MBA in Leadership | TopMBA

If you want to ensure you make your way up the ladder to any managerial or c-suite position, having stellar leadership skills is paramount. Over the years, many schools have adopted leadership development as the thrust of their MBA courses, despite past debates about whether leadership can be taught.

But as we have found, leadership skills can in fact be finessed, honed, and built-up. And what better way than to improve your skills as a leader than with an MBA in leadership.

What is an MBA in Leadership?

An MBA in Leadership is what some schools are choosing to rename the old standby degree, the MBA in management. This change of title does not indicate a radically new curriculum, but rather a shift in focus from concentrating purely on the nuts and bolts of managing a workforce onto the very important business of making employees feel like a team.

What You Need to Study an MBA in Leadership

An MBA in leadership is designed for professionals who want to progress in their chosen field. The Leadership MBA will develop a student’s potential by cultivating the analytical skills and entrepreneurial thinking employers are on the lookout for from senior management employees.

Generally, most b-schools will require the following:

  • Three to five years of professional experience (although this can vary)
  • An undergraduate degree
  • A good GMAT/GRE score
  • Employers’ recommendation

MBA in Leadership – Course Content

An MBA in leadership covers all the same material as an MBA in management. Degree holders get a broad view of business topics, including accounting, human resources, and product development. There is a special focus on issues of importance to management, such as how to organize teams, motivate employees, and troubleshoot productivity problems in the workplace. An MBA in leadership takes a more cooperative and holistic approach to these subjects, giving managers the information they need to relate to their employees and convince them to give their best at work.

Richard Ivey School of Business' executive director of the Ian O Ihnatowycz Institute for Leadership, Gerard Seijts says: “Crises often emerge in an instant and are usually unexpected. There are no fast and easy answers, no simple rules to guide actions, and no pat solutions to the myriad of evolving issues that face organizations on a daily basis. In this vibrant and volatile environment, the need for effective leadership has never been greater.”

He highlights: “To build and sustain a high performing organization, a leader must not only point his or her people in the right direction. Rather, a leader must also have vision and the ability to connect with and continually nurture a network of relationships with other companies, organizations and people."


Harvard Business School comes highly regarded among institutions offering Leadership MBA qualifications. This doesn’t come as a surprise as, historically, the school has produced more chief executive officers featured in the Fortune 500 companies than any other business school.

Other top schools are utilizing innovative approaches in their MBA teaching too. The Wharton School for example provides leadership development training at a military academy in Quantico, Virginia as an optional part of its program, while other North American schools such as the Tuck School of Business have designed programs that are tailored to each MBA student.

At Tuck the curriculum is designed as such that MBA students can develop their leadership skills over two years, and each student has a personal leadership plan. The Richard Ivey School of Business has also tailored its program to appeal to MBA students keen to develop their leadership skills.

INSEAD and London Business School have a longstanding reputation for leadership development on their MBA programs. Both offer very different approaches; however, they also have similarities in that both schools have widened and developed their executive education curriculum, allowing their MBA students to benefit from interaction with senior business leaders.

Other European schools championing leadership education include Spanish schools IE Business School and IESE Business School - University of Navarra, as well as IMD in Switzerland. Like Tuck, IMD has a very good global reputation for its ability to develop individual leadership skills in its small class of MBA students.

Top Careers to Pursue with an MBA in Leadership

Students who hold a leadership position in their organization will find an MBA in leadership has a number of career advantages. The skills learned on the program won’t just make you more successful in your work, but the degree also gives you the edge needed to advance in your career.

Some of the jobs you could land include:

  • Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  • Chief Operating Officer (COO)
  • Project Manager
  • Director of Operations
  • Product Manager
  • Human Resources Director
  • Management Analyst
  • Business Consultant


Here are some of the top-tier leadership positions with the highest average salaries you could land after your MBA, according to PayScale:

  • Chief Executive Officer: US$155,647
  • Chief Operating Officer: US$143,732
  • Director of Operations: US$92,153
  • Human Resources Director: US$88,920