Program Description

The Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) is a 36-credit program designed to build and enhance leadership skills. Students work in a multi-sectoral, intercultural, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational learning environment. Two specializations are also offered in (1) Health and (2) Executive Leadership.

The program is offered in a blended format, comprised of online learning and two intensive on-campus learning experiences. This allows participants to substantially enhance their educational credentials, while minimizing absences from their workplace.

The program curriculum is built to support students to develop a sophisticated understanding of personal and team leadership, communication, systems thinking, team building, organizational change, intersectionality, ethics, and action-oriented inquiry.

The MAL program is further distinguished by balancing professional diversity and interdisciplinary study, with the need for sector-specific knowledge and problem-solving skills. This is accomplished by having a common curriculum for all students in the first year and an independent, work-based capstone in the second year.

MAL curriculum supports students in developing a sophisticated understanding of and competency in the following areas:

  • Personal Mastery
  • Collaborative and Strategic Leadership
  • Learning, Creativity, and Innovation
  • Engaged Inquiry
  • Systems Change
  • Evidence-based Scholarship

These competencies areas also support RRU’s new vision of “Inspiring people with the courage to transform the world,” and RRU’s goals to:

Who It’s For

The MA Leadership program is an applied, competency-based program offering advanced leadership skills for experienced and emerging leaders interested in developing more effective organizations and communities.

Two specializations are also offered: (1) Health and (2) Executive Leadership.

Applicants who do not have the formal academic education to qualify for admission may be assessed on the basis of both their formal education and their informal learning, in accordance with the Flexible Admission Policy. Please visit the program admission page for more information.

Applicants who have applied for a specialization and do not meet the admission requirements for the specialization may be recommended for the MA Leadership program.

Program Structure

Online Learning

Prior to commencing each course, students are provided with a series of mailers that include resources and readings. Once the online course begins, students will work through the weekly requirements on the RRU learning platform (Moodle) according to their own schedules, while ensuring they meet the weekly deadlines for activities and assignments along with interacting with fellow students in their cohort. A few synchronous meetings are required. A level of effort of approximately 10 – 15 hours per week, per course is required. This means a commitment of approximately 30 hours per week depending on the schedule. Students are expected to post online and interact in the Moodle site at minimum every three days. During the first online courses, the amount of time required may be higher, as students familiarize themselves with our learning technologies.

On-campus Learning Experiences

Students can expect to work hard during the on-campus residency period. The normal classroom schedule is Monday to Friday 8:30 to 5pm, with evening and weekend work. Assignments, readings, and team meetings are done outside of the classroom. In addition to the educational activities, there may be planned recreational events, sometimes outdoors. Full attendance at the two on-campus periods is mandatory. While students are not required to live on-campus, students living off-campus have reported that their work on team assignments would have benefited from being on-campus.

In the event of COVID-19 or other constraints on travel and/or gathering together, on-campus learning experiences will be delivered as meaningful and interactive full-time online residency experiences.

Learning Methods

We use a number of different learning methods, including the Moodle platform for managing online interaction. Students can expect to be reading textbooks, articles, case studies, and videos posted on their Moodle site, and can expect to be interacting with fellow students on our online forums. Our program is noted for its experiential, and interactive learning with team members who may be located elsewhere across Canada and in the world. Having already met your classmates in person during the first residency period, you will continue to work in teams during the online modules as well. We have found that this approach to learning is extremely helpful to our students, enabling them to build strong relationships with their classmates that have led to life-long relationships.

Completion options

There are two Capstone options in the MA Leadership program:

Engaged Leadership Project (ELP)

Student choosing this option will complete a project involving an issue or project faced by leaders in the workplace or in the community. 


The thesis option requires approval from the Program Head and the Thesis Coordinator. This approval process is in place to ensure students are able to successfully complete a thesis within the duration of the program.

The Capstone provides an opportunity for you to apply your leadership learning in the complex setting of a real organization. The term organization can be broadly defined to include community groups, networks, movements, or communities of practice as well as more conventionally understood organizations. Your role as change leader is to create the opportunity for positive change in an organization, on an issue of importance or concern to the organization.

Please note: Within the School of Leadership studies, all of our Capstone projects, regardless of whether you are doing an ELP or a thesis, are engaged and action-oriented. We adhere to the principles of “leadership as engagement” and making positive change in the world by adhering to the principle of “orientation to possibility.” As a result, you will be expected to collaborate with a partnering organization as part of your capstone requirement.