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The OS curriculum contains core and elective courses offered by the OS Program, but the majority of the curriculum is made up of classes drawn from departments across the university. Courses included in the OS curriculum can cover a very broad range of academic fields and topics, but must be in some sense “organizational” in their content or approach.

It is important to note that the OS Program is designed to be a two year academic program. The curriculum is intended to be progressive, with core courses being taken in the first fall term in the program, and research courses taken in the second fall term in the program.  Study abroad and off-campus domestic programs are encouraged, but work best in the winter terms.

Due to this sequencing, the OS program cannot be completed in one academic year.

Because the curriculum is so rich and diverse, Organizational Studies has created a planning tool called the OS Pathway. OS Pathways allow OS majors to plan their trajectory and navigate through the array of courses available.

Students must apply for and be accepted into the major. Only students admitted to the program can be declared majors. Before joining the OS Program, students must complete prerequisites that prepare them for the program in several vital disciplines. Following the prerequisites, the OS major requires a minimum of 34 credits distributed across several broad areas:

  • Core Requirements provide the foundational knowledge for the major.
  • Cluster Requirements (A, B, and C) are designed to provide disciplinary variety in the study of organizations, drawing on courses in a number of fields, and ranging across multiple levels of organizational analysis.
  • Quantitative Skills and Senior Research Capstone requirements give students the tools necessary to engage in various types of research in organizations, and provide the opportunity for real-world experience in organizational research.

Details and course lists for each requirement area are below, and an OS Curriculum Worksheet is also available for your reference.

Prerequisities to the major

Prerequisites to the major:  Students must complete an introductory course in microeconomics, psychology, and sociology. Courses required as prerequisites are:

  • Economics 101
  • Psychology 111, 112, 114 ,or 115
  • Sociology 100, 102, 195, or 300 

AP/IB credit is acceptable to fulfill the Psychology and/or the Economics prerequisites. Transfer credit may also be used to fulfill prerequisites, with the exception of online Economics courses, which are not accepted for credit at UM.

Students should be aware that additional prerequisites are required for many of the upper-level courses in the OS curriculum. Depending on their particular area of interest, students may wish to complete Econ 102 and/or entry level courses in Political Science, Communication Studies, or other areas of interest as they prepare to apply to the OS program.

Organizational Studies Core Requirements

Core requirements:  Two courses are required, both in the first fall term after joining the program: 

  • ORGSTUDY 305 Inside Organizations
  • ORGSTUDY 310 Formal Organizations and Environments (fulfills ULWR)

See the Organizational Studies Courses for OS Majors for course descriptions of ORGSTUDY 305 and ORGSTUDY 310.

Quantitative Skills Requirements

Quantitative Skills (choose one): 

  • Soc 210 Elementary Statistics
  • Stats 250 Intro to Stats and Data Analysis or Stats 280 Honors Intro Stats

All courses listed above also fulfill the LSA Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

Senior Research Capstone Requirement

Senior Research Capstone (choose one option):

  • Orgstudy 410 Advanced Research Methods in Organizational Studies (OS senior cohort only) OR
  • Orgstudy 497 & 498 OS Honors Research I & II (OS Honors students only)

OS 410 is offered in the Fall term only.  For honors students, please note that two research courses are required (typically OS 497 in fall and OS 498 in winter).

Cluster Requirement

Cluster courses must be chosen according to the following guidelines:

  • 2 courses in Cluster A
  • 2 courses in Cluster B
  • 3 courses in any Cluster (A, B or C)


  • 2 of the 7 cluster courses must be ORGSTUDY 300/400-level courses
  • Limit of 2 200-level courses in the Cluster requirement
  • Limit of 2 cluster courses taken off the AA campus

Definitions of each cluster, along with lists of courses that fall in Clusters A, B and C are indicated here.

Organizational Studies (ORGSTUDY) Courses for OS Majors

ORGSTUDY 299 Undergraduate Internship
(1 credit; Credit/No Credit)
Does NOT count as credit toward OS Major Requirements.  ALA 225 can also be used by OS students to receive internship credit, and has a lower number of required hours (visit the Opportunity Hub website for ALA 225 information).

