Skip to main content

Vanderbilt’s most popular major: HOD

Posted by on Wednesday, March 9, 2016 in Academics, General Information.

Vanderbilt’s Peabody College of Education and Human Development is arguably one of the biggest forces in education, producing groundbreaking research that affects the K-12 school system as well as institutions of higher education, and training future teachers with a strict standard of excellence that isn’t found at every ed school.

However, these accolades seem to apply only to the “Education” portion of the College’s lengthy title, when in fact it is the “Human Development” aspect of Peabody that is the most talked about among undergraduates, mainly in the form of the University’s most popular major, Human and Organizational Development (HOD).

An interdisciplinary major that can only be found at Vanderbilt (another Vanderbilt-specific major being Medicine, Health, and Society, a popular choice among students in the pre-med track), HOD is all about “finding solutions to human problems in organizations and communities” (the standard definition we give to those who ask). Required classes include Small Group Behavior, where students are separated into teams and implement a solution to a problem on campus (previous solutions include a recycling system for fraternity houses and a better labeling/direction system for Stevenson, the labyrinth of buildings and classrooms on main campus), Systematic Inquiry, a research methods course that delves into what constitutes a reliable scientific study and different ways to research qualitative and quantitative questions, and Public Policy.

Although I’ve only been at Vanderbilt for less than a year, I can already tell that HOD is different from other majors, and (in my opinion) in a good way. Although there definitely is a heavy emphasis on “soft skills” such as interpersonal communication, presentation and problem-solving, these skills are the most valued in virtually every realm of the job market. In my HOD courses I can see how what I am learning can be applied to daily life, which was something I wasn’t able to say while solving differential equations in Calculus.

Another great aspect of the major is the professors who teach us. HOD professors are known to be personable, great lecturers, and all-around friendly folks who genuinely care about their students. They are in Peabody College, so they place great weight on the teaching portion of their jobs (as opposed to some college professors who are accused of accepting positions just to conduct research) and are wonderful to talk to during office hours.

HOD boasts many more snazzy benefits such as the required capstone internship that propels each student into the “real world” before graduation. Students complete this internship during the school year (either the spring semester as a junior or the fall semester as a senior) in one of six cities (London, New York, and Washington D.C. among others) while still taking classes, and at the end of their short stint are required to present a detailed, well-planned solution to a problem they witnessed / encountered at the company to its executives, allowing students to (hopefully!) make a lasting impact on their internship sites. Students have interned at top consulting firms such as Deloitte, as well as at non-profits that focus on alleviating poverty; This is a time for students to pursue what they’re truly interested in!

The best part about being an HOD major is that you gain all these valuable life skills without being “tied down” to a profession – HOD majors have gone to law, business, and med schools, as well as become consultants, investment bankers, actors, teachers, and everything in-between! Not a bad deal if I do say so myself.

Above: A picture (copyright by Vanderbilt) of the benches I like to frequent on particularly charming days.

If you have questions about HOD or just wanna chat, e-mail me at!

For more information on the HOD major, check this out!



Tags: , , , ,