The Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) is a 36-credit program designed to build and enhance leadership skills. Students work in a multi-sectorial, intercultural, interdisciplinary, and intergenerational learning environment. Two program specializations are also offered in (1) Health and (2) Executive Leadership.
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. Through the program, students explore personal mastery, systems thinking, communication and conflict, team facilitation and development, learning and innovation, organizational change, and action-oriented inquiry.
The Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL) is a 36-credit program designed to build and enhance leadership skills. Students work in a multi-sectorial, 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:
Collaborative and Strategic Leadership
Learning, Creativity, and Innovation
These competencies areas also support RRU’s new vision of “Inspiring people with the courage to transform the world,” and RRU’s goals to:
Implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), and honour the spirit of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
Enhance the inclusion and engagement of people of diverse backgrounds and ideas in all aspects of university life. RRU’s Diversity Statement is found here. The MAL program promotes an intersectional approach to diversity and inclusion.
Advance sustainability in all our academic programs and operations, with a focus on the UN Sustainable Development Goals
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 specialization and do not meet the admission requirements for the specialization may be recommended for the MA Leadership program.
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 on the Moodle site at a 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 5 pm, 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.
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.
There are two Capstone options in the MA Leadership program:
Engaged leadership project (help)
A 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 a 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.
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 relationships, 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
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.
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 are mid-level to senior leadership positions: CEO, VP, Deputy Minister, Assistant Deputy Minister, CFO, and 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.
As a result, graduates of the program will have learned and developed the following:
Personal Mastery: Demonstrates reflective practice, values and ethics alignment, and a lifelong commitment to cultivating self-awareness and personal mastery
Learning, Creativity, & Innovation: Attends to one’s own learning and the learning of others while thinking critically and creatively, and generating innovative approaches to complex challenges.
Strategic & Collaborative Leadership: Selects leadership approach suited to the context, while effectively communicating with and listening to multiple audiences; facilitating and engaging in teamwork and decision-making; and building authentic relationships toward shared goals.
Engaged Inquiry: Integrates self-inquiry and systematic inquiry that leads to learning and evidence-based action for Positive change at the personal, organizational, and societal levels.
Systems Change: Understands one’s own sphere of influence within a system and demonstrates comprehension and application of systems thinking and complexity theory through action toward systems change.
Evidence-Based Scholarship: Demonstrates the ability to critically evaluate and synthesize multiple sources of information through effective communication in academic settings.
Graduates of the Master of Arts in Leadership will gain research and consulting skills and become better communicators and more confident leaders with the ability to:
Identify, analyze, and build solutions to organizational challenges
Manage positive organizational change
Develop effective, high-performance teams
Manage an organization’s internal and external political environment
Communicate effectively with colleagues, clients and other stakeholders
Implement change and achieve results
Lead in our complex global context which includes attention to (re)conciliation, the climate crisis, social movements, pandemics, and more.
ITAI: Introduction to Academic Integrity
GBLD511: Strategic Analysis, Decision Making and Evaluation
LEAD516: Concepts and Theories of Leadership
LEAD517: Self-Directed Studies
LEAD519: Action-oriented Research
LEAD526: Fundamentals of Personal Leadership and Learning
LEAD527: Communications and Leadership in Groups and Teams
LEAD528: Leadership in Systems
VBLD510: Values-Based Leadership: Being Best for the World
VBLD512: Values-Based Collaboration and Partnerships
VBLD514: Leadership, Culture and Sustainability
LEAD625: Organizational Culture and Design for Continuous Innovation
LEAD626: Leadership for Organizational Change
LEAD627: Applied Methods for Organizational Leadership
LEAD628: Capstone Design
LEAD640: Engaged Leadership Project
LEAD680: Reflective Leadership: Applying Learning to Practice
Financial Aid & Awards
The Financial Aid & Awards team is here to provide information and support on a variety of funding sources and award opportunities, starting with a video that introduces the comprehensive details you’ll find on this website and in our blog.
View a summary of government assistance programs for those affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Learn more...
Financial planning is a crucial component of early educational planning. Please review funding opportunities well before your program begins to help build a reasonable budget.
Explore the various types of loans available to help fund your studies. Learn more...
Explore a variety of competitively awarded scholarships, awards, and bursaries available from RRU and other funding agencies. Learn more...
RRU manages the scholarship administration for select funding agencies. These are some of the more substantial awards. Learn more...
Discover alternate funding opportunities like Highbred Points. Learn more...