You can make a difference with a versatile and meaningful degree in leadership. All employees play a crucial role in helping businesses, nonprofits, and academic institutions succeed. Skilled leadership, however, is especially important, as it sets the tone for all other aspects of an organization's functioning. The world needs committed individuals who are prepared to lead with integrity and empathy. These and many other qualities can be developed by pursuing a PhD in Leadership.
What Can You Do with a Leadership Degree?
As its name implies, a PhD or EdD in Leadership provides the insight and training needed to take on leadership roles. Graduates emerge with the ability to oversee employees, projects, budgets, and more. These moving parts can feel overwhelming to the uninitiated, but the right graduate-level education can thoroughly prepare aspiring leaders for the many responsibilities they will one day take on.
A variety of courses delve into various aspects of leadership to grant students a broad perspective—and opportunities to apply their discoveries. Top classes offered in an online leadership degree could include:
- Leadership in Historical Context
- The Politics of Organizational Decision-Making
- Program Planning and Assessment
- The Change Process
- Leadership in Theory and Practice
The leadership skills gained through this program are uniquely transferable and can be applied in a wide array of industries. Business and education, in particular, represent huge areas of opportunity. Leadership training can also prove valuable in areas such as nursing, health sciences, and information systems. Let’s take a look at a few roles open to those willing and trained to take on the mantle of leadership:
7 Leadership Degree Career Options
1. Management Analyst
Today's organizations prioritize efficiency but often struggle to achieve it without help from outside entities. Therein lies the value of management analysts. These professionals obtain and analyze detailed data to determine how companies operate—and how they can improve. They then use these findings to provide detailed recommendations in hopes of helping companies operate more efficiently and effectively.
According to U.S. News & World Report, management analysts earned a median salary of $83,610 as of 2018. While some work for specific organizations, many serve as consultants or run their own firms. This is a wonderful career opportunity for professionals with a healthy dose of curiosity, impressive problem-solving skills, and a desire to forge their own path through the corporate world.
2. Project Manager
Employed in a wide array of industries, project managers oversee every aspect of specific ventures. They assist in setting objectives, planning budgets, coordinating with various departments, and supervising employees throughout the duration of each project. Above all else, they must ensure that projects are completed and delivered on time.
A Ph.D. in Leadership can help aspiring project managers handle the many different moving parts involved in their day-to-day work. While PayScale highlights an average annual earnings of $74,209, project managers with upper-level degrees often command even higher pay.
3. Human Resources Manager
Human resources managers are responsible for directing a variety of administrative functions for the organizations they serve. Their planning and coordination ensure that employee talents are best utilized. They may also oversee benefit programs and mediate disputes.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), human resources managers earned a median $116,720 in 2019. The job outlook is slightly better than that across all fields, with opportunities especially prevalent for a subset of the industry known as operations specialties management.
4. Executive Director
The title 'executive director' typically refers to the person who takes on the equivalent of a CEO role for a nonprofit organization. This individual provides guidance for heads of critical departments, including HR, fundraising, accounting, and program development. The executive director's guidance helps the entire organization abide by key objectives and philosophies to better serve the community.
A leadership degree can help aspiring executive directors prepare for the critical role that they'll one day play in guiding nonprofits towards their loftiest visions. With an average salary of $66,842, the job may not pay as much as similar roles in the corporate world. That being said, it allows leaders to give back to the community while also enjoying high levels of job satisfaction.
5. Education Program Director
Typically employed in K-12 schools, education program directors play an instrumental role in planning curriculums that abide by local, state, and federal standards. They are also responsible for training and supervising teachers and other academic professionals. Additionally, many manage the budgets for the programs they oversee.
While education program directors earn an annual $62,156 on average, the right experience or degree can deliver significant boosts in pay, with some directors approaching six-figure salaries. Other perks of the position include high job satisfaction and the ability to influence learning outcomes for large populations of students.
6. Education Administrator
Although the role of education administrator echoes that of program director in several respects, it typically involves broader oversight of school or district functions. Administrators assist in establishing a positive and productive school climate. Depending on the position and the school or district's needs, this could mean overseeing community engagement efforts, directing behavioral interventions, or supporting instructional leadership. According to a report from PayScale, the average education administrator earns $57,391 per year.
7. Ministry Director
Ministry directors play an administrative role for churches and other religious organizations. The scope of the position can vary somewhat based on the size of the ministry and the types of programming it offers. In general, however, these professionals oversee financial matters, develop adult and youth programming, perform community outreach, and otherwise direct church staff members and volunteers.
This role is critical for ensuring that religious organizations achieve their calling while abiding by often strict budgets. Given these budgetary limitations, earnings can be modest—especially for ministry directors employed within smaller congregations. Data from Payscale reveals average annual earnings of $40,816. Beyond income, however, ministry directors enjoy the personal satisfaction of knowing that they make a discernible difference for their congregations and communities.