Master of Arts in Leadership (Also Online)

For more information: (626) 815-6000, Ext. 5785

The Master of Arts in Leadership program focuses on equipping individuals with the leadership skills they need for their lives, areas of community service, and chosen work environments. The program is interdisciplinary in scope, emphasizing foundational preparation through core courses, a select area of emphasis and study, and a culminating project giving evidence of the student’s development in the field.

Mission Statement

The Master of Arts in Leadership program at Azusa Pacific University offers current and emerging leaders a graduate degree by means of theoretically grounded and practically applied courses. The objective is to award degrees to adult participants who develop not only academically, but also in accordance with a set of comprehensive leadership competencies.

Areas of Emphasis

The program is designed for individuals in current leadership positions, those who aspire to be good leaders, and for students eager to engage in more in-depth study of leadership. With admission to one of the program’s four areas of emphasis, students receive a focused leadership education.

Students interested in sport management and integrated leadership apply for admission directly to this emphasis. All other students who are admitted to the program are admitted to the leadership development emphasis. At the time of admission to the program, or no later than completion of 9 units of study, individuals seeking consideration for the executive leadership or leadership studies emphases must complete supplementary material. For the executive leadership emphasis, this requires a statement of intent, including a professional résumé demonstrating at least five years of significant postbaccalaureate leadership experience, extensive supervisory oversight of other professionals, and demonstrated oversight of executive-level leadership tasks, including budgeting, hiring and employee development, organizational assessment, and strategic planning. Applicants for the leadership studies emphasis must document research skills and identify their intended research area. Decisions regarding admission to the executive leadership or leadership studies emphases are made by the program director.

1. Leadership Development

The leadership development emphasis primarily focuses on emerging leaders looking for preparation for leadership in current and future endeavors and/or those interested in learning how to create leadership development programs. The ability to embrace one’s leadership identity, capitalize on strengths, and increase emotional intelligence is at the heart of leadership development. Such leaders also have a commitment and ability to develop others to make important contributions.

2. Leadership Studies

For those whose interest is primarily research-oriented, the leadership studies emphasis engages students in research of good leadership, the nature of effective leader-follower relationships, the broad theories that inform thinking about leadership, and the scholarly work that informs this knowledge. While not without practical applications, this track focuses on furnishing students with the interdisciplinary tools necessary for further studies in leadership.

3. Executive Leadership

The executive leadership emphasis is designed to educate individuals who are in positions of significant leadership and seeking fresh tools to inspire and mobilize those they serve. Today’s leaders must master strategic planning, ethical decision-making, effective communication, interpersonal conflict, working through teams to accomplish organizational goals, and accomplishing results in timely and meaningful ways. With a focus on organizational behavior, participants learn to view groups from a leadership perspective. This emphasis educates students about organizations while capitalizing on the vast experiences that adults bring to the learning environment.

4. Sport Management and Integrated Leadership

This emphasis is designed for those seeking entry or advancement in the growing field of sport management, which includes areas such as athletic programs, community sports programs, health and fitness clubs, colleges and universities, sports administration or athletics, national or local sport governing bodies, professional sport franchises, sports entrepreneurship, sports facilities, athletics/performance consulting, and player development. Students explore a range of topics relevant to the industry, including the sociology of sport, legal issues in athletics, and facility and event management. Further coursework in athletic administration and leadership theory is enhanced by an internship experience in a sport management setting.


Students pursuing the M.A. in Leadership must complete 36 units of coursework as well as a final colloqium presentation. Students in the leadership development, executive leadership, and sport management and integrated leadership emphases complete their program with a final capstone project; the culminating project for those students with a leadership studies emphasis is a 6-unit thesis. Up to 6 units of appropriate coursework may be transferred into the program by petition.


The program aims to help students develop not only academically, but also in accordance with a set of comprehensive leadership competencies. These competencies are organized into three meta-competencies and five core program competencies.

The three meta-competencies provide a framing through which all knowledge, skill acquisition, and personal development will be engaged. In other words, the meta-competencies help quantify the core essence of learning necessary for students to become holistic leaders. These meta-competencies affect behavior and influence what leaders do. In this sense, the meta-competencies improve the assimilation and use of the core program competencies.

