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AU Organization Development

MSOD faculty member and alum Heather Berthoud mentors the next generation.

MSOD faculty member and alum Heather Berthoud mentors the next generation.

MSOD Curriculum

The AU MSOD program provides a rigorous academic course of study enhanced by experiential learning and practical application. The curriculum is designed to educate scholar-practitioners in the field of organization development. For more than thirty years, MSOD graduates have been recognized for being grounded in theory and skilled in practice.

The program's unique strengths draw from a 30-year partnership between AU and the NTL Institute, as well as emerging theory and practice. AU MSOD instructors are leading scholar-practitioners in OD.

There are four cornerstones that characterize the AU education in OD:

  • Intentional use of self in professional practice
  • Effective leadership and dynamics in groups and teams as foundations of sustainable change
  • The principles of action research to promote change at multiple levels of a system
  • Commitment to values, diversity, and cultural competence in engaging a system

Courses focus on competencies, skills and knowledge in: theory, action research, process consultation, facilitation and intervention, diversity and cultural competence, and intentional use of self.

Learning throughout the program is related to each student's personal interests and career goals. Students are challenged to explore their worldview and to exercise curiosity and respect for the worldviews, diversity and values of others.


The AU MSOD consists of 11 courses (33 graduate credits) over approximately 18 months. Click here to view a sample course schedule for the upcoming cohort; the program makes changes in the master schedule only rarely. If you are unable to complete a course with your cohort, you will be scheduled to take the course with another cohort. Such shifts, when necessary, may delay your graduation date and can affect your financial aid awards.

Each course is taught over two months: 2 weeks of preparation, two 3-day weekend class meetings a month apart, and 2 weeks of follow-up. One Residency course happens in each year of the MSOD program: the 6-day Use of Self Residency in the middle of Year 1, and the 10-day International Residency (Cultural Competence and Consultation Skills) in the middle of Year 2. Two cohorts begin each academic year; one in fall and one in spring.


Introduction to Experiential Education and the Learning Community (PUAD 010)

An introduction to the concepts and practice of experiential education. The group learning process is used to acquaint students with the core learning philosophy of the MSOD program and to support students in working with the assigned facilitators to maximize learning during their monthly “Learning Community Time”. Note: required orientation for the M.S. in Organization Development. No credit given toward degree requirement. Must be taken pass/fail. (non-credit)

Introduction to Organization Development & Change (PUAD 677)

This course provides an overview of the Organization Development approach to change in human systems. Topics: foundational and emerging theories and theorists; core concepts, tools, and practices; ethics and values; use of this knowledge in multiple roles (consultant, manager, change agent); leadership & OD; adult learning theory. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Organization Theory & Diagnosis (PUAD 642)

This course introduces a broad range of research and theory about organizations and applies these to the task of understanding and diagnosing organization dynamics. Through cases, lecture and experiential activities, the curriculum builds capability to address such factors and forces as organizational goals, structures, politics, power, culture, environments, and mindsets. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Topics in Human Resource Management (PUAD 679)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics including use of self in professional practice; diversity and cultural competence; and fieldwork in international OD & change. Usually offered every term.

Topic A: Use of Self in Professional Practice
This one-week residential course draws on the applied behavioral sciences to build knowledge, skills, and awareness for effective use of self in OD practice. Topics: self-reflection, feedback, facilitation, conflict management, dynamics of diversity and power, individual behavior; and how one engages such topics in groups and professional settings. Offered at Airlie Conference Center. (3 credit hours)

Group Theory & Change Facilitation (PUAD 648)

This course examines major models and methods of change influencing OD and change practices to address organization needs. Topics include: action research, process consultation, and team building; social construction, positive organizational studies and appreciative inquiry; large group and systems interventions; complexity sciences and self-organizing principles; organizational discourse and dialogic interventions. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Applied Research Methods (PUAD 641)

Using cases, exercises, and drills this course establishes the essential role of research methods in the professional practice of Organization Development and change. The course equips students with competencies in qualitative and quantitative methodologies for data collection, techniques for analysis and interpretation, and capabilities to present analytic output in reports. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Organization Analysis and Strategy (PUAD 675)

This course expands knowledge of administrative fundamentals, executive roles, and the centrality of strategy in OD and change. Using simulations, lectures, fieldwork, guest speakers, strategic analysis and cases, the course focuses on using OD techniques in strategy development and implementation to move a system toward its desired future. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Consultation & Coaching Theory & Skills (PUAD 646)

This course focuses on theory and practice of consultation and coaching in OD and change. Topics: roles and skills for change practitioners (internal/external consultant, manager, leader); process consultation; stages and tasks of the OD consulting cycle; and an introduction to knowledge and skills for effective coaching of individuals and teams. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

Practicum in ODC (PUAD 674)

This course is a multi-month field-based ODC project developed and implemented by each student, supervised by a Practicum Adviser. In successive modules, students focus on: framing a client engagement and front-end consultation skills; progress review and planning for project completion and development of the practicum report; presentation of results. Usually offered every term. (3 credit variable from 1 to 1.5)

Topics in Human Resource Management (PUAD 649)

Topics vary by section, may be repeated for credit with different topic. Rotating topics including use of self in professional practice; diversity and cultural competence; and fieldwork in international OD & change. Usually offered every term.
Topic B: Diversity & Cultural Competence
This course examines theories and practices related to diversity, culture and cross-cultural dynamics at all levels of systems. Through lectures, research, experiential learning, and field activities, students learn how and why differences matter; build skills to work capably with diversity; and employ cultural competence in national and global OD settings. (3 credit hours)

Topic C: Fieldwork in International OD & Change
Under faculty supervision, student teams complete a compressed full-cycle ODC project with client systems outside the USA in this 10-day residential course. The course develops consultation and coaching skills and cultural competence in global settings while providing professional quality consultation services to diverse clients in the host nation. (3 credit hours)

Implementing System Change (PUAD 644)

This course immerses students in models and methods of full-scale OD interventions, emphasizing design, management, and assessment of transformative change. Students participate in dialogues with executives and ODC professionals, live cases, and fieldwork with transformative system change. Usually offered every semester. (3 credit hours)