Department of Leadership Studies in Education and Organizations

Master of Science in Leadership Development

On this page:

Contact an enrollment advisor:

Why Choose the Leadership Development Program?

Candidates will pursue this master's degree in a cohort model of course offerings with program-related experiences to integrate theory and practice. Classes meet on a non-traditional schedule to allow for employment and incorporate evenings and web-enhanced formats. You can finish your degree in 5 semesters. You will meet on campus Tuesdays and Thursdays in a given term and virtually over the course of the semester. Courses are offered in a mixed delivery mode.  If you want to see the big picture and manage a diverse range of people and business areas this program is for you!

The Master of Science in Leadership Development (MSLD) will address the principles of individual-based leader development, focusing on processes that build the capacities of groups in organizations. The major goal of the program is to prepare candidates capable of applying knowledge, critical analysis, improvement strategies and research to common challenges encountered in business, community, educational and non-profit organizations.

Benefits of the MSLD

  • Enhance your leadership position in your occupational field.
  • Lead with integrity grounded in values-based and ethical systems. 
  • Examine and apply organizational leadership theories.
  • Create leadership development plans for self-awareness improvement.
  • Improve communication, collaboration and group process skills which can be applied within global context.
  • Employ qualitative and quantitative research for organizational analysis and problem solving.
  • Utilize information technologies in the design and leadership of an organization and identify the driving force affecting organizations now and in the future.

Check out program highlights from our Spring 2020 Newsletter.

Contact Information

Dr. Sharon Heilmann, Program Director
(937) 775-4712

Related Links

International Leadership Association

Academy of Management

Academics and Curriculum

Leadership Development Program of Study (PDF)


Admission Requirements

  • 3.0 Cumulative minimum GPA, minimum of three years work experience
  • 2.7 Cumulative minimum GPA, minimum of three years work experience, and GRE score or MAT score in the 50th percentile or better.

Admission Process


Submit to the Graduate School:

  • Written 2-3 page goal essay
  • Official transcripts from all colleges and universities previously attended (except Wright State)
  • Official GRE or MAT scores if applicable
  • 2-3 letters of reference
  • Resume

**COVID-19 Update and GRE and MAT Waivers: GRE and MAT test requirements will be waived until the COVID-19 crisis has passed, and testing locations have reopened.


Successfully complete an interview with program faculty.

Questions about the graduate school application?  Contact:

Graduate School
Location: 344 Student Union
Hours: Monday-Friday 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Phone: 937-775-2976
Fax: 937-775-2453

Frequently Asked Questions

Student Research

Rachel Seitz (MSLD 2017) - Conference paper accepted for presentation at the Midwest Academy of Management, Chicago, IL Oct 2017. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann. 


The 2016 presidential election provided a timely opportunity to study the relationship between gender and charismatic rhetoric.  Content analysis was used to evaluate campaign speeches and debates delivered by Hillary Clinton (n=40) and Donald Trump (n=56) post party conventions and pre-election during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our content analysis focused on the charismatic rhetoric constructs that are stereotypically communal, agentic and neutral. Hypothesis sets postulated that female candidates would be more likely to use communal whereas male candidates would be more likely to use agentic.  Overall, results indicated that the female candidate, Hillary Clinton, was more likely to use the communal constructs of similarity to followers’ (MD= 27.00) and followers’ worth (MD=305.11). Whereas the male candidate, Donald Trump, was more likely to be associated with the agentic construct of action (MD=73.71). It was noted that both candidates used significantly more language relating to communal constructs than both agentic and neutral.  The research helped to provide a better understanding of the theoretical framework of gender and charisma but also provided a practical understanding of how men and women can, should, and could communicate differently in elections. A shift from using words focusing on self (I, me, my) towards words focusing on community (us, we, our) might be useful for all candidates.

Megan Schwartz (MSLD 2013) – Master’s Thesis (Advisor: Dr. Sharon Heilmann) 

Emotional Intelligence in Hypercrisis: A content analysis of World Trade Center leadership response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 Abstract

This qualitative content analysis examines World Trade Center leadership response to the hypercrisis of 9/11. Information was gathered on surviving leaders of four companies housed in the WTC on 9/11 and analyzed for evidence of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman’s five-construct model. The researcher found empathy to be the most prevalent response, followed by significant levels of self-regulation, as well as relationship management, self-awareness, and self-motivation to lesser degrees. The findings indicated service orientation, social awareness, and adaptability to be the most common attributes demonstrated by the WTC leaders. 

Carey Kaufmann (MSLD 2013) – Recipient of CEHS 2013 Research Excellence Award; Recipient of 2014 CEHS Outstanding Alumni Award

As a 2013 graduate of the Master of Science in Leadership Development (MSLD) Graduate Program at Wright State University, Carey Kaufmann has quickly advanced in her professional career. In addition to her position as End User Support Specialist at CaTS (Computing and Telecommunications Services) here at Wright State University, Carey is also the new supervisor of CaTS Home Base where she manages six students and full-time professional staff. During her graduate program, Carey was awarded a H-00 competitive grant by the Graduate Student Assembly in 2013 to partially fund her conference presentation of her thesis proposal at the annual conference of the American Society for Business and Behavioral Sciences in February 2013. For her ou tstanding academic and research accomplishments, Carey was awarded the MSLD Graduate Student Excellence Awa rd in 2013.

