Graduate Catalog
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Problem Solving for Leading Change
2270 Litton Reaves Hall (0343)
Blacksburg, VA 24061
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Curtis Friedel:

Problem Solving for Leading Change

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. Problem-solving style indicates if a person is inherently more adaptive (making things better) or more innovative (making things different) when solving problems; which is independent of intelligence, learned skills, motive, ethnicity, culture, values, and situation. 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 all can 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. 
How to Apply:
Fill out the online application for participation in the certificate program.
Upon processing of the application, you will be contacted
with information about the submission of additional
required materials. Thank you for your interest.

Admission Requirements

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.  Up to 6 Certificate credits may be used to meet degree requirements if they are appropriate for inclusion on the degree Plan of Study.

Course Requirements

Course will be offered within a calendar year so that students may complete the Graduate Certificate in Problem Solving in three academic terms. For example:

  • Fall  - LDRS 5534: Cognition, Problem Solving, and Preferences for Change
  • Fall  - LDRS 5544: Leading Teams through Change
  • Spring  - LDRS 5554: Leading Social Change
  • Summer or Fall - LDRS 5904: Project and Report
While this sequence of courses is preferred, courses may be completed in any order, and possibly completed in two semesters.

Information for Non-Degree Seeking Students

New students who are visiting graduate students, not seeking a degree, or associated with Commonwealth Campus, are asked to notify Dr. Curtis Friedel at, after having applied to the Graduate School so that applications may be reviewed promptly.