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What is HOD and Why is Everybody Doing It?

Posted by on Wednesday, April 14, 2021 in Academics, General Information, Internship, Major, Peabody College, Vanderbilt Internships.

One of the reasons why I love Vanderbilt so much is that they offer such a diverse range of majors and classes. Of course, if you have ever taken a tour of Vanderbilt, you will know that one of the most popular majors is Human and Organizational Development, or HOD. Falling under the Peabody College of Education and Human Development, HOD is a major centered on solving human problems and teaching students how to be instrumental to organizations in any role they choose. In a short concise summary, I would say that the HOD major teaches students all the skills to become CEOs if they want.

Being one of the most popular majors on campus, if not the most popular, almost anybody on campus can tell you about the HOD major. But I’m here to give you my total unfiltered look into the HOD major and why I love it so much!


  1. The Professors/Advisors/Administrators

All of the personnel that work in the HOD department are amazing! The professors are so cool and accomplished, coming from a variety of backgrounds. Professor Lefkowitz for example, who teaches HOD 2400, is so interesting! She worked as a professional clown, and is also writing a novel right now. And Professor Van Schaack worked at Apple Japan. On top of that, everyone who works in the department is so helpful and willing to go above and beyond to make sure that the students succeed.


  1. The classes

There are six core classes that all HOD majors have to take, and they provide students with insights on so many different things, from individual human development to organizational structure and the roles you can play to the broader public policy process. Having taken AP Government in high school, I never thought I would find a whole class about Public Policy interesting. However, my Public Policy class with Professor Shaw was one of the coolest classes I’ve taken at Vanderbilt. He encouraged open discussion no matter what your opinion was, instead of just lecturing us about policy. And he made everyone feel comfortable sharing, even someone like me who is notoriously uncomfortable speaking up in class. The coolest part was that throughout the course of the class, we got the chance to propose a new policy or change an existing one. By the end of the class, students wrote a formal policy proposal, based on real ones used in government. It gave me the chance to see all of the different factors that go into creating and passing a policy that you don’t usually think about.

After the core classes, students have the freedom to choose from one of five tracks so that they can focus their area of study. I am personally on the Leadership and Organizational Effectiveness track, but there is also the Community Leadership and Development track, Education Policy, Health and Human Services, and International Leadership and Development. Each track offers its own courses, but HOD majors can take courses from any of the tracks! There’s even a class about Social Entrepreneurship that let’s students decided how they want to allocate real grant money to charities!


  1. The Capstone Internship

I think this aspect of the HOD major is the coolest because at Vanderbilt it is something unique to the HOD major. For a whole semester, HOD students must complete a full-time Capstone internship, in a choice of 6 different cities. The point is to apply everything you’ve been learning to a real work environment. During the semester, students also attend a class on Monday mornings with an HOD faculty member to talk about the experience and what they are learning. By the end of the semester, all the students have a demonstration day where they give a presentation where they showcase a project about a contribution they made to their internship site. Students have the freedom to intern almost anywhere, as long as it complies with HOD workplace standards. It is a great experience that gives students the opportunity to test out what they want to do after graduation, and sometimes leads to full-time jobs!


I could go on and on about the HOD major. In my three years at Vanderbilt as an HOD major, I feel like I’ve learned so much, and met so many interesting people. I know that no matter what I do after graduation, I will be able to talk about what I’ve learned and what I can bring to the table.

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