Organizational Leadership and Innovation Master of Science Degree

In the MS in organizational leadership you will create intentional, collaborative work environments to analyze, identify, and influence an organization’s ability to innovate and evolve.


Years of experience delivering distance learning


Job postings for leadership roles in innovation

Overview for Organizational Leadership and Innovation MS

Why Study RIT’s MS in Organizational Leadership

  • Lead the adoption of innovation in today's tech-infused business environment.
  • Gain global experience at one of RIT’s global campuses:, RIT CroatiaRIT ChinaRIT Dubai or RIT Kosovo.
  • Participate in active, case-based learning, working with the latest technology and software in state-of-the-art facilities.
  • Ideal for working professionals wanting to build and lead innovative teams and projects.

The master’s in organizational leadership is designed to develop leaders who have the mindset and advanced skills to lead in organizations that are constantly adopting and evolving with the latest in tech innovations. The organizational leadership and innovation program empowers you with the knowledge, skills, and mindset to lead organizations of the future. You will be equipped with the tools to spearhead innovative projects and enable your organization to embrace the changes that come with innovation. Courses focus on technological changes and their implications for leadership, developing the ability to foresee emerging trends and technologies, creating strategies to exploit the foresight, leading teams of innovators, creating a work environment that encourages experimentation, and enabling individuals to change, adapt, and evolve.

The program director being interviewed about the program.

Program Director Malarvizhi Hirudayaraj discusses the Organizational Leadership and Innovation program

By combining two critical aspects that determine success of organizations in the future – innovation and leadership – this unique program prepares you to:

  • Foresee emerging technologies and innovations
  • Develop strategies to capitalize on foresight
  • Create innovative work cultures
  • Guide creative individuals
  • Lead change initiatives

Is the MS in organizational leadership and innovation management right for you? 

Are you a working professional interested in influencing people, leading a team of innovative individuals, implementing innovation, or leading change initiatives in your organization? Then the organizational leadership and innovation program might be for you. The program attracts professionals who are: 

  • Skilled with a technical background and are (1) interested in leading innovative projects or (2) developing the knowledge and skills to lead a team of innovators.
  • Mid- or entry-level and keen to grow into leadership roles.
  • Leaders in traditional organizations who aspire to lead an organization towards innovation.
  • Mid-career professionals tasked with leading change initiatives.
  • Passionate entrepreneurs keen to build an innovative organization.
  • Managers dealing with changes in technology and the workforce.
  • HR professionals interested in developing innovation talent within an organization.

What is Organizational Leadership?

Leading in innovative environments demands leaders who have a future-focused mindset. They possess the advanced skills to develop teams for  organizations that are strategically adopting and evolving from the latest in technology innovations. Organizational leadership is creating an intentional, collaborative work environment where you are able to identify and influence organizational change, to innovate and evolve. Leaders of innovation are initiators, doers, range-agents, and change-makers.

RIT’s Master’s in Organizational Leadership and Innovation 

Constant technology advances provide organizations with a growing set of tools and opportunities to manage innovative work cultures. They need leaders to spearhead organizational change, with strategic foresight and innovation, to leverage technology and the future of work. In the MS degree in organizational leadership and innovation, you will be equipped with the tools to spearhead organizational change and foresee emerging technologies in innovative contexts. The curriculum adds future-focused and innovative leadership-oriented courses that leverage faculty expertise in organizational leadership, innovation, technology, and strategy development. You’ll learn to create an entrepreneurial culture and build sustainable teams while you develop skills in the leadership and management of innovation.

This program is offered exclusively online.

Careers and Experiential Learning

Typical Job Titles

Change Management Specialist Chief Innovation Officer
Chief Innovation Strategist Director of Innovation and Learning
Director of Leadership Development Director of Strategy and Innovation
Director of Talent Innovation Innovation Expert
Innovation Director Innovation Lead
Innovation Manager/Project Manager Innovation Strategist for the Workforce
Organizational Development and Change Management Specialist Program Manager, Innovation
Senior Manager, Organizational Effectiveness and Change

Cooperative Education and Internships

What makes an RIT education exceptional? It’s the ability to complete relevant, hands-on career experience. At the graduate level, and paired with an advanced degree, cooperative education and internships give you the unparalleled credentials that truly set you apart. Learn more about graduate co-op and how it provides you with the career experience employers look for in their next top hires.

Co-ops and internships take your knowledge and turn it into know-how. Business co-ops provide hands-on experience that enables you to apply your knowledge of business, management, finance, accounting, and related fields in professional settings. You'll make valuable connections between course work and real-world applications as you build a network of professional contacts.

