Leadership Development

Graduate Program Head

Zugang Liu

Program CodeLEAD
Campus(es)Great Valley (M.L.D.)
Degrees ConferredMaster of Leadership Development (M.L.D.)
The Graduate Faculty


The Master of Leadership Development program at Penn State Great Valley helps students to foster positive change and develop leadership potential in themselves and others.

The program explores leadership across the lifespan, from early career through retirement, including leadership in the corporate and not-for-profit realms, as well as parenting and community service. We employ a multidisciplinary approach stressing social responsibility and ethics, creativity and innovation, diversity and global mindset, dynamic communication and visioning, and most importantly, the value of the individual. The program is fully accredited by AACSB International.

The program’s goal is to put students on the path to the C-suite – where strategic leadership skills are used to build human, social, reputational, and financial capital. The cornerstones of the program focus on self and authentic leadership, transformational and transactional leadership, and critical thinking and data analysis which prepare students for this journey.

Admission Requirements

Applicants apply for admission to the program via the Graduate School application for admission. Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-300 Admissions Policies.

Admission is granted only to candidates who demonstrate high promise of success for graduate work.

An undergraduate and/or graduate GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for admission.  It is strongly preferred that applicants present at least five years of related professional work experience.

Admission decisions are based on a review of the applicant’s professional and academic accomplishments as presented in the Admissions Dossier and the quality of the applicant's credentials in relation to those of other applicants who meet the requirements for admission.  A complete Admissions Dossier includes the following:

  • online Graduate School application and non-refundable application fee;
  • current resume, preferably indicating at least five years of related work experience;
  • official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended
  • completion of two 300-word leadership essay questions developed by the faculty to assess an applicant’s logical reasoning and writing skills;
  • two confidential evaluation forms/letters of endorsement from executives or community leaders detailing their evaluation of the applicant's leadership ability and potential.

The language of instruction at Penn State is English. English proficiency test scores (TOEFL/IELTS) may be required for international applicants. See GCAC-305 Admission Requirements for International Students for more information.

Degree Requirements

Master of Leadership Development (M.L.D.)

Requirements listed here are in addition to Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies.

A minimum of 36 credits at the 400, 500, or 800 level is required, with a minimum of 18 credits at the 500 or 800 level, and at least 6 credits at the 500 level. A series of leadership cornerstone (9 credits) and leadership competency courses (12 credits) are required to provide all MLD students with a common body of knowledge.  Leadership Context courses (12 credits) and a Capstone course (3 credits) round out the program.

Required Courses
Leadership Cornerstone courses (9 credits) provide a foundation for leadership development studies. They include:
LEAD 501Leadership Across the Lifespan3
BUSAD/LEAD 555Full Range Leadership Development3
LEAD 557Leadership Models and Methods3
Leadership Competency courses (12 credits) build a foundation for effective leadership communication, creativity/innovation, and moral development. They include:
LEAD 561Dynamic Communication in Leadership Contexts3
BUSAD/LEAD 556Diversity Leadership3
or BUSAD 542 Global Intercultural Management
One of the following:3
Corporate Innovation Strategies
Developing Creative High Performance Organizations
One of the following:3
Ethical and Responsible Business Leadership
Ethical Dimensions of Leadership
Ethics and Leadership: Psychological and Social Processes
Ethics and Values in Science and Technology
Leadership Context courses (12 credits) provide an overview of the situations in which leadership processes are embedded. Students can choose 4 context-specific electives (12 credits). A list of courses that will fulfill this requirement is maintained by the program office.12
Culminating Experience
All students must complete a capstone course that provides students with an opportunity to enact what they have learned in their course work in the context of promoting positive change in their organizations:
LEAD 862Strategic Leadership (Capstone Course)3
Total Credits36


A graduate minor is available in any approved graduate major or dual-title program. The default requirements for a graduate minor are stated in Graduate Council policies listed under GCAC-600 Research Degree Policies and GCAC-700 Professional Degree Policies, depending on the type of degree the student is pursuing:

Student Aid

Refer to the Tuition & Funding section of The Graduate School's website. Students in this program are not eligible for graduate assistantships.

Financial aid for students in on-campus programs is in the form of student loans and a limited number of small scholarships, as described on the Penn State Great Valley website.


Graduate courses carry numbers from 500 to 699 and 800 to 899. Advanced undergraduate courses numbered between 400 and 499 may be used to meet some graduate degree requirements when taken by graduate students. Courses below the 400 level may not. A graduate student may register for or audit these courses in order to make up deficiencies or to fill in gaps in previous education but not to meet requirements for an advanced degree.

Leadership Development (LEAD) Course List

Learning Outcomes

Learning Goal 1: Build one’s own personal authentic transformational leadership competencies through self-reflection and behavioral display.
  • Develop and implement a personal diversity leadership improvement plan to build expertise in relating with diverse individuals in the workplace.
  • Prepare a personal leadership development plan incorporating feedback from others, and personal strengths and weaknesses with respect to specific leadership behaviors.
Learning Goal 2: Build communication and critical thinking skills as they relate to authentic transformational leadership concepts and processes.
  • Write three short essays applying communication theory to specific leadership contexts, situations, and opportunities.
  • Demonstrate skills required for conducting research in organizations.
Learning Goal 3: Foster a commitment to high integrity practices.
  • Evaluate and analyze the ethical dimension of decision making.
Learning Goal 4: Value differences in people as a vital force in work groups, teams and organizations.
  • Develop and implement a personal diversity leadership improvement plan to build expertise in relating with diverse individuals in the workplace.
  • Discuss how concepts of transformational leadership and authentic leadership relate to social entrepreneurship, and add value to personal relationships, community, and society at large.


Campus Great Valley
Graduate Program Head Zugang Liu
Program Contact

Penn State Great Valley
30 E. Swedesford Road
Malvern PA 19355
(610) 648-3336

Program Website View