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Organization Development Ed.D. graduates are capable of creating effective organizations and managing sustainable changes.
Doctorate in Organization Development and Change

Our recently re-designed, world-class program is built on a 15 year legacy of successful OD doctoral education at St Thomas. The program is a unique cohort-based, residency-based, blended learning executive doctoral program developing scholar-practitioners of change, who can make a difference for organizations and people in society.

The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) in Organization Development (OD) is designed to prepare students for careers in a variety of settings. Upon earning this degree, students will be equipped to:

  • Understand organization systems in the context of their changing environments
  • Use strategic and systemic thinking in the management and change of organizations as systems
  • Design and execute strategies for learning and change across levels of the system (individual, group, inter-group, whole organization, inter-organization and communities) to move in more desired directions

What you can earn

  • Doctorate (Ed.D.)


Where you'll learn

  • Selected Conference Centers


When you can start

  • June 2016


Questions about this program

Liz Knight is the program manager for the Organization Learning and Development program at the University of St. Thomas.

Liz Knight

Program Manager

(651) 962-4459


Program Details

For the Doctorate

The Introduction to OD & C is the first course and residency of the OD doctoral program and is designed to provide students with a big-picture view of OD, the organizational context of OD, foundational concepts, history and roots of the field, the role and variety of diagnostic and intervention methods in OD; and to assist the cohort in forming its learning community and starting its doctoral journey.

Every time OD professionals are engaged to work on or improve a situation for which they do not have direct control, they are consulting – whether from the inside or from the outside of an organization. An effective consultation process is the way in which OD “interventions” are provided to the organization.

The purpose of this course is to help students understand and use an effective consultation process when helping client organizations address problems, lead change, and improve their performance. Students will be introduced to the consulting process developed and written about by Peter Block in Flawless Consulting, and explore the role of a consultant in each stage of the consulting practice. Students will learn about the sequence of steps involved in consulting, the practices and pitfalls related to each, and how an effective consultation process can build strong partnerships with clients. The course will feature a mixture of presentations, discussion, and skills practice activities.

This course focuses on understanding organizations in a holistic and complete way – a necessary condition for those OD professionals who aim to help large and complex organizations change. There are 3 overarching concepts that anchor the course:

  • Strategy– the choices the organization makes to differentiate and compete successfully, and/or execute its mission (in non-profit and government sectors) given the marketplace (customers), industry, and broader macro-economic environment it operates in.
  • Design – the choices an organization makes about how it arranges its tasks, coordinates effort, and allocates responsibility to ensure work gets done.  People often confuse “structure” with “design, but choices about organization structure are only one element of design. Equally important design elements are the culture, systems, processes, and the type of people the organization needs to manage and perform its work successfully.
  • Culture – the pattern of values, beliefs, and assumptions that arise and evolve over time in an organization resulting from the need to understand and use the ‘best way’ to solve problems and do things.  While culture is a central element in organization design, its influence on how an organization operates and how people behave at work is worthy of special attention.

Each of these, of course, interact with and influence each other – an organization whose culture values strong (heroic) leaders, may choose a centralized structure and design (which serves to reinforce the strong leader culture), at least until factors in the external environment force it to change (strategy). The course will examine each of these elements in some detail, as well as their interaction, through readings, assignments, discussion, case studies, and application activities during time together in the residency.


Organization change initiatives differ in scope, size, and complexity. Some are targeted to “whole systems” or organization-wide change (vs. a group, team or individual change).  OD professionals have developed a large variety of approaches, techniques, and methods to assist organizations when they choose or are forced to undertake a significant transformation, and are the focus of this course. The readings, class activities, and assignments are designed to help students gain familiarity with these approaches, differentiate them from other types of change interventions, consider the skills needed by change practitioners for their successful implementation, and identify the organization and change contexts where they are most appropriate and useful.

Groups and teams are the central building block and unit of operation used in most organizations today. Complexity, speed, diversity and distributed knowledge are all driving the need to use collective, collaborative methods to solve problems, execute strategies, innovate and change.

