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Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change Ph.D. (In-Person)

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Degree Overview Open Accordion

Colorado State University’s organizational learning, performance, and change Ph.D. program in Denver develops both research and practical expertise, helping you understand workplaces on a deeper level and enhance them with long-lasting solutions.

Earn your Ph.D. in organizational development in a classroom setting in Denver

Develop the skills to improve organizational effectiveness, enhance your decision-making, and develop analysis and research expertise. Designed for working executives, researchers, and academics, the program offers the unique structure of bi-weekly Saturday meetings held face-to-face in downtown Denver.

Strongly grounded in organizational, strategic, and change management theory, the Ph.D. in Education and Human Resource Studies – Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change Specialization – focuses on a combination of sociological, systems, psychological, and economic approaches to performance improvement strategies.

Become an expert in organizational leadership and change management

CSU's renowned faculty, known for their research and industry practice, teach to their specialties in several areas, including:

  • Scenario planning
  • Systems leadership
  • Political, social, and relational aspects of the workplace
  • Socialization and onboarding
  • Workplace learning
  • Constructivist inquiry

Practical, growth-oriented activities are built into the curriculum to ensure educational relevance and applicability in today's challenging business and institutional environments.

Strong theory-to-practice models ensure that you will acquire advanced research competencies, the ability to manage change effectively, and the skills to improve the performance and effectiveness of your organization immediately.

Build your professional network

As a student, you enter the Ph.D. in organizational leadership program in a cohort and complete courses based on an established plan of study. The same group of students goes through the program together, offering a cohesive support structure and built-in professional network. The cohort structure fosters support and allows you to network with other students seeking to create and administer organizational learning opportunities.

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Find out how CSU’s research is making an impact by tuning into the Health and Human Science Matters Podcast, a collection of lively, engaging conversations with members of the college community.

Hear from Our Students Open Accordion

Hear OLPC Ph.D. students explain how the program has helped enhance their decision-making skills, improve their organizational effectiveness, and develop analytical and research expertise.

OLPC Ph.D. Students

See how the program has helped Zachary, Victor, Erin, Gretchen, and Dea become effective managers, leaders, and facilitators in businesses and organizations.

Course Descriptions Open Accordion
EDOD 706 – Organizational Learning, Performance, Change

This course covers the history, development and current status of organizational learning, performance and change theory, research and practice (praxis). Students will learn the overall issues in the discipline and to orient themselves to the critical problems and emerging opportunities and challenges. Theoretical foundations are covered as well as philosophies informing theory and research to practice and integration in this applied discipline.

EDOD 761 – Evaluation and Assessment in OLPC

This course focuses on the importance of assessing and evaluating the effectiveness of organization change interventions for stakeholders. Various models of assessment and evaluation are presented, their similarities and differences, strengths and weaknesses, and appropriateness for use in specific types of interventions are explored. Students select a model and apply it to a change intervention they have been involved with and develop basic assessment and evaluation skills, including financial skills for analyzing financial benefits of interventions.

EDOD 766 – Scenario Planning in Organizations

This course focuses on the theory and practice of scenario planning. Foundational texts, theories, and research are covered to provide a background and orientation to scenario planning. Basic organizational strategy concepts are also covered. In teams, students are required to apply scenario planning in an organization they have access to under the guidance of the professor. In this applied learning model, students will gain a perspective of theory applied in practice and making the necessary adjustments to improve performance with scenario planning in organizations.

EDOD 768 – Workforce Development

This course focuses on two major aspects of workforce development: first how to develop a workforce inside a specific organization, and second, the dynamics and trends of workforce development as a national and international industry or discipline. The course first focuses on the practical tools for developing, managing and leading a micro-workforce in a given company, including the dynamics that are in play. In addition, major trends and research themes that cut across a variety of disciplines and are relevant to national and international workforce dynamics are examined.

EDOD 769 – Theory and Practice of Change

Examination of the history, nature, theory and informing research on organization development and change management in organizations. Different types and models of organization development, organizational change theories and models are examined along with their implications for effecting and managing change in different performance/organization settings.

EDOD 772 – Theory Building in Applied Disciplines

This course focuses on a general methods approach to theory building in applied disciplines. Foundational texts, perspectives, approaches and research are covered to provide a background and orientation. Students apply principles in the initiation of a new theory in some domain of interest, and use course principles to critique existing theories.

EDOD 773 – Systems Leadership

This course focuses on a systems approach to leadership in organizations. Foundational texts, perspectives, approaches and research are covered to provide a background and orientation. Students apply principles in the examination of leadership practices in an organization to which they have access. Applied learning dominates the course, exposing students to real examples of leadership and leadership development practices in a variety of systems and settings.

EDOD 792A – Research Seminar – Initiating your Research

This course is positioned at the conclusion of program content courses. The premise is to begin more seriously entertaining dissertation topics and ideas from a variety of research methodologies, perspectives and practical approaches. Instructors will lead students through the consideration of their potential research topics from 2-3 different research design approaches to illustrate the pros and cons of each.

EDOD 792B – Research Seminar – Applied Research

This course is positioned at the conclusion of program content courses. The premise is to begin more seriously entertaining dissertation topics and ideas from a variety of research methodologies, perspectives and practical approaches. Instructors will lead students through the consideration of their potential research topics from 2-3 different research design approaches to illustrate the pros and cons of each.

EDRM 700 – Quantitative Research Methods

The basics of quantitative research including foundations, philosophies, and different premises of knowledge creation are covered in the context of organizational research.

EDRM 701 – Applied Linear Models – Educational Research

A specific quantitative technique and set of analysis tools are covered for predictive approaches to regression. Includes bivariate regression, multiple regression, linear regression and other analysis techniques based on the general linear model.

EDRM 702 – Foundations of Educational Research

Philosophical, theoretical, and ethical foundations of educational research.

EDRM 703 – Applied Longitudinal Data Analysis

A specific quantitative technique and set of analysis tools are covered for longitudinal research studies.

EDRM 705 – Qualitative Data Analysis

Basic methods of data collection and analysis are covered for qualitative research studies. Topics include interview techniques, interview structuring approaches, data collection and categorization including using software and manual techniques. Major analysis techniques are covered including the constant comparative method among others.

EDRM 706 – Analysis of Variance – Educational Research

A specific quantitative technique and set of analysis tools are covered for a variety of research designs involving the comparisons of two groups.

EDRM 707 – Quantitative Data Collection Methods/Analysis

Basic methods of data collection and analysis are covered for quantitative research studies. Topics include overview of survey design, data normality, standard assumptions, skewness, kurtosis, and an introduction to some of the major quantitative research designs and analysis methods.

EDRM 708 – Narrative Inquiry

EDRM 772 – Proposal Development

This course features time spent on developing and critiquing possible dissertation proposal ideas. The purpose of the course is to provide significant opportunities for students to make progress on their dissertation research proposals and for professor feedback on dissertation structure, design, review of relevant literature, and analysis method selection.

Learning Experience Open Accordion

The organizational learning, performance, and change Ph.D. program holds classes in downtown Denver, but also utilizes online learning tools to facilitate collaboration and supplement coursework. Faculty work closely with students as mentors on coursework, the application of theory, and the development and completion of dissertation research.

The small cohort size of approximately 20 students, the fact that faculty are experienced change agents and researchers, and the use of discussion, projects, and papers all enhance the student-faculty relationship. The student-student relationship is also vital to add a personal dimension to the small group activities that are an integral part of the program.

The program is very selective and looks for a diverse group of students. Applicants must have significant work experience, a strong belief in the application of research to define problems and discover solutions, and the drive to apply solutions for the betterment of individuals within organizations and the organizations themselves. Throughout the program, faculty will challenge students to publish and present their finalized projects, papers, and research within relevant publications and at conferences.

Faculty Open Accordion

Susan A. Lynham, Ph.D.

Dr. Lynham is an associate professor at Colorado State University and Chair of the Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change (OLPC) Program in the School of Education.

She earned her M.A. degree in Organizational Leadership from the University of St. Catherine, Minnesota. Her M.Ed. and Ph.D. degrees in Human Resource Development are from the University of Minnesota, where she graduated in 2000. Susan has over 20 years practical experience in human resource development (HRD), with a special passion for organization development (OD), and has consulted and presented nationally and internationally in these areas. She has also taught at a number of academic institutions during her career, including the University of Minnesota, Louisiana State University, and Texas A&M University.

Susan focuses her teaching and research expertise in the areas of responsible leadership, scenario planning based leadership development, national human resource development, constructivist inquiry, and theory development in applied disciplines. She is an engaged member of the HRD scholarly community, both locally and abroad. As such she has served as an elected board member of the Academy of Human Resource Development, is the past Editor-in-Chief of the Academy of Human Resource Development journal Advances in Developing Human Resources, and serves on the editorial board of a number of core journals in the field.

A native of South Africa, Dr. Lynham enjoys regular visits to her home country—for purposes of both pleasure and work! The diversity of her background enables her to study and practice her field across a spectrum of national cultures, and contexts of complexity.

Thomas J. Chermack, Ph.D.

