MSOD Curriculum

Professor and alumna Heather Berthoud teaches in the Use of Self Residency

The AU MSOD program provides a rigorous academic course of study enhanced by experiential learning and practical application. The curriculum is designed to educate and develop scholar-practitioners in the field of organization development. For over 40 years, MSOD graduates have been recognized for their deep theoretical foundation and skilled OD practice.

The program's unique strengths draw from a 30-year partnership between AU and the National Training Laboratory Institute, which embedded a distinct focus on the applied behavioral sciences. This focus empowers AU MSOD alumni to stand out in the field, as they demonstrate advanced capacity for engaging in the hidden aspects of organizational change work, like covert processes, group dynamics, and organizational psychology. Issues relating to power, authority, race, sex, gender, and other human identities and social forces are readily identified and processed by program graduates who excel in the human side of organizational life. AU MSOD instructors are leading scholar-practitioners in the field and are consistently recognized by the Academy of Management, the Organization Development Network, the Journal for Applied Behavioral Sciences, and the OD Review.

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.

Course Schedule

The AU MSOD consists of 11 courses (33 graduate credits) over approximately 20-21 months. The program rarely makes changes in the master schedule. If a student is unable to complete a course with their cohort, they must connect with the Program Director to discuss alternative arrangements. The program recognizes the importance of supporting its professional graduate students and collaborating with them to design a plan of action when unexpected challenges arise.

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 in the middle of Year 2. Two cohorts begin each academic year; one in fall and one in spring.

Course Descriptions

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)

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)

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)

This course examines major models and methods used in organization development and change. 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; organization discourse and dialogic interventions. Usually offered every term. (3 credit hours)

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. (3 credit hours)

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)

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)

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)

This course takes a scholar-practitioner approach to diversity and systematic cross-cultural dynamics. Through lectures, research, assessments, experiences, teamwork, and field activities, the course supports students learning how/why differences mater, and building cultural capacity to become effective global organization development (OD) scholar-practitioners. The course starts with a pre-residency module in Washington, DC after which students travel to an international host site. Together PUAD-645 and PUAD-647 form the MSOD International Residency. (3 credit hours)

Using a scholar-practitioner approach, in this course student teams complete compressed organization development (OD) cycle projects with overseas organizations. Under faculty supervision, this residential course abroad develops students' cultural capacity and global consultation skills through providing professional quality consultation services to clients. Together PUAD-645 and PUAD-647 form the MSOD International Residency. (3 credit hours)

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 OD change professionals, live cases, and fieldwork with transformative system change. Usually offered every semester. (3 credit hours)

This course is a field-based organization development and change project developed and implemented by each student, supervised by a practicum adviser. 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; and presentation of results. May be taken pass/fail only. (3 credit hours)