The understanding of group dynamics is essential to work in these environments and certainly to change them or improve their performance. The study of groups includes theory and practice of: group development, group formation (culture & norms), composition, power dynamics, leadership, communication patterns, group roles, task progress, psycho-social dynamics, decision-making, managing differences and patterns of participation. Process consultation is an approach to understand and improve work in groups and teams.  We will examine both the underlying theoretical framework and practical requirements of Process Consultation, attending specifically to two key philosophical frameworks embedded in this consulting model: helping and inquiry. Building on this foundation and incorporating behavioral observation, we will explore those theories-of-practice that enable a practitioner to use process consultation effectively in practice.

Organization development occurs in contexts that are local and global, multicultural, and diverse. OD practitioners and scholars must understand the inclusive, exclusive and cross-cultural experience or working in these varied contexts, and how to address issues and challenges through organization, group, and individual organization development and change initiatives. If addressed systematically and effectively supported, workforce diversity and cross-cultural collaboration can provide significant positive results impacting human and organizational outcomes. In this course, students will have up-to-date knowledge about the new realities of the global and international workforce, understand interdisciplinary theories of cross-cultural differences in workplaces, and develop skills in designing interventions that contribute to inclusive and multicultural workplaces and effective global organization development.

Leadership is one of the most studied topics in management and the organization sciences. Theories and models abound, and research continues to accumulate, making it difficult to understand where there is agreement about what it is, what it does, and how it is developed. The over-arching objective of the course is to assist students in forming their own point-of-view about leadership and is designed to help students learn and sort through the classic and more recent theories developed about leadership and leading change.  In addition, the issue of values and ethics in leadership will be addressed, since in organizational life, these are most often faced by decision-makers (i.e., leaders).  The course requires a good deal of reading, thinking, and discussion. In addition to readings, case studies will be used to analyze leadership models, approaches, and dilemmas.  Several guests will join the class during the residency, and the evenings will include informal discussions.

Skillfully navigating the multiple realities and needs of organizations requires the development of a reflective practice for both OD practitioner and clients. A reflective practice is transformative in nature as it includes deliberate, developmental, and cyclical methodologies for exploring assumptions around common and uncommon experiences. The depth at which OD Practitioners develop context-rich and meaningful strategies for organization development begins with a commitment by both client and consultant to courageously reflect upon and potentially transform their assumptions. This process of learning is transformative in nature because it drives a fundamental shift in habits of mind regarding the way things get done, why we do them in the first place, and how we view our own roles, behaviors, and efficacy. Specific tools for facilitating transformative learning address these dimensions, which subsume all of our interactions in organizations. In this course, participants will be introduced to state of the art frameworks and tools that support transformative learning in relationship with individuals, teams, and the organization at large.

In this course students are introduced to epistemology, methodology and methods as they apply to research in the social sciences, with a particular stress on research in organization development.

The purpose of this last course is to introduce students to newer developments in the field of Organization Development and Change, issues in the field; and to create dialogue about the future of organizations and their needs and challenges to which we will be responding as change agents. The key topics will include:

  • The growth and development of the influence of positive organizational scholarship and social constructionist views of organizations in the field of change, broadly referred to as "Dialogic OD."
  • The expansive use of technology in organizations, how it creates positive and negative outcomes and change issues needing attention and how it could be utilized more effectively in the change process.
  • The recent convergence within the changing fields of OD, HR, Learning & Development, Change Management, Project Management, Process Improvement, and others.

As the last class, there will also be closing activities for the learning community and discussion of the final comprehensive exam and dissertation process.

The purpose of this course is to familiarize you with the basic techniques of qualitative research methods and the design of projects using qualitative research methods. Using an approach that is both theoretical and experiential, we will explore the nature of qualitative inquiry, investigate the reasons to choose a qualitative approach and explore the design considerations and options. We will review some of the more popular qualitative research methods used in organizational and behavioral sciences. The applied portion of this class involves completing a mini-field project beginning with design and conceptualization.  By engaging in the project, you will learn to use the tools of qualitative inquiry including observation and/or participant observation, interviewing, writing field notes, personal reflection, and data analyses. 

This course covers the major issues a researcher must consider when conducting quantitative data collection and analysis. These include the selection of a research topic and the formation of key research hypotheses, identification of an appropriate theoretical perspective, conceptualization and measurement, scale construction, reliability and validity, question wording, coding, secondary analysis, data input into a statistical program (SPSS), and the statistical analysis of data, including descriptive and inferential statistics. The emphasis in this course is on the systematic preparation of your own project including data collection and statistical analysis.

