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Industrial Organizational Psychology M.S. Vs. PhD

Apr 02, 2019

Some of the main differences between an M.S. and PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology are program length and culminating experience requirements. Find out about other differences, as well as similarities, of these programs and how to apply.

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Graduate programs in industrial and organizational psychology are available at the master's and doctoral levels to train students in the study of workplace behavior and how to apply psychological techniques to increase human efficiency, job satisfaction, and more. Here we examine some of the stand-out characteristics of a master's program versus a doctoral program in the field.

M.S. vs. PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Master of Science in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Master of Science (M.S.) in Industrial Organizational (I/O) Psychology programs typically follow a cohort model and are often available either in online formats or other flexible schedule options, like evening courses. These programs may range from about 30 to 36 credits, may take 2 years to complete, and usually require a culminating experience, which may be a thesis or capstone project, depending on the program. Students in these programs are also usually required to complete hands-on practicum experiences that may last an entire semester and/or participate in optional internships. Coursework for these degree programs may discuss subjects in I/O psychology, research methods, ethics, social psychology, cultural psychology, organizational development, statistics, and more. Graduates may pursue further education at the doctoral level or pursue various careers in consulting, data analytics, and Human Resources (HR) training and development.

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in I/O Psychology degree programs may take 3 to 5 years to complete, depending on whether the student already holds a bachelor's or master's degree. Some of these programs allow students with only a bachelor's degree to earn their master's degree along the way and may range anywhere from about 60 to 104 credits, depending on the student's background and the specific program. A few of these degree programs are available in online formats, but may still require in-person residencies, and students typically have to complete a dissertation and/or include hands-on learning experiences through internships. Students in these programs may take coursework in topics such as research design, quantitative research, organizational psychology, testing and assessment, interventions, change management, leadership, and consultation psychology. Graduates of these degree programs can work in a variety of settings, such as the government, healthcare, industry, military, university, and private practices, in a range of job titles, including educator, consultant, researcher, director, and more.

Common Entrance Requirements

Students applying to graduate programs in I/O psychology must have at least a bachelor's degree, usually in psychology, but some doctoral programs may require that students hold a master's degree. It is also common for these programs to require applicants to meet a minimum GPA requirement, which may range from a 2.5 to 3.0, depending on the institution. Students may also need to have prior coursework in quantitative-based subjects, such as statistics. It is also fairly common for students to need to submit their official GRE scores from within the past five years. Applications for these degree programs may require students to include their transcripts, letters of recommendation, resume or CV, a personal statement and/or essay responses.

Both the M.S. and PhD in industrial organization psychology provide students with research and hands-on training in the field through internships, practicum experiences, and more. Typically, the PhD program takes at least 1 more year of study than the master's degree and requires a dissertation, while the master's degree may require a thesis or capstone experience.

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