Students who are required or wish to receive credit for an internship experience, can register for this course. Students must complete at least 320 hours during the course of the internship. Upon completion of the internship, the internship supervisor must send an official email to the major advisor. Students typically register for the ORGSTUDY 299 during the fall term after their summer internship. OS students interested in registering for this course should email the OS Advisor prior to the summer internship.

ORGSTUDY 305 Inside Organizations
(3 credits; Fall term only)
Required Core course
for all OS juniors in fall term

This course offers an overview of the psychology of people in organizations, broadly defined. Topics will focus on social dynamics in organizations, including employee motivation, influencing others, decision-making, cooperation, culture, leadership, and teams, to name a few. The format of the course will comprise lectures, general discussions, and smaller seminar discussions. To complement the standard reading material, case studies will also be read as a common touchstone for analyzing and discussing psychological phenomena in a real world organizational context.

ORGSTUDY 310 Formal Organizations and Environments
(3 credits; Fall term only)
Required Core course
for all OS juniors in fall term

This course provides OS students with a survey of theory and research on formal organizations from sociological and economic perspectives. The course emphasizes multiple levels of analysis in organizational theory from internal structure and practice to organization-environment relationships. Students apply theories to existing case studies and develop original case research over the course of the term.

ORGSTUDY 405 Negotiation and Dispute Resolution
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
Fulfill Cluster A requirement

Based on psychological research on negotiation, conflict resolution, and social influence, this course aims to provide students with the theory-driven skills they need to become effective negotiators. Students will participate in in-class negotiation exercises, mini-lectures, and discussions on a weekly basis.  By the end of the term, students will have learned the fundamentals of distributive and integrative bargaining as well as an array of social influence strategies – all through the lens of theory – in order to succeed as a negotiator.  They will also become adept at analyzing every negotiation experience from the perspective of various psychological concepts and theories.

ORGSTUDY 410 Advanced Research Methods in Organizational Studies
(4 credits; typically offered in the fall term only)
OS Seniors only - Senior Research Capstone Credit

This course is an advanced exploration of the methods used in conducting organizational studies research. Students expand their abilities to conceptualize, design, implement, report, present, and critique research. Students learn through review and discussion of research methods, as well as their direct application in short assignments and a semester-long, team-based research project. Methods examined in the course include, but are not limited to, surveys, interviews, participant observation/ethnography, archival research, social network analysis, and experiments. Students build skills in presenting research and discuss research ethics.

ORGSTUDY 415 Networking
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
Fulfills Cluster B requirement

This course explores the relationship between formal and informal social networks and the dynamics of organizational processes. Networks may be based on friendship, technical expertise, family, authority, sexual relations, common interest, political alliances, electronic communication, or many other factors. We consider a variety of theories of networks (e.g., small worlds, the strength of weak ties, structural holes) and apply them to topics such as Facebook friendships, social movement activism, the choice of sexual partners, and advancement within a corporation. We will give special attention to the question of how to "use" networks to attain organizational objectives. Computer applications will be emphasized, though no specialized computing knowledge is prerequisite.

ORGSTUDY/ENVIRON 418 Leadership and Environmental Stewardship
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
Fulfills either Cluster A or B requirement (student choice).

This course focuses on the skills and strategies that can help you become a more effective leader for the environment. Students will learn about the importance of decision-making, influence, and teamwork for implementing organization change and innovation towards greater environmental stewardship. We will focus on the different roles that leaders take in addressing environmental strategies within and across for-profit, not-for-profit, and governmental organizations. Students will also analyze and reflect upon their own personal goals and challenges as environmental leaders.

ORGSTUDY 420 Nonprofit Organizations
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
Fulfills Cluster B requirement.  Students cannot receive credit for both OS 204 and OS 420.

In the first half of the course, we will pose and answer questions about the nonprofit sector’s emergence in the United States; its changing relations with government and with the for-profit sector; the current state of the nonprofit sector; and its likely future. Attention to the nature of civil society abroad will shed light on the unique role of nonprofits in the U.S., while comparative analyses of different domains of U.S. nonprofit activity (the arts, education, healthcare, etc.) will provide an in-depth understanding of the processes and issues that divide and structure the nonprofit sector internally. In the second half of the course, drawing on readings in law, public policy, and business, we will develop practical knowledge of the special challenges that come with managing and working for a nonprofit organization. Among the topics we will take up in this half of the class is the formulation of nonprofit mission and strategy; the management of relations with boards, committees, volunteers, and employees; and marketing and fundraising for nonprofits.

