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These 7 Graduate Programs Will Help You Become A Better Leader

By: John Ross


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As a small business owner, you may struggle to find ways to help you become a better business leader. Going to school is a big commitment, but it is one of the best ways to do just that!

If you are too busy with your business to be able to commit to school right now, there are so many other programs and certification courses that you can participate in to boost your business without spending years studying and doing research. Consider all your options and find what works best for you.

Get your MBA

An MBA is the most obvious and time-consuming way of becoming a better business leader. Completing your MBA successfully will teach you the best practices for running your own business and helping it succeed in an increasingly competitive market.

Getting an MBA is hard. Getting an MBA while you are running your own business is even harder. To even be accepted you need to earn a high score on the GMAT — an exam designed to test your academic abilities. As a busy business owner, you might find the best way to prep for the GMAT is to purchase a prep course. These prep courses from the likes of Princeton Review and Kaplan can help you structure how you study for the exam and help you manage your time when you are busy doing about 100 other things.

Get an MSOL

MSOL, a master’s in organization leadership, can massively benefit your business by enhancing your leadership skills. In completing an MSOL program, you learn valuable critical thinking skills that can help you make impactful, positive decisions as a business owner, and you even learn how to best communicate with those around you.

Maintaining good relationships is one of the most important parts of running a successful business. Earn your MSOL, and you can say that you are well-trained in the ins and outs of professional communication in a small business setting.

Take Cornell’s Business Strategy Certificate Course

If you do not have the time to earn a full-fledged degree in business, consider taking a certificate course from one of the top universities in the United States. This course is completed fully online, and only requires a commitment of 3-5 hours per week for 3 months!

While taking a certificate course is not quite the same as earning a master’s degree, you will learn a lot of the same concepts and ideas that can help your small business thrive. In the course offered by Cornell, you will learn everything from how to makes profits to how to have effective communication in the workplace — especially important things for any business owner!

This course is also one of the shortest certification classes that you can take for business, so if you are limited on time this can be a great option to receive training and education without making a bigger commitment.

Stanford’s LEAD Program

Another good option if you cannot fit graduate school into your schedule is participating in the LEAD program offered through Stanford. This is a one-year, part-time course that requires 5-10 hours per week. This is a much bigger commitment than the program offered through Cornell, but it is all worth it considering the knowledge and expertise you will obtain!

In the LEAD program, you will be able to work with a global team of leaders with the same goal: to teach you how to be a better leader. The curriculum is research-based with rigorous academics and will push you to be the very best small business owner that you can be.

One additional thing to note about the LEAD program is that you do not need to take the GRE or GMAT to participate, making this course a great option for those with limited flexibility in their schedule.

Harvard Business Communication Certificate

One of the best programs to help you be a better small business leader is Harvard’s business communication certificate. This certificate program requires the completion of three different courses that take up to a year and a half to complete. This is the longest commitment so far besides a full-fledged degree, but you are sure to get your money’s worth!

In this course, you will have the option to take courses on public speaking, negotiation, presentation, and business rhetoric to help you become a better business leader. You will be able to present your ideas effectively and communicate how you would like changes to be made.

Michigan State University Certificate in Leadership & Managing Teams

Michigan State University is one of the leading online schools for graduate students. One of their leadership programs, Leadership & Managing Teams, is perfect for small business owners who may need to improve their leadership abilities. This program stands out form other similar certification programs because of its focus on teams.

Since this program focuses on team communication, this certification could be vital in your ability to effectively manage your small team. Especially as a small business, it is important to be a strong team communicator so that you can build a successful foundation for the growth of your business in the future.

Penn State World Campus’s Graduate Certificate in Strategic Management and Executive Leadership

This option is best for small business owners who already have some substantial experience running a business. This program is marketed for people who have had at least 5 years of experience managing a team, and is designed to help those who want to transition to executive leadership. The courses you complete for this certificate will cover strategic leadership, strategy implementation and organizational change.

Mastering the skills taught by this course will help you become an extremely savvy business owner and executive. You’ll be able to think critically about changes you would like to make, and you will be able to implement them effectively and efficiently.


As a small business owner, it can be difficult to find time to further your career through education. Earning degrees and certificates can be a lengthy process, but if you work hard to master the material you learn you can expect to see your small business thrive and grow faster than you ever expected!

Published: December 11, 2020

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John Ross

John Ross is a certified learning and development specialist and the President of Test Prep Insight, an online education company dedicated to helping students achieve their educational aspirations.

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