Graduate Programs for Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Industrial-organizational psychologists examine the psychological aspects of the workplace. Learn what kind of requirements the different levels of degree specify, along with course information and career details.

Essential Information

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.

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