ORGSTUDY 425 Interest Group Politics
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
Fulfills Cluster B requirement

This course examines the ways that citizens, firms, and institutions struggle to gain representation through organized interest groups in the United States. We attempt to negotiate an understanding of groups that neither quixotically champions their representative functions nor cynically decries their supposed omnipotence. Instead, we situate groups within a larger context of multiple actors and institutions vying for political influence. We use an organizational perspective to evaluate this behavior. The course begins by establishing several frameworks for evaluating interest group politics. We then explore how groups face dilemmas of collective action and (sometimes) overcome them through the formation of social movements and lobbying organizations. We consider how groups form relationships with political parties and other political elites in Washington, DC. We evaluate group strategies for lobbying Congress and achieving influence over elections, bureaucratic decision making, and judicial processes. The course concludes by evaluating the place of interest groups in the broader American political system.

ORGSTUDY 490 Advanced Research Team
(3-4 credits; offering terms vary)
This course may vary clusters by term and section, depending on the topic offered.

Students participate in small research teams with OS faculty on their current research. Students in the research teams will conduct experiments and surveys, analyze data, and discuss findings with OS faculty. Research areas have included Psychology of Competitive Advantage, Social Movements and Political Parties, US Knowledge Economy, Leadership and Organizational Identity, and various other areas.

ORGSTUDY 495 Special Topics in Organizational Studies
(3-4 credits; offering terms vary)
This course may vary clusters by term and section, depending on the topic offered. 

This course investigates topics relating to structure and function of organizations. Topics vary by section and term.

ORGSTUDY 499 Independent Study 
(1-4 credits)
Does NOT count as credit toward OS Major Requirements unless approved by individual petition

The course used for individual independent study projects with a faculty supervisor. Due to credit variations, it does not count toward OS major requirements unless approved by individual petition.

Please refer to OS Waitlist Policy regarding overrides to any of these courses.

Organizational Studies (ORGSTUDY) Courses for ALL Students

Please note: These 200-level ORGSTUDY courses are not prerequisites for the OS major. They are intended to give freshmen and sophomore students an introduction to the field of organizational studies from various disciplinary perspectives, but can also be counted toward OS major requirements.

ORGSTUDY 201 Leadership and Collaboration
(3 credits; Fall term).  Fulfills Cluster A requirement.

This is a project-based class that uses organizational sociology, psychology, economics, and political science to ask what good leadership is and how people can be effective leaders when they lack formal authority.  

This course is part of the LSA Sophomore Initiative and satisfies the LSA Social Science Distribution requirement.

ORGSTUDY 204 Nonprofits
(3 credits; offering terms vary). Fulfills Cluster B requirement.  Students cannot receive credit for both OS 204 and OS 420.

This course is an introduction to the nonprofit sector. It focuses primarily on the history and structure of the nonprofit sector in the United States; contemporary debates concerning the function and impact of the nonprofit sector; and key differences between the U.S. nonprofit sector and those in other countries.

ORGSTUDY 205 Psychology of Inequality
(3 credits; offering term varies). Fulfills Cluster A requirement.

This course examines psychological theories about why intergroup prejudice, discrimination, and inequality are so ubiquitous, both in organizations and beyond. We consider the possibility that human evolution predisposes us to be biased in favor of the groups we belong to over other groups, and explore how human motivation and social context work in conjunction to produce behavior that either increases or decreases social inequality.  

ORGSTUDY 208 Business and the Natural Environment 
(3 credits; offering terms vary). Fulfills Cluster B requirement.

This course offers a broad introduction to the study of business and the natural environment, integrating insights from sociology, psychology, and economics. It begins with an overview of the triple bottom line framework, in which corporations take into account social and environmental performance in addition to financial performance. Then it focuses on contemporary business activities that address the natural environment.

Please refer to OS Waitlist Policy regarding overrides to any of these courses.