At roughly 75 majors, organizational studies is one of the largest majors in The University of Tulsa’s Kendall College of Arts & Sciences. From social sciences, media, and arts to business administration, the program provides students a wide range of knowledge and skills, rather than limiting them to a single discipline. But as a so-called “discovery major,” the big question is: What is organizational studies?
The curriculum allows students to study the organizational behavior and structure of public and private organizations. Courses offered from Kendall College and TU’s Collins College of Business provide students with a wide breadth of knowledge that unlocks the complex world and provides the tools to succeed.
Organizational studies was introduced to the College of Arts & Sciences in spring 2007 by then-Associate Dean Kalpana Misra, who would later become director of the program. “We were looking for an interdisciplinary program that could meet the needs of students who were attracted to a number of areas of study and less interested in choosing or focusing on a single discipline. We had a certain idea of what courses drew such students,” said Misra. “Then-Dean Tom Benediktson and I put our heads together and came up with the curriculum for organizational studies.”
The result was a unique program incorporating the arts and humanities, social and behavioral sciences, and economics and business curriculum. While most other peer and aspirational institutions have organizational studies as a track, typically in anthropology or sociology, TU’s major is its own program.
Known as org studies, it introduces students to the contributions of individuals to an organization and promotes their understanding of organizations as collectives. How do individuals come together to make a productive, efficient, successful group? And what impact do they have on society and industry? Including disciplines like sociology, anthropology, and psychology in the program helps students study humans as individuals and in groups. “But then organizations are also productive and efficient because of good management, marketing, and public relations,” said Misra. “It made sense for us to look at business, marketing, and management.”
By making the org studies program interdisciplinary, Misra and Benediktson offered students more choices to expand their knowledge. “The aspect of the organizational studies program that appealed to me most was the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills I would gain,” said alumna Katharine Nipp Newbury (BA ’22). “I was really intrigued that the major combined aspects of communications and psychology with business.”
When she began to approach her senior year, Newbury made the decision to pursue a career in either human resources or industrial-organizational psychology, and her org studies major equipped her with the breadth and depth of knowledge to be successful in any industry or career that she chose. Her time in the College of Arts & Sciences and College of Business provided her with many mentors who helped her explore her career options and advocated for her when she applied for post-graduate opportunities.
Newbury currently works as a lead compensation analyst for ArcBest, a third-party logistics company located in Fort Smith, Arkansas, while pursuing her master’s in human resources and industrial relations. “My degree in organizational studies equipped me for success in both my professional career and my continuing educational endeavors. My degree has been invaluable to me as a professional and as a master’s student,” she said.
Like their education, the careers that org studies alumni have pursued are incredibly diverse. Public policy analysis, for-profit and nonprofit management, education administration, sales, marketing, law school, and other graduate or professional schools are just a few examples. “The program offers students such a wide range of choices,” said Misra. “They’d say, ‘Well, why not try this?’ And then that could be a career that they go off into.”
The program, guided by the arts and humanities-focused curriculum, offers students and alumni the flexibility to pivot to any industry or career. “Organizations are pervasive. They’re everywhere,” said Misra. “This is a degree that can apply to industry, to business … It can apply to anything.”