MSLOC Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

MSLOC Program Celebrates 10th Anniversary

The Master of Science in Learning and Organizational Change program (MSLOC) at the School of Education and Social Policy marks its 10th anniversary with a celebration this spring. Since 2002 the program has expanded by offering community, innovation and the marriage of theory to practice — and it now encompasses students from around the world.

In honor of the program’s anniversary, alumni are sharing their memories online — on topics from friends to first encounters, retreats to course packs — on This new online memory bank was launched by alumnus and entrepreneur Jason Becker (MS11). His MSLOC capstone research looked at the "lived experience" of entrepreneurs. 

Then on May 5, alumni, faculty and staff will gather at the Allen Center for an evening of festivities that include talks, comedy, activities and awards.

The MSLOC program began in 2002 with the goal of understanding sustainable change in organizations and preparing leaders of strategic change. Jeanne Egmon, now a research associate professor at Kellogg School of Management, was the first director.

Kimberly Scott, who became director in 2005, emphasizes learning as a way to create change in organizations. "Focusing on people and individual growth is important — for individual and organizational success," says Scott, who has studied healthy companies and brings practical experience from 10 years' work as a manager and a consultant for several Fortune 500 companies.

Historically, today's MSLOC program evolved from two earlier SESP graduate programs: Corporate Training and Development, and Organizational Development and Workplace Learning. This evolution has followed progress in the field, where the focus has shifted from training to knowledge about talent management and human capital, according to Scott.

Assistant director Terri Cramer sees a broader range of students coming to the program. "Since our start, our student community has always featured a diverse mix of occupations and interests. Now that we attract students from all over the United States, we find that we still have people who come to our program to launch or further develop their careers in human performance consulting, but we have many others — architects, lawyers, corporate and not-for-profit leaders, entrepreneurs, and educators, to name a few — who want to belong to a learning community that challenges them to think completely differently about the impact they can have on their respective fields and on their places of work. The common desire they all share is to become better leaders and advocates for positive change."

In the last few years, noteworthy milestones for the program have included a change in the degree name and the inauguration of a Foundations course. In 2006, graduates of the program began receiving a master’s degree in learning and organizational change instead of a master’s in education and social policy. The Foundations course, which started the same year, introduces students to the program’s project-based learning approach and provides an overview of key ideas related to organizational function and behavior, applied cognition, and learning theories.

In 2009 MSLOC introduced an alternative schedule option, which combines online with in-person course work and allows students from across the nation to earn the degree or a certificate.  As a result, now nearly 20 percent of MSLOC students reside outside the Chicago area.

In addition, MSLOC continues to lead with innovative use of technology to support the program, including web conferencing, desktop video conferencing, Google applications, blogs, wikis and social media. The aim of all of MSLOC’s technological initiatives is to build a learning community where students learn from each other, according to Jeff Merrell, associate director.

Looking to the future, Scott plans to retain the elements that have made the MSLOC program a success. "We'll continue to foster one common learning community among our students, no matter where they live or whether they are full-time, part-time, degree or certificate students. We'll continue to focus on innovation in the classroom and ensure that we integrate both theory and practice in a way that matches the career interests of our students. We'll continue to engage faculty who are experts in their field.”

"But MSLOC takes a multidisciplinary approach to learning and organizational change. So change is in our DNA. In the near future, we're integrating design thinking and design methodology more broadly across the program. We're pushing further in the use of social technology as an integral part of learning and knowledge sharing for the program. Beyond that, we'll continue to seek out important new ideas and approaches and build them into our program. That's what makes this field so much fun," says Scott.

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Master's in Learning & Organizational Change

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2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7376