It's no secret The Citadel is known for creating leaders.

The state's military college is now formalizing that role with the creation of a new Department of Leadership Studies and a Master in Science of Leadership degree, both of which are officially launching this month as students return for the fall semester.

Mick Fekula, chairman of the new leadership department, said the new department and degree builds on the college's undergraduate minor in leadership and a graduate certificate in leadership as well as the Krause Center for Leadership & Ethics, which focuses on providing cadets with leadership service opportunities through volunteering.

The difference, Fekula said, is that the new department will better engage faculty in the development of leadership curriculum, which includes courses across several academic fields including business, psychology and political science.

"The Citadel has always been in leadership," he said. "The reason to create a separate department is to have more faculty engaged."

The college initially launched a leadership-related master's in social science in 2013 through the School of Humanities and Social Sciences but quickly decided to push to create a new department to house a master's in leadership. The state's Commission on Higher Education approved it earlier this year.

Having a department dedicated to leadership, Fekula said, will allow the college to hire staff specifically dedicated to the department and grow course offerings.

"It provides a place where resources can be dedicated to get the job done," he said.

The new master's degree will be offered entirely online, although some courses will be available in a classroom setting for local students. So far around 20 students are enrolled in the leadership degree program.

The degree works well for military or law enforcement officials, but Fekula said the program could also be beneficial to professionals in civil service fields as well as nonprofit organizations.

"It focuses on all different types of leadership not just military leadership," he said. "For most people (pursuing the degree) is a career progression that says, 'I want to move up in a supervisory role' or 'I want to do better in a supervisory role.' "

Army Maj. Brian Ellis III, who is stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is among the first students to enroll in the initial leadership degree from the social science department, which is offered online. He's thrilled The Citadel is officially launching the new department and is considering switching over to earn a master's in leadership.

"As the Army closes its ranks and sequestration and defense cuts loom, I realize now more than anything that a master's degree is a much sought after tool in the civilian employment world," he said.

But Ellis said his real motivation for enrolling was his respect for the military college.

"It gives you an appreciation and an honor to be connected with such tradition and prestige, even from three thousand miles away," he said.