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Online Degrees in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Get info about online degree programs in industrial-organizational psychology. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, and check out career and continuing education options.

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Essential Information

Master's degree programs in industrial-organizational psychology are available fully online and in hybrid formats, as are doctoral programs. A master's degree is typically considered the terminal degree for practicing industrial-organizational psychologists, but doctoral programs exist for those interested in research, postsecondary teaching, upper-level management, or consulting positions in this field. Doctoral programs require a master's degree for admission.

In addition to online courses, students completing the doctoral program may need to meet a residency requirement, which could lead to them attending on campus functions or seminars to meet with professors and discuss dissertations. Those interested in a master's degree may be required to complete an applied research project.

M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology is often offered as a focus within a Master of Science in Psychology, or as a dedicated Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology (MAOIP) degree program. Industrial/organizational psychology applies psychological principles to improvement of life in the workforce, organizational analysis and development, productivity maximization and job counseling.

Program Information and Requirements

A master's program typically takes 2-3 years to complete, with several online program options. Students need access to a computer with high-speed Internet access. Instructors create a virtual learning environment by blending traditional text with current online teaching methods and tools, such as a course management systems and online presentations.

Course Topics

Master's degree courses in industrial and organizational psychology focus on the functioning of individuals and teams within a company. Performance evaluation and enhancement, motivation, teamwork and mentoring are all subjects of interest.

Application of Cross-Cultural Industrial Psychology

This course focuses on how to improve human capital and organizational effectiveness through individual effort and teamwork. Research principles and methods stress a cross-cultural point of view.

Principles of Planning and Leadership

Contemporary theories and principles of leadership and succession planning for the retirement of company executives are the focus of this course. Students analyze and practice leadership tools for training, coaching, mentoring and professional development.

Advanced Industrial Psychology

This is an advanced course in contemporary principles and practices of managing, predicting and studying human behavior within companies. Topics of special interest include competency testing and training, job satisfaction and performance, recruitment, candidate selection and performance evaluation.


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Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

At the doctoral level, students take a more clinical approach to industrial/organizational psychology. Individuals aspiring to be an independent consultant, work in a corporate upper-management position. They are also able to teach I-O psychology at colleges and universities. Applicants must have a master's degree.

Program Information and Requirements

An online doctoral program in industrial/organization psychology typically takes 5-7 years to complete. Distance learning students may need to meet with faculty advisors on campus a few times while writing their dissertation. Students need a computer with high-speed Internet access. Outside the brief residencies, communication with instructors and classmates is conducted by e-mail. Instructors combine traditional texts with online presentations.

Course Topics

Courses at the doctoral level continue to build upon fundamental principles introduced in the master's degree, with the curriculum consisting primarily of specialized seminars and self-directed research. Ph.D. candidates write a dissertation presenting original I-O psychology research.

Basic Principles of Organizational Development

Students analyze market and human variables that contribute to organizational success. Office culture is explored, with a focus on the language, business and management structures. Students also look at marketing, finance, strategic planning, personnel, accounting and organizational design.

Personality and Psychology

Contemporary psychological theories of personality and contemporary approached in personality assessment, including biological, behaviorist, trait and skill, social-cognitive, existentialist and humanist are explored. The course also calls attention to gender, individual and cultural variables contributing to personality.

Ethics and Standards

Students look at the origin and history of the professional code of ethics and standards of practice. Special topics of interest broached are confidentiality, the client-provider relationship, research ethics, cultural variables and ethical issues in personality assessment.


Career Information

As opposed to clinical psychologists who work extensively with clients in one-on-one or group counseling, industrial/organizational psychologists spend their time conducting research and analysis for corporations in an effort to identify areas of weakness and formulate solutions. Individuals with a master's degree in industrial/organizational psychology often work in human resources, consulting and government.

A report by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated a 19% growth in employment for industrial/organizational psychologists from 2014-2024, much faster than the average for all occupations. The median annual salary for industrial/organizational psychologists was $77,350 in May 2015, according to the BLS.

Continuing Education Information

Since industrial/organizational psychologists do not need to be licensed for clinical work, they can practice with a master's degree. Although a doctorate is not required of I/O psychologists, unlike other psychologists, doctoral programs are available online and on-campus for research and more advanced study.

There are fully online programs in industrial-organizational psychology offered at both the master's and doctoral degree levels. Most industrial-organizational psychology jobs, such as positions in human resources, require a master's degree, but those wanting to do research and teaching will need to earn a doctoral degree.

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