Develop your personal capacities to lead teams and organizations through complex change. Leadership today requires courage, reflexivity and care.
Specializations in Health and Executive Leadership.
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September 19, 2022
Leadership today requires courage, reflexivity and an understanding of the complex systems that influence our work. And leadership requires a commitment to values, ethics and care to navigate challenging issues today and in the future.
The two-year Master of Arts in Leadership program can help you improve your leadership skills, whether you wish to advance to a more senior position, make your next career leap, or simply implement effective approaches to creating innovation in your workplace.
Through interdisciplinary studies, you'll learn about theoretical and applied approaches to leadership in personal, supervisory, team and strategic contexts in the following six leadership competency areas:
- personal mastery
- learning, creativity and innovation
- strategic and collaborative leadership
- engaged inquiry
- systems change
- evidence-based scholarship
Learn from faculty who are leaders in organizations and communities, and from fellow students who bring a wide range of life experiences and perspectives.
You'll study through a combination of online courses and learning experiences on campus. This means that you can apply your learning, while balancing your studies with your career and life.
Your studies will culminate in a capstone project or thesis. You'll help move an organization or community toward change to respond to a key challenge or opportunity.
You have the option of taking the standard Master of Arts in Leadership program for experienced or emerging leaders that come from a wide range of professional sectors. Or you can also choose to complete this program with one of the following specializations:
- Health Specialization, if you are currently a leader in the health system
- Executive Leadership Specialization, if you're a mid-to senior-level leader in the private or public sector
You can build to here
You can apply credits from the Graduate Certificate in Leadership toward the two-year Master of Arts in Leadership or Master of Arts in Leadership (Health Specialization). Or apply your credits from the Graduate Certificate in Values-Based Leadership, the Graduate Certificate in Executive Coaching and the Graduate Certificate in Corporate Social Innovation toward the two-year Master of Arts in Leadership (Executive Leadership Specialization).
Once you have completed this program, you'll be able to:
- adopt a systems mindset to navigate complex leadership challenges
- lead with greater self- and cultural awareness, courage, confidence, humility and caring
- bring diverse teams together to engage in meaningful dialogue and move towards change
You can apply the skills you have learned in your own organization or in other organizations, or communities where you feel called to lead.
While students in this program are already typically mid-career professionals in leadership positions, this degree can help you to advance to more senior leadership positions.
The Master of Arts in Leadership is a 36-credit program that's delivered through a blend of online learning and two on-campus residency intensive of two weeks in duration. The first takes place at the beginning of the program, and the second one happens a year later.
Online courses consist of assigned readings, asynchronous and synchronous dialogues, interactive discussions, reflective journaling, guest speakers, and individual and team assignments.
You’re expected to meet deadlines and contribute meaningfully to your class. Your contributions are a big part of everyone’s learning.
You'll start the program with three blended courses, which run concurrently and integrate the two-week residency intensive.
Your first three-month term will require about 20 hours of work per week with the exception of the residency intensives, which are full-time.
You then move to online courses, which require approximately 15 to 20 hours of work per week.
Residencies are intensive and highly relational. You'll get to know your learning team members well. Many students say this time together is the highlight of their program.
During your residency, you can expect to:
- attend classes full time (e.g., Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
- complete homework and individual and team assignments both inside and outside of class hours, and during the weekend in the middle of the two-week residencies
- take part in extracurricular activities
You can choose from three program options:
- Master of Arts in Leadership — general multisectoral program
- Master of Arts in Leadership — Health Specialization
- Master of Arts in Leadership — Executive Leadership Specialization
The following are summaries of courses required for the three program options. For blended courses you will take part of the course online and part of course on campus during a residency.
General multisectoral program and Health Specialization
The following courses are required for the first year of study:
- three blended courses (LEAD 526, 527 and 528), which are equivalent to the Graduate Certificate in Leadership
- the foundational leadership course (LEAD 516)
- one elective
The second residency consists of the blended courses of (LEAD 626, 627 and 628) with two capstone options:
- 9-credit engaged leadership project (LEAD 640) and a 3-credit reflective learning course (LEAD 680)
- 12-credit thesis (LEAD 690)
Executive Leadership Specialization
The required first-year courses include the following:
- three blended courses (VBLD 510, 512 and 514), which are equivalent to the Graduate Certificate in Values-Based Leadership
- three elective courses taken individually or an approved 9-credit graduate certificate
The second year includes three blended courses (LEAD 625, 626 and 627) and Engaged Leadership Project (LEAD 640).
