Organizational Leadership, B.A.

Program Code: OLBA_BA

Program Description

The degree draws on many of the disciplines of the liberal arts, as well as business and science, to illuminate the issues that all leaders face regarding work and employment issues in the 21st Century, as well as in other aspects of organizational life more generally. Students select courses in crime, law, and justice, political science, sociology, labor and employment relations, communication arts and sciences, management, and psychology. The goal is to provide a broad education that introduces methods of analysis used in the disciplines of the liberal arts and prepares students to understand the complex social, cultural, and organizational issues that they will confront in leadership positions in the modern world.

What is Organizational Leadership?

A rapidly growing global environment creates demand for professionals who are schooled in leadership. Employers prefer individuals who exhibit strengths in problem solving, teamwork, critical thinking, decision-making, listening, and conflict management. Courses in psychology, sociology, communication, philosophy, management, and labor and employment relations can prepare you for a change in career or help you to advance into leadership positions. The Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership includes a curriculum immersed in the social sciences, humanities, and language, in addition to prescribed organizational leadership courses. It can help you explore the role of leadership from a relationship-based perspective.

You Might Like This Program If...

You are interested in an online program that offers convenience to study around your schedule with world-class faculty, to expand your employment opportunities or obtain a degree for professional advancement. An education in organizational leadership can provide you with a broad perspective to prepare for today's complex social, cultural, and professional issues that you are likely to encounter in positions of leadership. The unique student OLEAD club offers professional development opportunities and community building.

Direct Admission to the Major

Incoming first-year students who meet the program admission requirements are admitted directly into the major. Admission restrictions may apply for change-of-major and/or change-of-campus students.

For more information about the admission process for this major, please send a request to the college, campus, or program contact (listed in the Contact tab).

Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Leadership, a minimum of 120 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 24-30
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 33

6-12 of the 45 credits for General Education are included in the Requirements for the Major. This includes: 0-6 credits of GH courses; 6 credits of GS courses.

0-12 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in Electives if world language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
OLEAD 100Introduction to Leadership Keystone/General Education Course3
OLEAD 201Organizational Theory and Functions for Leaders Keystone/General Education Course3
OLEAD 210Evidence-Based Leadership Keystone/General Education Course3
OLEAD/LHR 464Communication Skills for Leaders in Groups and Organizations3
OLEAD/LHR 465Collective Decision Making3
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 484Work Attitudes and Motivation3
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
Select one course from each area:12
a) Critical Thinking
Information, People and Technology Keystone/General Education Course
Critical Thinking Keystone/General Education Course
b) Organizational Behavior
Understanding Employee Behavior Keystone/General Education Course
Introduction to Industrial-Organizational Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
c) Conflict Management
Conflict Resolution and Negotiation Keystone/General Education Course
Research Methods in Labor and Employment Relations
Workplace Dispute Resolution
Research Methods in Sociology
d) Ethics
Ethics in the Workplace
Ethical Leadership Keystone/General Education Course

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required and Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Breadth in the Knowledge Domains (Inter-Domain courses do not meet this requirement.)

  • Arts (GA): 3 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 3 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 3 credits

Integrative Studies

  • Inter-Domain Courses (Inter-Domain): 6 credits


  • GN, may be completed with Inter-Domain courses: 3 credits
  • GA, GH, GN, GS, Inter-Domain courses. This may include 3 credits of World Language course work beyond the 12th credit level or the requirements for the student’s degree program, whichever is higher: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

World Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one world language in addition to English. This proficiency must be demonstrated by either examination or course work. See the Placement Policy for Penn State World Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, World Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; world language credits in this category must be in a second world language in addition to English or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language). Credits must be selected from the list of approved courses.

World Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the University Cultural Diversity (US/IL) requirement.​

Program Learning Objectives

  • Roles and Functions of Leadership: Understand the roles and the major functions of leadership in contemporary organizations;
  • Leadership Foundations: Articulate the theoretical and empirical foundations for different approaches to the exercise of leadership;
  • Strategy: Detect, accurately frame, and select appropriate strategies for overcoming obstacles to effective organizational performance that leaders face;
  • Organizational Tasks and Relationship Management: Exhibit intellectual and behavioral competencies useful in the successful execution of critical organizational tasks and the management of relationships;
  • Organizational Structure: Recognize the internal structures of organizations and their impact on members’ performance;
  • Social Processes: Appreciate the social processes operative in the exercise of influence, as well as how to improve them;
  • Upward Mobility: Draw on their knowledge of leadership in transitioning from lower-level to higher-level positions of responsibility and authority in organizations;
  • Global Perspective: Bring a global perspective to the exercise of leadership;
  • Ethics: Grasp the importance of enacting leadership responsibly and in an ethically defensible manner.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university's academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.


University Park

Liberal Arts Academic Advising
Use the Liberal Arts Meet the Academic Advisers web page to see the contact information for the specific adviser(s) of this program

World Campus

Undergraduate Academic Advising
301 Outreach Building
University Park, PA 16802

Career Paths

A Bachelor of Arts in Organizational Leadership can prepare you to work in a range of relationship-focused careers in which you can showcase your ability to manage and nurture business and professional relationships through motivational strategies, conflict management, and other forms of interpersonal and social influence. The degree will benefit any career in which leadership skills are necessary for the advancement of the overall business climate through interpersonal interactions.


The degree is perfect for collaborative work environments in manufacturing, service industries, government, communications, charitable and nonprofit organizations, and multinational organizations. Graduates of Penn State’s School of Labor and Employment Relations, of which the OLEAD program is a part, have found employment in such companies as Google, Earnst and Young, GE, Amazon, Lockheed Martin, Samsung Electronics, PriceWaterHouseCoopers Consulting, government agencies such as the U. S. Department of Labor, and in labor unions such as the AFL-CIO, American Federation of Teachers, and the Service Employees International Union.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

Penn State World Campus offers a Master of Professional Studies in Human Resources and Employment Relations (HRER) in which the curriculum balances advanced theory with practical knowledge. After receiving strong fundamental knowledge, the program focuses on the complex personal, legal and organizational issues inherent in the relationship between employers, employees, unions, and government. As in the undergraduate OLEAD program, students in the M.P.S. in HRER program have the opportunity to study with highly regarded faculty from Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts, one of the premier institutions in the world to study and work in the liberal arts disciplines.


Professional Resources


University Park

506 Keller Building
University Park, PA 16802

World Campus

506 Keller Building
University Park, PA 16802