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    Saybrook University
  Jun 20, 2024
2021-2022 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook 
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2021-2022 Academic Catalog and Student Handbook [Archived Catalog]

Managing Organizational Systems, Ph.D.

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Degree Program Overview

The PhD in Managing Organizational Systems (MOS) explores organizational systems in their professional and global environments. It develops professionals who want to lead as distinctive members in the forefront of their fields.

Students accomplish this by learning organizational systems and much, much more, which provides a base of knowledge and skills they can use in many settings.  The PhD develops strategic leader-managers who work in challenging situations, who need to identify and address complex problems, and who learn to collaboratively design and implement solutions that make a difference.

Today’s organizations are complex systems. Many have globally-dispersed operations and all, regardless of size, are globally influenced every day.  Thus, organizations must be able to recognize and assess forces that impact them. To thrive, they must mobilize the energy and commitment of their people as co-collaborators, as stakeholders who see themselves as leaders, and as willing participants in transformation as the world’s adaptive demands escalate. Expertise in systems-based leadership and management is essential to meet such demands.

The PhD curriculum equips professionals to meet such demands to envision and support the kind of systemic change needed for organizations to be resilient in their 21st Century milieu and to operate in a sustainable and socially responsive manner. It aids professionals to develop innovative, successful systems that respond to the emerging global needs for sustainability while creating the conditions for all within an organization to contribute to their full potential. 

The program offers flexibility to chart a course of study that fits students’ general or specific areas of interest within the broad focus of organizational systems design and transformation, innovative leadership, collaborative management, distributive organizational behavior, and sustainability and social innovation. As the program expands, healthcare and collaborative management will be emphasized in addition to education.

Currently, there are a number of ways to specialize:

  • The general curriculum of the Managing Organizational Systems degree, to capitalize on the broad applicability of systems approaches to pursue their management and leadership interests in any setting.
  • The specialization in Collaborative Strategic Global Management, to focus on developing critical management skills and innovative ways of leading in a global business arena.
  • The specialization in Leadership for Sustainable Organizations, to focus on the challenges of sustainability for any organizational context.
  • The specialization in Educational Leadership, to focus on leadership in the higher education milieu.
  • The specialization in Humane Education, to focus on integrating major aspects of social justice with all levels of formal education. 

Distinctive Features

Systems approaches. Courses cover subjects such as organizational systems design, organizational change models, collaborative systems operations, and applied behavioral science, and systems thinking becomes a hallmark of understanding social systems and situations.

Cross-cutting relevance. The curriculum equips professionals to recognize and create necessary long-lasting social, economic, political, and structural changes by learning how to build responsive solutions with systems-oriented principles and approaches that can adapt and transfer across organizational contexts.

Real-world emphasis.

  • Application-focused. Professionals develop more sophisticated systems analysis and solution-building by applying their high-level theoretical knowledge to work needed in the trenches of current issues and chosen professions.
  • Crossing disciplinary boundaries. The program evolves a culture of recognizing the value of gaining knowledge and practice from multiple disciplines to inform context-specific systems interventions and to be able to communicate across professions.  
  • Change, adaptive innovation, and transformation. Through immersion in systems thinking and analysis, professionals recognize why 21st Century economic, environmental, and social challenges demand innovative leadership to transform people and organizations with adaptive capacities to thrive while changing the way they engage such challenges.   
  • The human-information-technology interface. Professionals learn to use the systems-advantage in assessing and designing information-flows and technical resources to support the efficiency and effectiveness of stakeholders at all levels of organizations and partnerships from local to global.
  • Collaboration and communication. Professionals apply skills in systems thinking and analysis to drive the design and implementation of collaborative systems for diverse individuals, teams, and organizations to communicate multiple perspectives and approaches to solutions, and to coordinate their routine work and innovative initiatives.

Program Learning Outcomes

Managing Organizational Systems PhD Students will be able to:

  1. Assess, design, lead, manage, and evaluate complex organizational change initiatives in their chosen professions, places of work, and in the wider global community;
  2. Apply systems thinking to conduct environmental analysis which includes internal and external conditions, create strategies to design, deploy, and evaluate collaborative solutions for pursuing organizational and community level opportunities and challenges;
  3. Operate within a consistent framework of individual and collective ethics and social responsibility;
  4. Practice and promote self-awareness, appreciation of diversity, and constructive dialogue to initiate and maintain authentic relationships, leadership, and sustainable collaboration;
  5. Design and conduct systematic and systemic research that employs robust evidence-based critical analysis that is rooted in scholarship and practice (praxis).
  6. Distinguish, analyze, and critically assess competing leadership/followership theories and concepts;
  7. Integrate core theories and concepts of leadership through individual reflection and intellectual projects.

Program Requirements of all Ph.D. degrees in Managing Organizational Systems

The total doctoral degree is 65 - 80 credits. Besides the research focused courses, there are 9 foundational courses in leadership, organizational behavior and systems and professional ethics, and 5 elective courses which can focus on specialized areas of study if a student wishes. Students usually take 3 courses per semester. The average time to complete the doctoral degree is 5 years. Students enrolled in the Institute for Humane Education (IHE) specialization complete 8 foundational Managing Organizational Systems courses and 6 specialization courses.

Residential Requirements: Participation in twice-annual, 5-day residential conferences is required until enrollment in dissertation begins (i.e., until after the completion of the 3 candidacy qualifying essays and successful completion of the essay oral exam).

Transfer Credit Policy:  Transfer credits, to be considered, must have been (a) awarded by a regionally accredited university, (b) earned at the graduate level (master’s or doctoral), (c) earned at the grade level of B or better and (d) evaluated by the Department Chair as equivalent to a degree course for which a substitution is appropriate and conceptually fit with the degree program course of study. While transfer credit policy may vary by degree and specialization no more than 12 credits may be transferred. 



Below are the course requirements for the Ph.D. in Managing Organizational Systems (without declared specialization). 

Recommended Semester 4

  • Specialization or Elective Course #1 (3 credits)
  • Specialization or Elective Course #2 (3 credits)
  • Specialization or Elective Course #3 (3 credits)

Recommended Semester 5

  • Specialization or Elective Course #4 (3 credits)
  • Specialization or Elective Course #5 (3 credits)

Candidacy Qualifying Essays and Research Practicum

Recommended Semester 8-9-10 (Applicable to students enrolled in Spring 2020 and beyond)

Electives - No Declared Specialization

PhD Students who do not declare a specialization take 15 credits of elective coursework based upon their interests. Students choosing this option can select from the list of electives below or courses in the designated specializations that do not need pre-requisite coursework.  Courses related to the Humane Education specialization are not included. These courses comprise a complete program of study and thus can only be taken as part of this particular specialization. Students can also take courses in the Transformative Social Change and Humanistic Psychology Programs, as well as courses from the College of Integrative Medicine and Health Services with permission of the DLM Department Chair.                                                                                                                                                     

Total Credits: 66

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