Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations

Master of Science in Leadership Development

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Why Choose Leadership Development?

The Master of Science in Leadership Development is a 5-semester applied, online master's program designed to:

  • Develop your leadership skills around emotional intelligence, teaming, communication and conflict negotiation, problem-solving, ethics, diversity and inclusion, and assessment/evaluation.
  • Help you learn strategies for building the leadership capacities of individuals, groups, and organizations.
  • Teach you how to apply knowledge, strategies, and research to common challenges encountered in organizations.

Our students come from a variety of fields including healthcare, military, business, nonprofit, education, finance, sports and fitness, counseling and wellness, retail, information technology, and more. Whether you are a senior or emerging leader, developing one's leadership capacity and the ability to do so with others is invaluable.

Benefits of the Master of Science in Leadership Development

  • Enhance your leadership position in your occupational field. 
  • Lead with integrity grounded in values-based and ethical systems.  
  • Examine and apply organizational leadership theories. 
  • Create leadership development plans for self-awareness improvement. 
  • Improve communication, collaboration, and group process skills which can be applied within a global context. 
  • Employ research and evaluation for organizational analysis and problem-solving. 

Contact Information

Corey Seemiller, Ph.D., Program Director

Related Links


View the Leadership Development program profile for sample occupations, average salary, and employment projections.  

75 percent of our 2018-2019 leadership development graduates were employed in Ohio within a year of graduation. (ODJFS Data Match, 2019). 

A career consultant is available to you for assistance in helping you connect your degree to your career.


Success Stories

Check out faculty, student, and alumni spotlights in our Spring 2021 Newsletter (PDF).

Academics and Curriculum

View the Master of Science in Leadership Development program information, degree requirements, and graduation planning strategies in the Academic Catalog.  

Leadership Development Program of Study (PDF)


Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 or higher
  • GPA of 3.0 or higher on any previous graduate work, if applicable
  • Minimum of three years of full-time or equivalent work experience

Admission Process


Submit to the Graduate School:

  • Written 2–3 page goal essay
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended (except Wright State)
  • Official GRE or MAT scores if applicable
  • Two letters of reference
  • Résumé

Successfully complete an interview with program faculty.

Questions about the graduate school application? Contact:

The College of Graduate Programs and Honors Studies
Location: 160 University Hall
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 937-775-2976
Fax: 937-775-2453
Email: wsugrad@wright.edu

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Master of Science in Leadership Development program?

    The Master of Science in Leadership Development (MSLD) will address the principles of individual-based leader development, focusing on processes that build the capacities of groups in organizations. The major goal of the program is to prepare candidates capable of applying knowledge, critical analysis, improvement strategies and research to common challenges encountered in business, community, educational, and non-profit organizations. The program uses the cohort model and admits year-round for only a fall term start.

  • What can graduates of the MSLD program do with their degree?
    • Enhance their leadership position in their occupational field;
    • Enhance critical thinking and ethical decision making skills as a leader;
    • Improve communication, collaboration, and group process skills, which can be applied to a global society;
    • Develop skills in assessment, research, and evaluation needed for organizational improvement
  • Is the MSLD a full time program?

    Yes, the MSLD program is designed for working professionals, therefore completing two courses each semester for five semesters will be expected.

  • What are the academic requirements for admission to the program?

    A minimum cumulative undergraduate GPA of 2.7 and a GPA of 3.0 or higher on any previous graduate work, if applicable, is required for admission to the MSLD program.

  • Are there other non-academic requirements for admission?

    Yes. For admission into the MSLD program, applicants must have three years or equivalent of full-time work experience, as evidenced in the supplemental résumé. Admission will be based on an interview, written goal essay, and supportive letters of recommendation by those who can speak to the applicant's ability to be successful in a graduate program.

  • When do you admit students?

    We only admit students for a Fall Semester start.

  • When is the application deadline?

    The MSLD program has rolling admission. We accept applications year-round for a Fall Semester start.

  • Does the MSLD accept international students?

    Yes, you can get more information from the International Admissions website.

  • Does the MSLD program require a thesis or research project?

    No, students must complete an applied research project. Students interested in pursuing a thesis may do so instead of completing the research project, if interested.

  • How many credit hours will it take to complete the program?

    To finish the program, students must successfully complete 30 credit hours of coursework.

  • Am I assigned an advisor?

    Yes, Once you are admitted into the program you will be assigned an advisor.

  • How will I know what courses to take?

