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Master of Strategic Leadership (MSL)

Months to complete
Only 34 credit hours
Live & On-Campus
Choose your format
Per credit hour
10% partner discount

Lead from the front

Mount Mercy University’s Master of Strategic Leadership (MSL) program is designed for established leaders and motivated executives.

Our strategic leadership master’s degree focuses on the strategy needed to lead at the highest levels of business, preparing you to align your actions with your values.

Earn your master’s degree in strategic leadership from Mount Mercy, and change the way the world does business.

What can you do with a master’s degree in strategic leadership?

Earning your Master of Strategic Leadership is a pivotal step toward increasing your lifelong earning potential and advancing in leadership roles.

Explore organizational and executive leadership, improve your communication, and learn how to foster collaborative environments—even in virtual settings. Gain the skills you need to be a force of change inside any organization.

Why a Master’s in Strategic Leadership from Mount Mercy?

Our personalized strategic leadership master’s degree is built for experienced professionals, helping leaders like you refine their skills through real-world experiences and professional networking—in and out of the classroom.

  • Experience a curriculum that keeps pace with the times
  • Collaborate with professors who are practicing professionals
  • Graduate ready to rise to the highest levels in your career

As you work toward your strategic leadership master’s degree, you’ll expand your professional network and grow as an executive.

Earn your master’s in strategic leadership degree on your schedule

Enjoy the flexibility to earn your master’s degree in strategic leadership with a format that helps you balance work, school, and all your other responsibilities.

  • Choose from flexible start dates
  • Take one course at a time
  • Enjoy manageable 5- and 10-week blocks
  • Meet on-campus or online (live & on-demand) once each week
Kristen Roberts '20 MSL

It's a lot with working full-time, having a family, and being involved in the community. The thing that I liked most about the program is how they work with your life.

What can you do in our Master of Strategic Leadership program?

Thrive in an environment driven by collaboration. Gain the knowledge needed to lead anywhere in a dynamic and evolving work climate. Benefit from a program where big ideas are born. 

What will you learn in our Master of Strategic Leadership program?

Evaluate executive leadership styles. Study decision-making models. Explore change management. Establish a growth mindset. Discover the value of reflection. Hone your personal brand.

Dardis training

As part of our MBA and MSL curriculum, you’ll gain valuable training on presentation skills and professional image from Dardis Communications to empower you in your career. In an increasingly competitive market, the ability to present, articulate your vision, and hone your personal brand could be the keys in setting you apart from the rest.

Customize your master’s degree in strategic leadership

Earn a graduate certificate now, and apply it to your MSL later. After just four courses (12-13 semester hours), you can earn a certificate in:

What courses will I take?

CJ Courses

CJ 510 Administration of Justice: 3 semester hours

This course will examine the criminal justice system and contemporary issues confronting the system. The course will focus on the decision making process involved in the pursuit of crime prevention, crime control, and justice, including models of criminal justice and evidence based policy. In addition, the effectiveness of the system in accomplishing prevention, control, and justice will be examined along with the role of drug and guns in crime.

CJ 515 Theories of Crime and Justice: 3 semester hours

This course will intensively examine major criminological theories from sociological, psychological, and biological historical and modern perspectives. This course will also include an intensive examination of current policy and practice implications of these theoretical perspectives. It also includes an advanced analysis of models of crime and justice. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 520 Research and Statistics for Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

This course will expand on the foundations of basic undergraduate research methods and statistics. Students will be able to evaluate the quantitative and qualitative methods of research commonly used in criminal justice. The course will reinforce student knowledge of basic concepts in statistics that have a wide applicability to the criminal justice system. The evaluation of research methods and data analysis will focus on improved decision-making for criminal justice policy and practice. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 600 Graduate Field Experience in Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

Students currently employed, or interested in securing employment, within criminal justice agencies may find a professional experience more beneficial to their career goals. The course is designed to give students practical experience in the field prior to graduation and may serve as a gateway to a career and/or career advancement in the criminal justice field. Field experience provides the student with the opportunity to integrate theory and practice, utilize knowledge, and confront contradictions between the conceptual and the real world. Prerequisites: CJ 510, 3.0 GPA, Bachelor’s Degree.

