Barely a year after its establishment, Wilmington College’s Master of Organizational Leadership program will graduate its first students at WC’s 147th Commencement in May. The totally online degree program complements the career paths of those expecting to assume increasingly influential roles in the development and effectiveness of their workplaces.
Dr. Brenda Kraner, the program director, said that, regardless of one’s area of expertise, earning a Master of Organizational Leadership (MOL) degree will help them grow in their career field and become more marketable.
“Leadership skills transcend all industries,” she said. “The Master of Organizational Leadership helps people become more agile, adaptable and resilient in an ever-changing and unpredictable workplace.”
It also is a mission-driven graduate program that was created in response to the need for strong leaders who embrace and possess such characteristics as integrity, excellence, social justice and respect for all persons — these are included among WC’s longstanding Quaker values and are “woven” into the MOL curriculum.
Kraner differentiates WC’s program from traditional Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees. “While management skills are still necessary, also crucial for leadership success in today’s organizations are a more prosocial orientation and development of emotional and social intelligence skills,” she said. “Human skills, which constitute our ability to work with others, are increasingly recognized as essential to organizations, given the ever-changing landscape of business today.”
The degree is designed to enhance one’s abilities and opportunities for management careers in fields ranging from human resources and public relations to social and community services, fundraising and organizational development. “The beauty of this degree is that the knowledge, skills and experiences gained from this program can apply to practically any industry.”
She cited that positions in business, corporate, military, healthcare, education, government, manufacturing, retail, food service, sales, technology, banking and finance could all benefit from practitioners holding an MOL degree.
It offers students a human-centered approach to building a collaborative team environment, leading change, solving problems and making decisions while also providing increased self-awareness and skills that strengthen emotional intelligence, interpersonal communication and critical thinking competencies.
As with an MBA, the program teaches an understanding of organizational structures and business practices, but this applied graduate degree also has an immersive learning experience that gives students the opportunity to put classroom theory into practice. Indeed, throughout their time in the MOL program, students engage in a mindfulness component with an organization that contributes to society. Their involvement with that organization — often a non-profit — allows students to balance inner self-awareness and build the capacity for empathy, compassion and ethical action with prosocial mission-driven behaviors.
Daniel McCamish, WC’s director of institutional effectiveness, was in the inaugural cohort of students starting in January 2022 and is on track to graduate in May. He earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the University of North Carolina— Ashville and is now in his 50s. He said attaining the MOL degree “checks a box” on job requirements in his profession.
He chose a project at the local food pantry, Your Father’s Kitchen at Sugartree Ministries, as his immersive learning experience. “It has exceeded my expectations in every way,” he said. “The program has helped me get out of my shell and accomplish something. I’m enjoying the connections with the people at the ministry and those in the community who support it.” He plans to continue his work there “long after graduation.”
The convenience of the online program allowed McCamish to study evenings and on weekends to finish his degree in 16 months while still working full time. “I would recommend this program to anyone who wants to grow as a person, understand their world better, become more marketable and deepen their professional skills,” he added.
Kennedy Lewis is a 2022 Wilmington College graduate whose initial motivation for enrolling in the MOL program was to take advantage of playing a fifth year for the women’s basketball team. The NCAA granted student-athletes an extra year of eligibility because of sports disruptions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lewis has come to appreciate what the MOL can do for her emerging career. She sees earning her MOL degree — “something different than the usual MBA” — as complementing her undergraduate degree in business administration/marketing. “With the MOL, you’re learning a lot in business and also in the realm of leadership. I feel this degree will eventually help me narrow my career path.
“After finishing undergrad, I was very unsure what to do, so the opportunity to enroll in this program excited me about helping me find that career choice. I’m learning more about myself, my strengths and weaknesses, and about my leadership and personality styles.”
Lewis appreciates the convenience associated with the online program but expressed her surprise with feeling such a personal connection to her professors and classmates.
Students can enroll either on a full-time or part-time basis. Starting the summer 2023 term, WC alumni can enroll at a 25 percent tuition discount. More information is available on WC’s website at: https://www.wilmington.edu/graduate-studies/organizational-leadership/.