College of Engineering, Technology, and Computer Science

About Organizational Leadership


What is OLS?

OLS stands for Organizational Leadership and Supervision. It’s an innovative degree program found at Indiana University—Purdue University Fort Wayne ( IPFW) as well as at IUPUI, Purdue’s main campus, and other regional campuses. OLS prepares students for supervisory positions, for jobs in human resource management or human resource development, and for leadership positions at all levels within organizations. People working in a wide variety of jobs have sought the skills and knowledge taught in the OLS curriculum.

How is it different from a business program?

The OLS curriculum focuses on the human interactions occurring in all types of organizations, both profit and non-profit. The emphasis is on leadership, team development and facilitation, organizational behavior, and human resource management. In contrast, most business programs focus on concepts and skills related to commerce. Typically business programs feature a great deal of quantitative courses (e.g., finance, accounting, economics), whereas Organizational Leadership and Supervision’s courses tend to concentrate on understanding and leading people.

What do students learn?

OLS students learn how to create better-functioning organizations and more satisfied and productive workforces. More specifically, they learn:

  • Research-supported leadership principles
  • Cutting edge human resource practices
  • To understand their own behavior better
  • About teams and how they develop
  • To recognize and respect individual differences
  • To analyze group processes
  • To handle conflicts as they arise in group situations
  • To use communication techniques to influence and motivate
  • To design and evaluate training programs
  • To create positive organizational climates and cultures
  • To create a workforce that is a source of competitive advantage

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it does illustrate the strong “people management” orientation of the OLS curriculum.

How do students learn?

Although OLS faculty use a variety of pedagogical approaches, they lean heavily toward experiential learning methods. They employ learning projects, cases, discussions, presentations, writing assignments, and other active learning methods. The goal of all OLS professors is to maximize student learning. As such, they continually adapt and refine their teaching methods to achieve that result.

What kinds of jobs do students obtain after graduating with an OLS degree?

OLS graduates end up in a variety of jobs. Please go to careers in the field for a sample listing of positions held by graduates.

Where do the instructors come from?

The full-time OLS faculty at IPFW have practical work experience as well as terminal degrees (e.g., doctorates). The OLS faculty are active researchers who publish their work in top journals and in books. That helps them stay up-to-date on the latest research and avoid fads that so often come and go in the business world. Please go to the faculty profiles for more information regarding the OLS professors.

Our part-time instructors also are well-prepared to teach in the program. All have at least a master’s degree and bring to the classroom significant work experience. OLS part-time instructors are employed in a vast array of organizations and hold positions in a variety of fields such as human resources, safety, and law.