2020-21 Catalogs

MA in Leadership Studies

The Master of Arts degree in Leadership Studies (MLS) 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 the social and behavioral sciences, the humanities, communication, public policy, technology, and science to explore and address complex leadership issues and dilemmas. MLS students develop an understanding of leadership as a process and as a relationship among people that transcends the setting. In addition, they gain a deep appreciation of the dynamics and responsibilities of leadership.

Consistent with the University’s mission and 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 MLS is offered in both a fully asynchronous online format (100% of course activities online and no on-campus requirements) and a blended format (at least 50% of the coursework online with class meetings that can be attended in person on-campus or virtually via web conferencing). Blended courses meet on our Portland campus. Please note that while all required MLS courses are available in both fully asynchronous online and blended formats, some electives may only be offered in one format. 

An accelerated pathway option is available for current USM undergraduate students in any major.

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 the foundational work are the competency courses which are geared toward developing essential skills sets for leadership effectiveness.



Contexts (6 credits):

  • LOS 550 Leading Across Cultures (required) 3 cr
  • LOS 551 Diplomacy in a Modern World 3 cr
  • LOS 571 International Leadership Association Annual Global Conference 3 cr

Plus, one of the following courses:

  • 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 context courses place the rest of the work in situations, exploring the forces that environment places on leadership and followership.



Electives (9 credits):

  • LOS 502 Leading Organization Development 3 cr
  • LOS 587 Collegiate Leadership Competition 3 cr
  • LOS 599 Topics 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 626 Leadership Program Design and Evaluation 3 cr
  • LOS 627 Leadership Education 3 cr
  • LOS 631 Leadership & Film 3 cr
  • LOS 639 Women's Ways of Leading: Building Partnerships, Creating Change 3 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
  • FSP 602 Power and Powerlessness in the Food System 3 cr
  • FSP 603 Environmental Resilience and Food Systems 3 cr
  • FSP 620 Poverty and Hunger 3 cr
  • FSP 695 Food Studies Internship 1-6 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.

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:

Full-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.
**LOS undergraduate students in this Accelerated Pathway may only apply LOS 500, 501, 512, & 550 as general electives   for their LOS-BS degree.