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Graduate Certificate: Problem Solving for Leading Change



Why this certificate?

The purpose of this certificate is to examine how one’s problem-solving style may influence how one solves problems, works in a team, leads change efforts, and acts as an agent of change in society. Solving complex problems and leading change can be a convoluted non-linear process and with many variables to consider. However, one key and often ignored variable is problem-solving style, which is how one prefers to solve problems (measured by the KAI). Problem-solving style indicates if a person is inherently more adaptive (prefers making things better) or more innovative (prefers making things different) when solving problems; which is completely independent of intelligence. Kirton’s Adaption-Innovation theory is a common theme throughout the coursework, which provides explanation to how more adaptive and more innovative individuals may work together to lead change. Because we are all problem solvers, we are all agents of change, and we can all choose to lead..

Program Outcomes

This graduate certificate will complement Virginia Tech graduate students’ academic education through the following learning outcomes:

  • Evaluate the research literature regarding problem solving, problem-solving style, teamwork, and social change in light of contemporary theories.
  • Examine the stages of problem solving, group development, and change management as they relate to each other.
  • Propose practical solutions to identified societal problems by first identifying existing systems as an agent of change.


This certificate requires completion of four courses (3 credit-hours each). These courses include:

LDRS 5534: Cognition, Problem Solving, and Preferences for Change
    taught online:  Fall

LDRS 5544:  Leading Teams through Community Change
    taught online:  Fall

LDRS 5554:  Leading Social Change
    taught online: Spring

LDRS 5904:  Project and Report (schedule after completion of coursework)

It is preferred that courses are completed sequentially as presented, but not required.

Admission & Conferral

Admission to the Graduate School and completing a Graduate Certificate Application are required for all students.  For both degree-seeking and non-degree-seeking students, the Graduate School requires completion of a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA of 3.0 or better for admission to Certificate Status.  Applicants with an undergraduate GPA < 3.0 may qualify for Commonwealth Campus admission.  Students pursuing a degree and a certificate simultaneously are classified within their degree program.  Certificate credits may be used to meet degree requirements if they are appropriate for inclusion on the degree Plan of Study.  When all requirements have been satisfied, participants will submit an Certificate Conferral Request conferral to have the certificate added to their academic transcript.  Participating students should complete the Application for Graduate Certificate Program.

For more detailed information about this program, contact Dr. Curt Friedel, Associate Professor at