UT Austin's 15-month Master's Degree designed for working professionals. An innovative graduate program offered by The University of Texas at Austin.


Master’s Degree: 15-Month Program • Weekend Classes • Distance Learning Option


Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) is an innovative graduate program at UT Austin designed for working professionals. 

By exploring diverse disciplines such as psychology, history, literature, sociology, philosophy, and anthropology with some of the University’s best professors, an HDO Master’s degree will give you the tools to: 

  • Discern the root causes of why businesses and nonprofits actually work, and why they often don’t. 
  • Understand how and why the key components of organizations—people—behave and work the way they do. 
  • Develop leadership skills to create lasting and effective change in organizations of any size or type. 

HDO courses are led by UT Austin’s top faculty and cover topics such as leadership, communication, ethics, change management, and decision-making.

HDO’s practice-oriented curriculum draws on disciplines in the humanities and social and behavioral sciences. This multidisciplinary approach develops students into well-rounded “internal consultants,” ready to tackle a wide range of organizational challenges. There are no exams; assessments are designed to provide students with practical skills for professional success. 

Each cohort consists of experienced professionals from a diverse range of fields, allowing for an exchange of problems and solutions across sectors. All students complete a Capstone Project, allowing them to draw on what they’ve learned to tackle an organizational problem of their choice.


“Innovation can’t simply be ordered up. To create and sustain an innovative culture, you have to go beyond being managers to becoming leaders. HDO can play a fundamental role in this transformation.”

– Craig Wynett, Chief Learning Officer, Procter & Gamble; HDO External Advisor


Information Sessions

HDO holds information sessions on the UT Austin campus, in cities across the state, and online throughout the year. Click below to RSVP for an upcoming session. Each session covers a variety of topics related to the program, including:

  • Program Overview & History
  • Course Structure & Curriculum
  • Advisors & Faculty
  • Assignments & Capstone Project Examples
  • Admissions & Tuition
  • Q & A

Upcoming Sessions

Austin Info Sessions:
  • UT Main Campus:
  • IC² Institute (2815 San Gabriel St.):
Dallas/Fort Worth Info Sessions:
  • Dallas: Informational Happy Hour (Magnolia Hotel Dallas Park Cities / 6070 N Central Expy):
  • Fort Worth (Fort Worth Public Library / 500 W 3rd St):
San Antonio Info Session:
  • San Antonio (McNay Art Museum / 6000 N New Braunfels Ave):
Houston Info Sessions:
  • Houston: Informational Happy Hour (The Westin Houston Downtown / 1520 Texas Ave):
  • Houston (Hilton Garden Inn / 12245 Katy Fwy):
Online Info Sessions:
  • Online:
  • Online:
  • Online:

Visit an HDO Master’s Class

Get firsthand experience of the curriculum you can expect as an HDO Master’s Degree student. Faculty and current students are welcoming and happy to answer your questions about the program during breaks.

Class Visits: Upcoming Available Dates

Fall 2019 Semester
HDO 381: Individual Perspectives on Organizations
Dr. Elizabeth Keating
November 1
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
November 15
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
HDO 390: Qualitative Research in Organizations
Dr. John Traphagan
November 2
8:30 am - 11:30 am
November 16
8:30 am - 11:30 am
HDO 383: Society, Culture, and Diversity
Dr. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza
November 2
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
November 16
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
HDO 285: Organizational Ethics
Dr. Dan Bonevac
November 2
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm
November 16
3:30 pm - 5:30 pm

If you are interested in visiting a class, please complete this brief form (including an up-to-date résumé and/or LinkedIn profile link) and we will follow up to confirm your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the difference between an HDO Master’s Degree and a…?
Master’s in Organizational Development or Organizational Psychology?

Programs in Organizational Development and Organizational Psychology often approach issues of improving organizations from the perspective of psychology. These programs explore issues of culture and change within organizations as well as techniques for training employees within a company. The typical graduate of these programs works in the organizational development function of a company.

The HDO program takes a different approach: we train our students for a variety of positions within a company including management and leadership roles. Our focus is broader than that of programs in organizational development or organizational psychology. Because our faculty come from across the humanities and the social and behavioral sciences, HDO introduces students to human-centered concepts rooted in a wide range of disciplines. The skills HDO provides give our graduates a multidisciplinary toolkit that allows them not only to identify an organization’s problems, but also to solve them in new and creative ways.