This practicum is intended to initiate or enhance a students’ field experience with OD and develop their skill levels, based on the current experience and interests of each student. It is intended to be customized, with advisors, for each student to provide useful learning, appropriate challenge, and good results for the client system. This practicum can be designed as an individual endeavor or small team experience. 

The Global Team Practicum serves similar purposes as the other practica with the addition of being conducted in another country and culture and in a team structure. This course will run for whole cohort. This is an opportunity to continue developing your practice skills, working collaboratively with others in service to the client and project, and learning to be effective and adaptable in a different culture than your own. The Global Team Practicum will be supervised by the two faculty who organize and participate with you. They will serve as your practicum advisors jointly with being the course faculty.

This doctoral practicum is the third of three field experiences required in the University of St. Thomas Doctoral Program in Organization Development (OD).  In this practicum, students – in consultation with their faculty advisors – will work individually with a client organization on an OD project. After the initial entry into the organization, the student will follow the OD process by writing a contract which details the nature of the work, conducting the project, providing feedback to the client, and identifying key learnings from the work experience.

The course focuses on the design of a research project that will lead to their dissertation proposal. Participants will continue to explore the elements of positivistic and interpretive research approaches in social sciences. In this course, the participants will learn how to identify research problems/questions and make choices about the most appropriate methodology and methods, either interpretive/qualitative or functional/quantitative.The participants will be able to apply the learning in crafting a statement of a problem/research question, its importance, the methodology that might be employed in carrying out-in accordance with the students’ understanding of their own paradigm, as well as the application or usefulness of the research. By the end of the course, students will complete a draft of their dissertation proposal with dissertation advisor’s input.

TOTAL 65 Credits

William Brendel, Ed.D., is an Assistant Professor for the Organization and Learning Development program at the University of St. Thomas.

William Brendel, Ed.D.

Assistant Professor Organization Learning and Development (651) 962-4419
MOH 427 | Opus Hall

Rama K. Hart, Ph.D., is an associate professor in the Organization Learning and Development program at the University of St. Thomas.

Rama K. Hart, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Organization Learning and Development (651) 962-4454
MOH 429 | Opus Hall

David W. Jamieson, Ph.D., is the Department Chair of the Organization Learning and Development program at the University of St. Thomas.

David W. Jamieson, Ph.D.

Professor & Department Chair Organization Learning and Development (651) 962-4387
MOH 432 | Opus Hall


Features and Benefits

The organization world has changed, and we need to improve how we lead and manage change in response. Our global environments are increasingly turbulent and uncertain in key aspects, like economic, technological, workforce and markets -- which drives needs for systemic, inclusive, sustainable and rapid change. Organizations of all types and sizes need the capability to initiate, respond to, adapt with and lead change in today's world. This external transformation is driving numerous needs inside organizations, especially in such areas as strategy, organization design, talent management, culture and practices, stakeholder inclusion, collaboration and working across boundaries.

Intended Candidates

This doctorate is designed for working professionals with a master’s degree, 5 or more years of leadership or change experience and a desire to work as a change agent (in any type of role) to impact the effectiveness and health of all types of organizations.

Learning Outcomes

The graduates of this program will be able to:

  • Understand organization systems in the context of their changing environments
  • Use strategic and systemic thinking in the management and change of organizations as systems
  • Design and execute strategies for learning and change across levels of the system (individual, group, inter-group, whole organization, inter-organization and communities) to move in more desired directions
  • Integrate the human and technical aspects of organizations for effectiveness and health
  • Develop groups and teams to operate with high performance, in person and virtually
  • Work with 21st century issues with systemic, inclusive, generative processes for more sustainable, rapid change
  • Execute core practice skills in organization assessment, design and change; enabling change at small and larger scales; small and large group facilitation: lead, consult or coach others on organization change: work with diverse stakeholders and facilitate inclusive dialogue
  • Learn about and contribute to emerging issues and developments in the field of OD&C
  • Understand and conduct useful research on organizations and change

