Conservation lacks sufficient well-trained leaders who are empowered to catalyse positive change for the natural world. Addressing this need, the University of Cambridge launched a Masters in Conservation Leadership in 2010. The degree includes several features designed to enhance its impact. Firstly, it recruits international, gender-balanced cohorts of mid-career professionals, building leadership capacity in the Global South and providing a rich environment for peer learning. Secondly, teaching includes applied leadership training in topics such as fundraising, leading people and networking, as well as interdisciplinary academic topics. Thirdly, the degree is delivered through the Cambridge Conservation Initiative, a partnership of international NGOs and networks, facilitating extensive practitioner-led and experiential learning. We present details of programme design and evaluate the impact of the Masters after 10 years, using data from course records, student and alumni perspectives, and interviews with key stakeholders. The course has broadly succeeded in its design and recruitment objectives. Self-assessed leadership capabilities, career responsibilities and the overall impact of alumni increased significantly 5 years after graduation. However, specific impacts of alumni in certain areas, such as on their professional colleagues, have been less clear. We conclude by outlining future plans for the Masters in light of growing demands on conservation leaders and the changing landscape of leadership capacity development. These include reforms to course structure and assessment, long-term support to the alumni network and developing a conservation leadership community of practice.