    You have will have a Program of Study (POS) that outlines your course of study once admitted in the program.

  • How long will it take to complete the MSLD program?

    You can finish the program in as little as 5 semesters.

Student Research

Chase Szente (2020) Conference paper presented to the Midwest Academy of Management annual conference, co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Motivating Volunteer Leaders in Adult Sports Organizations: A Look at Rugby Club Leadership

We assessed motivational factors for volunteering to be in a leadership position in an adult rugby club and the possible relationship to servant leadership using a 77-question online survey distributed electronically in the rugby community. Measures considered were motivation for club participation, volunteer motivation, and servant leadership. Club participation was assessed with quantitative questions based on qualitative research by Allender et al. (2006). Volunteer motivation was measure through the 30-item VFI developed by Clary et al. (1998) and included five motive subscales: Protective, Values, Career, Social, Understanding, and Enhancement. Ehrhart’s (2004) 14-item scale, modified for leader’s perspective, measured servant leadership. Findings indicated that desire to grow the sport and the rugby culture are motivators for club leaders and volunteer motivation correlates to servant leadership. Additional analyses revealed that age, gender and location impacted perceptions on motivational factors and servant leadership. 

Rachel Seitz (MSLD 2017) - Conference paper accepted for presentation at the Midwest Academy of Management, Chicago, IL Oct 2017. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann 


The 2016 presidential election provided a timely opportunity to study the relationship between gender and charismatic rhetoric.  Content analysis was used to evaluate campaign speeches and debates delivered by Hillary Clinton (n=40) and Donald Trump (n=56) post party conventions and pre-election during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our content analysis focused on the charismatic rhetoric constructs that are stereotypically communal, agentic and neutral. Hypothesis sets postulated that female candidates would be more likely to use communal whereas male candidates would be more likely to use agentic.  Overall, results indicated that the female candidate, Hillary Clinton, was more likely to use the communal constructs of similarity to followers’ (MD= 27.00) and followers’ worth (MD=305.11). Whereas the male candidate, Donald Trump, was more likely to be associated with the agentic construct of action (MD=73.71). It was noted that both candidates used significantly more language relating to communal constructs than both agentic and neutral.  The research helped to provide a better understanding of the theoretical framework of gender and charisma but also provided a practical understanding of how men and women can, should, and could communicate differently in elections. A shift from using words focusing on self (I, me, my) towards words focusing on community (us, we, our) might be useful for all candidates.

Megan Schwartz (MSLD 2013) – Master’s Thesis (Advisor: Dr. Sharon Heilmann) 

Emotional Intelligence in Hypercrisis: A content analysis of World Trade Center leadership response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 Abstract

This qualitative content analysis examines World Trade Center leadership response to the hypercrisis of 9/11. Information was gathered on surviving leaders of four companies housed in the WTC on 9/11 and analyzed for evidence of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman’s five-construct model. The researcher found empathy to be the most prevalent response, followed by significant levels of self-regulation, as well as relationship management, self-awareness, and self-motivation to lesser degrees. The findings indicated service orientation, social awareness, and adaptability to be the most common attributes demonstrated by the WTC leaders. 

Carey Kaufmann (MSLD 2013) – Recipient of CEHS 2013 Research Excellence Award; Recipient of 2014 CEHS Outstanding Alumni Award

As a 2013 graduate of the Master of Science in Leadership Development (MSLD) Graduate Program at Wright State University, Carey Kaufmann has quickly advanced in her professional career. In addition to her position as End User Support Specialist at CaTS (Computing and Telecommunications Services) here at Wright State University, Carey is also the new supervisor of CaTS Home Base where she manages six students and full-time professional staff. During her graduate program, Carey was awarded a H-00 competitive grant by the Graduate Student Assembly in 2013 to partially fund her conference presentation of her thesis proposal at the annual conference of the American Society for Business and Behavioral Sciences in February 2013. For her ou tstanding academic and research accomplishments, Carey was awarded the MSLD Graduate Student Excellence Awa rd in 2013.

Since graduating in May 2013, Carey has continued her pursuit of  academic achievement, as a paper from her graduate thesis was recently presented in the Leadership Track at the annual conference of the Midwest Academy of Management in October 2013. She is in the process of submitting an article to a peer-reviewed academic journal. Carey has also been personally invited to represent the MSLD program to incoming students.

