Leadership Studies

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 through a combination of fully asynchronous online (100% of course activities online and no on-campus requirements) and blended (at least 50% of the coursework online with class meetings that can be attended in person on-campus or virtually via web conferencing) formats.  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. For more information on the accelerated pathway option please contact the Graduate Admissions office.  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 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 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 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 Foundations of Leadership Studies III: Theory and Practice 3 cr
  • LOS 525 Advancing Innovation in State and Local Government 3 cr
  • LOS 571 International Leadership Association Annual Global Conference 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.

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.


Application Procedures and Required Materials 

Application Deadline: Rolling Admissions for the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters

Applicants are required to provide the following materials:

  • Application: Online Application
  • Application fee: $65.00 paid through the online application.
    Transcripts: Official transcripts from all colleges or universities attended, excluding the seven campuses of the University of Maine System (UMS transcripts are accessible to USM). A transcript is official when sent directly from the institution. 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.
    • International College transcripts: In addition to an official copy of the transcript, an official evaluation of college-level transcripts from a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency is required
  • Resume: Submit a resume or CV that outlines professional, volunteer, and community experience.
  • Essay: 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 and any challenges or opportunities relevant to your academic journey. Both parts of your essay combined may not exceed 1200 words.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Two letters of recommendation which speak to your character, work ethic/professionalism, 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 recommendation form will be sent directly to each recommender by the university.  
  • TOEFL or IELTS: Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. See additional information below regarding test scores.

International Applicants

In addition to the standard application materials, international students must also provide the following materials:

  • College transcript evaluation: official course-by-course evaluation of college-level transcripts from
  • International students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English a NACES (National Association of Credential Evaluation Services) approved transcript analysis agency
  • Declaration of Finances form accompanied by the appropriate financial documentation as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Applicants whose first language is not English 

Students whose first language is not English are required to take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and submit official scores as part of the application process. Only applicants with TOEFL scores of 79 or higher on the internet-based test, 550 or higher on the paper-based test, or 213 or higher on the computer-based test; or IELTS scores of 6.5 or higher will be considered for admission to a graduate program.

Where to send transcripts and application materials

Official transcripts and other supporting documents can be sent to:

Application Processing Center
University of Maine System
P.O. Box 412
Bangor, ME 04402-0412

Colleges and universities that participate in electronic submission of transcripts can send official transcripts to edocs@maine.edu. Resumes, essays, and other documents can also be sent to edocs@maine.edu.

For a transcript or recommendation to be considered official, it must be sent by the institution or the person writing the recommendation.

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.

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.