Masters in Leadership

Blog of the Master Programme Leadership

About the Programme

Business, politics and administrations are desperately looking for young leaders who are able to take on the responsibility of solving complex problems and motivate other people to do their very best: Open-minded people with a broad range of interests, who are motivated by new challenges, other people and other cultures and seemingly unsolvable problems. The required skills and talents include:

• Conceptual skills
• Innovation and change skills
• Social and communication skills

The Master’s Programme in Leadership aims at providing industry, administration and other organisations with high potentials who continuously strive to broaden their horizons and develop their own potential within companies and organisations. The programme puts graduates onto a quick and reliable track for their future careers:

• A consecutive Master’s programme following on directly from a Bachelor’s degree in economics or management
• Under certain conditions also open to graduates of programmes in subjects related to economics or management
• A 4-semester strongly application-oriented programme concluding in a Master of Arts degree (120 ECTS)
• International orientation; instruction in English • Focus on structuring, change and communication in organisations
• A mandatory elective that is oriented towards various business sectors and areas
• A high proportion of practical content and intensive collaboration with a company (professional advisor)
• Small learning groups (maximum 15 students)
• Issue based action learning: applying theoretical findings to real-world situations in an interactive, practice-oriented way
• Friendly and open atmosphere with personal supervision by professors
• The programme starts both in the fall/winter term and the spring term (minimum number of participants required)

Learning is fun:

The Master’s Programme in Leadership has been created for students who enjoy thinking unconventionally and being confronted with intellectual challenges: Students who are attracted by the idea of seeing the world through different eyes, developing innovative concepts and working together with other people to find and implement creative solutions.

Building on know-how acquired in a Bachelor’s or “Diplom” programme, the first year focuses on enhancing this knowledge, working with text and case studies in workshops and groups. Students concentrate on innovative issues from a variety of areas such as the economy, organisational psychology and sociology. In the second year the emphasis shifts towards establishing a link between theory and practice. Students have to solve a specific problem in collaboration with top managers from renowned international companies or leaders from political, administrative and other organisations in an on-the-job assignment. This phase is accompanied by block seminars at the university, communication and conflict training, and two colloquia. The theoretical foundations of the programme together with the involvement of renowned industry practitioners enable students to reflect broadly on the issues in question. At the end of the second year, students write their Master’s thesis, preferably in a company or in collaboration with a scientific, cultural or social institution.

The structure of the programme:

Raise the altitude of your vision”. This statement addressed to the leaders of the 21st Century by Ram Charan, a globally renowned expert, summarises the focus of the Master’s Programme in Leadership. Students, professors and practitioners are jointly faced with a large variety of entrepreneurial tasks, social situations and cultures inside and outside of organisations. They learn how to interpret the economic, psychological and social agenda of players and to make use of communication skills to manage an organisation in a targeted manner, both in good times and in bad. They learn to analyse leadership situations critically, to make decisions taking into account ethical considerations, and to solve dilemmas. They learn to reflect on their own roles as managers and to hone their understanding of social interrelations within organisations. They are able to interpret situations with a view to developing and implementing suitable leadership instruments.

The programme confronts the students with the three key challenges of business leaders:

1. Structuring

Actively structuring socio-economic organisations and creating structures and processes adapted to specific tasks and situations

2. Change

Constantly adapting organisations to a changing global environment, the ability to develop innovations and strategies in different cultural, social and economic contexts.

3. Communication

Dealing with people effectively depending on the specific situation and maintaining relationships inside and outside of the company

During the programme the students are increasingly involved in developing creative solutions for cases. As a result, the focus gradually shifts from “structuring” to “change”.

The first year:

During the first year of the programme, the students work together to develop a framework for the leadership of modern organisations (conceptual leadership). In the module “Norms and Rules” the students critically analyse the interpretation and application of both written and unwritten rules in companies and other social organisations. In this module, basic principles of ethics and governance are a central theme.

During the entire programme, students look at the game rules for communication both inside and outside of organisations from a variety of angles. The “Business Communication” module focuses on the principles of communication for leaders and their internal reference groups, whereas the “Organisational Rhetorics” module concentrates on the impact of communication tools on contacts both inside and outside of organisations. In addition, students develop learn how to maintain and extend networks, customer relationships and the multi-faceted web of relationships within companies in the “Corporate Relations” module.

In the “Complex Adaptive Systems” module students focus on systems theory, whereas in the “Business and Organisational Development” module they create practical tools and methods for developing and organising the implementation of business strategies. The modules are accompanied by a theoretical module entitled “Evolutionary Systems”, which also focuses on and delves deeper into system theory, and the “Structuration” module, which deals with the structuring of social and social-economic systems.

In “Leading for Results” students take a concrete look at the results business leaders are expected to achieve and how they can effectively and efficiently structure, apply and implement available resources. This can, for example, involve the development and interpretation of key performance indicators or gaining a good command of modern controlling concepts – essential know-how for today’s business leaders.

The second year:

On-the-job assignment and Master’s thesis

On the basis of the concentrated knowledge and abilities developed during the intensive and demanding first year of study, the students then go on to apply and test their skills in practice. Students have to solve a specific problem directly on the job in a company or other organisation in an on-the-job assignment. This assignment can be combined with the Master’s thesis, which also focuses on a concrete task in an international organisation. In order to make the most of these practical modules, students are prepared for this phase in the mandatory elective modules and the “Conflict & Communication” module in the third semester. Furthermore, the writing of the Master’s thesis is accompanied by two colloquia in the fourth semester.

Personal mentoring:

In the second year students are mentored by a professional advisor. As a rule an experienced business executive acts as advisor to the student and the student carries out assistance tasks for this person during this time. The students should select the company and professional advisor independently. However, the university has established and maintains contacts with renowned executives in order to support the students with this task. In addition, the university organises “matching” interviews with business executives and community leaders at the beginning of the programme in order to offer intensive collaboration with a mentor at an executive level in the second year of studies.

Mandatory elective alternatives:

Three mandatory elective alternatives are offered in the third semester, in which the students can prepare themselves for leadership tasks in specific industries and business areas.

Entrepreneurship and Family Businesses: prepares students for a career in their own business or in another family business.

Leading in the Public Environment: prepares students for leadership tasks in the public sector, in political organisations, in the arts and cultural sector, and in associations.

Future Leaders in Global Organisations: prepares students specifically for a career in multinational groups.

The electives may be pooled, if the number of applicants for the one or more electives falls below 5 participants.


Two research focussed colloquia in the 2nd year focus on the transfer between theory and practice and give the students the opportunity to specialise individually in an area that is interesting for their future careers.

Application and selection procedure:

For application and selection details, please visit Karlshochschule International University’s hompage: