Skip to Content


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 and research courses falling in successive terms (first core in fall, second core in winter, senior research in the following fall, with some exceptions for study abroad or other off-campus programs).

Due to this sequencing, the OS program requires at least 3 full terms (Fall/Winter terms) on campus to complete after joining the program.  

Because the curriculum is so rich and diverse, Organizational Studies has created a planning tool called the OS Pathway. OS Pathways allow 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: 

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

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
  • Econ 251 Intro to Stats and Metrics II (Prerequisites: Econ 101, 102 & Math 115)
  • Econ 451 Intermed Stats and Metrics I (Prerequisites: Math 116 or 118)

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)

For honors students, please note that two research courses are required.

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 courses
  • Only 2 200-level courses may count in the Cluster requirement

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

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 summer term. Upon completion of the internship, the internship supervisor must submit a letter on company letterhead to the Student Services Coordinator. Students register for the ORGSTUDY 299 during the fall term after their summer internship. OS students interested in registering for this course should e-mail the OS Advisor prior to the summer internship.

ORGSTUDY 305 Inside Organizations
(3 credits; typically offered in the winter term only)
Required Core course
for all OS juniors on campus and for all OS seniors who went abroad during the winter semester of their junior year.

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; typically offered in the fall term only)
Required Core course
for all OS juniors on campus and for all OS seniors who have not previously completed the course.

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)
This class can be used to fulfill Cluster A or C requirements (student choice).

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)
This class can be used to fulfill Cluster A or C requirements (student choice).  

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 420 Nonprofit Organizations
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
This class can be used to fulfill Cluster B or C requirements (student choice).

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)
This class can be used to fulfill Cluster B or C requirements (student choice).

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 430 Corporate Social Responsibility: Emergence, Practices, and Critiques
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

This class can be used to fulfill Cluster B or C requirements (student choice).

Corporations today have a greater impact on their social and natural environments than ever before in human history. This course investigates calls for corporations to behave in "socially responsible" ways as well as critiques of the concept and practices of "corporate social responsibility." 

ORGSTUDY 435 Transformation of Higher Education
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

This class can be used to fulfill Cluster A, B, or C requirements, student choice.

American higher education is in crisis. Lawmakers have withdrawn public funding, increasing costs to families are making college less accessible to the disadvantaged. Yet digital technologies introduce potential for change. This course considers these challenges through an organizational lens. Students will develop possible solutions to a problem facing higher education.

ORGSTUDY 490 Advanced Research Team
(3-4 credits; offering terms vary)
This course may vary clusters by term, 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 Org Studies: Organizations and the Natural Environment
(3 credits; offering terms vary)
This class can be used to fulfill Cluster B or C requirements (student choice).

In this seminar, we will investigate the impact of formal organizations on the natural environment. Drawing on readings from sociology, anthropology, ecology, and business, we will consider how organizations of all kinds--for-profit, non-profit, and government--have shaped both our social understandings of the natural environment and the character and health of the natural environment. This course will bring together students from Organizational Studies and the Program in the Environment. No past experience in the study of either organizations or the natural environment is necessary.

ORGSTUDY 499 Independent Study 
(1-4 credits)
Does NOT count as credit toward OS Major Requirements

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

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, and they DO NOT fulfill requirements 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.

ORGSTUDY 201 Leadership and Collaboration
(3 credits; Fall term)

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. Students who take ORGSTUDY 201 may also take ORGSTUDY 202 in the following winter semester. This course satisfies the LSA Social Science distribution credit.

ORGSTUDY 202 Practicum Leadership and Collaboration
(3 credits; Winter term)

Student teams will implement and evaluate projects developed in ORGSTUDY 202. This experiential learning class will use reading and discussion, practical exercises and team-level coaching to help students to identify, understand, and develop key leadership skills.  

This course is part of the LSA Sophomore Initiative. Students must take ORGSTUDY 201 in the fall semester or have the permission of the instructor in order to register for this course.

ORGSTUDY 203 Activism
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

Students will learn about the history of social movements in the US and other nations, as well as transnational social movements. They will study theories of social movement participation, strategies, tactics, and dynamics and apply these theories to historical, current, and hypothetical examples of activism. Students will also learn techniques for planning, implementing, and evaluating activist events. This course satisfies the LSA Social Science distribution credit.

ORGSTUDY 204 Nonprofits
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

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 208 Business and the Natural Environment 
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

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.

ORGSTUDY 215 Organization and Society
(3 credits; offering terms vary)

This course is a survey course designed for freshman and sophomore students who wish to have a broad introduction to the field of organizational sociology. This class is designed to introduce students to a distinctively organizational approach to understanding human action and outcomes. In addition to developing facility with basic ideas and conceptual tools drawn from sociology and organizational theory, you will learn to apply an organizational  mindset to the analysis of particular fields of endeavor.

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