Organizational Development Degrees: Why & Where To Study

Organizational Development Degrees: Why & Where To Study
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Organizational development degrees are the hottest thing on campus right now.

That’s because organizational development (OD) is a super hot topic in business. And the more business experts talk about OD, the more opportunities there are to take a course in it.

As a field of study, OD addresses common internal issues that lead to business failures. Unsuccessful change management, for example. So the world’s best universities now teach leadership development, organizational psychology, and more.  

Harvard Business School has an entire faculty unit dedicated to organizational behavior. It explores how to lead and manage, “to increase personal and organizational effectiveness”.

And at Cambridge University Judge Business School you can PhD in organizational behavior. There, students investigate how individuals act within society and organizations. They also look at how their actions in both environments affect each other.

But this sounds more academic than pragmatic. Business leaders want doers, not thinkers.

So are organizational development degrees really that valuable to businesses?

Do businesses care about organizational development degrees?

Recruiters on Twitter certainly seem to think so.

And if recruiters are asking for organizational development degrees, businesses are too. After all, the recruiters are hiring on their behalf.

Justine Chinoperekweyi PhD claims that OD skills training is “imperative” to business strategy.

“The thinking and incorporation of Organization Development (OD) skills training for directors, C-suites, managers and other work groups is a strategic imperative for building high-performance organizations.” Justine Chinoperekweyi, PhD

It’s easy to see why.

Organizational development is commonly defined as, “changing people and organisations for positive growth”.

Positive growth is what every business wants. Thus, any degree dedicated to this practice would be valued highly by CEO’s.

So, yes. A degree in organizational development will probably make you more desirable to employers. Maybe it’s time to think about enrolling on a course.

Is an organizational development degree right for me?

Organizational development degrees explore a range of business issues in depth; like:

  • Developing leaders
  • Adapting to change
  • Understanding motivation
  • Negotiation skills

Completing an organizational development degree involves lots of reading. You’ll learn various theories and refer to case studies.

There will be plenty of discussion about what is going on in those case studies (either on or offline). And there will also be lots of writing about how to apply OD concepts to the real world.

Some courses are delivered entirely or partly online. While others need full or part time attendance at a university or business school campus.

Being a vocational degree, your real world experience in business will be useful. You will probably be required to complete coursework. This is likely to involve concepts from sociology, psychology and behavioral science.

You might also be able to choose a coursework topic. Options could be organizational promotion, resource development, or corporate communications.

Organizational development degrees you can study online

There are plenty of options for studying online. You can schedule learning around your current work commitments.

In fact, studying while you work could mean you put your learning into practice straight away.

I’ve found three online courses in organizational development that sound interesting.

1. Walker School of Business & Technology

Walker School of Business & Technology (Webster University) offers a Masters program in organizational development.

This degree is “designed for managers and other professionals who want to enhance their skills and marketability”. It’s equally suitable for anyone considering OD as an external or internal consultant.

2. Walsh University

Walsh University delivers their organizational development & leadership program completely online.

This multidisciplinary program is specifically designed for working professionals. The degree can be split into several online courses, delivered in 8-week sessions.

Graduates of the program can become effective leaders and change agents within organizations.

3. Benedictine University

If you want an MSc in management and organizational behavior, look at Benedictine University’s online course.

This course provides a solid foundation in:

  • Strategic planning
  • Labor relations
  • Managerial accounting
  • Information management
  • Workforce diversity
  • Change management
  • Ethical leadership

Offline courses

Across the “pond”, there are several British universities delivering organizational development degrees. The University of Bedfordshire, for example, offers a systemic leadership & organizational development Masters.

The University of Manchester also offers an MSc in organizational change and development. These courses are only available on campus. But they are great options for trying in-depth overseas fieldwork within organizations.

One final thought. A degree in organizational development isn’t necessarily going to make you a great change manager. But a combination of solid theory and practical solutions will. And it is possible to equip yourself with these on your own.

Remember: if you can engage stakeholders in the process, you’ve already won half the battle.

Christopher Smith
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.
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