Newly designed program in organizational change leadership offered

Contact: Jeanne Baron
Photo of Drs. Dae Seok Chai and David B. Szabla.

Chai, left, and Szabla

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—A totally redesigned graduate program in organizational change leadership is being offered on Western Michigan University's main campus as well as its regional locations in Grand Rapids and Metro Detroit.

The Master of Arts in organizational change leadership grew out of what had been the Master of Arts in organizational learning and performance. The new program has been redesigned and renamed to emphasize that cross-cultural understanding and the ability to lead effective change are among the most critical and sought-after competencies for a wide range of today's organizations.

Locations, coursework

The new 33-hour M.A. in organizational change leadership is a competency-grounded program that builds capacities to effectively lead and develop individuals, groups and organizations in an age of globalization. All courses are designed for full-time working professionals and are a hybrid of one or two face-to-face class meetings per month with the remaining coursework completed online.

Organizational change leadership is housed in the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology. Dr. Dae Seok Chai, an assistant professor in the department, teaches and advises students in the program, and Dr. David B. Szabla, a faculty specialist II in the department, serves as program director. WMU's Extended University Programs division has brought the program to its WMU-MetroDetroit location in Auburn Hills as well as its WMU-Grand Rapids Beltline location.

Chai notes that the organizational change leadership program is being offered in two formats. The traditional format is being offered in Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo. It allows students to design their own coursework plan and complete the program at their own pace over a two- to four-year period. The accelerated format is being offered in Auburn Hills. It places students in a lock-step cohort that meets face-to-face on Saturdays and provides the opportunity to complete the program in five semesters.


Students may enroll in the traditional program at any time, then start taking classes at the beginning of the next academic term. However, there is a Saturday, July 1, application deadline for the accelerated program in Auburn Hills because cohort students start their classes in the fall of each year. Those who are admitted to this version of the program for fall 2017 will receive a $500 scholarship.

program outcomes

Photo of five students sitting at a table.

Organizational change leadership students learn to design, develop and implement sustainable change.

Organizational change leadership students learn to design, develop and implement sustainable change using methods for making the change process run smoother, smarter, faster and more efficiently. Importantly, WMU's program equips them to be a research-based practitioner—one who applies theory and research to organizational challenges using rigorous data collection and analysis protocols.

"Our students are directors, managers, trainers, consultants and other individuals working in a variety of functional areas, organization types and industry sectors. In addition to people who are responsible for internal change initiatives or helping employees adapt to organizational change, they include people who want to sharpen their existing skills or are transitioning to new roles," Szabla says.

"We focus on developing marketable change leadership skills that can be immediately applied to the workplace. Students build change-agency expertise throughout the program by carrying out real-world consulting projects with organizations external to the University, and we augment their preparation by bringing in speakers who are top professionals and academicians from around the country. As a result, our program is becoming the top laboratory for exploring the practice of leading organizational change in the state of Michigan."

For more information, visit the Department of Educational Leadership, Research and Technology at or Extended University Programs at Direct questions to Szabla at or Chai at

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