Organizational Change Leadership

Program details

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Credits required: 33
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Location Type   
Grand Rapids Hybrid

Master of arts (MA)

The Masters of Arts in organizational change leadership (OCL) is designed to address one of the most critical and sought after competencies required in today’s organizations—the ability to lead effective change.

  In terms of my expectations after this first semester, I’m only more convinced that this is the work I want to do.  Organizational Change Leadership student and working professional

With a Western Michigan University degree in organizational change leadership you will join other forward-thinking professionals who are setting new standards of excellence in change leadership. Connect with a group of professionals working in a variety of organizations who are studying and practicing methods that make the change process run smoother, smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

Our mission is to develop enterprising practitioners who have the ability to apply both scholarly and practice-based knowledge to lead effective change in diverse contexts, including domestic and cross-cultural settings. Designed for career-centered individuals, our program emphasizes the development of change leadership skills that can be immediately applied to the workplace. We ground our teaching in the most current research, theory, and practice, and we recruit top professionals and academicians from around the world to engage with our students. 

  Our program is quickly becoming the top laboratory for exploring the practice of leading organizational change in the state of Michigan.   Dr. David B. Szabla


With our traditional format, students design their own program plans from a catalog of hybrid, face-to-face, and online classes. Hybrid classes meet one night per month in Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, and face-to-face classes meet weekly in Kalamazoo.

Students complete the program at their own paces. Some students prefer to take two courses per semester completing the program in 2 years. Other students desire a slower pace and complete the program by taking one course per semester completing the program in 3 years.

Most students complete the program by taking a mix of online courses and hybrid classes in Grand Rapids or Kalamazoo. 

What you can expect after graduation

  • Apply current best practices for leading and developing individuals, groups, and organizations in an age of globalization
  • Conduct organizational consulting engagements using established diagnostic models and current theory and research
  • Debate theory and best practices in the knowledge areas of organizational change, organizational leadership, organizational culture, organizational learning, group dynamics, and globalization
  • Execute the role of the research-based practitioner, one who applies theory and research to organizational challenges using rigorous data collection and analysis protocols


One of the goals of the organizational change leadership program is to create a learning community that promotes excellence in the practice of leading effective change in organizations. To form and sustain our community of students admitted to the OCL program students must possess the following (the GRE is not required):

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • Minimum of 3.0 grade point average on a 4.0 scale on all previous undergraduate or graduate work
  • At least 2 years of relevant professional work experience

Each applicant is assessed as a whole person. No single criterion will be the determining factor in the admissions process.

If you have ever wanted to be a catalyst for change in your current work place or to take the next step to advance your career, OCL is for you. Work experience at a for-profit, not-for-profit, health care, military, educational, or government organization, a bachelor’s degree and a passion to lead change is all you need to begin building your capacity to design, develop, and implement sustainable change.

  By developing unique strengths in research and teaching that directly and readily benefit local, national, and international practitioners and scholars in various types of organizations.   Dr. Dae Seok Chai

Our student network

Our students include a diverse group of individuals working in a variety of functional areas, organizations, and industry sectors. Our student body comprises:

  • Directors and managers responsible for internal change initiatives.
  • Consultants and coaches seeking to sharpen existing skills or develop new abilities.
  • Human resource professionals, performance management professionals, facilitators and trainers involved in helping human systems undergo organizational change.
  • Individuals who are transitioning to new roles and are interested in consulting either within their organization or outside organizations.

Charlie Kautz

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Business Transformation Manager

Charlie received a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Iowa. Today, he works at adidas as a transformation manager. Recently, he rolled out a program called the adidas Group Innovation Academy (aGIA), an internal-facing massive open online course (MOOC) designed to upskill more than 3,000 employees on the principles of innovation to build organizational resilience and unlock collective capability across the organization. With his Applied Capstone Project, Charlie plans to investigate how “bureaucratic drag” stifles innovation and productivity, and how organizations can counter it.

Poppy Hernandez

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Assistant to the Superintendent and Coordinator of Special Projects
Muskegon Public Schools

Poppy graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a bachelor's in English. She has worked as a community organizer in west Michigan in non-profit, governmental and public school sectors. The focus of her work has been in education and advocacy with families and youth supporting them toward healthier behaviors. With her Applied Capstone Project, she plans to explore ways youth-serving organizations can more effectively integrate youth voice into their policies and practices in efforts to transition youth from passive receivers of services to change agents in their communities.

Trice Batson

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Training Specialist
Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Trice graduated from Western Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in marketing and sales and a minor in Asian studies. Currently, he works as a training specialist at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. With his Applied Capstone Project, Trice plans to investigate performance management processes in the world of education and build a prototype system for implementation at Kalamazoo Valley Community College.  

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