What Careers Can You Land With an EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership?

From leadership positions at top-tier companies to breakout roles in consulting, Kim Hirabayashi from USC Rossier School of Education shares the top organizational change and leadership career paths.

What does it take to be a leader in the top of your field?

While job experience and talent are certainly needed to reach the heights of your career, some leaders find they need more training and support to drive lasting, systemic change within their organizations.

If that’s the case for your career path, USC’s Doctor of Education in Organizational Change and Leadership online (OCL online) may be the very asset you’re missing.

The EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership online program teaches students how to create and lead innovative and capable organizations, whether that’s a private firm, a nonprofit, a college, a government entity or other corporations. Students enroll in courses that specifically focus on leadership, problem-solving and self-reflection.

Although it’s clear the degree — offered by USC Rossier School of Education — can be an advantage to any leader, what specific career opportunities are available after graduation?

To gain a deeper understanding of the job possibilities for OCL online graduates, we spoke with Kim Hirabayashi, professor of clinical education and OCL online program chair, about what prospective students can gain from the program.

What to Expect in the EdD in OCL Online Program

When it comes to how she would personally describe the EdD program and the kind of cohort it attracts, Hirabayashi explained that students are experienced, established leaders who are committed to their professional fields and organizations.

“This is a program for people who really want to understand how to be better leaders, and how to address some of the systemic problems and practices they experience as a part of their professional roles and that they’ve had to handle,” she said.

In the OCL online program, which requires a minimum of six years of proven leadership experience, students focus on how learning and change occur in a workplace, how to foster inclusive and transparent leadership, and how to communicate goals and implement a vision. After concluding the program, which takes about three to four years, students are then ready to tackle various roles.

What Jobs Can You Land With a Doctorate in Organizational Change and Leadership?

The OCL online program prepares students for a myriad of interdisciplinary roles that can be applied to essentially any industry or sector. Naturally, the opportunities are very leadership-focused, with titles including president, CEO, chief learning officer, higher education administrator, professional development manager, health care administrator, nonprofit director, human resources manager and more.

Many students enter the program with a specific vision of how they want to advance in their organization, according to Hirabayashi. Some remain at their existing companies and move up, while others gain the necessary skills to become stronger leaders in their current positions.

That’s not the only outcome, however, after completing the program. Students do make career moves, Hirabayashi noted, often to larger workplaces or new fields entirely.

Another common career choice for OCL graduates? Consulting.

“Consulting is a big move, especially because graduates have the academic preparation to pair with their professional experience. That makes them valuable as consultants — they’ve been able to take what they’ve learned in the program and in their professional realms to help other organizations address problems,” she explained.

Others, Hirabayashi noted, move into the academic world, choosing to use their years of professional experience and what they’ve learned in the OCL program to educate others. She’s witnessed several students go on to become part-time faculty or adjunct professors at universities.

“They’re really focusing on passing along what they’ve learned both in their academic lives and their professional lives to other students and those who are in similar positions … I’m always pleased when they go into positions where they engage in more mentorship and support newer leaders or other students,” she said.

Should You Consider the OCL Online Program?

Clearly, the opportunities are ubiquitous and varied for OCL online graduates — but is the program for everyone?

When it comes to the qualities that will make someone succeed in the program, Hirabayashi said it’s not only a commitment to improving themselves, but also a dedication to making their organizations and industries a better place. It’s those two qualities above all else (as well as the years of experience) that make for a great candidate for the program.

“[They need] a willingness to really engage in self-reflection about our own practices and our biases, the stereotypes we hold, and how those have affected our professional practice and our leadership. We need a commitment to reflecting on ourselves and addressing equity within our organizations and fields, to the development and attention to historically marginalized groups and the ways in which we address those inequities,” she said.

To thrive in the program and to become a true leader, introspection is crucial. You must be willing to engage in conversations that may be uncomfortable, especially in the workplace, to drive true change, according to Hirabayashi. In fact, reflection is one of the OCL online degree’s three main tenants (with the other two being leadership and problem-solving).

“The OCL online program is for leaders and practitioners who want to engage in those deep conversations [as well as] reflect and interact with the literature and research needed to improve their own practices. I think that requires a lot of openness. If students are willing to engage in that — and with each other — then we very much welcome them and want them to be here,” she concluded.

Learn more about the EdD in Organizational Change and Leadership online program today.

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