A program at UT Austin is attracting leaders from across industries, from healthcare to energy to education. Human Dimensions of Organizations (HDO) is the first program of its kind in the nation, providing a deep, comprehensive understanding of how human behavior and experience impact organizational success and efficiency. Born out of a need to understand the people who drive today’s global marketplace, the HDO program has designed a master’s degree and professional certificates that address a range of challenges from organizational leadership and strategy to change management and motivation.

Designed for working professionals, HDO boasts a robust 15-month master’s program led by top UT Austin faculty, covering topics including leadership, ethics, decision-making, and communication. This curriculum empowers students 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 any organization — people and their behavior — work the way they do.
  • Develop leadership skills to create lasting and effective change in organizations of any size or type.

“Everything I learned at HDO I leverage every single day,” says Michelle Jack, Master’s Class of 2018. “As a Vice President with over 100 people reporting to me, I had this incredible opportunity to work on a project that would develop the third largest building in the United States. Coming from a finance background, I could’ve pursued an MBA program, but I really needed to supplement my technical skills with managerial and people-focused expertise.”

Who is the typical HDO student?

HDO students come from a wide range of professional backgrounds. Each cohort consists of diverse leaders (and aspirational leaders) from the business, military, nonprofit, and governmental sectors. In short, there is no HDO “student profile,” as professionals from all backgrounds realize that gaining a better understanding of human behaviors and motivations can advance their goals. 

The skills HDO provides give students a multidisciplinary toolkit, allowing them to not only identify an organization’s problems, but solve them in new and creative ways.

HDO’s professional training options combine cutting-edge research with real-world application, providing attendees with immediately relevant tools for solving key problems. Additionally, many HDO seminars are taught by the same faculty who designed the master’s program. These one-to-four-day programs are designed to enhance the portfolios of mid- and upper-level professionals.

HDO training supports entrepreneurs, too.

Dr. Art Markman, Vice Provost of Academic Affairs and founder of the HDO program says, “HDO students are equipped to lead organizations and teams through extreme uncertainty, communicate effectively and manage constant change.” Dr. Markman, having published more than 150 scholarly works on cognitive science, organizational behavior and decision-making, adds, “solving the many current global crises requires a deep understanding of human behavior and motivation covered in each HDO course.”

Technical expertise is required in particular organizations for workplace success. However, recognizing motivations and behaviors, communicating cross-functionally and thinking strategically to solve complex problems are the skills that create transformational leaders. When asked to describe the HDO experience in one word, alum Michelle Jack replies, “transformational.”

Learn more about the HDO program at UT Austin.