Program of Study

The M.A. in Leadership program at Saint Mary's College offers a highly regarded, rigorous, and innovative education designed for working professionals from all sectors.

While the M.A. in Leadership curriculum is in itself innovative, our program features make it truly unique and valuable. We offer:

  • A strong focus on practical application  

  • An innovative hybrid learning model for working professionals

  • A cohort model that draws professionals from diverse sectors, industries and backgrounds

The M.A. in Leadership provides a supportive, challenging, and transformative learning experience to develop effective leadership needed in today's global world. Our curriculum consists of 12 courses, or modules, including three concentration courses that span theory, skills, and practical application in a particular focus area: Social Justice, Organizational Learning and Change, Coaching and Facilitation, or Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. These four concentrations support your development of a leadership philosophy and practice that is right for you and your work, all within the liberal arts traditions of creative analytical thinking, shared inquiry, collaboration, service, and social responsibility.

The 23-month program requirements include the completion of 12 courses (36 units) and submission of a learning portfolio.

To learn more about what the program offers, check out the following:

An Innovative, Hybrid Online Educational Design:

Our courses (modules) are six-to-eight-weeks in length and begin and end with in-person two-day weekend classes.  The format is ideal for learners with work, travel or family commitments that prevent them from attending weekly class sessions.

The online portion of the courses is accessed via a web-based learning management program. The activities include discussion on readings, individual and small group projects, short reflections, academic papers, and discussion with peers and faculty.

The in-person classes are held on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 am to 5 pm.  There are three two-day weekend classes per trimester (17 over the course of the 23-month program). Check out a sample calendar to get a sense of the flow of the program. The program concludes with a three-day residential retreat.

Cohort Learning Communities:

You will join a cohort of learners who move through the 12-course sequence together, allowing you to develop professional and community networks.  The cohort learning community becomes a practice field for the leadership skills and capacities you are learning in the program.  The diversity of the cohort ranges across professions, level in organizations, and social identities, all of which contributes to robust discussions and learning.  

Lyone Conner, of our graduates, describes her learning community experience in this way: “The learning community was crucial in my leadership development.  The success of my program completion is in part owed to sharing the journey with a diverse group of adults whose mutual initial goal of earning a Master’s degree has blossomed into a personal commitment and concern for humankind.”

Learning Portfolio:

The learning portfolio is comprised of four elements: a personal Leadership Development Plan, Reflection Papers, Leadership Project Paper, and a Graduate Self Assessment.
 

Leadership Development Plan

The creation of the leadership development plan starts during the first course and continues throughout the program.  There are five primary activities for the learner in creating the LDP: (1) to develop a personal aspirational definition/perspective of leadership; (2) to track its formation and emergence over the life of the program; (3) to identify the theory and values informing this definition; (4) to identify the capacities and skills needed to enact this definition/perspective of leadership in one’s field of practice; and (5) to create actions and practices that promote the development of this leadership in one’s work and life following completion of the program.
 

Reflection Papers

At the end of each course you will be asked to write a reflection paper discussing how you are connecting the learning between courses and how you are applying the learning.  The focus of the Reflection Papers will vary following each course and are intended to support your learning throughout the program – write about what has meaning for you; timely completion of the weaver reflection papers is a requirement for your learning portfolio for graduation.
 

Leadership Project Paper

The Leadership Project is a culminating and integrating component of the Program.  As a capstone spanning the last ten months of the Program, the Leadership Project (also known as the Synthesis Project) invites you to integrate, demonstrate, and synthesize 21st century leadership practices as you identify and carry out a research project for which you have a great passion.  You will design, implement and report on a participatory action inquiry and change strategy in response to a problem, issue, opportunity or question within a specific group, institution or community.  The project offers you the opportunity to develop new processes and practices for sustainable leadership at the personal and organizational level.  You learn through creating the conditions for a collaborative change process and engaging 21st century leadership practices. The Leadership Project Paper describes the research project design, implementation, outcomes, and learnings.
 

Graduate Self-Assessment

During the final module of the Leadership Program, learners write about their learning experience during the course of the program.  The program learning outcomes serve as an organizing frame for the first section of the paper.  The other two sections include an assessment of the learner’s personal learning goals and a reflection on the experience of membership in the cohort learning community.
 

M.A. in Leadership Curriculum:

Module I

Practice of Building a Learning Community

In this course, learners will focus on deepening their skills in the areas of critical thinking, interpersonal communication, and reflection. Learners will also develop their capacity to attend to how they influence others—and are influenced by others, and other elements of becoming a viable learning community.

Module II

Values in Action

Globalization, multiculturalism, technological advances, and the ever-turbulent nature of organizational life require new kinds of knowledge and skills on the part of leaders.  This course seeks to provide foundational knowledge toward developing practical knowledge in leadership suitable to the 21st century through the exploration of personal values, beliefs and worldviews and the role they play in our individual and collective lives.

Module III

Leadership Theory

This module focuses on learners' understanding of historical and contemporary theories of leadership, and critically examines the assumptions and values that are implicit in these respective theories.  Learners complete this module with a thorough understanding of 21st Century Leadership practices, an understanding of the fundamental differences between leadership and management and their personal definition of leadership.

Module IV

Systems Intelligence for a Complex World

Systems Theory is a contemporary telling of an ancient and perennial story about the world as alive, dynamic, and interrelated.  Because leadership is a relational activity that takes place in complex social organizations, Systems Theory and the thinking it fosters, is particularly useful to practitioners of leadership in the 21st century.

Module V

Building Cross Cultural Capacity

The purpose of this course is to 1) deepen our awareness of the complexity of cross-cultural issues and develop skills to engage other people successfully across these differences; and 2) develop capacity to value and approach differences requires a willingness to move across a line, or boundary, which defines that difference.

Module VI

Sustainable Organizational Change

This module is designed to provide learners with the assessment, learning, and research tools necessary to effect sustainable change in their own organizations.  Participants will learn in greater depth about two specific inquiry strategies - action research and cooperative inquiry—and will have the opportunity to practice one of them.

Module VII

CONCENTRATION COURSE 1*

Module VIII

Project Proposal Development

This course focuses on the development of a final project proposal informed by the particular concentration, and the learner's particular interest. In this course, learners build on the knowledge of the family of action research methods introduced earlier in the program and designs a research project that inquires into a particular practical application of coaching and facilitation with individuals and/or groups.

Module IX

CONCENTRATION COURSE 2*

Module X

CONCENTRATION COURSE 3*

Module XI

The Future of Leadership

In this module learners examine ways of implementing change in their organizations, with an emphasis on employing the 21st Century Leadership practices. As an alternative to leader-driven change, learners will explore ways of using various strategies of engagement based on genuine human participation and interaction on both a micro and a macro level.

Module XII

Personal and Organizational Learning

During this course learners will have an opportunity to demonstrate 21st Century Leadership practices that have been explored and applied over the course of the program. This will include group reflections on the learning that has been gained through their research projects and guided reflection on personal and professional learning. A three-day retreat will be the vehicle for tying this together.

 

* Course titles and descriptions for each of the four concentration areas can be found by clicking the concentrations below: