Program Overview:

Undergraduate Organization Behavior Major

Organization behavior is an interdisciplinary major that combines the theoretical understanding of an organization’s influence on the behaviors and attitudes of individuals with practical applications of that influence within an organization. The major gives students a broad conceptual foundation, drawing upon insights from management theory, social psychology, sociology and communication studies, while developing the communication and analytical skills needed to pursue careers in management, consulting, human resources or entrepreneurship.

Developed collaboratively by schools across Northwestern University, including the Kellogg School of Management, the School of Communication, and the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, the major offers a curriculum taught by instructors with expertise in both the theory and practice of organizational behavior. Students in the major develop an understanding of how organizations work, while acquiring sophisticated communication skills and a quantitative competency.

Program Goals

Graduates will be prepared to:

  • Integrate principles of organizational behavior with other social sciences, communication studies, and the fundamentals of finance and accounting for application to real-world scenarios
  • Demonstrate analytic, communication, collaborative and problem-solving skills
  • Lead, communicate, and work effectively with diverse individuals and teams across organizations
  • Analyze the effects of behavior at the individual, team and organizational levels on an organization
  • Demonstrate ability to make the crucial decisions required of leaders of complex organizations


Distribution Requirements

Organization Behavior Major Requirements

  •           Communication Foundation
  • COMM ST  205  Theories of Persuasion

    This course will provide a survey of persuasive theories with an emphasis on the civic, interpersonal and commercial dimensions of persuasive efforts. Students will be introduced to the vocabulary and concepts necessary to create and to critique persuasive acts, including media theory and rhetorical theory. The course will rely on contemporary examples of persuasion from a wide variety of sources and students will acquire practical skills relevant to their performances as professionals, citizens and scholars.

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  • COMM ST  250  Team Leadership and Decision Making

    This course simulates how teams can and should work together and how teams make decisions in "the real world." Ideally, success in this class will help students succeed in other team settings on campus and elsewhere. Theories and research relating to the various processes by which leaders make decisions, affect group behavior, and engage groups in a variety of task- and strategy-related outcomes is covered, and group communication is stressed, with a particular emphasis on change and conflict.

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  • COMM ST  360  Theories of Organizational Communication

    This course examines theories and research dealing with communication in formal organizations and institutions. Various models of organizational communication are introduced, as well as historical and current research in the field. Students learn to analyze and integrate theory and research and apply what they learn to current organizations.

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  • ENGLISH  205  Intermediate Composition: Business Communication

    This course is designed for students who have experience with college-level writing but who want to sharpen their writing and communication skills. Students learn to apply measures of excellence in business writing and communication. Assignments relate to business environments, including audience analysis, persuasive writing, verbal and interpersonal communication, and document design and graphics. Writers gain experience writing in collaborative environments. Students produce multiple drafts and receive feedback from their peers and the instructor.

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  •           Organization Behavior
  • ORG BEH  301  Organization Behavior

    This course covers the interaction of individuals in formal organizations. Theory and research are integrated with cases and exercises to develop an understanding of the dynamics of motivation, communication, group decision making, leadership, intergroup relations, power, and conflict. Students are encouraged to apply this knowledge to managing relationships with superiors, subordinates, and colleagues in their own work settings.

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  • ORG BEH  307  Leadership Principles and Practice

    This course introduces the theory and practice of leadership: the capacity to mobilize group resources to affect fundamental change in organizations. Topics include understanding organizations as complex social systems; the difference between leadership and authority; navigating the politics of competing factions within organizations to achieve shared goals; emotional intelligence and the emerging neuroscience of leadership; the role of personal presence in establishing trust in leader-follower relationships; and the role of leadership in creating an environment in which risk-taking and innovative solutions are encouraged. The classroom, as well as students' experiences, become case studies in leadership.

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  • ORG BEH  310  Organizational Change

    This course is an in-depth investigation of the forces driving organizational change and their impact on people and structure. Today's emphasis on quality, service, and efficiency has created great urgency for change that runs counter to other factors (e.g., a mobile labor force, uninspired leadership, and intense global economic pressures). The byproduct is often cynicism, self-preservation, and confusion--ingredients for disaster. Yet some organizations thrive; this course examines why, and explores change drivers and dynamics across organizational settings and situations ranging from major corporate mergers to not-for-profit politics.

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  • PSYCH  204  Social Psychology

    This course will survey the field of social psychology, which is the study of how social forces and social relationships shape individual thinking and behavior, with a focus on the classic studies and enduring topics in the field. Sample topics include: the self and self-esteem, altruism, aggressive behavior, close relationships, stereotyping and prejudice, and behavior in groups. Students will also be exposed to recent research and current debates on these topics.

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  • SOCIOL  302  Sociology of Organizations

    Organizations are a central part of society. From work to school to sports, organizations play a critical role in structuring our lives. In this course we will consider the nature of organizations, various ways that organizations function, and how we can better navigate within these systems. Throughout the course we will consider questions around individual autonomy in the face of organizational structures. We will pay particular attention to push toward increased standardization in the workplace and our lives.

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  •           Analytical Foundation
  • ACCOUNT  201  Introduction to Financial Accounting

    The content of this course is designed to provide students with a firm understanding of the financial accounting process, to include identifying, recording and communicating accounting information to external users. The course will discuss Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), and explain how their framework fosters the relevance and reliability of financial statements. Students can expect an introduction to the techniques of accounting and the accounting profession with an emphasis on organizing information for decision making and the information needs of creditors and equity holders. Topics include financial statements, transaction analysis, accrual accounting, cash management, inventories, receivables, long-term and intangible assets, liabilities, stockholders' equity, cash flow statements, and financial statement analysis.

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  • FINANCE  202  Introduction to Finance

    An introductory course covering the basic concepts and models used in finance. Explores the mathematics and spreadsheet modeling techniques used in evaluating various financial assets, including stocks and bonds. Also surveys the risk-return tradeoff in financial markets and how investors gauge risk, as well as the basic concepts of Markowitz's mean-variance portfolio theory. The nature and impact of interest-rate risk on financial institutions is considered, and the duration of a financial asset is introduced in this context. Introduces the efficient market hypothesis and its implications for personal investing and corporate finance.

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  • SOCIOL  226  Sociological Analysis

    This course examines the methods and the logic social scientists use to generate their findings. Throughout the course students will use various methods to conduct their own preliminary research. The aims for this course include building both a theoretical basis for understanding and evaluating social research findings as well as developing practical skills for conducting research.

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  • STAT  202  Introduction to Statistics

    This course provides an introduction to the basic concepts of statistics. Throughout the course, students will learn to: summarize data using graphs and tables; explain/calculate descriptive statistics, confidence intervals, correlation, regression, and probability; and explain tests of significance and data-production including sampling and experiments. Basic knowledge of algebra is recommended.

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  • 3 300-level courses in organization behavior or communication studies focused on organization behavior