Cooperative education is optional but strongly encouraged for graduate students in the MS in organizational leadership and innovation.

Organizational Leadership and Innovation Careers

Graduates of RIT's MS in organizational leadership and innovation are prepared for outstanding career opportunities leading organizations to successfully implement innovation. The job market shows a consistent increase in demand for students who know how to lead in innovation contexts. Our Management Advisory Board helps students prepare for their careers by ensuring the curriculum is continuously updated to meet employers needs while providing networking and mentorship opportunities.

Featured Work

Featured Profiles

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Organizational Leadership and Innovation MS

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Organizational Leadership and Innovation, MS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
Technology and the Future of Work
The rapid pace of progress in technology and the change in demographics of the workforce are anticipated to affect what work will look like in the future, in addition to the structure and nature of work itself. Some of these changes might be incremental and others more radical and disruptive affecting the conduct of business. The pace, nature, and magnitude of these changes demand that businesses, organizations, educators, policy makers, leaders, managers, and individual employees reimagine models of employment including the organization and functioning of the workforce. This course is intended to provide students with a global perspective of the future of work and employment, and insights into the implications on their designated professions and careers. Among others, this course will address the following questions: What are the skills and competencies required of the workforce for this new future of work? What skills, competencies, and job roles may become redundant? How should corporations preempt and prepare to deal with these changes? What will be the role of leaders and managers in reimagining and developing the workforce of the future? Seminar 3 (Fall).
Leading Change
Major change initiatives within organizations fail because of lack of understanding of the process of change and the lack of deliberate and focused attention to the change process. This course teaches students the change process and the alterations required in structures, processes, and activities to effectively implement change initiatives within organizations. The components of this course include applied approaches and tools to help analyze barriers for change, leverage power and influence, and provide frameworks to plan and implement change. Lecture 3 (Summer).
Leading Teams in Organizations
This course examines why people behave as they do in organizations and what managers can do to improve organizational performance by influencing people's behavior. Students will learn a number of frameworks for diagnosing and dealing with managerial challenges dynamics at the individual, group and organizational level. Topics include leadership, motivation, team building, conflict, organizational change, cultures, decision making, and ethical leadership. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Strategic Foresight and Innovation
This course introduces the concepts, principles, and practices necessary to lead into the future and avoid organizational mis-steps by taking an action-oriented approach to planning, implementing, evaluating, and revising competitive strategy in service firms. The course will address basic concepts and principles of competitive strategy, the process of developing and implementing strategy in organizations, development of robust, future-oriented strategies using learning scenarios, strategy mapping, and tools for strategy evaluation such as performance metrics, scorecards and dashboards. (Prerequisites: SERQ-710 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring).
Program Electives
Second Year
Choose one of the following culminating experiences:
 Research Thesis
A thesis is based on experimental evidence obtained by the candidate in an appropriate topic demonstrating the extension of theory into practice. A written proposal which is defended and authorized by the faculty adviser/committee followed by a formal written thesis and oral presentation of findings are required. Typically the candidate will have completed research methods, data analysis, and graduate writing strategies prior to enrolling in this course and will start the thesis process by taking thesis planning as soon as they have completed the prerequisites to allow them to finish the thesis when they have finished their coursework. The candidate must obtain the approval of their graduate adviser who will guide the thesis before registering for this course. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Thesis (Fall, Spring, Summer).
 Comprehensive Exam (plus one additional Program Elective)
Students will demonstrate synthesis and integration of the theories and foundation principles of their discipline to respond to questions found in the comprehensive examination. This demonstration will apply core knowledge to problem situations to be successful students must receive a passing grade of at least 80 percent. (12 semester hours or less of coursework remaining to complete the program; completion of all core courses in the discipline; currently enrolled in the program; possess a program GPA of 3.0 or higher; no outstanding incomplete grades; student cannot be on academic/disciplinary probation; for disciplines requiring integrative problem solving successful completion of that course.) (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Comp Exam (Fall, Summer).
 Capstone Project
The purpose of this course is to provide students the opportunity to conduct research, develop a plan and evaluation components and submit the project as a demonstration of final proficiency in the program. The topic selected by the student will be guided by the faculty teaching the class and it will require the student to coalesce and incorporate into the final project a culmination of all their course work in the program to date. (Enrollment in this course requires permission from the department offering the course.) Project 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
Program Electives
Total Semester Credit Hours

