»Master of Arts in Leadership Development

The College of Educational Studies offers a pioneering masters in leadership development (MLD) that can be completed in 18-24 months. It is taught by exceptionally devoted and qualified faculty, who recognize that leadership depends on both local and global knowledge. Our leadership program encourages students to look beyond content and task outcomes to focus on relationships and critical processes. Our graduates develop the skills to be creative and innovative in driving purposeful and sustained change. In exploring the MLD, you may see yourself collaborating with others in:

  • Governmental, community and non-profit organizations
  • Institutions of higher education
  • Corporations, businesses, and entrepreneurial start-ups
  • Schools and other educational settings
  • Health, wellness, and athletics

The masters in leadership develops leaders who are capable of shaping leadership in others and serving purposes that transcend themselves and work for the common good of all. Modeling the core values of the CES: self-awareness, caring, courage, service, affirming diversity and civic engagement, the MLD appeals to a wide range of professionals and educationally, diverse settings.

Master's in Leadership Development Program Platform comprised of the program's: core values, mission/purpose statement and creed.

Take Charge of Your Learning

The graduate leadership program is 30 units and includes a self-designed component (3-6 units) within the program allowing you to make choices and take greater charge of your own learning. The program consists of theory or foundational core of 12 units, an applied inquiry core of 6 units, an elective plan of 9 units and a leadership development capstone project of 3 units at the end.

Why I Chose the MLD Program

"I chose the MLD program because it placed an emphasis on developing others around oneself. Leadership is highly valued within society, but the ability to develop leaders around you is the crucial piece lacking at times. By focusing on my interpersonal, leadership development skills I can create more equitable spaces for those in need."

- Jesse Gutierrez

Why I Chose the MLD Program

Finding the Masters of Leadership Development was like finding a long lost pair of Rainbows, the moment you put them on you know they have always been yours! The MLD fit just right and felt so good! (haha this one is just me being silly)

The Masters of Leadership Development at Chapman University satisfied my purpose of making a difference in this world while providing me the skills to find my path and help me grow into my potential as the change-making leader I am!

I could not have chosen a better program even if I had designed it myself.  Not only has the Masters in Leadership Development allowed me the space to grow and be challenged as an individual, it has provided me with the skills I need to make my dreams become a practical reality. Because of the Masters of Leadership Development, I know that I will make a difference and fulfill my purpose of being the biggest contribution to our society that I can be.

I feel so fortunate to have found this program as it has far exceeded any expectation I ever had of what Graduate School could be. The Masters of Leadership Development has helped me immeasurably as I continue on my journey of making a difference in this world. The MLD has not only provided me with a quality education in the fields of Leadership, Organizations, Democracy, Equity, Education and Culture, but has fostered my growth and development in becoming the person, leader, and change-maker I am meant to be. Although my time in the program is coming to an end, I know that this is only the beginning.

- Emma Johnston

Current MLD Student SPARKS Summer 2015 issue of Chapman Magazine

Ross Loehner, current MLD student, author of summer 2015 issue of Chapman Magazine

Not that anyone could ever be bored during a staff meeting at Chapman University, but somehow Chapman Magazine editors learned that Web content manager Ross Loehner ’04 (MLD ’16) does the best doodles ever. (View Chapman Blog Here)

Now Loehner’s talent for illustration is out there for all to enjoy. Click Here to view the digital version.

The Excellence of the MLD Program

MLD Alumnus Nikki Jarrod

"I'm currently sitting across from my new boss on my fourth day of work. My focus is on employee development, talent brand, training, on-boarding, recruiting, employee engagement and development. I am so excited to have this role.

I am writing to you because the leadership development program (MLD) at Chapman literally has not only shaped my career path but has also made me a strong, emotionally intelligent, structured, smarter, compassionate and.... read more from Nikki Schenk ‘2015

Leadership Studies Program extends its reach all the way to Washington state!

Kelly Nunn MLD, Teacher Michelle Munson and Parent-Catalyst Madonna Mess

Chapman graduate student Kelly Nunn, teacher Michelle Munson and parent Madonna Messina collaborated to bring leadership education to Liberty High School in Renton, WA. Almost 1,175 miles away from Chapman University, Liberty High is home to one of the latest educational projects by Mark Maier, Ph.D., director of Chapman’s Leadership Studies Program (MLD). Maier plus a team of 12 Chapman graduate students have created the high school’s new “Introduction to Leadership,” course, to be launched this coming school year. It’s an educational outreach-like project developed by Maier and the students, facilitated by go-between Chapman graduate student Kelly Nunn and will be taught by Liberty teacher Michelle Munson starting in the fall.

The idea to set up the high school curriculum didn’t occur in a vacuum — it originated with Liberty parent Madonna Messina when she was helping her eldest daughter shop for college. One of the campus tours Messina took was at Chapman....

Read the full post and share the news!

Los Angeles Times: "This program has helped shape who I am as a leader" (February 2015)

Logo for Los Angeles Times

M.A. in Leadership Development emphasizes making a difference, not just a paycheck

“By focusing on areas such as team building, group dynamics and conflict resolution, Chapman’s Master’s in Leadership Development is preparing graduates to take the helm in businesses, nonprofits and educational institutions..."  

Read More from the Los Angeles Times

Admission Requirements

Graduating class of May 2015

The admission deadline for this program is on a rolling basis. Students may submit applications up to 6 weeks prior to the start of the Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters.

  • Submit an online application
  • Statement of Intent (prompt can be found within the online application)
  • Current resume
  • Official transcripts from all degree-granting colleges/universities attended
  • Two letters of recommendation
  • $60 application fee

GPA Requirements

Students applying to the Masters in Leadership program must possess a 3.0 minimum cumulative GPA. If an applicant’s GPA falls below a 3.0 students must submit one of the following test scores:

  • California Subject Examinations for Teachers (CSET): achieve a passing score on all sections.
  • Miller Analogies Test: achieve a minimum scaled score of 404.
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE): achieve a minimum score on any two of the three sections; 146 Quantitative, 152 Verbal, and 4.5 Analytical Writing.

Transfer of Coursework

A maximum of six credits of graduate transfer work is allowed. (Please see the Academic Policies and Procedures section of the Academic Catalog for transfer guidelines.)

Supporting documents may be mailed to:
Office of Graduate Admission
Chapman University
One University Dr.
Orange, CA 92866

MLD Approved Program Course Offerings

All our courses are 3 graduate credits.

The required core courses are: EDUC 505, 607, 654 (until 2016) 662 (starting Spring 2016) , 655, 688 and 698.

  • The electives are: EDUC 526, 585, 599, 629, 644, 661, 663, 664, 665, 668, 669, 674, 679, 699
  • By permission of the Coordinator, for those interested in educational leadership, additional approved electives are EDUC  570, 571, 634, 649.
  • Any other course would have to be by special permission from the Program Coordinator


Contact Us

MLD faculty Kris DePedro, Penny Bryan, and Whitney McIntyre Miller

For Admissions Information Please Contact:

Erin O'Keefe
Temp. Admissions Coordinator
(714) 628-2740

For Program Information Please Contact:

Penny S. Bryan, Ph.D.
MLD Faculty Coordinator
(714) 744-7658