Organizational Psychologist Degree and Training Program Overviews

Oct 09, 2019

Organizational psychologists, also known as industrial-organizational psychologists, are professional scientists who study human behavior in the work place. Degree programs in this field are available at the master's and doctoral levels.

Essential Information

A master's degree program in organizational psychology expands students' knowledge of organizational development and conflict resolution. Students must also often complete a thesis and internship. The program can usually be completed in 2-3 years of full-time study. Doctoral programs could last 5 years or more. They consist of advanced psychology coursework and require large amounts of research. Learners must choose a research focus and prepare a dissertation.

Prerequisites for master's degree programs include GRE scores, letters of recommendation, an admissions essay and undergraduate transcripts. A specific undergraduate major is not generally required. Doctoral programs will require all of the aforementioned items, as well as more prerequisite coursework in psychology.

Master's Degree in Organizational Psychology

These programs are designed to train individuals in the art and science of creating healthy, happy and productive business organizations. Degree candidates learn the psychology behind maximizing the diverse skill range of the employees working a given corporation or community. Graduates are ready for employment in a wide range of business and corporate settings as well as social service agencies, government agencies and academia.

It is not unusual for these programs to feature a graduate thesis as a degree requirement. Degree candidates usually receive a certain amount of course credit for time spent researching and writing the thesis. Below are listed some sample core courses.

  • Sustainable change
  • Collaborative teams
  • Conflict resolution
  • Managing diverse populations
  • Organizational development

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

These programs provide doctoral training in workplace psychology for those interested in research and academic positions. The coursework stresses quantitative and qualitative research methods and culminates in a doctoral dissertation. Many programs feature internship opportunities, in which candidates spend up to one year working at an affiliated corporation or organization. Most programs can be completed in five years, although dissertation work can take longer.

This type of doctoral degree is most often offered as a joint master's and doctorate program. Some programs require applicants to have majored in psychology, while other programs require only that a certain number of psychology credits were completed. Familiarity with psychological research methods benefits the applicant.

Because of the combined degree format of this program, individuals complete the master's portion of the program within the first two years. Degree candidates then move on to the more specialized doctoral-level courses, which reflect the student's individual area of research focus. Listed below are some general course topics and subject areas that form part of the coursework.

  • Cognitive psychology
  • Psychometrics
  • Personnel psychology
  • Advanced research methods
  • Ethics and psychology

Popular Career Options

The goal of organizational psychologists is to increase productivity while improving the working environment.

While many psychologist career opportunities require a doctoral degree, there are still plenty of career options for those with a master's degree in industrial-organizational psychology. Below are listed some sample job titles.

  • Organizational consultant
  • Human resources manager
  • Director of employee relations and training

Career Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median salary for industrial-organizational psychologists was $97,260 as of May 2018. The BLS also reported that this profession should see a 13% increase in job prospects for 2018-2028, which is much faster than the average (5%) for all occupations. However, because this is a small occupation, this growth will only add about 200 new jobs.

Licensure and Training Information

Professional psychologists are required to be licensed in nearly every state. Requirements are not universal but generally include completing a doctoral-level program from an accredited institution, working under the direct supervision of a licensed psychologist and completing an exam. Organizations such as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology have more information on state licensing requirements.

In addition to the academic training involved in becoming a professional industrial-organizational psychologist, individuals should also anticipate a fair amount of situational training. Not only do organizational hierarchies differ between institutions, but so do research methodologies, job expectancies and much more.

Organizational psychology is a quickly growing field, as more and more organizations are employing these professionals to help their business run smoothly. Obtaining the necessary master's or doctoral degree as well as professional licensing can help prepare individuals for careers in this industry.

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