You can choose one of two completion options for this program
- Engaged Leadership Project (ELP)
At Royal Roads University, the real-life leadership experiences that students bring to the classroom serve to enhance everyone’s learning. Leadership experiences could include one or more of the following:
- Formal organizational leadership roles in which you directly supervise staff or complete performance-oriented work with individuals, groups, or teams.
- Leadership roles in volunteer organizations.
- Roles in which you consult, negotiate with, or manage diverse interest groups through relationship, in a complex environment.
- Roles in which you lead others toward shared goals and outcomes.
- Roles in which you influence, organize, and coordinate groups of people.
- Overcoming a challenging life experience (for self or others), which involved navigating complex systems and resulted in positive community change beyond the individual.
We invite applications from established and emerging leaders who bring a range of professional experiences to the cohort setting. We review all applications on a case-by-case basis. If you are interested in either the 1. Health Specialization or 2. Executive Leadership Specialization, please make sure to see additional admission requirements at the bottom of the page.
- Four-year (or comparable) undergraduate degree from a recognized post-secondary institution, with a minimum GPA of B+ (3.33/4.33).
- Normally a minimum of five years of leadership experience.
- Applicants who meet the degree requirement, but not the GPA, or have been away from academic writing for more than 10 years, will normally be required to take the “Academic Writing and Critical Thinking” course offered through Continuing Studies at Royal Roads University, and obtain a minimum B+ (77%) prior to commencing the program. (This course must end a minimum of five weeks prior to your program start date.)
Emerging leaders who meet the MA Leadership degree requirement, but have fewer than five years of leadership experience, yet have been in recent leadership or people management role(s) for two years or more, demonstrate exceptional leadership potential through their professional and life experiences, are preparing for further leadership roles, and otherwise meet the standard admissions criteria, are encouraged to apply.
Applicants who do not meet the Standard Admission Requirements will be considered for Flexible Admission and assessed as follows:
- At least 10 years of professional experience, with five of those years of leadership* experience.
- Flexible admission applicants will normally be required to take “Academic Writing and Critical Thinking” and obtain a minimum B+ (77%) prior to commencing the program. (This course must end a minimum of five weeks prior to your program start date.)
Additional admissions requirements for specializations
1. Health Specialization
The MA Leadership (Health Specialization) is designed for leaders within the health system. To be accepted into the program, applicants will normally demonstrate five years of leadership experience in a healthcare organization, or leadership in a health-related capacity. Given the diversity of healthcare leaders, a variety of experiences are acceptable. While positional leadership in a healthcare organization is recognized, roles of significant influence in health-related community organizations, successful advocacy experiences, and health promotion are possibilities. We particularly welcome applicants who have worked in underserved and challenging areas of healthcare, such as Indigenous communities and emergency medicine. Healthcare related experiences that do not include formal supervisory roles, but require exceptional and critical decision-making skills, such as emergency nursing and various physician roles are adjudicated on a case by case basis. Applicants are encouraged to present a clear case for how they meet the leadership experience requirement. We also recognize that leadership roles are competitive, and emerging leaders may not have had the opportunity to obtain a full five years of demonstrated leadership experience. We encourage emerging leaders who have a four-year bachelor’s degree, and five years of professional experience in a health-related area, which includes two years full time equivalent or more of demonstrated leadership experience, to present a case for acceptance into the program. Applicants who do not have a four-year bachelor’s degree may apply with ten years of professional experience in healthcare, which includes at least five years of demonstrated leadership experience.
2. Executive Leadership Specialization
The MA Leadership (Executive Leadership Specialization) is specifically designed for mid-level to senior leaders and how they leverage values to lead cultural change and sustained successful innovation in their organizations. It focuses on how leaders foster the creation of shared values, vision, mission, strategy and the engagement of people in shaping the organizational culture and structure, in relation to both internal and external realities.
For standard admission, applicants will have a minimum of five years of leadership experience including at least three years as a designated organizational leader with responsibilities to lead others in delivering a common product or outcome with explicit values. Applicants without an undergraduate degree will have at least 10 years of professional experience, with at seven years in an organization, as well as five years of leadership experience, with at least three years of positional leadership or designated leadership experience.
Some examples of roles for which the program is designed for are mid-level to senior leadership positions: CEO, VP, Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister, CFO, Director General. Some examples for designated roles for which experience is required for entry: Director, Manager, Supervisor.
Please ensure that you demonstrate your leadership experience in your detailed resume, and clearly indicate how your years of experience meet the standard or flexible admission requirements and, if applicable, for the specialization you are applying.
English language proficiency
If English is not your primary language, please review our English language requirements.