Master’s of Business Administration (MBA)

MBA programs generally have a strong focus on finance and accounting. The programs are also strongly focused on strategies and processes for running businesses. There may be one class in a curriculum that focuses on people skills (what are sometimes called “soft skills”), but they are not the primary focus of the program. MBAs provide invaluable insight into the how of business.

Simply stated, the HDO program explores the why of organizations. Each HDO Master’s cohort includes individuals from a wide variety of vocational backgrounds, including business. Our goal is to generate interactive and innovative class discussions based on the variety of our students’ professional experiences. Further, we focus on people as individuals, groups, and cultures, with an eye toward helping organizational leaders to change behavior in organizations, increase productivity, and maximize employee engagement. HDO introduces students to timeless approaches people have taken to address “people problems.”

Master’s in Human Resources?

Degrees in human resources are certainly concerned with the human element of businesses. However, the HR function within companies must comply with many regulations at the local, state, and federal level concerning hiring, firing, and the workplace. HR groups also have to implement evaluation processes, and many HR programs compare and contrast particular evaluation programs. These HR-specific functions are not a focus of the HDO program.

HDO provides a new way of thinking about human resources, in the broad sense of the term. Those who specialize in HR may gain a great deal from our curriculum, especially in terms of making regulations, training, and onboarding more accessible and productive for employees and managers.

Do I have to follow the curriculum as is? Can I take fewer/more classes per semester than the curriculum indicates?
The HDO Master’s degree was envisioned and designed as a 15-month (four-semester) cohort-based program. This format enables students to take advantage of synergies that develop among their colleagues and across the curriculum. As of now, all HDO Master’s students are required to follow the prescribed curriculum with their cohort. Students may request a leave-of-absence in extenuating circumstances.

When are classes held?
Classes are held approximately every other weekend, running from 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm on Friday evenings, and from 8:30 am – 6:30 pm on Saturdays (depending on the semester’s credit hours, classes may end before 6:30 pm).

There is one intensive period at the start of the Fall I, Spring, and Summer semesters (there is no intensive week in the Fall II semester), running from Wednesday to Sunday. During the intensive periods, classes are held all day Wednesday through Sunday, with some social events and other gatherings in the evenings.

All students (including distance learners) are required to be on campus for each intensive period. Distance learners may participate in all other class meetings virtually.

How much work experience do I need to be a successful HDO applicant?
At least three years of professional experience is required to be considered competitive for admission to the HDO Master’s program. Student experience provides an invaluable addition to classroom discussions and group projects. Having a significant amount of professional experience also ensures that students can apply their HDO education effectively. Most HDO Master’s students enter the program with at least five years of work experience.

What type of people are admitted to the Master’s program?
HDO Master’s applicants come from all industry sectors and education backgrounds. The key element that unites all HDO students is their recognition that a better understanding of people is essential for organizational improvement.

The admissions committee works to create a cohort with backgrounds in many different fields. The goal of this method of cohort formation is to ignite productive discussions about the ways people work in groups, often regardless of vocation.

View biographies of the current Master’s cohort.

How much time should I expect to devote to studying/classwork per week?
Generally, students can expect to dedicate approximately 10-12 hours per week to their work in the HDO program. This includes reading, studying, and projects. On class weeks, much of this time will take place in class.

Does the program offer students coaching/counseling on how to best use the HDO degree to advance my career?
Yes, all HDO Master’s students have access to individual and group sessions with a highly trained career coach. These sessions are included in program tuition. The career coach understands the HDO curriculum and philosophy and its applicability to the business, government, nonprofit, and military sectors.

Whether your goal is advancement within your current organization or moving on to a new job, these sessions will help you determine the best way to move forward after completing your HDO education.

How much is tuition for the program?
The total cost of the HDO Master of Arts program is $60,000, payable in installments. This is a pay-one-price program, meaning that your tuition covers class registration, all books and materials, access to university services (such as libraries and gyms), as well as meals on class weekends and meals and lodging during the intensive weeks. Additional tuition-related information is accessible under the “Admissions” tab.

