Program Description

The Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) program consists of two years of interdisciplinary studies. In each year, students focus on relevant, real world problem-solving projects grounded in a rigorous theoretical understanding of the nature of today’s organizations and the changing role of leadership within them.

The program is specifically designed for working professionals. It is offered in a blended model comprised of online learning and two intensive two-week long on-campus learning experiences. This allows participants to substantially enhance their educational credentials, while minimizing absences from their workplace.

The curriculum of the program is built to develop in students a sophisticated understanding of personal and team leadership, communication, systems thinking, team building, organizational change, 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 problem-solving project in the second year.

The Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) program curriculum content is driven through developing a sophisticated understanding of the following areas:

  • Leadership
  • Systems Thinking and Planning
  • Learning 
  • Organizations and Organizational Change
  • Research and Inquiry
  • Team Building
  • Communication
  • Innovation

Who It’s For 

The MAL program is an applied, competency-based program offering advanced leadership skills for experienced and emerging leaders interested in developing more effective organizations and communities. Focusing on factors that contribute to successful problem solving and innovation, this program provides key skills and insights to professionals working in corporate, academic, public sector, and not-for-profit environments. 

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.

Program Structure

Online 1

  • The program starts online for 5 weeks. In addition to course readings, interaction with fellow students in your cohort, and beginning assignments, you’ll learn about the RRU learning platform (Moodle), and find out more about our learning community and resources.

Residency 1 and 2

  • At the start of each of your 2 years in the program, you will have a 2-week on-campus learning experience, where you’ll get to interact face-to-face with your instructors, cohort and team. You’ll complete homework and meetings outside of regular class hours, making this an intensive and rewarding time.

Online 2 and 3                                              

  • Online learning courses are delivered over the internet. Supported by the relationships you have built with your cohort, following the on campus periods you’ll work through courses at your own pace, while meeting deadlines for assignments and activities.

Completion Options:

There are two completion options in the MAL 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. Students will complete a brief report, along with an associated knowledge product of use to their partnering organization, such as a website, video, or infographic. Students who select the ELP option are required to take the course, LEAD 680 Reflective Leadership: Applying Learning to Practice.


The thesis option requires approval from the program head. This approval process is in place to ensure students are committed to finishing the thesis within the duration of your program.

You will complete a comprehensive research paper of about 100 pages, which includes both primary and secondary research into a particular topic of interest. You will work with your thesis supervisor to identify your topic, methodology, theoretical framework and appropriate literature and other secondary sources. You will be expected to defend your thesis before an academic committee.