View information and updates on our return to campus plan, Operation Fall Return 2020.
The Military College of South Carolina
give online buttongive online button apply now buttonapply now button

CEO Refines Leadership Skills in Online Graduate Program

"I have no doubt that pursuing this degree helped me stand out when seeking my new position. It allowed me to make a mid-to-late career shift into something that I'm very excited about — helping others develop their leadership capacity."

Karen Coltrane had been a nonprofit CEO for more than twelve years and out of the college scene for 30. She didn‘t think she could go back to school. "I hadn’t had a formal math class since 10th grade, so I was intimidated by the GRE. Between that, raising my son and working all the time, it just seemed too difficult to take it on." Coltrane confides. But then, she found The Citadel's Master of Science in Leadership Program, which allows both the GRE and the Miller Analogies Test (MAT), and applied.

"With 30 years of real world leadership experience, I wanted to explore the academic theory behind leadership, and get prepared for whatever might happen next," says Coltrane. "The Citadel was excellent for that."

Coltrane hasn't looked back. Being 100 percent online, she found she could balance her busy career with her education, family and friends. The online format was a new challenge for Coltrane. "I hadn’t done an online class, ever, so it was all new and a bit intimidating to me," she explains. "But soon, I found myself rushing to get home to study because I couldn't wait! I absolutely loved every single moment of it."

The best part about the online experience, according to Coltrane, was learning new perspectives not just from the rigorous classes her professors taught, but from other students. "The online format requires everyone to reply and respond to one another. The diversity of thinking and responses creates layers that I wouldn’t get from just reading and listening to a lecture. I find that even more valuable than sitting in a classroom," she says.

Coltrane wasn’t sure whether her non-profit career would fit in the military college until she learned that the program applied to her time spent as CEO at EdVenture in Columbia, S.C., as well as in her current role as CEO of the Leadership Center for Excellence in Arlington, Va. "It pulls the very best from its military roots, but is not a military leadership program," Coltrane explains. The college has earned a strong reputation of developing principled leaders who serve in all sectors, from business and politics to nonprofit organizations.

Changing jobs made sense, she says, following a deeper understanding of leadership theory. "I have no doubt that pursuing this degree helped me stand out when seeking my new position. It allowed me to make a mid-to-late career shift into something that I'm very excited about — helping others develop their leadership capacity."

Coltrane focused on children during her tenure as CEO at EdVenture. Her new role at the Leadership Center for Excellence allows her to expand that reach to young professionals and adults. It thrills her to impart the skills, qualities and traits of a good leader on all ages.


For the eighth consecutive year, The Citadel was named the #1 Public College in the South offering up to a master's degree from the U.S. News & World Report. The report also named The Citadel the #1 College for Veterans in the South.


Writing on a graduation cap, worn by a graduate student

Back to Top