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Learn more about Grad Studies at NCU

Earn your graduate level strategic leadership degree

The Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership program at North Central will prepare you for leadership roles in businesses, churches, and other organizations. In the College of Graduate and Professional Education, you will interact with experts and develop skills that will propel you to the next level of your career and calling.

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La Admisión Postgrado en North Central University

Josh Smedsrud, graduate student of North Central
Passion, perseverance, graduate studies success

When Josh Smedsrud walked as the first recipient of NCU's Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership (MASL), the audience applauded both his achievement and also the milestone for the university.

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Not everyone gets a standing ovation at a graduation ceremony. But when Josh Smedsrud went through the traditional hooding ceremony as the first recipient of North Central’s Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership (MASL), the audience stood to applaud both his achievement and also this milestone for the university.

Smedsrud’s journey included “the most aggressive academic effort” of his life, which enabled him to walk across the stage to claim his master’s degree just one year after earning his bachelor’s.

It was in the midst of a busy senior year while focusing on his senior music recital—the busiest season of his college career—that Smedsrud was encouraged to check into NCU’s 4+1 program. By taking a specific core of undergrad classes followed by a year of full-time graduate studies, 4+1 affords the chance to get a master’s degree sooner and with less expense.

Completing the bulk of his graduate program was intense, according to Smedsrud. But when people around him pointed out that the effort to complete the program so quickly might be out of reach, it only fired him up more to take the challenge. “I charted out all the work I would have to do and the hours it would take,” Smedsrud said of his process. And then he put the pedal to the floor and drove steady toward the finish line.

Smedsrud’s singular focus on his graduate studies was exceptional, yet one of the benefits of the MASL program at North Central is flexibility. Some students pursue the 4+ 1 path that Smedsrud took; others are blending their studies with careers and life, taking evening or online classes, with the potential to complete their degree in about 20 months.

Coming alive through learning

“I didn’t know much about a graduate degree,” Smedsrud confessed, and decided to try one class on for size. “I took a Spiritual Leadership course and it was like everything that made me come alive inside came together. Once I found out I really enjoyed the class I would read and re-read the books. I could not get my mind off of it.”

Smedsrud said he and classmates from the graduate program would continue the course-related conversation long after class was over, mulling over things they’d learned. He was hooked and made a firm decision to pursue his master’s degree.

As he continued, the rising level of challenge within his graduate studies stretched him. “Leadership Strategies and Change was one of the most challenging classes I’ve ever been a part of,” Smedsrud acknowledged. “We conducted a business audit and it was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done, but so rewarding and fulfilling.”

Ready for success in any area

Smedsrud is currently working as a full-time manager with a national coffee house chain. Additionally, he and his wife, Sofia, work together in her film and photography business, and long-term he has his sights set on a career in ministry or higher education. He remains grateful for the knowledge and experience he gained on the path to a master’s degree. “The MASL is a broad degree—it’s like the perfect blend of everything that will set you up for success in any area.”

The close interaction with professors (“The professors would give us their cell phone numbers!”) and spiritual development that accompanied his studies at both the undergraduate and graduate level were significant to Smedsrud. “You can get your master’s degree wherever,” he reflected. “But if you want a school that draws you closer to God as result of your education, then North Central is the place to get your master’s degree.”

Why earn a graduate degree at North Central?

North Central University’s College of Graduate and Professional Education offers a master’s-level strategic leadership degree, a program designed to prepare you for meaningful work in the marketplace and leadership in your business, church, or organization. You’ll have the opportunity to grow as a leader and increase your existing knowledge and skills in ways that will apply immediately to your life and career.

A Flexible format for your busy schedule

The Strategic Leadership Degree is 30 credits and is designed to be finished in 10 courses, allowing you to start and finish quickly and efficiently. All  required courses are offered every academic year so you can move through the program on a schedule that works for you.

Learn more about our graduate courses in the 2018-2019 Graduate Studies Catalog and apply to enroll for spring 2019 online or on-campus courses, beginning January 7th, 2019.

The Master’s in Strategic Leadership is now also offered online!


Our M.A. in Strategic Leadership is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

What sets us apart

The proof is in the people

Masters degree in strategic leadership
Master's in Strategic Leadership degree at NCU gives pastor new approach to ministry

Christopher Vincent ’00, is a lead pastor overseeing a growing church plant, and he has a wife and five children. On December 9, he also completed his Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership at NCU.

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Christopher Vincent ’00 knows what busy is. The lead pastor at The Bridge Church in Nowthen, Minn., oversees a growing church plant, has a wife and five children, and on December 9, completed his Master of Arts in Strategic Leadership at North Central University.