Since graduating in May 2013, Carey has continued her pursuit of  academic achievement, as a paper from her graduate thesis was recently presented in the Leadership Track at the annual conference of the Midwest Academy of Management in October 2013. She is in the process of submitting an article to a peer-reviewed academic journal. Carey has also been personally invited to represent the MSLD program to incoming students.

She is active in her local community,  serving as a volunteer coach for the Dayton High School Girls' Rugby Team (25 players). This team started four years ago and did not win one game. Under Carey's leadership,  the team made it to the State Tournament  this past year. Additionally,  she has helped recruit four additional coaches, so rugby can be played at North  and South High Schools this spring.

Conference paper presented at American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, Nevada, Feb 2014. Co-authored by Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Perceptions of Charismatic Leaders based on Physical Attractiveness:  Do Looks Matter?


The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact that physical attractiveness has on follower perceptions of charismatic leadership using a sample population comprised of elementary and secondary educators.  Participants were asked to rate the physical attractiveness of four individuals in photographs (attractive and unattractive male; attractive and unattractive female) by using a six-point Likert-type scale. Respondents were asked to complete a modified version of the Conger-Kanungo (1994) charismatic leadership instrument based on their perceptions of the photographs provided.  As a manipulation check, participants were shown six sets of photographs and asked to identify who they perceived to be more of a charismatic leader.   The responses indicated that attractive females are perceived to be more charismatic than unattractive females, unattractive males, and attractive males supporting the notion that looks do matter.

Tonia Hairston-Abrams (MSLD 2013) – Conference paper presented at American Society of Business and Behavioral Sciences, Las Vegas, NV, Feb 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

The Relationship between Reentry Programming and Mentoring on Ex-Offender Recidivism Rates


The purpose of this research is to examine the relationship between reentry programming and mentoring on recidivism rates of ex-offenders.  Research indicates recidivism rates between 1994 and 2007 have consistently remained around 40% (State of Recidivism, 2011).  A least 95% of inmates in America will ultimately be released and return to communities.  In 2003, the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) reported from a 1997 study that 40% of state and federal prisoners had neither a high school diploma nor a General Education Development (GED) certificate (Harlow, 2003; Cropsey, Wexler, Melnick, Taxman, Young, 2007).  Although a number of studies have been conducted to determine the relationship between reentry programming and recidivism, there has been little research focusing on how mentoring ex-offenders relates to recidivism. Men and women released will require approximately 45% of reentry program services and support whereas 60% of men and 83% of women constructively recognized the need for a mentor as they transition to the community (Lattimore & Visher, 2009). Recent reviews and meta-analyses of evaluations on rehabilitative programming indicated recidivism can be reduced by 10% to 20% depending on program design and implementation (Visher & Travis, 2011). Surveys and interviews will be used to evaluate ex-offenders’ perceptions of educational training, work programs, and mentoring programs from the perspective of ex-offenders.  Restored citizens (ex-offenders who have not recidivated) will be interviewed to provide rich descriptions of their perspective on restored citizens mentoring ex-offenders. Optimistically, the results will influence programmatic funding decisions regarding ex-offenders. 

Katie Gerspacher (MSLD 2014) – Thesis – 2014 (Advisor: Dr. Sharon Heilmann)

Recipient of CEHS 2014 Research Excellence Award; Also paper based on thesis at the Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Communication Culture within Law Enforcement: Perceptions from Officers and Supervisors


This study assessed the perceived differences in organizational culture between patrol officers and their supervisors, specifically testing role ambiguity, trust in supervision, organizational culture and communication, and transformational leadership behaviors. A sample of supervisors and their subordinate officers from two Midwestern police departments (n=46) were surveyed, and data were analyzed via independent sample t-tests and bi-variate correlations.  Results indicated a perceived division of culture between patrol officers and supervisors and the factors that contribute to this division include upward and downward communication, trust, and role ambiguity. Additionally, analysis indicated a positive relationship between perceptions of organizational culture and organizational communication based on the supervisors and patrol officers’ perspective.

Greg Case (MSLD 2014) – Conference Paper presented to Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Mindy McNutt

Authentic Leadership: Do Behaviors of Leaders Influence Behavior of Followers?


Over the past decade there has been a focus on authentic leadership and the positive outcomes of authentic leadership. The purpose of this study was to examine whether the behaviors of authentic leaders (i.e., balanced processing, internalized moral perspective, relational transparency, and self-awareness) influence followers authentic leadership behaviors. This bivariate correlational study consisted of two samples within a mid-sized Midwestern manufacturing organization; the first sample consisted of 76 leaders within the second, third, and fourth levels of leadership, and the second sample consisted of 45 leaders in the fourth level of leadership. This research partially supported the hypothesis that the authentic leadership behaviors of leaders influence the authentic leadership behaviors of followers.