Is there financial aid for this program? Are there scholarships or fellowships available?
Financial aid is available to HDO students. For more information on financial aid, please contact the Office of Student Financial Services (Osfs.qc1@austin.utexas.edu).

Many HDO students also receive financial support from their employers to cover tuition. HDO staff is happy to speak with your employer about the many ways in which your pursuit of an HDO Master’s degree will be beneficial to them.

Beginning with the fall 2019 admissions cycle, we are launching a fellowship program that will reduce tuition for the program from $60,000 to $40,000. In the first year, one fellowship will be awarded to a student who works in the nonprofit sector, but we plan to increase the number of fellowships in future years.

The form for fellowship consideration will be sent to applicants who are selected for an admissions interview.

How do current HDO students cover the cost of tuition?
HDO students have several options for helping to pay for their tuition fees, including partial or full reimbursement from their employers (as mentioned above), student loans/financial aid, or Veteran’s Benefits. HDO staff will work with you to devise a payment plan that best meets your needs.

Beginning with the fall 2019 admissions cycle, we are launching a fellowship program that will reduce tuition for the program from $60,000 to $40,000. In the first year, one fellowship will be awarded to a student who works in the nonprofit sector, but we plan to increase the number of fellowships in future years.

The form for fellowship consideration will be sent to applicants who are selected for an admissions interview.

(for UT employees) Can I use the Staff Educational Benefit to cover tuition for the program?
Unfortunately, the Staff Educational Benefit (SEB) is not currently eligible for the HDO Master of Arts degree. HDO is a classified as an Option III program and the SEB does not apply to Option III programs at this time. For more information, please consult this page.

HDO Master's Program Admissions

Because HDO Master’s students bring diverse strengths and experiences to the graduate program, the committee carefully considers all criteria supporting a candidate’s application. Applicants must possess at least three years of career-level work experience to be considered for admission.

Incomplete applications are not considered by the admissions committee. Each candidate will be carefully considered by the committee and may be asked for an interview (by phone or in person). Interviews are by invitation only.

GRE/GMAT Waiver: Because of the nature of HDO and its students, we offer a waiver for the test requirement in certain circumstances. Waiver Requirements: An undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher in all upper-division coursework and one of the following:

  • Already having completed an advanced degree (MBA, JD, PhD, etc.)
  • Five or more years of career-level work experience
Please complete the waiver request form to see if you qualify. After submitting your waiver request form, proceed with completing your application, gathering transcripts, contacting recommenders, etc. Once all of your required transcripts have been submitted, please email our Program Coordinator Rolee Rios and she will contact the Graduate School to formally request your waiver. You can keep track of admission documents via your MyStatus page.

Fall 2020 Admission

Apply Now

Application Deadlines:
January 15, 2020: Early admission deadline for U.S. citizen and permanent resident applicants; Admission deadline for international applicants
March 15, 2020: Admission deadline for U.S. citizen and permanent resident applicants
There are a limited number of spots available for each HDO Master's cohort. Admissions decisions for January (Early Admission) applicants will be made prior to the March deadline (Regular Admission), offering early applicants the chance to join HDO before the cohort reaches capacity.


A Completed HDO Application Includes:

To view detailed application procedures for the HDO Master's Degree program, click here.
  • A bachelor’s degree in any discipline from a regionally accredited college or university (or a comparable degree from a foreign academic institution)
  • Official university transcripts
  • A grade point average of 3.0 in upper-division coursework and graduate work, if applicable
  • An official GRE or GMAT score taken within the past five years (or an approved GRE/GMAT waiver; see above)
  • Foreign students are required to submit TOEFL scores
  • A résumé or CV detailing relevant work and academic experience
  • Two essays based on the following questions:
    • Please explain your interest in joining the HDO program. What particular skills are you hoping to develop through the types of coursework HDO offers? Responses should be approximately 500-words.
    • Each HDO student will complete a Capstone Project, which is a research-based study using the lens of the humanities or social sciences. The Capstone Project is a student’s opportunity to research an organizational issue in-depth. What research question might you explore through the Capstone? To review topics that past HDO students have considered, click here. Responses should be approximately 500-words.
  • Three letters of recommendation (these may be professional and/or academic in nature)
  • Payment of application fee (due upon submission of application)


The cost of the HDO Master's Degree for the entire 15-month program is $60,000.* This flat fee includes all of the following items:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Lodging and meals during intensive start-of-semester weeks in Austin, TX
  • All textbooks and other course materials
  • Group and individual sessions with HDO's Career Coach
  • Program software, technical infrastructure and access to research databases
  • Access to The University of Texas at Austin resources

*A $700 per-semester surcharge will be added for distance learners.

