Business Psychology Degree and Training Program Summaries

Oct 08, 2019

Business psychology degrees are available at the bachelor's degree level as well as at the graduate level within industrial and organization psychology programs. Courses cover topics such as management strategies, workplace conflict and the fundamentals of marketing.

Essential Information

Bachelor's, master's and doctorate degree programs in business psychology are quite common. If you are interested in working as an entry-level business analyst or consultant, a four-year bachelor's program in business psychology may be a good choice.

Admission to a master's programs in industrial/organizational psychology requires prior completion of a bachelor's program, and in some cases, foundational psychology coursework. These programs are primarily research-intensive and often culminate in a thesis. Unlike many other psychology fields, a master's degree can lead directly to work as an industrial/organizational psychologist.

Admission to a doctorate program is often competitive, and students may need minimum GPAs and a bachelor's or a master's degree in a psychology-related field. Letters of recommendation and a personal statement may also be required. In some doctoral programs, students earn a master's degree as part of the doctoral curriculum. These programs culminate in a dissertation, and they can lead to university-level teaching roles.

Bachelor's Degree Programs in Business Psychology

A bachelor's program in business psychology addresses human behavior in relationship to business. Management strategies are covered, including how to create and nurture a productive work environment. Consumer habits and patterns are addressed relative to the dynamics that create them. In some programs, different cultures, beliefs and social dynamics are discussed, preparing the student for the international marketplace. Those who complete this degree may thrive working for and with both profit and non-profit companies and organizations.

Typically, general education requirements must be fulfilled. In addition to this, a combination of general psychology and business classes are offered. There are also courses demonstrating how the two fields of study relate. Here are a few examples:

  • Marketing principles
  • Business management principles
  • Human resources
  • Behavioral economics and consumer behavior
  • Social psychology

Master's Degree Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

A typical two-year master's degree program in industrial or organizational psychology focuses on managing and organizing the workplace. Recent economic trends have prompted businesses to maximize the productivity, efficiency and performance of their workforces. Students learn to address these issues and prepare for leadership roles in the business world. It's common for a master's to be considered a terminal degree in this field.

In many programs, there is some amount of class flexibility depending on a student's emphasis. Business psychology is combined with a focus in quantitative research techniques. Several course topics one can expect are:

  • Psychology of industry
  • Strategic management
  • Personality and human engineering
  • Workforce development and training
  • Application of psychology research techniques

Doctorate Degree Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

While the field of study is the same as in a master's program, a typical doctorate program in industrial/organizational psychology is primarily research-based. In many cases, individuals will enter this program mid-career in order to sharpen their management and leadership abilities. Most Ph.D. or Psy.D. programs in industrial/organizational psychology are two-year and require the completion, review and acceptance of a dissertation. Although research is the primary focus on the doctorate level, minimal coursework is still common. A few possibilities are:

  • Experimental psychological design
  • Teaching psychology
  • Workplace ethical issues
  • Personality theory
  • Industrial and organizational research techniques

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

The job outlook for an industrial or organizational psychologist is positive for the 2018-2028 decade. Employment of psychologists in general is projected to grow by 14% over that time period, as reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics ( According to BLS data for May 2018, the median salary for an industrial or organizational psychologist was $97,260.

Popular Careers

Business psychology is applicable to many professional settings, and individuals with bachelor's degrees may consider career choices in a variety of fields. A handful of career options are:

  • Academic researcher
  • Human resources manager
  • Trainer and training evaluator
  • Business psychology consultant
  • Organizational effectiveness consultant

A Ph.D. or Psy.D. graduate of an industrial/organizational psychology program is prepared to be a leader in external and internal company consulting. Another possibility is a future in academia. Popular options include, but are not limited to:

  • Management consultant
  • Organizational development
  • Educator

Continuing Education Information

Although a master's degree in industrial or organizational psychology is typically the highest degree needed for the career, there are a few options for student wishing to continue studying this discipline. A number of schools offer doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) or doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) programs in industrial or organizational psychology and related areas, like organizational behavior or human resources studies.

Students who complete a business psychology degree may find work as educators, academic researchers, or human resources managers.

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