Interdisciplinary Studies Curriculum – M.A.

Social Change Leadership Curriculum at Marylhurst

Marylhurst University’s MA in Interdisciplinary Studies is a low-residency master’s degree program that prepares students to better understand and engage our social world so that they can be effective thought leaders, problem solvers, inquirers, and change agents.

As a student, you will develop the knowledge, skills, and experiences necessary to advance your unique educational and professional goals through project-based learning. This graduate degree will enhance your critical and strategic thinking capacities, develop your theoretical and practical knowledge about equity and social justice, and introduce project management, leadership, communication and advocacy strategies for change.


  • Fall Term 2018
  • Application priority date: April 30, 2018
  • No GMAT required for admissions
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Webinar: Learning to Lead Positive Social Change in the World

April 4 | 12:00 – 12:30 p.m

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Interdisciplinary Project-Based Curriculum & Requirements: What You Will Study

To earn your interdisciplinary, leadership and social change master’s degree from Marylhurst, you will complete 48 credits through a series of foundational courses and individualized project-based curriculum. Students complete this master’s degree program in two years in a format designed to accommodate life’s other commitments, including work and family.

Students pursuing this social change master’s degree may transfer 4 graduate-level credits from other graduate level programs.

Program Requirements 

Social Change, Project-Based Courses (48 total credits)

Foundational course requirements will expose you to topics including social justice, social change, project management, politics and public policy, ethics, equity and engagement. As a student, you will begin to research and define an individually-defined project in the first year of the program and accrue hands-on experience implementing the project throughout the second year.

Focus on the importance of effective written communication and scholarship in society while you hone skills in writing, engagement and practice.

How do varied strategies, approaches, and ideas effectively create change to address social problems? Explore process and practices of social change, considering the roles of discourse, media, organizing and advocacy, policy and politics across geographical and socio-cultural contexts.

How do scholarly perspectives help us to understand, discuss, and analyze systems of social inequity and injustice? This course will survey theoretical approaches to social justice, drawing on perspectives from critical social theory, feminist and queer theories, political economy, critical race theory, and ethics.

Project management knowledge makes it possible to achieve organizational goals in a broad array of fields in non-profit,  private, and public service  sectors. This course enhances your understanding of project management by introducing frameworks, processes, and technical tools to effectively plan, manage, and implement projects. You will be exposed to a range of applications and will have the opportunity to develop a project through several stages of implementation.

Develop approaches and conduct research on theory and practice relevant to your individual project. As a student, you will construct project plans, grounding them in foundational, project-specific academic knowledge.

How do we effectively, ethically ask and answer questions and develop plans to address practical, conceptual, and social problems? This course introduces approaches to the application of  theoretical and conceptual frameworks for in-depth analysis of issues relevant to student projects. Consider epistemology, problem-definition, analytical and conceptual frameworks, methodologies and methods in inquiry. You will enjoy the opportunity to assess ethical issues in processes of social engagement, while considering power, privilege, ethics, reflexivity, and positionality.

Create engagement and action plans for your individual project while you explore the centrality of communication in social transformations and change of all kinds. In this course, you will consider how communication is mediated by social, policy, community, institutional, cultural, media, technology, and political economic contexts. The curriculum examines how discourse, framing, and modes of communication shape and are shaped by society in order to understand and develop effective communication strategies.

You will complete and implement a project, applying theory to practice and social engagement.

Work closely with a faculty advisor to further develop your project plan and its academic foundations in theory and practice.

A variety of interdisciplinary topics may be covered. Topics vary from term to term.

Consider a range of theories and strategies for engaging diverse publics and advocating for change. In this course you will examine communication strategies, policy, and politics from interdisciplinary academic and applied perspectives, drawing on contemporary courses, case studies and student projects to inform understanding of strategies for engaging diverse publics.

Consider how to effectively lead change in your own lives and work.  Following project completion, relish in the time to reflect on project development, implementation, and outcomes. You will work collaboratively to communicate key insights, strategies, and identify goals and next steps based on your unique individual project.

Project Based Curriculum

The ideas and issues explored within this social change leadership master’s program turn into projects that directly influence the work of Marylhurst graduates. To give you a sense of the type of projects Marylhurst students might lead within this program, consider these examples of project themes:

  • Internship experience

  • Participatory conversations

  • Curriculum development

  • Organizational training

  • Policy and advocacy strategic development

  • Social media engagement

  • Non-profit development

  • Long-term, collaborative plan development

  Learning Outcomes

As a graduate, your marketable skills will prepare you to engage in social change-related work through non-profits and other socially-conscious organizations. You’ll also be well positioned for further advanced study.

Sample job titles may include:

  • Non-profit Researcher

  • Community Engagement Specialist or Director

  • Policy Advocate

  • Social Responsibility and Engagement Coordinator

  • Organizational Trainer

  Marylhurst Speaker Series

Marylhurst calls on our community to be voices for change. We’ll show how application of a liberal arts education to the real world results in real change and our speakers will address issues around global immigration, racism and sexism, power and privilege, higher education reform, world hunger, and more.

The Marylhurst Speaker Series is hosted by Marylhurst University’s Department of Interdisciplinary and Applied Liberal Arts.

LEARN MORE about the Speaker Series

Get More Information

Ready to further discuss whether or not the Marylhurst social change leadership degree is right for you? Connect with one of our admissions counselors who can answer your questions, email you more information and share steps to get started.

Or, Explore the Social Change Program Further