Tuition Payment Schedule

Payment Period Amount and Due Date
Deposit $1,500 (non-refundable; due upon acceptance of admission)
Fall I Tuition $16,500 (due August 1)
Spring Tuition $14,000 (due January 1)
Summer Tuition $14,000 (due May 1)
Fall II Tuition $14,000 (due August 1)
For information on available financial aid, click here.

HDO’s curriculum is unique in its balance of the conceptual consideration and practical application of ideas.

Our coursework requires students to examine real-world challenges through a variety of disciplinary lenses. Students will learn to draw on a range of approaches to analyze, consider, and improve the structure and function of organizations.

HDO's External Advisory Board assisted faculty in developing the HDO Master's Degree curriculum and continues to provide feedback to ensure that HDO classes address key issues facing today's business and nonprofit organizations.

The degree requires 36 credit hours spread across four successive semesters: Fall, Spring, Summer, and the following Fall. These classes include a two-semester core course; nine courses offering depth in topics relevant to the degree; and 6 hours dedicated to the completion of a Capstone Project during the final semester of the program. All courses are required and taken in a prescribed sequence.

Upon successful completion of all program requirements, The University of Texas at Austin confers a Master of Arts in Human Dimensions of Organizations.

Each semester has a particular focus that prepares students to complete their Capstone Project, which is a research project and presentation requiring students to use their new skills to change real-world situations within organizations.

Course List

Fall I Semester: 11 Total Credit Hours

HDO 381: Individual Perspectives on Organizations (3 Credit Hours)
This foundational course provides a general introduction to the roles of individuals’ relationships to organizations from a multidisciplinary perspective. It balances breadth with depth and is designed to give a coherent overview of the HDO degree as well as assist students in developing their capstone projects. The course focuses explicitly on managing large-scale projects that involve data.

HDO 383: Society, Culture, and Diversity (3 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course examine multidisciplinary frameworks for understanding society and culture in organizations. Students will be encouraged to draw on a range of approaches and materials to consider how and why diverse groups intersect, fail, or succeed in group environments. The effects of gender, race/ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, and globalization on organizational change may be discussed.

HDO 390: Qualitative Research in Organizations (3 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course learn qualitative approaches to studying people in organizational settings. Approaches may include narrative, phenomenology, grounded theory, ethnography, case studies, and others. Students will learn how to design, conduct, and analyze qualitative research.

HDO 285: Organizational Ethics (2 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course explore ethics as they pertain to organizational contexts. Students will understand the philosophical underpinnings of ethics, examine case studies of ethics in organizations, and develop an ethical stance in their own organization.

Spring Semester: 12 Total Credit Hours

HDO 380: Cultural Perspectives on Organizations (3 Credit Hours)
This foundational multidisciplinary course provides a survey of various group dynamics that affect the internal and external effectiveness of organizations. It balances breadth with depth and is designed to give a coherent overview of the HDO degree as well as a starting point for the capstone project.

HDO 384: Organizational Inertia, Decision-Making, and Change (3 Credit Hours)
Students are exposed to theories and methods for understanding how organizational environments support habits, and how individuals and groups make decisions. This work is then put into practice to explore methods for organizational change.

HDO 382: Approaches to Leadership (3 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course examine broad aspects of leadership in organizations through a variety of disciplinary lenses. Students will be encouraged to draw on a range of approaches and materials in considering and discussing what makes a leader effective and how circumstances influence a leader’s success.

HDO 391: Quantitative Research in Organizations (3 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course learn quantitative approaches for studying the human dimensions of organizations. They will examine the mechanics and assumptions of common methods in quantitative methods, including experimental design, survey research, and quantitative coding of archival data. The course emphasizes students’ ability to know and identify what types of research questions are best-suited to the different quantitative approaches. Students will also review the types of data that various designs produce, and learn about some basic statistical assessments of quantitative data.

