electives may be selected from courses in other graduate programs (subject to advisor approval).

Capstone Seminar & Project/Thesis (six or more credits): 

  • LOS 688 Master's Capstone I (Prerequisite: LOS 610) 3 cr
  • LOS 689 Master's Capstone II (Prerequisite: LOS 688) 3-6 cr

*At the end of the master's program, students do their capstone work which includes collegial (student) as well as faculty critique and assistance in developing research and projects. Students electing the project option design an intensive theory-based, action research, applied project that explores the role of leadership in developing and/or implementing meaningful change in an organization or community. Students electing the thesis option select a topic for intensive library research, reading, and analysis. It may, for example, summarize and analyze work in new methods or contribute a new theoretical proposal that calls for further testing or research.


For full consideration for the Master of Arts in Leadership Studies program, submit the following materials:

  • The online graduate application
  • A current resume
  • Transcripts from all previously attended institutions. These must demonstrate completion of a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college and a competitive GPA. A cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale or a “B” average is expected. If your cumulative GPA is not 3.0 or better, the likelihood of your acceptance is greatly diminished.
  • A two-part essay containing 1) an Academic Statement and 2) a Personal History Statement according to the following criteria. The Academic Statement should include a description of why you want to study Leadership, why you want to study at the University of Southern Maine, and how our Program can help you achieve your professional goals. The Personal History Statement should convey how a combination of life experiences, idealism, role models, education and work experiences have influenced your decision to apply. You may also include any educational, familial, cultural, economic or social experiences, challenges or opportunities relevant to your academic journey. Both parts of your essay combined may not exceed 1200 words.
  • Two letters of recommendation which speak to your character, work ethic/professionalism, and problem solving abilities and potential to be successful in a graduate program. Applicants will be asked to provide the name and email address for each reference when completing the application and the form will be sent directly to each recommender by the university. If sending additional letters, recommendations must be received either directly from the recommender or forwarded by the applicant in sealed envelopes with the recommender's signature over the seal.

Completion of the application requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Once accepted into the MLS program, students have six years from the date of matriculation in which to complete the program.


Though it is not required, students are encouraged to start with one of the foundations courses (LOS 500, LOS 501) whenever possible.


Typical Student Schedules:

Part-time Student Schedule (taking two classes a semester):

  • Fall One: 500, 550
  • Spring One: 501, 512
  • Summer One: 610, elective*
  • Fall Two: 611, 688
  • Spring Two: 689, elective*
  • Summer Two: 2 electives* (one fulfilling the second context requirement)

*Electives may be taken from outside of the major (up to six credits) with prior approval from your faculty advisor

Part-time Student Schedule (taking one class a semester):

  • Fall One: 500
  • Spring One: 501
  • Summer One: elective*
  • Fall Two: 550
  • Spring Two: 512
  • Summer Two: elective* (that fulfills the second context requirement)
  • Fall Three: 611
  • Spring Three: elective*
  • Summer Three: 610
  • Fall Four: 688
  • Spring Four: 689
  • Summer Four: elective*

*Electives may be taken from outside of the major (up to six credits) with prior approval from your faculty advisor

Accelerated Pathway Student Schedule:

  • Shared Senior Year Fall: 500, 550
  • Shared Senior Year Spring: 501, 512
  • Summer One: 610, 2 electives* (one fulfilling the second context requirement)
  • Fall Two: 611, 688, elective*
  • Spring Two: 689, elective*

*Electives may be taken from outside of the major (up to six credits) with prior approval from your faculty advisor