The ceremonial hooding for the master’s degree candidate was a meaningful close to his graduate studies, although it’s the work he did in the program that makes Vincent especially proud. He said the highlight of the MASL program was his senior capstone project, for which he wrote a book on church planting. “As a church growth fanatic not finding much in the context of rural churches,” Vincent noted, “I was able to produce something from my research and experience. Writing a book was challenging and fulfilling.”

Beyond the book or academic papers, Vincent found the MASL program to be practical and readily applicable to his work. “The degree helped me utilize new project approaches, see people through Christ’s eyes, and learn ethics on a whole new level,” Vincent said. His coursework even inspired him to restructure his staff meetings.

Through the program and with the help of his graduate advisor, Vincent has accomplished a lifelong dream. After celebrating his graduation milestone with his biggest cheerleaders—his family—he is eager to continue his leadership journey. “The degree was not a ‘stepping stone,’ per se, but rather a honing of my skills to help me lead where I am planted.”

Graduate Studies Faculty Dr. Renea Brathwaite
Faculty spotlight: Dr. Renea Brathwaite

Meet Dr. Renea Brathwaite, the Dean of Graduate and Professional Education at North Central University.

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Dr. Renea Brathwaite was born in Barbados, a small island-nation in the Caribbean and has lived in Trinidad and Tobago as well as in several regions of the United States.

In addition to being an ordained Assemblies of God minister, he holds an MA in Theological Studies (biblical languages and exegesis concentration) from the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary and a PhD from Regent University, where he defended his dissertation on early Pentecostal theology. While at Regent University, he was a presidential scholar for three consecutive years and received both the Outstanding Graduate and Distinguished Graduate awards.

Dr. Brathwaite has a wide range of vocational experiences from elementary school teacher to healthcare finance manager to technical consultant to young adults’ pastor and worship leader. He has also taught graduate and undergraduate courses at a variety of institutions, including Regent University School of Divinity (VA), Malone University (OH), Evangel University (MO), William Seymour College (MD), and Hosanna Bible Training Center (OH). Most recently, he served as the dean of the Ohio School of Ministry, one of the key ministerial training arms of the Ohio Ministry Network of the Assemblies of God.

Dr. Brathwaite has a passion for transformative, Spirit-filled teaching and preaching. He sees them as important means of true biblical empowerment. Moreover, he holds as one of his life-long goals the dismantling of the modern myth that truly intellectual people cannot also be truly spiritual.

For over twenty-four years, Dr. Brathwaite has been happily married to Joy, and they have two college-age children, Kara and Andrew.

What are your areas of expertise?

My areas of expertise include the delivery of theological education at multiple levels and the academic study of the Holy Spirit. I am also fascinated by the history and theology of renewal movements throughout the Christian era, with special attention to the origins of the Pentecostal movement in the 20th century.

What do you love about North Central?

I love the integration of passion and intellect on display here at NCU. As both a churchman and an academic, I also truly appreciate North Central University’s commitment to providing all of its students—and not just vocational ministry majors—with a deep yet rounded and practical theological education. And what a location!

  • Value and Affordability


    Our graduate courses provide a value-driven approach to leadership education that will develop the skills necessary to lead organizations effectively while focusing on the personal formation and interpersonal skills of the leader.


    Our graduate program has the lowest cost (overall per credit) for a program of our type in the Twin Cities.

    Remaining one of the most affordable Christian colleges is something we strive for. Plus, we understand that no one wants to shoulder the financial burden of furthering their education alone. We offer a no-interest monthly payment plan (the Ram Plan) that breaks up the cost of obtaining your degree into smaller, more manageable pieces.

    Discounts and scholarships are available for full-time NCU employees, NCU alumni, Assemblies of God and Pentecostal Family Credentialed Ministers, and full-time Assemblies of God church employees.

    Many employers also offer tuition reimbursement for employees pursuing graduate degrees.

  • Convenience

    We understand the value that a graduate degree can have for your career and your life. We also understand how valuable your time and resources are. Our program is tailored to benefit you in a number of ways:

    • Evening classes to fit comfortably with your daily schedule
    • Fast-track options for obtaining your degree quicker (1, 2, and 3-year options)
    • Classes conveniently held on our campus in downtown Minneapolis
    • Classes offered in a variety of formats: on-campus, online, weekend, and hybrid.
    The Master’s in Strategic Leadership is now offered fully online!
  • Practical Teaching

    Our graduate faculty are experts in their fields and highly-experienced professionals in a variety of areas. They teach practical, applicable skills based on real-world scenarios, preparing you to meet the challenges of leadership head-on.

  • 4+1 Program

    Our undergraduate degrees are designed to feed directly into our M.A. in Strategic Leadership program, so after you earn your B.A. you can earn a master’s degree with just one additional year of education.

    Learn more about the 4+1 program