Summer Semester: 7 Total Credit Hours

HDO 386: Persuasion and Argumentation (3 Credit Hours)
Students taking this course learn how effective persuasion works within organizations and at the individual level. Drawing from multidisciplinary perspectives, students will also learn how to examine and evaluate persuasion, and how to persuade others.

HDO 287: The Structure of Organizations (2 Credit Hours)
Students will be exposed to a multidisciplinary approach to understanding how money, information, and influence flow through organizations and between related organizations. Students learn theories of organizational structure from disciplines including anthropology, political science, and sociology. They are exposed to methods for analyzing the structure of organizations and markets.

HDO 289: Writing and Researching Organizations (2 Credit Hours)
Students examine various approaches to organizational writing and research. They will learn how to plan, organize, and execute and organization-based research project.

Fall II Semester: 6 Total Credit Hours

HDO 695: Capstone Project (6 Credit Hours)
With the approval of the graduate advisor, each student will complete a capstone project that must be written, submitted, and presented. This capstone project is the culmination of the work in the MA and, when possible, should consider a problem in the student’s own organization.

Course Descriptions and Availability Are Subject to Change.

Attend classes in real time, from anywhere in the world.

For those unable to commute to Austin, HDO has developed a distance learning program for its Master’s degree students. There is a $700 per semester surcharge for distance learners. This fee covers the technology that enables HDO’s distance learners to be fully interactive with their in-class colleagues.

Distance learners attend class in real time via our virtual classroom and participate actively in classroom discussions. Distance learners are also required to be on campus for the intensive weeks at the beginning of the Fall I, Spring, and Summer semesters; however, they may participate in all other class meetings virtually.

Selecting the distance learning option does not lock you into this choice for the duration of the program. Distance learners are always welcome to attend classes in-person when their schedule permits.

Distance learners are required to successfully complete the same requirements as students taking courses on campus. Because distance learners may join HDO courses from anywhere, this option is ideal for those looking for international networking opportunities.

Information for Prospective Students and Employers

Brochure: Master's Program (Prospective Students)

View the brochure below. Download here.

Brochure: Master's Program (Employer's Guide)

View the brochure below. Download here.

HDO Professional Training 

View the brochure below. Download here.

If you have questions regarding the HDO Master’s degree or would simply like to discuss particular issues related to the program, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Each staff member's areas of specialty are listed below, but feel free to reach out to any of us.

Dr. Amy Ware, Director
amy.ware@utexas.edu | 512-232-7338
Key contact for discussing program structure, program history, curriculum, applicability to your current role and/or professional goals

Dr. Art Markman, Founding Director
markman@utexas.edu | 512-471-3820
Key contact for discussing program history, curriculum, employer support, applicability to your current role and/or professional goals

Lewis Miller, Assistant Director
lewismiller@utexas.edu | 512-232-8330
Key contact for discussing information sessions and other recruitment events, HDO's Professional Training options for groups and individuals 

Rolee Rios, Program Coordinator
rrios@austin.utexas.edu | 512-471-9140
Key contact for discussing applications/admissions, registration, tuition and financial aid

Alyx Dykema, Events Program Coordinator
alyx.dykema@austin.utexas.edu | 512-232-7343
Key contact for upcoming event information, Professional Training registration questions, distance learning support

Miles Husid, Marketing Coordinator
miles.husid@utexas.edu | 512-232-4407
Key contact for Master's Degree informations sessions and other recruitment events, Professional Training questions, marketing collaboration/parntership opportunities

Jessica Crawford, Senior Administrative Associate
jessica.crawford@austin.utexas.edu | 512-232-7343
Key contact for meeting and other scheduling requests, tuition questions, student billing information


Who should apply to the HDO Master’s program?

The HDO program is tailor-made for working professionals. Our degree program is offered on a distinct schedule so that students can maintain their careers while working toward their degree. Applicants must have at least three years of career-level work experience to be considered for admission.

In the video below, HDO’s Founding Director, Dr. Art Markman, explains how working professionals will benefit from pursuing an HDO’s Master’s degree.


In the video below, Dr. Elizabeth Richmond-Garza explains how the program provides a unique education experience and highlights why she is so passionate about teaching in HDO.



Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO): Higher Education at The University of Texas at Austin offering an Executive Master's Degree, Professional Training programs, and a Bachelor's Degree