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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

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Non-Traditional Students are becoming the New-Traditional Students through AOS Degree Program

The Applied Organizational Studies Program (AOS) growing population of adults and working professionals who are coming back to higher education seeking to complete their degree, advance their careers, or reinvent themselves professionally. The flexible online program targets students who have completed their 2-year degree or made significant progress in completing their general education courses and who come to MSU Mankato with a diversity of credits that could be applied toward a degree without making the student start over on their journey to graduation. AOS students can complete the entire program online or they have the option to take a mixture of online classes with face to face classes on our Mankato campus or at the Minneapolis-St Paul based partnership locations.

What is Applied Organizational Studies (AOS)?

What makes an organization successful? How do people across the globe work together to solve common problems and achieve common goals? What common elements are shared by businesses, non-profit organizations, and public sector agencies? These are all questions that are answered in Applied Organizational Studies. Employers across the US tell us that technical skills can be learned on the job in many cases while the employment success skills of critical thinking, emotional intelligence, collaboration, creativity, communication, and logic are expected to be learned prior to starting the job. AOS embraces this philosophy and works with students to prepare for a career and not just a single job or position within an organization.

Why do we call it applied?

While the AOS program is based on scholarly theory, the curriculum is contemporary, real world, and readily implementable whether at your current job, at home, or in your volunteer work in the community. Students are encouraged to draw from their own personal experiences and share them with their fellow students to increase the knowledge of the collective student body. Our faculty are real world professionals with hands on experience working nationally with a variety of organizations from private business to government, non-profit, as well as self-employment.

Where do the AOS students come from?

Whether you live in Mankato, Minneapolis or anywhere on the globe with Internet connectivity you can earn your degree at MSU Mankato in Applied Organizational Studies. The student body is made up of students that stepped out of their college journey for work, family or other personal issues and are now ready to re-engage, utilizing their work and life experiences to ground their education. The personalized nature of AOS is well suited to working parents, individuals with disabilities, veterans and currently serving military personnel, and professional athletes who are unable to attend face to face courses or participate in courses that meet synchronously.

How does it work?

The program starts with a review of your academic transcripts to identify all courses that could be applied toward the 120 credit degree requirements. Students who are missing general education requirements (from the Minnesota Transfer Curriculum ) are matched with online courses to complete them. A student’s lower division (100-200 or 1000-2000 level) technical credits from any major are transferred and then students will make up the remaining upper division credits (300-400 level) from two areas: AOS Courses- Students are required to take a minimum of 2 courses in AOS. The first is an introductory course that helps students understand themselves and their academic journey to graduation. The final course a student takes in AOS is a professional portfolio course that helps students to articulate their academic and professional strengths for future employment and/or graduate studies pursuits. In addition to these required courses there are a host of elective courses in AOS that cover topics such as virtual collaboration, the gig economy, diversity and multicultural communication, entrepreneurial thinking, leadership and followership, and social enterprise. AOS students are also allowed to self-design a professional project study that encourages application of AOS topics in the real world that offer an opportunity for students to showcase their skills and talents in their community and place of work while earning college credits. Topic Courses- Students can take any upper division courses at MSU Mankato that fit into one of three topic areas: Critical Thinking and Decision Making in Organizations, Organizational Leadership, and Communication in Organizations. Program advisors and the faculty help students identify courses that meet the criteria and align with the student’s interests and professional needs.

What makes AOS different than other degree completion programs?

AOS is a program that recognizes that non-traditional students live real lives with many obligations and that the need a personal and not institutional approach to earning a degree. Whether you found you didn’t have the time, the money or the drive to complete your education before, we are here when you are ready to bring your life experience to the classroom and help us work collectively to build the next generation of community and organizational innovators. The other unique aspect of AOS is the personal approach that academic advisors take in helping students to make every credit earned count toward graduation. The faculty continue this personal approach in the curriculum by challenging students to reflect on their own personal strengths, talents, experiences, and knowledge to become scholar-practitioners able to succeed academically, personally, and professionally.



I would recommend the AOS program to anyone who is ready to graduate, but is unsure of what they want to do. That is exactly where I was at the beginning of the semester. After this class I feel as if I have a better understanding of where I want to go in life and what I want to do after graduation. A recent AOS Student

More information about the AOS degree and other online and distance education programs can be found at the University Extended Education's site —View Programs