Thomas Chermack, OPC Faculty

Tom is a Professor in organizational studies at Colorado State University, where he serves as chair of the university’s Ph.D. program in Organizational Learning, Performance, and Change (OLPC). Tom teaches courses on scenario planning, human expertise, analysis in organizations, change management, and organization development. With a focus on the theoretical foundations and outcomes of scenario planning, Tom's research has won several awards for excellence based on demonstrating the benefits of scenario planning.

Tom is also the founder and Director of the Scenario Planning Institute, an organization that documents scenario planning activity, tracks research, facilitates seminars, and consults with organizations nationally and internationally.

In addition to his academic activities, Tom maintains his passion for serving industry and public clients as an advisor through Chermack Scenarios, a scenario planning consultancy. Tom facilitates scenario planning projects that yield insights resulting in an enhanced ability to navigate environmental uncertainties.

Connect with Tom for questions about the practice of scenario planning. He can be reached through the following links: | (612) 387-1951

Frequently Asked Questions Open Accordion
When will the next cohort begin?

The next application term is for Fall 2024.

Where and when do classes meet?

Fall 2024 cohort classes will take place at CSU Spur campus in Denver. Class sessions will meet eight Saturdays per semester. Students enroll in two courses, one held in the morning and one in the afternoon with an hour break in between.

Do I have to write a dissertation?

Yes, this degree requires you to complete a dissertation. You will work directly with your advisor to identify your topic of interest.

Do I need to take the GRE or GMAT in order to apply to this program?


If I have to drop a semester, is that a problem?

The OLPC Ph.D. is delivered in a cohort model where students begin and end the program together. Students are encouraged to commit to the full duration of the program to ensure they stay on track and are able to complete coursework in eight semesters. If you are required to skip a semester, your graduation will be delayed until appropriate arrangements can be made with your advisor to make up the coursework.

How much do books cost?

Books typically cost $200-$250 per semester.

What are typical assignments, and how much time is spent preparing outside of class?

Much of the coursework is centered on completing projects, case studies, papers, reading assignments, and presentations. Students work on individual and group assignments, and it is recommended that 10-15 hours per week is spent outside of class.

Are assistantships or scholarships available?

No, but federal financial aid is available. Learn more about federal financial aid »

I am looking for a new job. How will this program help me?

The OLPC Ph.D. program prepares students for advanced positions in business, education, government, nonprofit, consulting, and more. The program offers students the opportunity to network with seasoned professionals who value collaboration and advanced learning. The cohort model ensures greater cohesiveness and the development of professional networks which lead to greater opportunities for advancement.

Why Choose CSU? Open Accordion

As a student in CSU’s organizational learning, performance, and change Ph.D. program, you will receive a degree from a regionally accredited, renowned research institution while taking courses at times and locations that fit your busy life. Additionally, you can expect a program that offers:

  • Scholar-Practitioner Training: Our focus is on developing students into high-level scholars and industry experts by ensuring research is grounded in ongoing professional practice.
  • Expert Instruction: Renowned faculty, known both for their research and industry practice, teach to their specialties in the areas of scenario planning and systems leadership.
  • Practical Experience: Apply what you learn in the program to your workplace, and initiate practical solutions while receiving faculty support.
  • Convenience: Our program combines bi-weekly Saturday meetings held in downtown Denver with supplementary online coursework designed to allow you to maintain your already busy schedule.
  • An Interdisciplinary Approach: We deliver course content focused on systems, psychological, and economic approaches to performance improvement strategies.
  • Tools to Enact Change: Faculty teach a systematic approach to examining individual, group, and process segments within organizations, allowing you to produce highly relevant, customizable, and long-term change solutions.
  • A Cohort Model: The same group of students goes through the program together, offering a cohesive support structure and built-in professional network.

Learn more about CSU's rankings and accolades.

Curriculum Open Accordion


The OLPC Ph.D. requires students to complete 48 credit hours, plus a dissertation and faculty advising credits, for a total of 60 credits. Students enter the program in a cohort and complete courses based on an established plan of study.

For more information on the steps required to complete a doctoral program, read the School of Education Doctoral Process guide.


This program hones a rare combination of applied expertise and research skills. The first four semesters provide students with cutting-edge tools and processes for organization development, including Systems Leadership, Evaluation and Assessment, and Scenario Planning. These courses feature our leading faculty and provide students with skills they can immediately apply to their work. The following semesters focus on research skills. In these courses students will gain expertise to carry out applied research and contribute to the generation of new knowledge in their chosen area.

Faculty assist students in developing and refining their dissertation research at the start of the second year of the program, and students can explore a few potential topics with faculty advice and input. Students then complete a dissertation enabling them to advance their expertise in research design, analysis, and execution in a relevant area that will add significantly to academic and professional literature.

Students take two courses per semester, and each course meets eight Saturdays per semester at the CSU Extended Campus - Denver. All courses within the Plan of Study are required.

