Organization Development Degree Combines Online Courses with Residencies

News Date: 
Tue. 05/08/2012

In an increasingly networked world, Friends University is extending another of its academic programs to an online format.

The Master of Science in Organization Development degree will be offered in a hybrid format, combining online classes with on-site residencies. During the two-year program, students will be required to attend two one-week residencies in Wichita and one international residency, with the rest of the course work completed online. 

The organization development program is unique, designed to prepare students in the art and science of managing strategic change. The program teaches individuals to transform their organizations.

“Our program focuses on working with the human element in organizations facing rapid change,” said Dr. Jim Maddox, professor of business and director of the graduate program at Friends University.

“This includes any type of change an organization might face including technology, restructuring, new strategies, services or products, changes in corporate culture, the economy, the community, politics, the social landscape or the global environment.” 

The innovative program will still be offered in brick-and-mortar format on the Friends University campus, but Dr. Maddox said the hybrid format would allow students outside the University’s physical reach to benefit from the program’s offerings.

“The curriculum content is the same for both formats,” he said.

In the hybrid format, students will be doing much of the program’s coursework online, while still experiencing an in-person learning environment through the three residencies. The residencies are essential in developing the interpersonal skills and consulting competencies that are the core of organization development.  

“Students will travel to Wichita for one week near the beginning of the program. They will travel to Wichita for one week in the middle of the program. And they will be together for seven to 10 days for the international residency,” Dr. Maddox said.

Residencies in Wichita also allow students to develop coaching skills, practice presentation skills, improve self-awareness skills, and prepare for the international residency.

The international residency is a unique aspect of Friends University’s organization development program, allowing students to travel in order to apply the practical skills they learned in the classroom to a real-life situation.

“Our first international residency (short-term study abroad) will be in Bolivia in June,” Dr. Maddox said. “We will partner with a hospital there. The purpose is to give the students exposure to organization development consulting work in an international environment.”

Common roles that organization development graduates choose include organization development manager, internal or external consultant, human resources professional, general management and leadership positions, and a variety of human services fields.

“Because of the unique understanding and unexpected perspectives it taught, this program opened a major door in my career,” said graduate Amber Chatwell, who works at Spirit AeroSystems in Wichita. “I worked as an entry-level change management analyst for Spirit when the program began. I am now a full-time human resources business consultant for Spirit and loving every minute.”

Among other practical lessons, organization development students improve their facilitation skills, coaching skills and their ability to think strategically.

“The program gave me the direction and confidence to lead our organizational change,” said Ken Moore, Friends University graduate and director of Reno County Corrections. “The teaching methods included classes filled with applications for our various situations and testing that emphasized application of principles, not just lectures and memorizing information.”

Friends University offers several other online programs, including Bachelor of Science in Organizational Management and Leadership; Bachelor of Business Administration in Business Management; Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Systems; Master of Business Administration; Master of Arts in Teaching; Master of Management Information Systems; and Master of Health Care Leadership.

Learn more about studying organization development, or other academic programs, by calling Admissions at 316-295-5901.

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