College of Education and Human Development

Department of Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development

Human resource development PhD

in Organizational Leadership, Policy and Development

Become an expert in developing individuals and organizations to unleash productivity. This Human Resource Development (HRD) track program prepares you to conduct research and provide sophisticated consultation into how workers acquire new knowledge and skills, relate to one another in complex social environments, and transition to management and leadership positions. You will learn how to see HRD theories and practices in larger economic, social, and political contexts, and you will be able to chart organizational paths for growth in those contexts.

Your contributions to research will help organizations and systems all over the world better understand ways in which to create fair and equitable environments for their workforces, design programs that support workers and prevent burnout, and promote professional growth and satisfaction in employees.


Doctoral students in Human Resource Development gain the capacity to:

  • Teach leadership, adult education, and human resource development courses.
  • Serve as training and development consultants on program design and implementation.
  • Resolve complex organizational and relational issues through innovative training and performance improvement techniques.
  • Develop sophisticated measurements to analyze and diagnose organizational challenges.
  • Conduct original research in the field and derive transferable insights and applications for local-to-international clients and industries.


  • Faculty at a college or university
  • Director of organizational effectiveness
  • Head of organizational learning and development
  • Executive coach or consultant


Departmental core (16 credits)

Professional socialization seminar

  • OLPD 8011—Doctoral Research Seminar I (1 cr) [Take Fall term of first year]

Research courses

  • OLPD 8015—Inquiry Strategies in Educational and Organizational Research (3 cr) [Take Spring term of first year]
  • Quantitative course (3 cr inside or outside of department; with approval of advisor)
  • Qualitative course (3 cr inside or outside of department; with approval of advisor)
  • Additional methods courses (6 cr; with approval of advisor)

Total PhD credits required

48 credits of HRD coursework + 24 thesis credits = 72 total credits

Specialization (9 credits)

Courses must have advisor approval.

  • One OLPD 8xxx level theory seminar (3 cr)
  • Two or three 8xxx level seminars offered by various HRD faculty (2-3 cr each for a total of 6 cr)

Thesis credits (24 credits)

All Ph.D. students are required to register for 24 semester thesis credits after completing the preliminary oral exam. The 24 credits must be taken over two or more terms.

  • OLPD 8888—Thesis Credits: Doctoral

Additional Research Courses (9 credits)

In addition to the research/methodology courses mentioned in the department core the following are required for students in the HRD track.

  • 3 cr statistics course selected in consultation with advisor
  • OLPD 8603— The Capstone Research Experience (6 cr.). This course is offered every other year. When it is offered take six credits over two semesters, three credits to be taken in fall semester and three credits to be taken in spring semester. Is usually taken during the second year or third year if the student is full-time.

Additional coursework (14 credits minimum)

Minimum of 14 credits required. These credits can be used to meet the requirement that a minimum of 12 credits be taken outside the HRD track or for a minor. Courses not specifically listed should have advisor approval.

How to apply

    Admission Deadline

    December 1 for a Fall semester start. Fall semester start only.

    Applicants may only apply to one OLPD track.

    Applications are not complete until ALL required materials and fees have been received. If anything is missing, your application may not be considered until the next review date the following year. It is strongly recommended to apply at least two weeks before any submission deadlines.

    Applications are processed by the Graduate School. A decision for admission notice will be emailed to you once your application is carefully reviewed by the department's admission committee and your transcripts and any credentials (test reports, diploma copies, etc.) are authenticated by Graduate School officials.

    Admission Requirements

    Degree: Master's degree or equivalent

    GPA: Undergraduate 3.0; Graduate 3.4

    Note: Applicants should not submit GRE scores, as they will not be considered in the review process.

    TOEFL/IELTS Scores (Not required for U.S. students):

    • TOEFL: Internet based = 79 or above
      (21 writing/19 reading)
    • IELTS = 6.5

    Tuition and funding

    Tuition information: CEHD | OneStop

    Financial aid: CEHD | OneStop


    If a graduate student in an OLPD program has become inactive they must follow the readmission procedures.

    Whether you seek reactivation after accidentally being discontinued this term or want to return after a long absence these are the steps needed to re-apply.

    1. Complete the proper online readmission application.

      If you have been away from the program less than five years use the Express Readmission Application and email it to All others must submit the Online Application for Readmission
    2. Once received, the department will forward your application to the appropriate admissions committee. Readmission decisions are normally determined by the program’s admissions committee, not any one individual faculty member.

      Readmission is never guaranteed. Decisions for readmission are based on a review of previous progress toward degree completion, the proposed timeline for completion, the availability of faculty resources, and/or any additional application materials they may request from you. Individual programs/tracks reserve the right to readmit students under the current graduate program requirements, rules, and guidelines. They may also request an applicant to provide additional information prior to making a decision.
    3. Once the committee makes their recommendation, the department’s DGS will sign off on the decision and forward the result to the central Graduate Admissions Office for processing. Once processed, you will be notified of the decision.

    Individual department programs and tracks reserve the right to require readmitted students to retake coursework if they deem it appropriate. Readmitted students are also required to abide by current time-to-degree policies as determined by the University, which may differ from the policy in place when they first started the degree program.

    Individuals seeking readmission to the Ph.D., Ed.D., and M.A. program tracks in the former EDPA, WHRE, and WCFE majors can only reapply to the appropriate program track under the Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development (OLPD) major name.


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