Leadership Studies

MA in Leadership Studies

The Master's 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. The MLS Program develops current and future leaders of businesses, government, health care organizations, public interest groups, foundations, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, and communities. 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.

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 the 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.

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.

Please visit the M.A. Leadership student's quick reference "From Matriculation to Marching" guide online.

The Master's Degree in Leadership Studies is available both fully online and in a blended (partially online, partially face-to-face) format.  For more information, please contact a Student Success advisor at (207) 753-6536 or e-mail usmgrad@maine.edu.  

A 4+1 accelerated pathway option is available for current USM undergraduate students in any major. For more information on the 4+1 accelerated pathway option, please click here.

For application instructions, go to http://usm.maine.edu/apply and find the Graduate Application Process. Questions on the application process should be directed to the Office of Admissions at (207) 780-4386 or usmgrad@maine.edu.

The Master of Leadership Studies requires 36 credits of coursework. 

Cornerstones (6 credits):

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

*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
  • LOS 610 Methods of Inquiry (should be taken in semester prior to LOS 688)
  • LOS 611 Communication and Relationship Building

*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
  • LOS 651 Technology in Society
  • LOS 661 Ethical and Spiritual Dimensions of Leadership
  • LOS 670 Leadership Study Abroad

*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 614 The Conflict Process
  • LOS 615 Leading Difficult People
  • LOS 622 Leadership in the Public and Nonprofit Sectors
  • LOS 631 Leadership & Film
  • LOS 641 Exploring Transformational Leadership**
  • LOS 642 Exploring Servant Leadership**
  • LOS 643 Exploring Authentic Leadership**
  • LOS 644 Exploring Chaos & Complexity Leadership**
  • LOS 645 Exploring Relational Leadership**
  • LOS 646 Exploring Followership**
  • LOS 662 Community Leadership and Civic Engagement
  • LOS 665 Organizational Consulting: A Perspective on Leadership
  • LOS 698 Independent Study
  • LOS 699 Special Topics in Leadership

*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).

**one credit course

Capstone Seminar & Project/Thesis (6 or more credits): 

  • LOS 688 Capstone Seminar I (Prerequisite: LOS 610)
  • LOS 689 Capstone Seminar II

*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.

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)

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

4+1 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

Minimum Requirements: Applicant must have a bachelor's degree, from a regionally accredited college or university, and have earned a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 (on a 4.0 scale) in a baccalaureate degree program. 

The admissions procedures for the graduate program are designed to balance considerations of preparedness, high-quality standards, and access.  Applicants to the program must demonstrate:

  • A basic understanding of how organizations work through a combination of prior undergraduate or graduate coursework and experience.
  • Writing proficiency through an application essay that speaks to the applicant's professional and educational goals. 
  • A strong record of success in the last 30 credits of prior academic coursework or, when prior academic work was completed more than five years ago, samples of professional work that demonstrate the candidate's ability to successfully complete graduate-level work may be submitted.

Students who show potential through work experience, a presentation of past work, and current writing skills, and other indicators will be given preference for admission.  Applicants who do not meet these requirements may be admitted on a provisional status and allowed to take nine graduate-level credits. If these students earn grades of B or better in their graduate level coursework, they may apply for regular student status.

Leadership Studies graduates have many career options.  For example, they work as Municipal Engineering Managers, Human Resource Trainers, Regional Managers, Diplomats, Senior Account Executives, and Professors in organizations as varied as Acorn Products, UNIPAC, the University of Southern Maine, Pan Am, New Balance, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, HSBC Bank, Boys-to-Men Organization, and the U. S. State Department, to name just a few.