Program Electives

Research Methods*
This is an introductory graduate-level survey course on research design/methods and analysis. The course provides a broad overview of the process and practices of research in applied contexts. Content includes principles and techniques of research design, sampling, data collection, and analysis including the nature of evidence, types of research, defining research questions, sampling techniques, data collection, data analysis, issues concerning human subjects and research ethics, and challenges associated with conducting research in real-world contexts. The analysis component of the course provides an understanding of statistical methodology used to collect and interpret data found in research as well as how to read and interpret data collection instruments. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Leading Human Resources
The goal of this course is to develop knowledge of Human Resource Development and Management practices for the purpose of analyzing, communicating, evaluating, and leading the development of strategic human resource initiatives that react to emerging organizational concerns. This course is a foundation course for those seeking a leadership opportunity in Human Resources in which students will demonstrate their ability to analyze and lead the alignment of strategic organizational goals into HR functions. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Diversity in Global Workplace
As strategic partners in global workforce development, human resource development professionals guide organizations to build and maintain a diverse workforce. Diversity and inclusion exploit the natural synergies of a multicultural workforce. This course will examine dimensions of diversity beyond race, ethnicity, and gender and create opportunities to develop an understanding about how these dimensions intersect and play out in the workplace. The purpose of this course is to provide HRD professionals the knowledge required to manage these dynamics in an organizational setting and lead initiatives that will create and maintain an inclusive workplace. Project work will allow for the in-depth ability to assess the current state of diversity within a defined organization, conduct research and benchmarking to build a diverse workforce, and develop a diversity strategic plan with an on-going evaluation component to assess the success of diversity initiatives. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Introduction to Data Analytics and Business Intelligence
This course serves as an introduction to data analysis including both descriptive and inferential statistical techniques. Contemporary data analytics and business intelligence tools will be explored through realistic problem assignments. Lecture 3 (Fall).
This course is designed to teach the art and science of negotiation so that one can negotiate successfully in a variety of settings, within one's day-to-day experiences and, especially, within the broad spectrum of negotiation problems faced by managers and other professionals. Individual class sessions will explore the many ways that people think about and practice negotiation skills and strategies in a variety of contexts. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Ethical Decision Making and Corporate Social Performance
This course is designed to equip business practitioners with scientifically supported frameworks and methods for recognizing, analyzing, deciding on, and implementing ethical courses of action in business. Selected topics include stakeholders needs analysis, the science of decision-making, corporate social performance, issues involved with emerging technologies, and doing business in a global context. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Service Design Fundamentals*
Service design is a holistic design process. It uses skills from a variety of disciplines (design, management and process engineering) to develop models to create new services or to improve existing services in the most efficient and effective manner possible. The emphasis of the process is to provide value to the customer; as a service differentiator or create unique experiences for the customer. Service design uses methods and tools from a variety of disciplines to assist with the analysis and creation of enhanced systems. These tools include; mapping, blueprinting, analysis of customer behavior, market analysis, service marketing, and service recovery. The outcome of this course is to provide students with the fundamentals of service design thinking to allow them to lead the efforts of systematic design in a variety of disciplines. (SVCLED-MS, HSPT-MS) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Breakthrough Thinking, Creativity, and Innovation
This is an introductory-level survey course on the dynamics of innovation. The course focuses on individual, team and organization-human and systems dynamics that impact organizational innovation. Students gain awareness in, understanding of and important skills in fostering multi-level organizational human ecologies conducive to the creation of innovation. Issues and challenges important to leaders at all levels in an organization, entrepreneurs and talent management practitioners will be examined and explored. There is a required fee for the class to pay for the administration of the ISPI and Meyers Briggs evaluation instruments. Students will develop in their understanding of innovation, their own personal innovation capabilities, preferences, and the human dynamics unique to innovation applied in an organizational context. This background is becoming increasingly critical to developing innovation capabilities in and across organizations in our increasingly competitive and complex world. This course will build awareness and improve competency in the application of overall course content and design principles particular to developing innovation-competent individuals, teams, and organizations. Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
Customer Centricity*
The Customer Centricity course develops the learners ability to help their organization manage its interactions with its valued customers across multiple channels, maximize revenue opportunities, build foundations to increase customer satisfaction, and drive customer retention and loyalty. Lecture 3 (Spring).
Service Analytics*
Analytics in service organizations is based on four phases: analysis and determination of what data to collect, gathering the data, analyzing it, and communicating the findings to others. In this course, students will learn the fundamentals of analytics to develop a measurement strategy for a given area of research and analysis. While this measurement process is used to ensure that operations function well and customer needs are met; the real power of measurement lies in using analytics predicatively to drive growth and service, to transform the organization and the value delivered to customers. Topics include big data, the role of measurement in growth and innovation, methodologies to measure quality, and other intangibles. Lecture 3 (Fall, Summer).
Data Mining In the Service Sector*
To gather and analyze public/private service sector information to inform decisions is the goal of every public/private sector administration. Data can drive success of governments and organizations or lead to their downfall. This course will explore data mining used in the public/private sector, how to gather it and utilize the results of the data collections to inform decisions that reflect the needs and desires of the stakeholders in this sector. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Leading Innovation
Achieving competitive advantage in today’s world demands that organizations know how to innovate, and do so not once, but repeatedly. Creativity, rapid learning through continuous improvement, and the ability to turn ideas into action, products, processes and services are crucial. How do leaders foster and sustain a culture of innovation? What unique competencies and skills do you need as a leader and what skills do your teams need? How is managing an innovation team different than managing other kinds of teams within an organization? Through this course, service leadership students will leverage and build on their growing knowledge about innovation, the individual and group skills required for innovating gained in SERQ-712. Students will gain deeper insights into innovation leadership requirements for creating, managing and curating a thriving environment in which cutting edge ideas are encouraged, born and grown. Open to students in the service leadership and innovation MS program and non-majors on a space available basis with department permission. (Prerequisite: SERQ-712 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
Design Thinking and Creativity
The use of creative problem solving to discover new alternatives in the design of products and services is the essence of design thinking. The innovation design thinking process seeks creative inspiration to solve a problem, generating and selecting ideas to develop a path from design to market. Design thinking tools and strategies are discussed as are “Wicked Problems” and the impact design thinking can have on developing a solution for these problems. An in-depth approach uses stories and prototypes to design products/ services in an effort to solve problems in an innovative and sustainable manner. Lecture 3 (Fall).

