Olutosin Burrell, MS Organization Development, 2014

"The MSOD Program has focused my career trajectory to align my gifts with how I can best serve the world and make it a better place."
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The AU MSOD Experience

The AU MSOD classroom is a dynamic, challenging space where students learn from scholar-practitioner instructors, each other, and through reflection on their cohort's experiences and their own use of self. The MSOD program is built on a rigorous academic curriculum enriched by experiential learning. In recent years, the MSOD curriculum has been expanded to include international fieldwork experience for each cohort, along with active and engaging online learning outside of the classroom for each course.

It takes about 20 months to complete the 11-course curriculum. To accommodate working professionals and out-of-town students, most courses meet on AU's northwest DC campus for two three-day weekends a month apart. The coursework addresses foundations and skills essential to 21st century OD practice and ends with a series of fieldwork activities. Beyond the residential "launch" of the cohort learning community, there are two residential sessions for intensive learning: use of self in professional practice and international OD fieldwork.

Benefits of an AU MSOD Degree

There are many benefits to an AU MSOD degree. In deciding whether to apply to the program, consider:

Prestigious Leader in the Field of OD Education: Instructors throughout the program are leaders in OD who know the classics - and produce some of the most up-to-date work in the field and in the organizations where many of them consult or work as executives.

Unique Curriculum Strengths: An AU MSOD offers a rigorous theoretical and practical course of study for students from all sectors: corporate, nonprofit, and government. The program uniquely focuses on:

  • The importance of the practitioner's own presence or use of self in professional work
  • The pivotal role of groups and teams in creating and leading sustainable organization change
  • The action research and process consultation approaches to system change
  • The importance of diversity, cultural competence, social justice and values in the ethical practice of transformational change

The Cohort Model: Students complete the curriculum as members of a cohort, which becomes a powerful base for current learning and future professional relationships. The cohort provides support for learning as well as a dynamic model for the study of groups and teams.

International Component: The AU MSOD's International Residency is one of the most innovative and powerful programs for learning about cultural competence and the consulting skills needed for capable international OD work. The experience readies students for work in global and multicultural systems.

Theory-based Tools: The AU MSOD program builds on the action research approach developed by social psychologist Kurt Lewin. AU MSOD students learn to question assumptions, exercise curiosity, and to apply sound research strategies in data collection and diagnosis. They also work in depth with emerging theory and practice: Appreciative Inquiry, Organization Discourse, new forms of large-scale intervention and change, etc.

Powerful Alumni Network: More than 1,700 AU MSOD alumni work in the corporate, government, and non-profit sectors. AU MSOD graduates are distinguished by their ability to work successfully within complex organizations facing rapid change. These accomplished alumni provide a powerful network for current students as they advance in their OD-related careers. Every student meets numerous program graduates along the journey to the MSOD degree.

Program History

The AU Master of Science in Organization Development was launched through a 30-year partnership between American University and the NTL Institute, a membership organization committed to systems change, personal growth, and social justice.

The original degree program was founded by then-NTL President Edie Seashore and then-AU Professor Morley Segal. The first cohort began in 1980. Since these early days, the AU MSOD scholar-practitioner faculty have continued the tradition of top-tier, mid-career graduate education in OD. The curriculum is continuously updated, even as it retains an emphasis on the foundations of theory and practice in the OD tradition of change.

82 percent of recent graduates have obtained positions in their desired career path within 1 year of graduation or actively using their degree within their current positions

39 plus years of excellence in experiential adult education