Executive Master of Leadership Blog

How Much Work is an Executive Master of Leadership Degree?

[fa icon="calendar'] May 21, 2019 7:19:00 AM / by Susan Gautsch


With 40 to 80 hour work weeks, countless business trips, responsibilities with kids, maintaining a marriage, and staying fit, many mid-to-senior level managers are overwhelmed as is, and the mere thought of taking on extra responsibilities can seem like a burden in itself.

However, those with the drive to reach the upper echelons of success as leaders realize that manifesting their dreams requires investing in themselves. In fact, exemplary skills in every area, from effective communication to complex problem-solving, to emotional intelligence, is necessary to reach these heights.

To sharpen their expertise and compete in the top tiers of management, create a leadership development plan and consider enrolling in an Executive Master of Leadership (EML) program. However, most still recoil in fear when considering the workload.

While going back to school can seem stressful and overwhelming; in reality, it is a manageable and rewarding experience. If you’re on the fence about applying to graduate school, here’s the workload you can expect from our EML curriculum to help you decide.


The Time Commitment

Most people in our program are in the same boat: managing their businesses, family, and personal lives. As such, we’ve modeled our curriculum to account for such circumstances, offering the flexibility our students need to complete the coursework effectively. As such, many have no problem tackling the program’s two main time commitments: classes and assignments.


In the Classroom

Seven courses are required to complete this program: four core classes and three electives. Each course requires eight full days to complete, with core-classes typically scheduled on weekends. So, you can expect to dedicate 56 days to coursework in total.


Outside Assignments

In addition to classes, there is homework as well. Although the workload typically varies from week to week, in general, expect to set aside one hour per week to reflect on the coursework and record your reflections in the class discussion board online.

Aside from that, each class requires a few group projects where you’ll work in teams of three to four. For these, you’ll have the freedom to schedule the work as you like within your group.

Furthermore, at the start of each class, you’ll receive a syllabus that will let you know when the course will be the busiest to help you organize your schedule far in advance. Expect two periods of increased activity in each class, one towards the middle and one towards the end.


Fitting It All In

Although some might have to sacrifice a bit of sleep or a few trips to the gym, after a few weeks, students typically find a good rhythm as they integrate the Executive Master of Leadership coursework seamlessly into their schedules.

Don’t worry if you have firm commitments for any reason; feel free to bring them up with your professors and, within reason, they’ll be happy to help accommodate the classes to suit your schedule. All in all, even if this seems overwhelming on paper, once you get in the groove, you’ll be learning what it takes to get ahead in your career before you know it.


Applying to Graduate School

If you're considering applying to the Executive Master of Leadership program, check out this resources we've put together for you:

  1. How to Write a Winning Executive Resume
  2. How to Write a Statement of Intent
  3. How to Request Letters of Recommendation


Download a brochure for USC's Executive Master of Leadership degree program.


Topics: Applying to Graduate School, Leadership Development

Susan Gautsch

Written by Susan Gautsch

Director of Online Learning at USC Price School of Public Policy

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