CJ 610 The Impact of Social Inequities &Hum Rights: 3 semester hours

This course will primarily focus on Social Inequities & Human Rights Issues and their effect upon the person, the neighborhood, the greater community, and related issues. Students will examine the impact social inequities have on social justice, and community betterment issues that feed the criminal justice system. Additionally, students will explore the history and current status of the loss of human rights experienced by those formerly incarcerated and the subsequent effect on society. Students will explore how public policy has ignored social inequities and subsequently (by proxy) allowed policies to be shaped, and how this impacts social movements. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 615 Civil Liability in Criminal Justice: 3 semester hours

Besides understanding the criminal law, criminal justice practitioners face civil liability in the workplace. This graduate course explores important issues of civil liability that policing and corrections professionals may face in their careers. Students will study the sources of civil actions like tort law, federal § 1983 claims, and wrongful death lawsuits. The course will emphasize best practices and prevention of litigation, as well as strategies for defending civil lawsuits and related claims. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 620 International Policing: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on the function role of law enforcement agencies in various government organizations on the international level. Explore ethical issues as they relate to liaison with counterparts and the development of criminal investigations. Examine the attempts at international police agencies; INTERPOL, EUROPOL and the relations they have with the US and other governments. Look at the role of law enforcement agencies in hostile environments, occupied territories or warzones, and the events leading to the activity. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 623 Race and Crime: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on the history of race in the United States, as it relates to how race is experienced in the criminal justice system. This will include an examination of race as a social construction, along with an evaluation of how the criminal justice is utilized as an institution of racial governance. Specifically, this will include an examination of the racialized view of crime, racialized crime control, and racialized mass incarceration. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 625 Homeland Security: 3 semester hours

This course will examine how the advent of homeland security; resources, methods and agency alignment has affected domestic policy, expenditures and public perception. Specifically it will focus on the structural, conceptual and intellectual foundation of the emerging discipline of homeland security. Agency methods of interacting with private security, jurisdictions agency, and public policy will be examined. Topics will include infrastructure, terrorist groups, suicide bombers, and natural disasters. In addition there will be an examination of the National Incident Management System, Homeland Security, Public/Private partnerships and the role of security professionals’ post 9/11. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 633 Environmental Crime: 3 semester hours

This course will involve a concentrated analysis of the illegal hunting and trade of wildlife and ocean life. The course will also include an examination of the illegal logging and timber trade, and illegal transportation and disposal of hazardous waste. The impact of these crimes on the safety and security of people around the world along with domestic and international criminal justice efforts to stop these crimes will be evaluated. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 635 Victimology: 3 semester hours

This course will primarily focus on criminal victimization, of the person, the neighbor, the greater community, and related issues. Students will examine the current state of Victimology and victims-related issues. Additionally, students will explore the history of the victims’ rights movement how the victims’ rights movement is shaped by, and also shapes social movements. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 640 Drugs and Crime: 3 semester hours

This course examines types of licit and illicit drugs, the impact of drugs on the American culture, the legal and illegal use of drugs, the relationship between drugs and crime, and the treatment and prevention of drug use and abuse. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 641 Juvenile Justice: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on how juveniles fit into the criminal justice system. This course will explore the history of juvenile crime and theoretical approaches to understanding and explaining delinquency. This course will examine the juvenile court process from policing and the court system to due process and possible interventions. Special attention will be paid to future directions in juvenile justice and possible system reforms. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 642 Ethical Issues in Crime and Justice: 3 semester hours

This course will focus on ethical dilemmas and decisions in criminal justice. This course will explore the formation of morality and ethics and how these relate to definitions of justice. This course will examine ethical issues and situations that occur in all areas of the criminal justice system including, law enforcement, courts, and corrections. Special attention will be paid to how criminal justice professionals respond to ethical dilemmas.

CJ 645 Special Topics in Crime and Justice: 3 semester hours

This course would consist of special topics within the issues of crime and justice. Topics may include: critical race theory, correctional education, criminal investigation, private security, emergency management, or other advanced studies in crime and justice. Students may complete more than one topics course for elective credit. Prerequisite: CJ 510.

CJ 650 CJ Graduate Capstone: 3 semester hours

In this course students will integrate knowledge and skills gained in the criminal justice core courses and selected electives in the completion of a comprehensive exam. The comprehensive exam is designed to measure a student’s proficiency in core areas of the disciple. The exam will serve to assess the student’s ability to integrate and synthesize core knowledge in the field and document expertise in one or more areas of criminal justice.

CJ 699 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

If a student wishes to independently study or research a particular topic, he/she may propose to work with an appropriate faculty member within their discipline. No more than 2 courses may be taken as independent study by any student.

LS Courses

LS 500 Organizational Effectiveness: 4 semester hours

This course introduces students to the basic principles of human behavior and how these principles apply to the management of individuals and groups in organizations. Topics include: individual differences in abilities and attitudes, attribution, motivation, group dynamics, power and politics, leadership, conflict resolution, organizational culture, and organizational structure and design.

LS 599 Special Topics in Leadership: 3 semester hours

This course will be offered as an elective to address special topics in leadership that Mount Mercy University does not currently offer. Topics may include: change management, organizational psychology, upper echelon of leadership, diversity and discrimination, crisis management, or other advanced studies in leadership. Students may complete more than one special topics course for elective credit.