Plan of Study

Year One


Year Two


Year Three


Year Four

Fall and Spring – subsequent years
How to Apply Open Accordion

Next Application Deadline: March 15, 2024

Note: The department will begin accepting applications in Fall of 2023.

Start your application online and upload materials directly into the online system. You can save your progress and return any time.

Apply Now

1Review Admission Requirements

  • An undergraduate and a master's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution or a CSU recognized international institution is required.
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA
  • Ten to twelve years of advanced experience in a related discipline

Meeting the minimum requirements does not ensure admission to the degree specialization. Admission is based on a number of factors, including prior academic and professional experience, your personal statement, and fit with the program.

2 Prepare Application Materials

Prepare the materials below and upload when you apply online.

Statement of purpose
The Statement of Purpose is summary of long-term professional or personal goals and is required for all applicants. Your statement will consist of two sections: the personal statement and the dissertation topic statement. The Statement of Purpose should be written in 12-point font, double-spaced, with clear headings indicating each section of your document, and include the following:

  • Personal Statement (2-3 pages)
    • Your purpose for pursuing graduate education and how it will contribute to your long-term goals and career plans;
    • Why you have selected Colorado State University as the place to pursue your graduate studies; and
    • A description of teaching, research/creative, or other academic work you have engaged in relevant to the qualifications.
  • Dissertation Topic Statement (3 pages)
    • Dissertation topics are areas of interest that may develop into the focus of your dissertation research.
    • Please provide a one-page statement for each of your three areas of interest with each topic/area of interest clearly indicated.

Two letters of recommendation
Two professional recommendations are required. You will provide information about your recommenders in the online application. CSU will contact them with instructions and a link to a secure form they will submit on your behalf. Appropriate references are:

  • Previous or current college/university instructors
  • Previous or current professional supervisors
  • Colleagues who can verify the specific impact of your professional or intellectual expertise
  • Letters from friends, co-workers, relatives, or character witnesses will be considered supplemental to the three required references

Resume or vita

  • Record of all collegiate work, including institution names, attendance dates, and degrees earned
  • Record of all professional employment, including dates of service
  • List of special skills or competencies, including certifications and licensures
  • List of publications, exhibitions, prizes, awards, or other recognition
  • List of service activities, including community or charity

3 Complete Online Application

Complete the online graduate application and pay the nonrefundable application processing fee (payable online). As soon as you have completed the required information, please submit your application. Your application will not be reviewed until it is complete and all required materials have been received.

  • Select "Education and Human Resource Studies / Organizational Learning Performance and Change (Ph.D.) - Denver" when choosing the program of study.

4 Request Transcripts

Request one official transcript of all collegiate work completed from all institutions attended. Transcripts from Colorado State University are not required. Transcripts must be received directly from the originating institution to be considered official.

Please Note: Students may be unconditionally admitted and registered in their first semester of courses with an unofficial transcript. Official transcripts must be submitted, prior to or during your first semester, before you can register for your second semester of graduate work. Failure to meet this condition will result in your dismissal from the Graduate School.

Electronic (preferred):
Digital Transcripts must be submitted by the originating institution using a secure service such as parchment, eScrip-Safe, the National Student Clearinghouse, or e-Quals. Transcripts received via emails are considered unofficial.

Use institution code 4075 for Colorado State University or if the secure service requires an email address.

Mail (if necessary)
Graduate Admissions
Colorado State University – Office of Admissions
1062 Campus Delivery
Fort Collins, CO 80523-1062

Check Your Application Status

View your application status at any time to ensure your application checklist is complete or to check on updates.

Selection Timeline: Applications received by March 15 will be reviewed immediately and applicants will be notified of a decision within 2-4 weeks after March 15. Applications received after March 15 will be reviewed on a rolling admissions basis.

For International Applicants

Proof of English language proficiency is required for applicants from countries or United States territories where there are official languages other than (or in addition to) English. This includes the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico.

Learn more about English language proficiency requirements.


We love learning about your goals and answering any questions you have.

Alex Broz
Prospective Student Support Coach
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Program Details

In-person at the CSU Spur campus in Denver
$1,100 per credit
Same in-state tuition for all.
Learn more about financial aid and scholarships Tuition/fees are just part of the cost to attend CSU. Learn more about the full Cost of Attendance
Degree Awarded
Doctor of Philosophy in Education and Human Resource Studies; transcript reflects the organizational learning, performance, and change specialization
Time Frame
Can be completed in 3 ¾ years
Admission Reqs.
  • An undergraduate and a master's degree from a regionally accredited postsecondary institution
  • Ten to twelve years of advanced experience in a related discipline
  • Minimum 3.00 GPA

Application Dates

Application Deadline
March 15, 2024

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