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Courses and Curriculum

The Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics program provides you with the knowledge-base you need to understand and address complex organizational issues — and allows you to take a deeper dive into the concentration areas of your choice. Throughout your studies, you will work with an academic advisor to help you create a curriculum suited precisely to your interests.

As a Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics student, you will complete 12 course units (c.u.)* that balance core learning with individual exploration. Your course of study includes the following elements: (You can read about each curricular element in further detail below.)

  • Foundations (4 c.u.)
  • Methods of Diagnosis and Evaluation (1 c.u.) 
  • Applications (4 c.u.)
  • Elective courses (2 c.u.)
  • Capstone project (1 c.u.) 

Foundations courses (4 c.u.)

Courses in the Foundations category are coded “F” and are drawn from two clusters: Organizational Structure and Function and Organizations in Historical and Cultural Context. Foundation courses give you and your fellow students the common language upon which to build your studies and knowledge, and prepare you for the deeper immersion in topics that you will study in your Application courses.

Examples of Foundations courses include:

  • Systems and Design Thinking
  • The Economics of Human & Organizational Life
  • Theories, Models, and Practices that Inform Coaching
  • Balance of Power in the Global New Normal

Methods of Diagnosis and Evaluation courses (1 c.u.)

Diagnosis and Evaluation courses are coded “DE” and concern the methods for the measurement, diagnosis, analysis, synthesis and/or evaluation of organizations and their activities. These courses provide you with multiple approaches to diagnosing complex issues within your organization as well as the tools and frameworks to organize your response to these difficult issues.

Examples of Diagnosis and Evaluation courses include:

  • Process Improvement Tools and Strategies
  • Managing Project Risk, Uncertainty and the Unexpected
  • Group Team Dynamics: Understanding the Overt and Covert Dynamics That Support Effective Work

Applications courses (4 c.u.)

Courses in the Applications category are coded “A” and are drawn from three clusters: Organizations and Communications; Organizational Development and Change; and Organizational Leadership and Management. Applications courses will give you the opportunity to further explore the issues and topics you encountered in your Foundations and Diagnosis and Evaluation courses. From social media to sustainability to organizational politics, Application courses provide a closer look at the elements important to any organization.

Examples of Applications courses include:

  • Mastering Organizational Politics and Power
  • The Psychodynamics of Organizations
  • Managing Enterprise Risk
  • Organizational Culture Change: Theory and Practice

Elective courses (2 c.u.)

Electives can be courses from within Organizational Dynamics or from another graduate degree program at Penn.

Note that some courses are coded as fulfilling more than one category. Each course can count only once in fulfilling a degree requirement. For example, if a course is a Foundation (F) and an Application (A), a student may only count this course toward either the Foundations requirement or the Applications requirement, but not towards both requirements.

Capstone project (1 c.u.)

The capstone project is a distinguishing feature of the Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics program. The project blends academic and professional experiences and serves as the culmination of your work in the program. You will design a project that draws upon your learning in and outside the classroom to identify and explore a focusing question in your area of professional and academic interest. For our students, the capstone experience serves as a career catalyst, whether they intend to change directions or advance on their current path.

Students working on their capstone project enroll in the capstone course. During the course, students have opportunities to discuss their capstone progress, successes and challenges with the course professor and with their classmates. The capstone course professor will describe capstone requirements and formats, facilitate peer feedback and will provide general guidance and support during the selection and writing of the capstone.

You will work with your capstone course professor to select a topic for your capstone project, which will be tailored to your professional and intellectual goals. Once you’ve done so, you will seek out a capstone committee that consists of a faculty advisor and a faculty reader, both of whom are selected to participate on the committee based on their expertise as it relates to the chosen capstone topic.

The capstone projects vary widely; however, all projects demonstrate students’ ability to:

  • Make an argument
  • Describe or summarize a position that is unique, original or which directly applies to the student
  • Use primary sources or ones that apply to a primary organization as much as possible
  • Apply competencies gained from the courses completed in the Organizational Dynamics program

Examples of Organizational Dynamics capstone projects completed by program alumni are available on the Scholarly Commons within the Penn Online Digital Library.

*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). Generally, a 1 c.u. course at Penn is equivalent to a three- or four-semester-hour course elsewhere. In general, the average course offered at Penn is listed as being worth 1 c.u.; courses that include a lecture and a lab are often worth 1.5 c.u.

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