Additional Features

  • Four themes are used to integrate across the curriculum: use of self, scholar-practitioner research questions, ethics and practice perspectives.
  • The coursework is completed in 2.5 years and most students complete their dissertations the following year.
  • The curriculum focusses on preparing students to work at the intersections of strategy, design, people, technology and change, in order to create meaningful strategies in a changing world, design productive organizations that are also healthy places to work, enable aligned systems, processes and interactions to support appropriate behaviors for desired results.
  • Cohort-based education involves the creation of a learning community, personal growth and peer learning in addition to learning from leading scholar-practitioner faculty.
  • We use periodic intensive, residency-based learning spaces coupled with engaging online components.
  • In addition to core faculty, courses will be augmented by distinguished scholar-practitioners and key contributors in the field.


This program is designed for working professionals. Students take courses as a cohort one at a time in a predetermined sequence. Courses are taught in a blend of virtual and face-to-face sessions.


This is an applied program where students are scholar-practitioners. Each of the three years of coursework contains a practicum providing students with the opportunity to apply their learning in a real world setting.

International Learning Opportunities

Students have the option to take their practicum in an international setting, giving them the opportunity to apply their learning in diverse cultures. For the coming cohort, one practicum will be a global team practicum, similar to those we have implemented in Ukraine, China and India.

In March of 2014, as part of a new course in the MA program in HRCL titled Organization Development in Emerging Global Markets,  Dr. Brendel and Dr. Chou coached a team of sixteen students through a transformative professional experience: carrying out OD consulting work in a global organization headquartered in Beijing (Youth for Understanding, Greater China). As part of this class, students conducted surveys and strategic planning prior to their visit, and while working with the client they provided targeted consulting around improving individual, team, and organizational learning. Students also facilitated the client through a critical examination of implicit leadership values shared in several regional offices representing dissimilar cultures across China. The greatest tribute to our students is that based upon deep learning around organizational strategy the client modified their yearly objectives. The client also expressed great interest in having these student-consultants come back for more consulting. Beijing is just the beginning. The department OL&D is excited to develop and provide similar international classes in the future.

Leaders in the Field

Adjunct faculty in the program are leaders in various areas of the field. Students are afforded the opportunity to learn from a wide range of experts.

ODEA Membership

We are a founding member of the OD Education Association which provides OD Network membership for our students, access to their resources and discounts to their conference. All students are given a membership to ODEA at no cost.


The department offers relevant professional development opportunities from a variety of leaders in the community throughout the year at no cost to students.


The Value of a St. Thomas Degree

Calculating the cost of your degree can be challenging, as every institution approaches it a bit differently. At St. Thomas, we list our tuition cost as cost per credit:

  • Each course can be 1-3 semester credits, but the standard course is 3 credits.  
  • To view the total number of credits per program you can view the courses tab above.

It may be possible for you to receive some type of financial assistance. To learn more, please visit our Graduate Financial Aid page.

We offer our students much more than just a degree. We offer the chance to be a part of a personal and professional network like no other, which means your graduate education will enrich your life and career long into the future.


Education (Ed.D.)

On-campus Tuition (per credit) $995
Books and materials
(estimate per course)
One-time application fee $50

1 | Meet the basic requirements:

  • A master's degree from an accredited college or university
  • Minimum GPA of 3.5 preferred from a combined mean of undergraduate and graduate work.
  • At least three years of full-time OD work experience or five years of leadership experience.

2 |  Meet the supplementary requirements:

  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) required for any candidate whose primary language is not English.

3 |  Submit the following application materials:

  • Application form and one-time $50 application fee.
  • Official transcripts from all post-secondary institutions attended sent directly from the institution to the University of St. Thomas. Transcripts must show completion of a bachelor's degree and master's degree.
  • Current Resume or CV
  • Statement of purpose (pdf) This brief written statement will serve as a writing sample and a summary of your professional and academic goals. 
  • Executive Summary that outlines a recent OD or leadership project, with a demonstrated change management outcome, maximum two pages, double-spaced.


 Application Deadline:

  • September 1, 2015 - December 31, 2015 for the June 2016 cohort

When you can start

  • The latest cohort began in May 2014. New cohorts begin every other year.

Looking for More?


Apply online

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1000 LaSalle Avenue · Minneapolis, Minnesota 55403 · USA
1-651-962-4550 · education@stthomas.edu