Master of Leadership

Course overview with A/Prof. Jeff Shao

A Master of Leadership degree provides you with formal recognition for the leadership skills you already have, and the opportunity to deepen your capabilities through a process of construction self-refelection.

Course Director, A/Prof. Jeff Shao provides an overview of this new kind of leadership degree.

How the course is structured

You complete two units, 10 Professional Practice credentials and finish with a double-weighted capstone unit.

To gain a Professional Practice credential, you must demonstrate the capabilities you've acquired in a leadership role.


Download the course guide to find out more about the units and the Professional Practice credentials.

2 Core

Leadership Practice with Impact

This foundational unit will deliver a thorough grounding in core leadership challenges and theories. The insights gained will enable you to explore different leadership concepts, and apply them to your workplace.

Leadership Research Methods

This unit focuses on the common contemporary challenges that leaders and those in leadership positions face in the workplace. It provides insight into how these challenges appear and evolve, and gives students the necessary skills to overcome them through evidence-based decision-making.

Please note: As part of any master’s degree at Deakin University, you need to complete the compulsory, zero-credit-point unit Academic Integrity. This unit requires you to pass an online multiple-choice test.

Download the course guide for more details about the Master of Leadership from Deakin University.


Unlike other master's courses, Deakin’s Professional Practice degrees focus on recognising the skills you already have while further improving your approach to leadership through guided evaluation.

Earning Professional Practice credentials gives you the opportunity to analyse your leadership experience and, consequently, become a better leader. Further, you’ll validate your new and existing capabilities as a leader. Professional Practice credentials are designed so that they can be completed between work and other commitments. You can work on them any time throughout the year.

You'll obtain each of the following Professional Practice credentials by writing a short reflective essay, submitting evidence and providing additional video testimony:

  • Communication
  • Digital literacy
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Teamwork
  • Global citizenship
  • Empowering others
  • Adaptive mindsets
  • Leading and developing people
  • Driving strategic results

Download the course guide to learn more about Professional Practice credentials and the course structure.

Capstone Unit

Research Project 1B

Under the guidance of an academic mentor, you’ll hone the skills you have acquired throughout the course and apply them to a research project. This double-weighted unit (equivalent to two units) will provide you with an opportunity to bring your experience, research and reflection together to consolidate your learning and make a contribution by showing how leadership can address an existing strategic-level issue.

Download the course guide to learn more about the capstone unit and course structure.


Flexible and 100% online

This leading-edge master’s degree is designed for leaders who need flexibility for when and where they complete their studies.

  • Based primarily on gaining Professional Practice credentials, this course has no exams and is designed specifically for a 100% online experience
  • Study while you work, immediately apply what you learn to your workplace


One-on-one support

You’ll be supported every step of the way.

Each student is provided with a Success Adviser, who provides help and support from enrolment through to graduation.

From tackling the capstone unit to submitting a testimony, your academics are available to provide support whenever you need it.

Frequently asked questions
What's the difference between this course and an MBA?

If you already know enough about accounting, finance, marketing and operations management, or can learn these on the job, but want to improve your ability to build high-performing teams, then the Master of Leadership is for you. This course will build on your existing leadership experience and provide you with an understanding on how to have a strategic impact on your business with leadership skills that deliver positive change. You will be able to apply your learning whether you're working in business, the not-for-profit sector, as a school principal or in government. In this way, the Master of Leadership is a shorter course that recognises your pre-established leadership experience while allowing you to learn new concepts. You can learn more by visiting our blog.

Do I need to be in a current leadership position?

Yes, you need to be in a current leadership position where you hold operational and strategic responsibilities. You also need to have at least five years of relevant work experience (or part-time equivalent).

How do I gain Professional Practice Credentials? What's involved?

To earn a credential, you will draw on your recent leadership experience (i.e. within the last two years) and go through a three step process of identifying and documenting your skills, experience and knowledge. You will obtain each credential by writing a short reflective essay, submitting evidence and providing an additional video testimony about your professional experience, where you will describe how they demonstrate each criterion. Every one of the 10 Professional Practice Credentials assesses a capability that’s highly valued in leaders, such as critical thinking and problem solving. You are free to prepare for and submit multiple credentials at the same time – credentials are designed to be completed between work and other commitments, and you can work on them at any time throughout the year. We recommend you enrol into your credentials once a month and spend around 8-10 hours over a 4-5 week period for each credential. In this way, you will submit five credentials in one trimester (or two credentials if you're studying for the Graduate Certificate of Leadership). Get ahead with your submissions by compiling your evidence and writing your reflection during your trimester breaks, and submit them once the new trimester starts. Preparing for the first credential may take the longest, but you will find that the process gets easier as you move through your submissions.

What does the research project entail?

This 15,000-word research project comprises three smaller assignments that you will complete over one to two trimesters. It will give you the opportunity to investigate and address a real-life issue by creating a strategic plan for it. You may pick an issue that you are facing as a leader, or you may pick one that you find interesting in your workplace, giving you also the opportunity to work with your colleagues or managers in your organisation. You will gain additional support through an academic supervisor, who will help you refine the scope of and support you through your research project. In this way, you will demonstrate your expertise and contribute to your field in a meaningful way.

Are my study hours flexible? Can I do my units any time, in any order?

We've designed this course so that you have flexibility in the way you study and manage it amid other life and work responsibilities. Aside from having no exams, the course is designed specifically for a 100 per cent online experience. You can complete two core units and a double-weighted capstone unit (four credit points), plus 10 Professional Practice credentials among other commitments. All units are available at each intake. Keep in mind that you need to complete the two core units sequentially and enrol in the first core unit in your first trimester. The research project will be the last thing to complete after all your other units and credentials are done.

Will I still be eligible for the course if I don't have a bachelor's degree?

You may. If you haven't done a four-year undergraduate degree, then the Graduate Certificate of Leadership with the University might be a good option for you. Starting with the graduate certificate will not cause you any extra study or cost you any more than the master's degree. It simply means that you will start with and do the same two core units as you would in the master's degree, and complete four of the 10 Professional Practice Credentials over two trimesters. As you continue on to the master's degree, you will simply need to complete the remaining six Professional Practice Credentials and your research project. The main difference over the two pathways will be their duration: as little as 16 months through the graduate certificate and as little as 12 months through the fast-tracked master's degree pathway. Continuing on to the master's degree will not require a full application – there is some paperwork that you will need to complete, but you will also have the assistance of your dedicated Student Success Adviser throughout your application process.

How many intakes do you have in a year?

We have three intakes in a year: March, July and November. When you submit your application early, you can take your time in finalising your FEE-HELP application, make full use of your Orientation Week and get ahead in familiarising yourself with your study plan. Should you not have completed your application before the closing date, our Student Enrolment Advisers will get in touch with you to offer any assistance through the enrolment process and answer any questions you may have.