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Human and Organizational Development

The Human and Organizational Development (HOD) major is designed for students interested in careers that involve finding solutions to human problems in organizations and communities. Graduates are prepared to assume positions in businesses, government agencies, and non-profit organizations.

The curriculum is planned to ensure that students obtain a strong foundation in the liberal arts, with emphasis on developing writing, oral presentation, and quantitative skills. The core curriculum includes human development, group dynamics, organizational theory and behavior, public policy, economics, statistics, and research methodology. Students acquire an understanding of human behavior in groups, organizations, and larger systems.

In addition to the core curriculum, students select one of five areas of concentration that provides a focus for their study during the junior and senior years: Community Leadership and Development, Health and Human Services, International Leadership and Development, Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness, or Education Policy. The program utilizes various pedagogical approaches, as the action-research and experiential education, to support and encourage student learning and exploration. Students learn new ideas and methods through seminars, simulation, case studies, field experiences, and interaction with professionals in the field.

Creative Problem Solving in Context

More than 25 years ago, Peabody College began a small interdisciplinary program that offered undergraduates a degree in Human and Organizational Development. Emeritus Professor Robert Innes, founder of the program, recalls that he only expected five or six students to be interested. Instead, some 20 undergraduates enrolled, and interest in the program has continued to exceed expectations every year since. Human and Organizational Development (HOD) is now one of the largest undergraduate majors at Vanderbilt.

What makes the program so popular? It’s an idea that’s as old as Peabody College itself and as fresh as the eager faces of the institution’s newest students. “Our focus is on making sure our students can apply what they learn in their classes to their personal lives and to their professional lives,” Innes explains. HOD majors begin the program in their freshman year with a core curriculum of classes in such critical workplace skills as writing, oral presentation, innovative problem solving, and understanding both small-group dynamics and the development of large organizations.

HOD Internship

As a requirement of graduation, students complete a fulltime, semester long capstone internship in one of their final three semesters. The capstone internship provides an opportunity for students to integrate and apply earlier coursework in an organizational setting. The purpose of the capstone internship is to allow students to demonstrate the core competencies of the degree in a workplace environment. However, students choose their internship in a field of interest and also gain valuable workplace experience to further their professional development and help launch their post-graduation careers.

The HOD internship requires 32 hours a week on site and a weekly 3-hour seminar. The internship experience is possible in fall, spring or summer semesters and in any one of the cities in which we have established formal internship programs: Nashville, Chicago, New York City, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and London, England. There are Vanderbilt professors in these cities to facilitate the weekly seminar. Students can also petition for an internship outside these cities if the opportunity provides a unique learning experience that cannot be achieved in one of our program cities.

Internships can be completed in almost any field or industry, based upon the interest of the student. The most popular include advertising/public relations, arts administration, broadcasting, consulting, community development and non-profit management, counseling, entertainment and sports, fashion, finance, healthcare, marketing, human resources, and training and development. A sampling of our internship opportunities include: Big Machine Records, Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, The United Nations, Make-a-Wish Foundation, Save a Child’s Heart Foundation, World Relief Refugee Org Public Defender’s Office, Kennedy Center, Olympic Committee, Titans Football, UBS, Redpepper advertising, Country Music Association, U.S. Embassies in London, Santiago, Buenos Aires, India, & Germany, Viacom (CMT & MTV), ESPN, ABC, NBC, CBS and CNN.

Career Paths

Upon graduation, many students in the program find positions in diverse organizations such as management consulting, advertising/public relations, marketing, policy analysis/government, profit and nonprofit healthcare, and community development agencies.

In recent years, our HOD graduates have found positions with a variety of organizations, including but not limited to: Primera Companies (Dallas, TX), Giorgio Armani (New York), John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts (Washington, D.C.), Accenture (Atlanta, London, and Washington, D.C.), Teach for America (various cities), Underwriters Laboratories (Chicago), Blackbaud (Washington, D.C.), Sinotrans (Beijing, China), Huron Consulting Group (New York), African Center for Technology Studies (Kenya), JMB Financial Advisors, LLC (Chicago), Cartier, Inc. (New York), Aon Consulting (Atlanta), and Chase Manhattan Bank (New York).