All applications to this program require submission of the following information and supporting documents before your file can be assessed for admission:
In order to apply online, you will be required to create a log-in account using your email address. You will be required to list all credit courses and/or programs you have completed or are currently enrolled in. A non-refundable application fee will be required. If your application fees are being paid by a third party, review sponsored student information. Once submitted, you may check the status of your application at any time.
Applicants are responsible for arranging for the submission of official transcripts from ALL post-secondary (higher education) institutions currently or previously attended, for all credit courses and/or programs. Transcripts are not required for non-credit programs or courses, though some programs may require proof of professional certifications or designations. Transcripts are considered official only if submitted directly by the Registrar or other recognized authority of the providing institution in the institution’s original, sealed envelope. If the envelope has been opened, the transcripts are no longer official and new (official) transcripts will be required to complete your application.
All international transcripts or credentials are subject to an international transcript and/or credential evaluation.
Your personal statement should be a maximum two-page letter that speaks to the following criteria:
- Your motivation for seeking entrance to the program (please respond to all of the following: why are you interested in this program? What do you hope to learn? What excites you about RRU’s teaching and learning model? Why do you feel called to this program at this moment in time?)
- The breadth and scope of your leadership experience (using one or more of the six criteria for leadership experience listed on the admission requirements page, please describe your current and past leadership experience(s) and, how your training and/or life experiences demonstrate your leadership capacities and potential).
- Your experience working in teams and with others from different sectors, disciplines, cultures etc., and the specific skills and capacities that you believe are relevant and applicable to the program.
- The gifts or unique strengths you can bring to the program; and
- The areas you would like to improve upon as a student in the program and as a leader more broadly. If applicable, please expand upon why you think your life and work experience and/or related formal education and courses merit adjudication as an Emerging Leader or under the flexible admission process.
Note: If applying for MA Leadership Health Specialization, clearly speak to your health experience. If applying for MA Leadership Executive Leadership Specialization, clearly speak to your mid-level to senior leadership experience.
There are three options for your writing sample:
- You may include a recent (within the last 2 years) writing sample from your academic work that includes citations and a list of references.
- If you do not have a recent writing sample on file, you may write an original, maximum 500-word academic essay addressing the question: “What is my leadership philosophy?” Your writing should be clearly organized, should take a position substantiated with evidence from academic books and/or peer-reviewed articles, and use examples from your relevant life experience. The paper should be formatted using APA 7 style, which is the preferred referencing style in the School of Leadership Studies. (Note that a sample APA essay is also available through Owl Purdue.)
- In lieu of a writing sample, applicants may register in the Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course offered through Continuing Studies at Royal Roads University. Your course may be in progress at the time of application. However, course completion with a minimum “B+” (77%) is required as a condition for entry to the Leadership program. Please select a course offering that ends a minimum of five weeks prior to your desired program start date.
Please note: Applicants must submit a writing sample OR proof of enrolment in RRU Continuing Studies’ Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course as a part of their application package. Applicants who have previously completed RRU Continuing Studies’ Academic Writing and Critical Thinking course with a “B+” (77%) or above should submit their final grade confirmation letter.
A detailed or structured résumé is one that provides a comprehensive professional profile of applicants, targeted towards their intended program of study. We are interested in knowing where applicants have worked, for how long, and what they were responsible for in the positions held. Provide as much information as possible, with special attention to demonstrating five years of leadership experience (and a minimum of 10 years of professional experience for flexible admissions) as described above. Your detailed resume should include the following:
- Education: List all post-secondary education, degrees, diplomas, and certificates you have achieved.
- Work experience: Please include name of organization, position, length of service (month and year), and a brief description of duties.
- Voluntary/unpaid work experience: List and describe any voluntary/unpaid post-secondary employment and/or community service experience. Please include the name of the organization, length of service, and a brief description of duties, and, in particular, any leadership responsibilities. List positions you have held in this service.
- Information technology training and experience: Briefly describe your level of training and experience in the use of information technology including computers, software and telecommunications networks as tools for business, education, teaching and personal use.
- Professional memberships/affiliations: List memberships and positions you hold/have held in professional associations, service clubs, community/volunteer sector.
- Other relevant information: Provide any other information which you believe is relevant to your application and will be of assistance to the review committee in assessing what you could contribute to the learning community.
We require two professional references. Reference letters should be completed by someone from your current professional network (within the past five years) who can attest to your commitment, knowledge, skills, and ability to complete a demanding academic program. References from direct supervisors are preferred wherever possible.
References will not be accepted from members of your family.
- Applicants declaring permanent resident or Convention Refugee status in Canada must submit a copy of their Permanent Resident Card (PR card) along with their application.
- Transcript evaluation fee or credential evaluation report, if submitting international transcripts.