LS 600 Strategic Human Resource Management: 3 semester hours

Global competition combined with the transition to a knowledge-based economy requires organizations to take an integrated, strategic approach to preparing a workforce that can meet the business demands of the future. This course focuses on the history and changes in human resources, understanding business strategies and devising HR practices to support them, identifying how organizations gain sustainable competitive advantage through effective human resource strategies, and how workforce diversity and globalization is capable of enhancing an organization's human talent to drive successful business results. Particular focus will be given to measuring human resource outcomes and the integration with overall business strategy.

LS 608 Coaching Skills for Leaders: 3 semester hours

In this course, students will develop skills and knowledge to assist them to be effective coaches in the organizational environment. An extra fee is charged for this course.

LS 615 Organizational Leadership: 3 semester hours

This course introduces practical examples and tactics for leading in organizations.

LS 618 Decision Making for Leaders: 3 semester hours

Leaders make decisions every day that effect the outcomes of an organization. In this course, you'll explore an introduction to the role of leadership judgement in business decisions. This class provides insights on how to make educational decisions based on a strategic framework that includes goal setting, reviewing the past, gathering data, examining cause and effect, and considering barriers to success. Participants will learn what kind of information and data they should collect while understanding judgment as a process. Emphasis will be on implementing strategic initiatives based on research and hypothesis, while considering ethical implications that may result in alternative outcomes. Students will also learn the importance of storytelling and presentation of data when communicating decisions.

LS 620 Collaborative & Virtual Teams: 3 semester hours

There is increased reliance on teams and team-based projects with a focus on greater innovation and performance in organizations, this course offers an opportunity to gain knowledge in creating and sustaining high-performance teams. This course provides an analysis of team-based practices with a focus on virtual collaboration and teams that embrace change, manage conflict, foster innovation and ultimately reach the desired outcome. High-performance teams bring culture alignment that cultivates inclusion and strong communication creating a sustainable and successful organization. Collaborative & Virtual Teams teaches the strategy needed to develop a high-performance collaborative team whether virtual or in person.

LS 628 Conflict Resolution: 3 semester hours

This course examines conflict in organizations and teaches common dispute resolution/mediation processes and strategies shown to be effective in the organizational context. More specifically, the course will explore the roots of dispute resolution/mediation and commonly utilized mediation processes and strategies. Case studies will be analyzed and discussed as well as provide opportunities for mock mediation. Students will be offered opportunities to bring forward real-life scenarios for analysis and discussion.

LS 635 Leadership Foundations: 3 semester hours

The focus of the course is to provide a review of Leadership theories both from an historical perspective and the current day leadership styles that have evolved over the decades since the Industrial Revolution. The course will include the opportunity for students to self-assess, develop and create their own leadership style.

LS 640 Systems Thinking and Growth Mindset: 3 semester hours

This course will provide the framework for systems thinking and growth mindset. Growth mindset allows for creativity, innovation and development that will move organizations to be more successful in the future. Systems thinking requires strategic leaders to step back and understand the dynamics that influence individual and organizational behavior. With a growth mindset and systems thinking you can create a cultural that is innovative, allowing people to see beyond themselves and their titles.

LS 645 Organizational Communication: 3 semester hours

This course introduces students to communication tools and approaches leaders can use to direct, guide, inspire, motivate, engage, and unite stakeholders.

LS 655 MSL Capstone: 3 semester hours

This course is the Capstone for the MSL program and therefore will serve as a means for the student to apply and integrate the knowledge they have gained during the program into their personal lives and professional careers. In today’s competitive global economy leading and managing people efficiently, effectively, and ethically is more important than ever. People are the common denominator of organized endeavor, regardless of the organization’s size or purpose. The human factor inevitably is the key to success and leading human performance to achieve the goals of an organization is a key to sustainable success.

LS 699 Independent Study: 3 semester hours

If a student wishes to independently study or research a particular topic, he/she may propose to work with an appropriate faculty member within their discipline. No more than 2 courses may be taken as independent study by any student.

How can I afford a master’s in strategic leadership?

You may be eligible for scholarships and loan programs.

The first step is to complete your FAFSA, which helps determine state and federal aid available to you. Our federal school code is 001880. Contact our Financial Aid Office with any questions.

Get started on your strategic leadership master’s degree

Applications are accepted and reviewed year-round. Our graduate admissions team is here to help you reach your educational goals and answer your questions. 
  1. Complete your application

  2. Request official transcripts from all institutions previously attended. Email to or mail to:
  • Graduate Programs
    Mount Mercy University
    1330 Elmhurst Drive NE
    Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-4797

  • Three years of full-time work experience (recommended)

  • Personal interview with program director and additional writing sample may be requested

Which Business & Leadership program is right for me?

The key is to determine your goals, interests, and ambitions:

  • The Master of Strategic Leadership (MSL) helps you expand your leadership skills to influence team and organizational performance.

Many students have completed both programs.