Organizational development is a growing and popular field in the business and policy world. It’s about making every aspect of a business or organization work as well as it possibly can, all in the name of producing developmental results.
It is a key subject in most business development and business administration curricula. It has become somewhat of a buzzword recently, having a resurgence in popularity as a discipline. This is for good reason, since the discipline is responsible for making sure organizations implement change as smoothly and efficiently as possible. It is also used in behavioral and social sciences like psychology.
What is Organizational Development
Let’s start with a basic definition. Organizational development is a process that helps organizations build their capacity. They do this by improving, reinforcing, and developing strategies and processes.
Organizational development uses a science-based process to approach organizational structures. This data-driven approach makes sure that decisions made through organizational development processes are exact and based on data and critical reasoning.
The goal is to drive organizational effectiveness and implement necessary change through strategic interventions. Experts in the field develop these interventions through social and behavioral knowledge. The idea is that the implementation of certain interventions and strategies will drive effectiveness and growth for individuals and across the organization.
Organizational leadership is a subset of organizational development that focuses on taking charge of challenges in human capital or organizational structures within an organization. Organizational leaders tend to be administrators or executives in a business or other organization.
Master’s Degrees in Organizational Development
There are many different types of master’s degree programs in organizational development to choose from. These programs vary in scope, format, length, and specialization or concentration offerings.
Whether you’re interested in getting a general education in the field or really honing in on a specific aspect like human resources, there is a program out there to fit your interests. There are both master of art and master of science programs in organizational development.
Though many MA and MS programs in organizational development are very similar, the main difference between an MA and an MS is that an MS usually requires a thesis. Be sure to check out other articles published by Career Karma for a more detailed breakdown of these degree differences.
It’s also important to know there are two other very common titles for what are very similar degrees. In your school search results for master’s degrees in organizational development, you will also find results for organizational management and organizational leadership.
Though some academics and business leaders have defined a difference between leadership and management, the degree programs in organizational management and leadership are very similar, if not the same as the degree programs you’ll find in organizational development. You may also find programs in organizational development and change.
Organizational Development Master’s Degree Curriculum
Most master’s programs require 36 to 56 total credit hours. The curriculum for a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development may include the following foundation courses:
- Introduction to Organizational Development and Change
- Research Methods
- Human Resources
- Consulting and Coaching
- Leadership Development
- Financing for Organizations
- Organizational Analysis and Strategy
- Systems Change and Implementation
- Organizational Theory
- Methods of Change
School search results will likely lead you to find different course names and exact graduation requirements listed. That being said, all programs will require an introductory course in organizational development, and courses that cover organizational theory and leadership development.
Some programs may even require some field experience or a capstone project as well. These projects are designed to build research and work experience into a student’s degree program. A capstone or practicum project can usually be done at a business, non-profit organization, or consulting firm where a student is interested in working.
Most master’s programs will have the same core requirements. Students must have a bachelor’s degree, typically in a related field, though not necessarily. In addition to the application and related fees, master’s level programs typically have more admission requirements than bachelor’s degree programs.
Some master’s programs may have minimum high school and bachelor’s degree GPA requirements. This is typically the case with more competitive or highly-ranked schools.
GRE (Graduate Records Examination) test scores may also be required. Be sure to check requirements for each program you apply to.
An Online Master’s Degree in Organizational Development
Online learning, and online business degrees specifically, have become increasingly popular in the last few years. This is partially thanks to significant improvements in the technology needed to make quality online degree programs possible. This is also because online programs are just more flexible.
The value of flexibility cannot be overstated. Because graduate students tend to be older and may sometimes be making a career change, online formats offer the kind of flexibility they need.
Remember there are different types of online programs, too. Some are very flexible, letting students log in to their class portals at any time to watch pre-recorded lectures and get started on their coursework. This means the program offers asynchronous learning tools. Other programs are more traditional and instead offer synchronous learning tools, like live-stream lectures.
Best Master’s Degree in Organizational Development Programs
Now that you have learned more about the field of organizational development, it’s time to start thinking about specific programs. Again, make sure to consider particular curriculum requirements, specializations, admission requirements, and the degree format. Below is a list of some of the best programs.
American University, one of the top private universities in the country and one of the few located in the nation’s capital, offers a Master of Science in Organizational Development through its School of Public Affairs. The program is in-person, but the schedule is anything but traditional. Each course is taught over two, three-day class weekends once per month.
Professionals with full-time jobs will need the flexibility to take one Friday off per week in order to enroll in this program. The program culminates in a six- to eight-month capstone practicum project in which each student researches and works with a real client system at an organization.
Pennsylvania State University
Penn State’s School of Professional Studies offers a fully online Masters of Professional Studies in Organizational Development and Change. The program allows students to focus on the nuts and bolts of organizational development while having the flexibility to keep a full-time job. Courses include process consultation in organizational development, facilitating groups and teams, and project management for professionals.
Pepperdine University’s Graziadio Business School in Malibu, California offers a Master of Science in Organizational Development. This program is intended for experienced business professionals who want to become experts in organizational development.
It has been recognized as one of the most innovative graduate programs in the field. This is partially because of its mixed format. While many of its courses are offered online, there are also required in-person intensives. Finally, this organizational development program is unique in that the degree requires a study abroad component.
University of Denver
As mentioned earlier, there are also many organizational leadership programs and some of them also offer specializations or concentrations in organizational development. The University of Denver offers a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership with a concentration in organizational development for those who want to dip their toes into both specialities.
"Career Karma entered my life when I needed it most and quickly helped me match with a bootcamp. Two months after graduating, I found my dream job that aligned with my values and goals in life!"
Venus, Software Engineer at Rockbot
The program is a part-time, flexible degree intended for working professionals who need the flexibility of evening classes. The program can also be taken online for those who need ultimate time and location flexibility.
Hawaii Pacific University
If Hawaii isn’t enough to get your attention, you should know that the Master of Arts in Organizational Development and Change at Hawaii Pacific University is a top program in the field. It is also ideal in that it offers two different formats: classroom and online. The program, which is administered through the university’s College of Business, aims to produce organizational change agents for our modern world.
Is a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development Worth It?
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the organizational development field is growing.The demand for labor in a relevant job title, Training and Development Specialist, is expected to grow by 9 percent between 2018 and 2028. This is a faster than average rate of growth. The average annual salary for a Training and Development Specialist is $61,210.
If you already have a bachelor’s degree in business or another related field, a master’s degree can be a useful next step in your career. A Master’s Degree in Organizational Development is a good fit for someone who enjoys thinking strategically and working with others. It’s also a degree that leads to leadership and executive professional opportunities.
Someone with relevant work experience and a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development can work for a variety of different organizations. From consulting firms to individual businesses, corporations, medical firms, government agencies, or colleges and universities, you can dip your toes into many different sectors. Some specific job titles include:
- Training and Development Specialist
- Organizational Development Specialist
- Human Resources Manager
- Talent Development Manager
- Organizational Consultant
- Organizational Director
If you are a business professional looking for an educational opportunity to advance your career, master’s degree options in the business world may be a good next step.
Considering how many different options there are to choose from, from a Master’s in Business Administration to a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development, you definitely have to do your research. If you are most excited about strategically managing change through technology, leadership, and human resources management, organizational development may be the best field for you.
Once you have decided to go for it, remember to take your time to find the degree program that’s right for you. Since organizational development is a professional business field, most programs are made to work around the schedules of working professionals. Based on your location and your desired level of flexibility, you can choose an evening, weekend, or online program.
About us: Career Karma is a platform designed to help job seekers find, research, and connect with job training programs to advance their careers. Learn about the CK publication.