Marquette University Finds Corporate Demand for New Master’s Degree in Leadership

Last updated on May 13th, 2019 at 02:36 pm

The master’s degree in leadership studies, first offered last fall by the College of Professional Studies at Marquette University, provides a unique twist to leadership development.

The leadership degree program, which is geared more toward corporate professionals, works side-by-side with the master’s degree in public service, which is geared toward nonprofit organizations, said Robert Deahl, dean of the College of Professional Studies at Marquette.

By intertwining the two degree programs and requiring students to specialize in an additional area pertaining to leadership development, students evolve and develop from the inside out, Deahl said.

"There is a growing desire from people in the workforce with bachelor’s degrees to deepen their skills at both a personal and professional level," Deahl said.

The master’s degree in leadership studies was originally offered as a 15-credit graduate certificate and as a specialization as part of the master’s in public service degree. The College of Professional Studies received numerous requests from individuals and corporations to extend the certificate into a master’s program, Deahl said.

"Our (program) goes more deeply into the personal knowledge perspective, into self-awareness with a strong emphasis on ethics," Deahl said. "This program comes out of a Jesuit context focusing on the moral value and ethics within a professional business."

The 36-credit degree program consists of 15 credits of core classes, 15 credits in the student’s choice of a specialization and six credits for either a thesis or an integrating seminar project in which the student works with a faculty member, Deahl said.

The specializations are the same that are offered for the master’s degree in public service and are: administration of justice or criminology, dispute resolution, health care administration, leadership studies, nonprofit and public service.

"We begin with the self and stick with the notion of self-deepening, while always returning to who are you as a leader and how to deepen and broaden that," Deahl said.

The program is geared toward the working adult and offers classes at night and on the weekends. The standard schedule for students is six credits per semester and in the summer, so it takes an average student two years to complete the degree, Deahl said.

About 60 students are currently enrolled in the master’s degree in leadership studies program at Marquette, he said.

The average age of students who enroll in the College of Professional Studies is 38, Deahl said. Sixty four percent are women, and 31 percent are minorities, he said.

The master’s degree program has sparked the entrepreneurial spirit inside many students, Deahl said.

"We have seen alums finish and move off into their own business or move up in the ranks (of their companies)," Deahl said.

The College of Professional Studies will also offer the master’s in leadership studies in a customized manner by sending teachers to a company’s location. Examples and scenarios brought up in class are then industry- and sometimes company-specific, Deahl said.

The College of Professional Studies is currently working with Harley-Davidson Inc. at its Milwaukee headquarters, Deahl said. Eight employees are enrolled in the degree program, and classes meet immediately after work on the Harley grounds for added convenience.

"There are a lot of opportunities in the curriculum to be creative with the content of students," Deahl said. "We are looking for other companies that have an investment in their employees and want to customize and deliver a leadership program."

The College of Professional Studies was established in 1994 and has always held a focus on leadership development for professionals looking to further their education, Deahl said.

"We are seeing an explosion of growth in the program," he said.

Deahl described the two graduate degree programs as cohort groups that walk though the process together.

"(The master’s in leadership studies) has been a great experience because we have an additional level of a program that is popular and meeting the market demand," Deahl said.

The College of Professional Studies also plans to add a master’s degree in dispute resolution, and expects the university to approve the new program in May, Deahl said.

"There are an incredible growing number of people in all areas of business who are starting to see the value of resolving conflicts before an issue leads to litigation," he said.

Marquette University currently offers the dispute resolution as a 15-credit graduate certificate and as a specialization of the master’s degree in public service and the master’s degree in leadership studies. If approved, the new master’s degree will be available to students in the same format and integration as the leadership studies and public service programs, Deahl said.

Eva Soeka, the main instructor of the specialization, is a nationally recognized professional consultant, Deahl said. Soeka was retained by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to work with victims of sexual abuse by priests, Deahl said.

The College of Professional Studies hopes to have continued interest from professionals to further develop the graduate programs it offers and to continue to develop leaders in the Milwaukee area, Deahl said.

"Leadership is one of the pillars in the mission of Jesuit education," Deahl said.

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