Lynda Anello (MSLD 2014) - Conference Paper presented to Midwest Academy of Management, Minneapolis, MN, Oct 2014. Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

Hospice Nurse Retention through Employee Engagement: The Importance of Personal Resources


In a survey of the relationship between perceived employee engagement and perceived use of personal resources of 70 hospice nurses, results indicated hospice nurses reported strong levels of engagement in their work and moderately high levels of personal resources. Positive relationships were found between overall engagement, emotional engagement, and cognitive engagement with personal resources, but results did not support a significant relationship between physical engagement and personal resources. Independent sample t-test results indicated nurses with higher reported levels of perceived engagement reported higher levels of personal resources, personal environmental mastery, and higher perceived self-acceptance compared to nurses with lower reported levels of perceived engagement. Differences between the two groups on perceived autonomy, positive relations, and purpose in life were not statistically significant. Results indicate an opportunity for hospice organizations to create cultures more predisposed toward engagement by including the concepts of key resources and resource gain spirals to their recruitment, onboarding, education, and retention efforts.

Nancy Clark (MSLD 2015) - Recipient of CEHS 2015 Research Excellence Award;  Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Nominated for Best Paper Award in Case Research Track

A Case Research Study of a Midwest High School Freshmen Orientation Program


In this orientation program at a rural Midwest high school, student-leaders work with incoming ninth grade students to ease the transition into high school. This case research study examined the change of mood and participation level of ninth graders during the orientation session, through the frameworks of authentic leadership (Luthans and Avolio, 2003) and sensemaking theories (Weick, 1979). In the Freshmen Focus orientation program, peer mentors (n = 40) worked with freshmen participants (n = 113) in a day-long camp. Groups consisted of 4 student leaders per groups of 14 ninth graders, in which participants were engaged in rallies, teambuilding activities, practical instruction, and freshmen schedule review. Student-leaders who demonstrated high levels of authentic leadership positively affected freshmen mo Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann, Dr. Adrianne Johnson, and Ms. Ryan Taylor

Impact of Formal Mentoring on High School Graduation Rates


This study examined the expectations, graduation rates, and GPAs of participants (n=113) in a formal mentorship program, Freshmen Focus, at a small, rural Midwestern high school through the framework of organizational socialization theory (Van Maanen & Schein, 1977). Findings indicated freshmen students formed expectations of the program and their mentors relative to homework help, acclimation assistance, and emotional support. Students’ expectations of their mentors and the program were surpassed throughout the mentorship experience. The study also demonstrated that participation in the Freshmen Focus mentorship program improved grade point averages and graduation rates.

Michael Corbett (MSLD 2015) - Conference Paper to be presented at Midwest Academy of Management, Columbus, OH, Oct 2015.  Co-authored with Dr. Sharon Heilmann

It is in the Eye of the Beholder: Public Perceptions of Police Officer Integrity


Public perception of police integrity was investigated via cross-sectional survey (Klockars, Ivkovich, Harver, & Haberfeld, 2000) of 77 Midwestern university students.  Respondents were categorized into high and low ethics groups based on results from an ethics self-assessment.  Independent sample t-tests indicated respondents in the high ethics group were more likely to perceive the scenarios of violations of policy in when abuse of power was related to personal gain than respondents in the low ethics groups.  Neither group rated use of excessive force as the most serious offense, rather personal gain and abuse of power were considered the most serious. 

Sarah K. Galley & Sharon G. Heilmann - Journal of Leadership and Management (2017) 1(7-8)

Is it just about the Numbers? an evaluation of emotional intelligence and employee engagement in the accounting industry


This cross-sectional study utilizing two public accounting firms investigated the relationship between employees' perceptions of their own engagement and their perceptions of their leaders' emotional intelligence. Using results from web-based surveys via two distribution lists (repsonserate=260), we tested two hypotheses; the relationship between employee engagment and emotional intelligence, as well as likelihood that respondents with higher self-perceptions of engagement would also rate their leaders to be higher in emtional intelligence compared to respondents with lower self-perceptions of engagement. Bivariate correlations and independent sample t-test results, respectively, supported these hypotheses. This study increased generalizabaility of both constructs as well as identified a need for further discrimination among the factors comprising employee engagement.

Megan Schwartz & Sharon G. Heilmann - Journal of Leadership and Management (2017) 1(7-8)

Emotional Intelligence in Hypercrisis: A Content Analysis of World Trade Center Leadership Response to the Terrorist Attacks of September 11


A content analysis of documents gathered related to the World Trade Center (WTC) leadership response to the hypercrisis of 9/11 were examined. Information was gathered on surviving leaders of four companies housed in the WTC on 9/11 and analyzed for evidence of emotional intelligence according to Daniel Goleman's five-construct model. Results indicated empathy to be the most prevalent reponse, followed by signficant levels of self-regulation, as well as relationship management, self-awareness, and self-motivation to lesser degrees. The findings indicated service orientation, social awareness, and adaptability to be the most common attributes demonstrated by the WTC leaders.

Take the Next Step

Finding the right college means finding the right fit. See all that the College of Education and Human Services has to offer by visiting campus.