Others enter graduate programs or professional programs in business, law, medicine, community development, education, counseling, divinity, and health promotion.

Kudos From Our Graduates

Graduates write us with comments such as these:

“When I was applying for this position I was able to highlight the many educational opportunities I had as a HOD student. I was able to sight cite unique courses and emphasize my management and organizational skills using concrete examples from my HOD internship experience. I am grateful for the diverse education I received from both Vanderbilt and the HOD program.”
-Tricia Tumlinson ’10, Executive Asst. to CEO, 42West, NYC (talent and film public relations)

“I'm currently working in public relations where I develop marketing strategies for a variety of clients. The organizations I work with vary from the healthcare and aviation industries to local non-profits and many others in between. HOD has given me the skills and knowledge to work with a variety of organizations, and I'm so grateful that my major did not confine me to any one niche.” -Sarah Kurrus ’10, Public Relations Account Coordinator, Sells Agency

“HOD faculty and staff were incredibly supportive in helping me pursue my interest in public policy research…I applied research skills learned in my HOD classes through an undergraduate research program where I worked with a Peabody professor on a study of the costs of homelessness in Nashville and by completing a research internship at a state housing finance agency. The knowledge and applied experiences that I gained from my HOD major enabled me to get a job contributing to complex, large scale research projects and evaluations of government programs that will shape federal housing and homelessness policy for years to come.” -Scott Brown, ’09, M.Ed. ’10, Analyst, Abt Associates, Washington D.C.

“…the major as a whole prepared me for what to expect when entering the work force. I realized that I came into a work environment with many more skills and much more knowledge that someone who is at the same level.”
-Stephanie Yewdell ’08, Digital Asset Coordinator, Polo Ralph Lauren

Recent Graduates - After Vanderbilt

Gabriella Angiolillo, Associate Consultant, Peoplefluent, Boston, MA
Alice Bator, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship Fellowship, South Africa
Jennifer Bogart, Business Analyst, Management Consulting Development Program at Accenture, Washington, D.C.
Jessie Bullock, Boren National Security Fellow, Brazil
Fred Choi, Student, Higher Education Administration, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
Emily Clanton, Implementation Analyst, Hospital Corporation of America, Nashville
Evan Curran, Higher Education Analyst, Huron Consulting Group, Chicago, IL
Megan Dinan, Account Management Associate, Advisory Board Company, Washington, D.C.
Alex Goldberg, Sales Leadership Associate, Coca-Cola Refreshments, New Orleans, LA
Logan Handelsman, Ticket Counts, Creative Artists Agency, Nashville, TN
Jenna Jackson, Advisory Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York, NY
Alex McConnell, UPS Corporate Public Affairs in Washington, D.C.
Megan Millard, HR Associate Manager, Procter & Gamble, Cincinnati, OH
Victoria Ottuso, Analyst, Goldman Sachs, New York, NY
Ashley Pasquariello, Research Analyst, Vanderbilt Institute for Medicine and Public Health, Nashville, TN
Bryanna Ransom, Human Capital Consulting Analyst, Deloitte Consulting LLP, McLean, VA
Jay Roberts, Student, Master of Accountancy, Owen Graduate School of Management, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Kristen Sheft, Media Relations, Tennessee Titans, Nashville, TN
Alyssa Stewart, Associate in Management, Management Information Systems Dept., Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN
Tori Wycoff, Recruiting Coordinator, Google, Mountainview, CA


In keeping with the major’s focus on how people work and behave in groups, organizations, and communities, HOD faculty members utilize a variety of pedagogical approaches to engage students fully in the material and encourage students to work together to learn, question, analyze, and experience.  


Vicki Scalf, M.S.
Educational Coordinator
Human and Organizational Development
(615) 322-8495

Human and Organizational Development Website