- An official English language proficiency score report or other evidence of proficiency if English is not your primary language.
- Other information or documents as may be requested to determine your eligibility.
For information on how and where to send your supporting documents, please refer to the document submission guidelines.
Financial aid and awards
Admiral John Charles and Mary Charles Scholarship
Awarded annually to a second year School of Humanitarian Studies student who is currently serving or retired military.
Active students (In-course)
Allan Cahoon Global Advancement and Diversity Award
Assist students in underrepresented populations who wish to promote diversity.
Active students (In-course)
Allan Cahoon Scholarship
This scholarship aims to encourage academic excellence, supporting students who excel both academically and through their leadership.
Active students (In-course)
Andrea Fallan Memorial Bursary
Provides financial assistance to a second year BCom student for exceptional leadership, community involvement, and dedication to promote a cohesive team environment.
Active students (In-course)
Asper Foundation Communications Award
Awarded to students in communications-related degree working in, or seeking to work in the communications industry.
Active students (In-course)
Assistance Program for Students with Permanent Disabilities
This program helps students with permanent disabilities pay for exceptional education-related services and adaptive equipment.
Up to $12,144/year
Association of Women in Finance Scholarship
The aim of this scholarship is to encourage young women to enter and advance in the field of finance and “claim their seats at the boardroom table.”
Active students (In-course)
Award for Diversity and Community Building
To recognize and support Afro-Heritage students who serve their communities through volunteering, applied scholarship or leadership.
Active students (In-course)
Add an optional specialization to your Master of Arts in Leadership to customize your degree. You can choose from the following options, if you meet admission requirements:
- Health Specialization
- Executive Leadership Specialization
If you're an experienced or emerging leader in a health organization, the Master of Leadership (Health Specialization) can help you develop your self-awareness and capacity as a leader to lead amidst complex change.
Learn to guide organizations and communities to navigate and respond to current challenges in the health system. Your courses will be taught by instructors with health-related expertise and will build from your wisdom and experiences as a health leader.
Study with other health leaders and continue to work while you learn. The program includes a combination of online courses and two intensive two-week residencies on campus.
Executive Leadership Specialization
The Master of Arts in Leadership (Executive Leadership Specialization) is specifically designed for mid- to senior-level leaders in public, private and civil sectors. Students are serving in roles such as deputy minister, assistant deputy minister, director, president, CEO, VP, CFOs, directors, health care administrator, commissioner, assistant superintendent and chief.
Recognizing the importance of values and cultural alignment, you'll develop your capacity to lead organizational culture, change and innovation. Study with industry experts and a group of other working professionals from a variety of sectors.
Continue to work while you learn. The program includes a combination of online courses and two intensive residencies on campus. The Graduate Certificate in Values-Based Leadership serves as the first term of the Master of Arts in Leadership (Executive Leadership Specialization). Deepen your learning with three elective courses, which you can take individually or as an approved 9-credit Royal Roads University graduate certificate. Lead change in practice by completing an organizational leadership project.
Program completion options
You can choose from two completion options for the Master of Arts in Leadership program.
Both capstone options are engaged and action-oriented. As a change leader, you'll be expected to collaborate with a partnering organization or community around an issue of importance or concern to them.
Guided by the principles of leadership as engagement and making a difference in the world, you'll create opportunities or possibilities for meaningful change.
Engaged Leadership Project (ELP)
If you choose this option, you'll complete a project involving an issue or opportunity faced by leaders in your organization, community, network or community of practice.
To complete your project, you'll need to do the following:
- design a project to meaningfully engage a group of people in an organization or broadly-defined community to collectively move towards positive change
- genuinely stretch in your leadership capacity
- apply your learnings in practice
- develop a final report and a creative knowledge product to help sustain the changes that emerged from your project
The thesis option allows you to engage in a systematic and scholarly study of an organizational opportunity or challenge with the goal of creating positive change with the organizational stakeholders. Your systematic analysis will create the possibility of knowledge of interest to the broader profession or field.
You need get approval from the program head and thesis coordinator to ensure you qualify and obtain admission into the thesis capstone for your program.
In your thesis you'll need to do the following:
- design an action-oriented inquiry that meaningfully engages the stakeholders of an organizational opportunity or challenge and helps them align their thinking on next step actions
- follows the scholarly process of creating and analyzing data to generate findings, conclusions, recommendations, and then, beyond traditional ideas of scholarship, helps the organization create an action-plan for next-step implementation
- synthesize, compare and contrast relevant scholarship from the theoretical, research and professional practice literature with your own study findings to support the conclusions, implications and recommendations