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College of Education > News and Publications > News: Jan-March 2014 > New Online Master's Degree Focuses on Organization Improvement

New Online Master's Degree Focuses on Organization Improvement

The College of Education is partnering with Penn State World Campus to offer a new master's degree in organization development and change.
New Online Master's Degree Focuses on Organization Improvement

William Rothwell & Wesley Donahue

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—The Penn State College of Education is partnering with Penn State World Campus in 2014 a new master of professional studies (M.P.S.) in organization development and change (OD&C).

The program is a 33-credit master’s degree program that is aimed toward professionals in fields such as talent management, corporate development and performance improvement in government, nonprofit organizations and industry. Classes are planned to start in summer of 2014.

Taking advantage of the world-class delivery system that World Campus offers, the program will include on-demand viewing for classes, interactive online forums with classmates, and courses taught by highly respected faculty members who are experts in their fields.

In addition, World Campus program delivery provides flexibility for individuals who are working full-time and access for individuals who are living throughout the world so they are able to take advantage of these online programs.

Organization development is about improving how people work together effectively to achieve desired results.

According to William Rothwell, professor of education and lead faculty of the program, individuals with a skillset in organization development are more qualified at dealing with human implications of change.

“Students should be interested in organization development because the world is changing faster and faster,” said Rothwell. “Some business leaders say that the key skill for business leaders in the future is the ability to manage change. This program gives students the way to do that.”

The program will have an international focus, ensuring that students are exposed to global issues and the way change is occurring around the world.

The program will also emphasize the importance of technology when it comes to facilitating change.

“Companies want people to be able to work together virtually in teams across the globe,” said Wesley Donahue, associate professor and program coordinator. “This program will help people gain these skills.”

Courses in the curriculum help students improve the vital skill sets necessary to succeed as an OD&C specialist, including skills such as diagnosing and evaluating needs, communicating with others effectively, engaging people in consultations, as well as project management and more.

Students in the OD&C program will have the opportunity to build portfolios, collections of work samples that they have accumulated throughout their programs that they can share with prospective employers.

“Organizations need to be innovative to survive. They need to be looking ahead,” said Donahue. “How do they do that? Someone needs to facilitate that process, or it is not going to happen. A person with OD&C skills and competencies will be able to help facilitate initiatives to maximize organizational effectiveness or perhaps initiatives that lead to the next big idea.”

For more information, contact Dirk Copland via email at or at 814-865-0473.

--by Kevin Sliman (February 2013)