Program Meta-Competencies

Spirituality and Faith
Shows basic knowledge of the conceptual foundations that characterize those who lead with integrity and spirituality.

  1. Graduates can articulate a personal worldview and philosophy of leadership.
  2. Graduates can identify and explain a Christian perspective of truth and life.
  3. Graduates demonstrate an ability to recognize complex spiritual, religious, and ethical issues in various leadership contexts.
  4. Graduates detect faith and ethical systems of others and can describe their own.
  5. Graduates express their own sense of vocation.
  6. Graduates give attention to their own personal growth and holistic health.
  7. Graduates embody an approach to personal authority that is based on servanthood and transformation, not control or manipulation.

Emotional and Social Intelligence
Shows basic knowledge of the set of traits that allows people to interact with each other effectively and an awareness of the social and cultural contexts and dynamics that influence human flourishing.

  1. Graduates demonstrate self-awareness through an ability to analyze emotions and their effects, access and embrace personal limitations, and present self-confidence.
  2. Graduates demonstrate self-regulation through management of emotions and impulses, maintaining standards of honesty and integrity, and handling multiple demands, shifting priorities, and rapid change.
  3. Graduates demonstrate self-motivation through results-oriented goal setting and a focus on performance improvement.
  4. Graduates pose questions and reflect on fundamental issues in ways that help them and others interpret the world and understand complex human interactions.
  5. Graduates demonstrate the ability to be credible, show trust in and respect for other people, and inspire trust.
  6. Graduates demonstrate an ability to analyze and respond to complex social and cultural systems.

Academic Inquiry
Demonstrates the ability to conduct graduate-level academic research and writing.

  1. Graduates are proficient academic and organizational evaluators and analysts.
  2. Graduates read, comprehend, and evaluate relevant research in the social sciences.
  3. Graduates present evaluation and analyses clearly.
  4. Graduates are familiar with the APA writing style.
  5. Graduates are conversant with basic quantitative and qualitative methodologies.
  6. Graduates communicate competently both formally and informally, including orally, written, technologically, and interpersonally.

Program Core Competencies 

Strategic Mobilizer
Demonstrates the ability to strategically organize oneself, others, and the essential resources toward the achievement of a clearly articulated plan.

  1. Graduates develop, communicate, and align others around a vision and strategy for the future.
  2. Graduates design functional strategies for carrying out vision and mission.
  3. Graduates allow others to take the lead in achieving strategic vision by delegating project responsibilities in accordance with individual strengths, passions, and experience.
  4. Graduates can be trusted with resources—both human and financial—stewarding them with care and effectiveness.
  5. Graduates use technology appropriately for communicating formally and informally with others.
  6. Graduates speak honestly and persuasively with individuals, small groups, and large groups.
  7. Graduates create a work environment that encourages creative thinking and innovation.
  8. Graduates employ systems thinking to analyze complex systems and mobilize resources that address current and future challenges with strategic solutions.

Inspiring Developer
Demonstrates skill for effectively developing people and ideas in ways that are authentic and appropriate.

  1. Graduates demonstrate a commitment to be mentored and to serve as mentors who are committed to developing others.
  2. Graduates design meaningful learning experiences and environments, creating empowering conversations and offering meaningful input to foster mutual learning and action-oriented outcomes.
  3. Graduates network people, groups, and ideas in meaningful alliances.
  4. Graduates work capably with theories and practice of adult education.
  5. Graduates develop people and leaders at every level and provide performance feedback, coaching, and career development to teams and individuals to maximize growth and success.
  6. Graduates reconceptualize mistakes as learning events and effectively handle disagreements and conflicts by focusing on solving problems through respectful discourse, consensus building, appreciation of diverse perspectives, and interventional strategies.

Change Catalyst
Demonstrates the capacity to help individuals and groups assess personal and organizational dynamics, solve problems, and pursue positive change.

