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Department of Human and Organizational Development


The department focuses on lifespan development through enhancing life-long learning and developing caring and competent learning communities. Department faculty work with students to apply conceptual and methodological approaches that contribute to redesigning, reconstructing, and evaluating a wide variety of social institutions to enhance human development and create social capital. Students are also equipped with the skills to facilitate development of individuals in various social contexts and enhance human development through a focus on the individual as well as social institutions.



Degree Programs

The Department of Human and Organizational Development is an interdisciplinary group of faculty offering several degree programs that share a focus on human behavior and well-being in organizational and community contexts. The department is also home to Vanderbilt University’s largest undergraduate major (Human and Organizational Development) in conjunction with the Department of Leadership, Policy, and Organizations.


Undergraduate Program

Human and Organizational Development

The Human and Organizational Development major, a joint program between the Human and Organizational Development (HOD) and Leadership, Policy, and Organizations (LPO) Departments, prepares students to solve human problems in organizations and communities. Doing so requires knowledge of human development, group dynamics, organizational theory and behavior, economics, public policy, statistics, and methods of inquiry. The curriculum is planned to ensure that students obtain a strong foundation in science and liberal arts, with an emphasis on developing writing, oral presentation, and analytic skills.

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Master’s Programs

Human Development Counseling with specializations in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling

The HDC master’s degree trains you to translate sound theoretical knowledge and research into effective counseling programs as a clinical mental health or school counselor. In a rigorous and integrated program of study, you will acquire a strong theoretical grounding in human development, counseling paradigms, and change strategies.

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Human Development Studies

The HDS master's degree is designed to prepare you for a successful career focused on finding solutions to human problems in public, private, and non-profit organizations, agencies, and communities.

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Community Development and Action

The two-year Master of Education in Community Development and Action attracts students from around the world committed to learning how to create positive, community-level change in a collaborative and participatory way.

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Online Master in Education in School Counseling

The online master of education in human development counseling with a specialization in school counseling will equip you with the skills you need to become an effective K-12 school counselor. Connect with aspiring and experienced professionals from across the country as you prepare for counseling licensure.

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Doctoral Program

Community Research and Action

The Ph.D. degree in Community Research and Action (CRA) prepares action-oriented researchers for academic or policy-related careers in applied community studies with a social-justice orientation.

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Specialization in Poverty and Intervention

In this interdisciplinary program, students will view development and intervention through multiple disciplines and at multiple levels. The program focuses on various aspects of poverty, including neurological processes, child development, family functioning, and community dynamics. Students are introduced to models and interventions operating at the individual, family, school, and community levels.

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Faculty and Staff

Administrative Faculty

Nicole Allen
  • Chair, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Brian D. Christens
  • Associate Professor, Department of Human and Organizational Development
  • Director of Graduate Studies, Department of Human and Organizational Development
Leigh Z. Gilchrist
  • Associate Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Human and Organizational Development

Administrative Staff

Lynn Hastings
  • Administrative Officer, Department of Human and Organizational Development

See All HOD Faculty and Staff