* This program elective may be offered only at overseas campuses.

Note for online students

The frequency of required and elective course offerings in the online program will vary, semester by semester, and will not always match the information presented here. Online students are advised to seek guidance from the listed program contact when developing their individual program course schedule.

Admissions and Financial Aid

This program is available exclusively online.

Offered Admit Term(s) Application Deadline STEM Designated
Part‑time Fall Rolling No

Part-time study is 1‑8 semester credit hours. RIT will not issue a student visa for programs offered exclusively online.

Application Details

To be considered for admission to the Organizational Leadership and Innovation MS program, candidates must fulfill the following requirements:

English Language Test Scores

International applicants whose native language is not English must submit one of the following official English language test scores. Some international applicants may be considered for an English test requirement waiver.

88 6.5 60

International students below the minimum requirement may be considered for conditional admission. Each program requires balanced sub-scores when determining an applicant’s need for additional English language courses.

How to Apply Start or Manage Your Application

Cost and Financial Aid

An RIT graduate degree is an investment with lifelong returns. Graduate tuition varies by degree, the number of credits taken per semester, and delivery method. View the general cost of attendance or estimate the cost of your graduate degree.

A combination of sources can help fund your graduate degree. Learn how to fund your degree

Additional Information

Online Degree Information

The courses in the online Organizational Leadership and Innovation MS are a combination of asynchronous and synchronous. Delivery format will vary based on the preference of the faculty leading the course. Synchronous courses meet one day a week for a 2 1/2 hour session in the evening (ET). Academic advisors work with students on a study plan after admission to ensure classes fit student availability. The exit strategy for this program is a comprehensive exam (no capstone project or thesis option). Typically students finish this degree in 24-36 months. For specific details about the delivery format and learning experience, contact the Program Contact listed on this page. RIT does not offer student visas for online study.

Online Tuition Eligibility
The online Organizational Leadership and Innovation MS is a designated online degree program that is billed at a 43% discount from our on-campus rate. View the current online tuition rate.

Online Study Restrictions for Some International Students

Certain countries are subject to comprehensive embargoes under US Export Controls, which prohibit virtually ALL exports, imports, and other transactions without a license or other US Government authorization. Learners from the Crimea region of the Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria may not register for RIT online courses. Nor may individuals on the United States Treasury Department’s list of Specially Designated Nationals or the United States Commerce Department’s table of Deny Orders. By registering for RIT online courses, you represent and warrant that you are not located in, under the control of, or a national or resident of any such country or on any such list.

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