She is active in her local community,  serving as a volunteer coach for the Dayton High School Girls' Rugby Team (25 players). This team started four years ago and did not win one game. Under Carey's leadership,  the team made it to the State Tournament  this past year. Additionally,  she has helped recruit four additional coaches, so rugby can be played at North  and South High Schools this spring.

Conference paper presented at American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, Nevada, Feb 2014. Co-authored by Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Perceptions of Charismatic Leaders based on Physical Attractiveness:  Do Looks Matter?


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact that physical attractiveness has on follower perceptions of charismatic leadership using a sample population comprised of elementary and secondary educators.  Participants were asked to rate the physical attractiveness of four individuals in photographs (attractive and unattractive male; attractive and unattractive female) by using a six-point Likert-type scale. Respondents were asked to complete a modified version of the Conger-Kanungo (1994) charismatic leadership instrument based on their perceptions of the photographs provided.  As a manipulation check, participants were shown six sets of photographs and asked to identify who they perceived to be more of a charismatic leader.   The responses indicated that attractive females are perceived to be more charismatic than unattractive females, unattractive males, and attractive males supporting the notion that looks do matter.

Tonia Hairston-Abrams (MSLD 2013) – Conference paper presented at American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, NV, Feb 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

The Relationship between Reentry Programming and Mentoring on Ex-Offender Recidivism Rates


The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between reentry programming and mentoring on recidivism rates of ex-offenders.  Research indicates recidivism rates between 1994 and 2007 have consistently remained around 40% (State of Recidivism, 2011).  A least 95% of inmates in America will ultimately be released and return to communities.  In 2003, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported from a 1997 study that 40% of state and federal prisoners had neither a high school diploma nor a General Education Development (GED) certificate (Harlow, 2003; Cropsey, Wexler, Melnick, Taxman, Young, 2007).  Although a number of studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between reentry programming and recidivism, there has been little research focusing on how mentoring ex-offenders relates to recidivism. Men and women released will require approximately 45% of reentry program services and support whereas 60% of men and 83% of women constructively recognized the need for a mentor as they transition to the community (Lattimore & Visher, 2009). Recent reviews and meta-analyses of evaluations on rehabilitative programming indicated recidivism can be reduced by 10% to 20% depending on program design and implementation (Visher & Travis, 2011). Surveys and interviews will be used to evaluate ex-offenders’ perceptions of educational training, work programs, and mentoring programs from the perspective of ex-offenders.  Restored citizens (ex-offenders who have not recidivated) will be interviewed to provide rich descriptions of their perspective on restored citizens mentoring ex-offenders. Optimistically, the results will influence programmatic funding decisions regarding ex-offenders. 

Katie Gerspacher (MSLD 2014) – Thesis – 2014 (Advisor: Dr. Sharon Heilmann)

Recipient of CEHS 2014 Research Excellence Award; Also paper based on thesis at the Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Communication Culture within Law Enforcement: Perceptions from Officers and Supervisors


This study assessed the perceived differences in organizational culture between patrol officers and their supervisors, specifically testing role ambiguity, trust in supervision, organizational culture and communication, and transformational leadership behaviors. A sample of supervisors and their subordinate officers from two Midwestern police departments (n=46) were surveyed, and data were analyzed via independent sample t-tests and bi-variate correlations.  Results indicated a perceived division of culture between patrol officers and supervisors and the factors that contribute to this division include upward and downward communication, trust, and role ambiguity. Additionally, analysis indicated a positive relationship between perceptions of organizational culture and organizational communication based on the supervisors and patrol officers’ perspective.

Greg Case (MSLD 2014) – Conference Paper presented to Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Mindy McNutt

Authentic Leadership: Do Behaviors of Leaders Influence Behavior of Followers?


Over the past decade there has been a focus on authentic leadership and the positive outcomes of authentic leadership. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the behaviors of authentic leaders (i.e., balanced processing, internalized moral perspective, relational transparency, and self-awareness) influence followers authentic leadership behaviors. This bivariate correlational study consisted of two samples within a mid-sized Midwestern manufacturing organization; the first sample consisted of 76 leaders within the second, third, and fourth levels of leadership, and the second sample consisted of 45 leaders in the fourth level of leadership. This research partially supported the hypothesis that the authentic leadership behaviors of leaders influence the authentic leadership behaviors of followers.

