Are you considering a Masters in Organizational Leadership? It can be a long, yet rewarding process.
It opens doors to new opportunities, expands the quality and quantity of your professional network connections, and illuminates strengths you may not have realized you've had.
I'm happy to share my path to enrolling in an MS.OL graduate degree program, an overview of the coursework, tips for graduate students, and the professional opportunities that can result.
After earning my BS in Physical Education, concentrating in Exercise Science, from Bridgewater State College (now University), I thought I was done with higher learning.
I'd started my career as an Exercise Physiologist, overseeing cardiac rehabilitation and performing stress tests, then transitioning to the fitness industry with roles from personal trainer to regional manager and learning and development facilitator to business owner.
As I'd always had a passion for continuing my education through certifications, and in considering entering into franchise ownership, I decided that enrolling in an MBA program would give me the knowledge, understanding of concepts and terminology, and confidence I needed to be successful in new opportunities.
And, so I enrolled in the Online MBA degree program at Southern New Hampshire University. While the program has been updated since I'd been a student, my experience included nearly 17 classes, each 10 weeks in length, with at least one week off in between terms. The updated program is 10 classes in length, with similar timing structure, though with an emphasis on scenario-based learning, and with the opportunity to earn industry-recognized certifications throughout the academic journey.
Starting with one class per term, then moving to two classes per term, I completed this degree in just over two years.
While enrolled, the pandemic had impacted the fitness industry that I knew so well. And, so I did two things:
My MS in Organizational Leadership program consisted of 11 classes in total, and where I'd been able to waive 1 of these (Business Foundations) based on previous academic experience and proficiency.
The formality of graduate education brought me from consuming content in the form of books, articles, online courses, and podcasts to one where I was expending energy in applying knowledge.
These occurred in the form of weekly discussion board posts, group work, reports, papers, research, and audiovisual presentations. Most important, for me, was the feedback that I received from classmates and professors, as this was an element that was not present in self-study.
Key focus areas included stakeholder analysis, organizational communication, and theories of leadership with attention to assessment of existing systems and recommendations for upgrade and implementation.
All told, completing this degree program took just under 1 year as I took 2 classes per 10-week term, and had earned credit for 3 of the courses as part of my MBA program.
While each institution‘s course requirements may be different, these are the areas that were most beneficial to me.
It is likely that course modules will outline each week's reading
materials and assignment deliverables in neatly organized fashion.
If not already in a to-do list or checklist-style option, you may wish to enter the info into your preferred format or tracking, whether on paper or digitally.
The one time I didn't do this, early on in my graduate studies, was the only time I missed a deadline for an assignment.
Each week's modules contained several deliverables. It wasn't unusual for initial discussion board posts to be due by Thursday evenings, and responses, papers, video check-ins, and other assignments to be due by Sunday evenings.
Aligning due dates with the assignments on a paper calendar or on computer was a helpful step one.
Once this was completed, it became far easier to dedicate specific days of the week to certain items.
As an example, I'd aim to complete each week's reading on Sundays and Monday, first discussion board posts on Tuesdays, and would then begin outlining and writing papers and presentations on Wednesdays, with time left on the remaining days for editing and final submissions.
As graduate school should be a challenge, stretching you beyond your comfort zone, it isn't unusual that questions would arise.
Where that's the case, it is best to be proactive in seeking help and support, rather than plowing ahead, uncertain of your direction.
Keeping open lines of communication with your classmates and professors, by email or in being able to jump into video conference, can alleviate worry and uncertainty, while providing clarity around assignment specifics.
As an Adjunct Faculty member, my ability to be of support to students is enhanced, and I continue to learn, each time they reach out to me.
The completion of your degree is likely to open doors to new job opportunities. While my career experiences had been in the fitness and educational technology industries with focus on sales, operations, and customer service and experience, I've pursued teaching, coaching, and consulting, while also being considered for additional roles.
The roles and industries in which you may choose to work are extensive. And, the network you've developed and cultivated may enhance these opportunities.
I had a lot of questions when I first considered graduate studies. Each person that I spoke with at Southern New Hampshire University was welcoming, knowledgeable, caring, and passionate.
Should you have questions about enrolling in a Masters in Organizational Leadership program or other advanced degree program, there's 3 things you can do.
David Bohmiller, MBA, MS (he/him/his)
Founder, CEO and Consulting Executive
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The views I express on this site are my own and do not reflect any official view or position of Southern New Hampshire University.
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