  1. Graduates are growing and changing people who remain passionate about ongoing personal transformation and lifelong learning.
  2. Graduates recognize when there is a need for change and effectively manage both stable and changing areas.
  3. Graduates communicate effectively, with frequency and candor, during times of change.
  4. Graduates demonstrate patience and adaptability when dealing with ambiguous situations.
  5. Graduates develop resources and strategies so that others might more effectively embrace change.
  6. Graduates seek and identify trends, challenges, and cultural dynamics in order to develop opportunities to initiate intelligent risks and actions that will foster innovative approaches.

Principled Decision Maker
Demonstrates proficiency in identifying and applying ethical principles to decision making through a balanced approach involving both systemic and intuitive analysis. 

  1. Graduates can align personal values with organizational values, embodying high standards and ethical acumen.
  2. Graduates engage others in the identification and solving of problems, effectively using collaboration as a style of managing contention.
  3. Graduates model and maintain values of candor, openness, and inclusiveness despite internal and external pressures.
  4. Graduates demonstrate the ability to act in decisive, urgent, and committed ways to achieve results.
  5. Graduates create shared responsibility among team members by involving them in critical deliberations and decisions as appropriate.
  6. Graduates take ownership for their areas of responsibility, effectively organize and prioritize tasks, and use resources ethically.
  7. Graduates use formal tools to hold others accountable when situations warrant.

Responsible Influencer
Demonstrates proficiency in empowering others through virtue-centered engagement with people and systems.

  1. Graduates analyze the social, political, religious, economic, and cultural factors that affect individuals and organizations.
  2. Graduates advance equity by fostering environments that are inclusive, yet differentiated, to meet the needs of diverse constituents.
  3. Graduates are able to identify and analyze power dynamics and structural influences within organizational systems.
  4. Graduates collaborate with and empower other stakeholders to advocate justice, pursue prudence, and lead with accountability.
  5. Graduates engage in relevant professional networks and establish and maintain rapport with key constituents. 
  6. Graduates take action to preserve and promote human rights, human dignity, and human flourishing.

Program Requirements (Leadership Development, Executive Leadership, and Leadership Studies Emphases)

Core Courses
LDRS 501Foundations of Leadership Theory3
LDRS 502Cornerstones of Christian Leadership3
LDRS 503Organizational Behavior3
LDRS 592Research Methods and Design3
LDRS 593Applied Research3
Capstone Colloquium 1
Select one of the following emphases:
Leadership Development
Leadership Development and Practice
Leader as an Agent of Change
Leadership for a Learning Environment
Capstone Project in Leadership
Select nine units of electives
Executive Leadership
Systems and Strategic Planning for Leaders
Leader as an Agent of Change
Ethical Decision Making
Capstone Project in Leadership
Select nine units of electives
Leadership Studies 1
Introduction to Thesis in Leadership
Thesis in Leadership: Data Collection and Analysis
Advanced Research Methodology
Select twelve units of electives
Elective Course Options
Creative and Collaborative Leadership
Leadership Development and Practice
Understanding Vocation in a Changing World
Leadership from Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Leadership Practicum
Systems and Strategic Planning for Leaders
Leader as an Agent of Change
Leading Across Cultures
Group and Conflict Issues in Leadership
Ethical Decision Making
Special Topics
Total Units36

Capstone colloquium is required of all students except those in the leadership studies emphasis. See program director for more details.

Program Requirements (Sport Management Emphasis)

Core Courses
LDRS 501Foundations of Leadership Theory3
LDRS 502Cornerstones of Christian Leadership3
LDRS 503Organizational Behavior3
LDRS 592Research Methods and Design3
LDRS 593Applied Research3
LDRS 595Capstone Project in Leadership3
Sport Management
PE 556Facility and Event Management3
PE 558Sport Finance3
PE 572Foundations of Sport Management3
PE 557AField Studies/Internships in Sport Management2
PE 557BField Studies/Internships in Sport Management1
Select one of the following3
Athletics and the Law
Leadership and Administration of Physical Education and Athletic Programs
Elective Course (choose 3 units of electives)3
Creative and Collaborative Leadership
Leadership Development and Practice
Understanding Vocation in a Changing World
Leadership from Interdisciplinary Perspectives
Leadership Practicum
Systems and Strategic Planning for Leaders
Leader as an Agent of Change
Leading Across Cultures
Group and Conflict Issues in Leadership
Ethical Decision Making
Total Units36