Lynda Anello (MSLD 2014) - Conference Paper presented to Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Hospice Nurse Retention through Employee Engagement: The Importance of Personal Resources


In a survey of the relationship between perceived employee engagement and perceived use of personal resources of 70 hospice nurses, results indicated hospice nurses reported strong levels of engagement in their work and moderately high levels of personal resources. Positive relationships were found between overall engagement, emotional engagement, and cognitive engagement with personal resources, but results did not support a significant relationship between physical engagement and personal resources. Independent sample t-test results indicated nurses with higher reported levels of perceived engagement reported higher levels of personal resources, personal environmental mastery, and higher perceived self-acceptance compared to nurses with lower reported levels of perceived engagement. Differences between the two groups on perceived autonomy, positive relations, and purpose in life were not statistically significant. Results indicate an opportunity for hospice organizations to create cultures more predisposed toward engagement by including the concepts of key resources and resource gain spirals to their recruitment, onboarding, education, and retention efforts.

Nancy Clark (MSLD 2015) - Recipient of CEHS 2015 Research Excellence Award;  Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Nominated for Best Paper Award in Case Research Track

A Case Research Study of a Midwest High School Freshmen Orientation Program


In this orientation program at a rural Midwest high school, student-leaders work with incoming ninth grade students to ease the transition into high school. This case research study examined the change of mood and participation level of ninth graders during the orientation session, through the frameworks of authentic leadership (Luthans and Avolio, 2003) and sensemaking theories (Weick, 1979). In the Freshmen Focus orientation program, peer mentors (n = 40) worked with freshmen participants (n = 113) in a day-long camp. Groups consisted of 4 student leaders per groups of 14 ninth graders, in which participants were engaged in rallies, teambuilding activities, practical instruction, and freshmen schedule review. Student-leaders who demonstrated high levels of authentic leadership positively affected freshmen mo Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann, Dr. Adrianne Johnson, and Ms. Ryan Taylor

Impact of Formal Mentoring on High School Graduation Rates


This study examined the expectations, graduation rates, and GPAs of participants (n=113) in a formal mentorship program, Freshmen Focus, at a small, rural Midwestern high school through the framework of organizational socialization theory (Van Maanen & Schein, 1977). Findings indicated freshmen students formed expectations of the program and their mentors relative to homework help, acclimation assistance, and emotional support. Students’ expectations of their mentors and the program were surpassed throughout the mentorship experience. The study also demonstrated that participation in the Freshmen Focus mentorship program improved grade point averages and graduation rates.

Michael Corbett (MSLD 2015) - Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

It is in the Eye of the Beholder: Public Perceptions of Police Officer Integrity


Public perception of police integrity was investigated via cross-sectional survey (Klockars, Ivkovich, Harver, & Haberfeld, 2000) of 77 Midwestern university students.  Respondents were categorized into high and low ethics groups based on results from an ethics self-assessment.  Independent sample t-tests indicated respondents in the high ethics group were more likely to perceive the scenarios of violations of policy in when abuse of power was related to personal gain than respondents in the low ethics groups.  Neither group rated use of excessive force as the most serious offense, rather personal gain and abuse of power were considered the most serious. 

Sarah K. Galley & Sharon G. Heilmann - Journal of Leadership and Management (2017) 1(7-8)

Is it just about the Numbers? an evaluation of emotional intelligence and employee engagement in the accounting industry


This cross-sectional study utilizing two public accounting firms investigated the relationship between employees' perceptions of their own engagement and their perceptions of their leaders' emotional intelligence. Using results from web-based surveys via two distribution lists (repsonserate=260), we tested two hypotheses; the relationship between employee engagment and emotional intelligence, as well as likelihood that respondents with higher self-perceptions of engagement would also rate their leaders to be higher in emtional intelligence compared to respondents with lower self-perceptions of engagement. Bivariate correlations and independent sample t-test results, respectively, supported these hypotheses. This study increased generalizabaility of both constructs as well as identified a need for further discrimination among the factors comprising employee engagement.

Megan Schwartz & Sharon G. Heilmann - Journal of Leadership and Management (2017) 1(7-8)

Emotional Intelligence in Hypercrisis: A Content Analysis of World Trade Center Leadership Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11


A content analysis of documents gathered related to the World Trade Center (WTC) leadership response to the hypercrisis of 9/11 were examined. Information was gathered on surviving leaders of four companies housed in the WTC on 9/11 and analyzed for evidence of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman's five-construct model. Results indicated empathy to be the most prevalent reponse, followed by signficant levels of self-regulation, as well as relationship management, self-awareness, and self-motivation to lesser degrees. The findings indicated service orientation, social awareness, and adaptability to be the most common attributes demonstrated by the WTC leaders.

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