Both master's programs and doctoral programs in industrial-organizational psychology emphasize research. However, master's programs are generally shorter in length and culminate in a thesis project, while Ph.D. programs can take anywhere from 3-5 years of study or more and revolve around a dissertation project. A master's degree is usually the minimum education level for industrial-organizational psychologists. A doctoral degree in the discipline paves the way toward additional opportunities in university-level teaching and research.
Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Students of two year master's degree programs might analyze organizational behavior by studying workplace characteristics such as productivity, quality of life and personnel management. Industrial-organizational psychologists work closely with human resources representatives and management members to improve operational efficiency and employee satisfaction. As consultants, these professionals perform short-term duties for various businesses.
Master's degree programs in industrial-organizational psychology require students to have a bachelor's degree. Applicants must submit official transcripts and GRE test scores for evaluation. A bachelor's degree in psychology is not mandatory; however, students may need to take prerequisite psychology courses prior to enrollment. In addition, many programs may be available online.
Courses in industrial-organizational psychology graduate programs are research-intensive. Students learn to apply various analytical methods to workplace research by conducting surveys and working with other business professionals. Most programs require a thesis or capstone project that displays proficiency in organizational behavior and communication, business consultation and applied research methods. Common courses include:
- Industrial-organizational research methods
- Psychological assessments for organizations
- Personnel and management research
- Human resources planning
- Organizational program implementation strategies
Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
A Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology allows students to pursue careers with greater responsibilities and salaries. With a doctoral degree, psychologists can become independently employed workplace consultants, industrial-organizational researchers or teachers. Postdoctorate certification is available for graduates.
A doctoral degree program in industrial-organizational psychology requires students to have a master's degree, though not necessarily in industrial-organizational psychology. Students must submit transcripts, personal statements and GRE test scores for evaluation.
Doctoral degree programs in industrial-organizational psychology offer research-based courses that complement students' work on their dissertations. Advanced research methods and case studies are used to help students conduct independent industrial-organizational research projects. While the dissertation is generally the focus of the program, courses may also include:
- Organizational data analysis
- Analysis of variance
- Survey of industrial-organizational psychology
- Personnel testing and assessment
- Advanced principles of group behavior
Employment Outlook and Career Information
Opportunities for industrial organizational psychologists are expected to increase by 19% from 2014-2024, more than for any other type of psychologist and far more rapidly than average, according to the BLS. With a doctoral degree, professionals can also seek postsecondary teaching positions with colleges, universities and psychology institutes. There were 2,000 industrial-organizational psychologists as of May 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The median annual salary of industrial-organizational psychologists was $77,350 as of May 2015.
Continuing Education Information
A master's degree is sufficient for most industrial-organizational psychology careers. In order to obtain advanced industrial-organizational positions or postsecondary teaching positions, psychologists are generally required to have a doctoral degree.
After obtaining a doctorate, industrial-organizational psychologists can also seek certification from the American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP), which offers 13 specialized areas of certification; organizational and business consulting psychology is one of these areas. The certification process is rigorous and requires candidates to have a Ph.D., a license and five years of experience in industrial-organizational psychology practice. Candidates must submit practice samples to demonstrate their expertise and also pass an oral examination.
Master's and Ph.D. programs in industrial-organizational psychology are research-oriented in nature, and students explore topics like worker productivity and organizational management. Higher levels of education can also prepare you for a job in academia or further career advancement.