Masters in Organizational Psychology Programs & Schools
Organizational Psychology Masters Programs focus on how psychology practice might help to encourage an effective workplace. These programs may also be referred to as industrial-organizational psychology or occupational psychology. They are typically designed to prepare graduates for roles using psychology in businesses, government and other large organizations, through a combination of psychology research, practice, and organizational leadership skills. Masters programs may be offered either online or on campus, and may confer any of several degree types upon completion.
Industrial Organizational Psychology Masters Program Formats
Students may be able to choose between several learning formats to earn their masters in industrial organizational psychology. This could be an important element in your school search, as format has a large role in both the way the material is taught and the way the program fits in your life. While there may be a spectrum of options, the two basic formats are described below.
- Online Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology Programs: Studying online could be a useful option if you need to balance your IO Psych masters program with an ongoing career, family obligations, or even if you just prefer a more flexible schedule. Online programs may incorporate features like video conferencing or streamed lectures, online library services, and academic and technical support. Some programs may even be considered “partially online,” if they have campus residency requirements, or local courses (such as lab-work). Additionally, online programs may still have other requirements that need to be completed in person, such as internships.
- On Campus IO Psychology Masters Programs: Earning your masters in occupational psychology on campus may appeal to a variety of students in all different situations. Both full time and flexible part-time programs may be offered. Studying on campus, in addition to having access to the research tools, support, and facilities of your program, you could also build up relationships with your peers and instructors. Some campus-based programs may even have relationships with the organizations in your area, helping to facilitate internship placements. Some campus-based programs also offer limited online learning opportunities.
Some programs may offer additional learning formats not detailed above, or may vary from these descriptions. For more information about flexibility, course scheduling, resources, instruction, and other aspects of delivery format, contact the IO Psychology masters program in question.
Earning Your Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology
Industrial Organizational Psychology Masters programs are typically research-intensive. They may discuss analytical methodologies for use in workplace research, such as in conducting surveys within an organization. Other programs might focus on different aspects of organizational psychology, analyzing research and putting it into action, or on leveraging one’s psychology expertise in leadership and decision-making.
While each school and program may be unique, there could be a few useful indicators to help you understand their approaches: the training model, and the types of degrees. Training models are described below. The types of IO psychology masters programs you may encounter include:
- Master of Arts in Industrial Organizational Psychology: While individual programs may vary, in many cases, MA programs in psychology-related fields tend to focus on practical application of research to help people. In other words an MA IO Psychology program is likely to be professionally focused and emphasize application over research.
- Master of Science/MS in Industrial Organizational Psychology: While many practice-oriented MS programs may be available, in general, these are more likely to emphasize research and analysis skills. As such, students who choose an MS in Organizational Psychology may be interested in pursuing research in their careers, or continuing on to earn a doctorate.
While the two options described above may be the most common option, some schools may offer additional paths of study. Also, individual programs may not align with the descriptions above. For more information about a certain school or program, reach out to them with your questions.
While it’s much more common at the doctoral level, some IO Psychology masters programs may adhere to specific psychology training models. This would inform the types of classes offered and the skills emphasized in them. If your chosen school does align with one of these, it could be a useful tool to help understand the goal of that program.
Psychology training models are designed around different applications of research skills and methods in the field. As a result, programs aligned with different models tend to look toward different potential careers. A few examples are described below.
- Scientist-Practitioner Model: This is also sometimes referred to as the Boulder Model. It’s a somewhat broad, but research-focused training model that combines analytical research with practice. The goal of programs like these is two-fold: first, to prepare psychology practitioners to understand and utilize research methodologies and findings in the field; and second, to prepare researchers to leverage practical application to guide their research questions and practices.
- Practitioner-Scholar Model: Also called the Vail Model, these types of programs look more toward application of research in the field. Training may cover analysis of research and different ways to make it actionable.
- Other Approaches: If your program of choice does not employ a training model, consider asking them about the types of careers they design their program to support. For example, some programs might focus on organizational leadership roles, building up management and decision-making skills supported by organizational psychology expertise. Another might lean more toward program analysis for consulting roles, or something else entirely.
Example Masters in IO Psychology Curriculum
Each masters in industrial organizational psychology curriculum may be unique, designed to foster specific skills, values and knowledge. This could be informed by training model (if any), degree type, program preference, and even potentially student choice. Generally speaking, courses would cover psychology knowledge, research practices, business practices, organizational behavior, and leadership.
Some example course topics include
- Industrial-organizational research methods
- Psychological assessments for organizations
- Personnel management and research
- Human resources planning
- Organizational program implementation and strategies
- Organizational Consulting
- Theories of Personality
- Statistics & Analytics
Depending on your selected program, not every example above may be present in your curriculum, and courses may also go by different names. Additionally, you’re likely to encounter course topics not listed above. To find out more about what you might study, reach out to the school.
Other Program Requirements
In addition to coursework, some masters programs may have additional requirements to be completed prior to graduation. These include but are not limited to:
- Master’s Thesis: Many masters programs (even outside of industrial organizational psychology) have a thesis requirement. A master’s thesis is, in essence, a lengthy research paper similar to others you may have completed throughout the program. The goal of a thesis is generally to demonstrate fluency with current research in the field of IO Psychology, and the ability to analyze it and draw new conclusions from it.
- Capstone Project: This could take a few different forms. Because industrial organizational psychology is such a research-oriented field, it’s likely to be similar to a thesis. Capstones are projects that often reflect the work one might do in the field. In some cases, these projects might be in conjunction with field experience, or completed in groups.
- Internships & Field Experience: Many industrial organizational psychology masters programs have a field-work element. Often this is in the form of a guided internship. These opportunities may help students to contextualize their learning but putting it into practice in a workplace setting.
- Graduation Exam: Some programs may also require students to sit for a cumulative exam, to demonstrate mastery of the material covered in the classroom. This may be in addition to or in place of other projects like the thesis.
Remember that different programs have different requirements. Some may require one or even several of the examples described above. Others might not use any of these. For more information about projects, field experience, and other program elements, contact the program in question.
Industrial Organizational Psychology Masters Application Requirements
Application requirements for industrial organizational psychology masters programs may vary, based on the aim of the program, the types of students it’s designed for, and other factors. However, some of the common prerequisites are explained below.
- An Accredited Bachelor’s Degree: This may vary by school. Some programs may require a bachelors in psychology or another related field. Others may be open to degrees from all different fields.
- Prior Psychology Education: Even if your program of choice does not require you to hold a degree in psychology, they may still ask you to show that you’ve successfully completed a certain amount of psychology coursework.
- Minimum GPA: This is often around a 3.0. However, specific requirements vary by school and some programs may not have this requirement at all.
- Professional Resume: Some programs may be designed primarily for professionals with some experience in the workplace. If that’s the case, you may be asked to submit your resume to demonstrate that you have relevant experience. The specific type of experience and amount required may vary.
- GRE/GMAT Scores: While not every school or program requires entrance exams like the GRE or GMAT, it’s possible some of your chosen scores might. In some cases, this is optional and up to the applicant’s discretion. If one of your schools asks for or requires test scores, reach out to them to find out more about this.
Organizational Psychology Career Paths
Earning a masters in organizational psychology may prepare students for roles as psychologists in government or private businesses. If you’re interested in teaching or research, you may need to go on to pursue a doctorate first. Industries populated by graduates of this program include scientific research and development, management consulting, government, and higher education.
According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median annual salary for industrial-organizational psychologists was $82,760. However, specific salary data may vary by state, organization, and specific role. i
So You’ve Earned Your Masters in Organizational Psychology: Potential Next Steps
Graduates of industrial organizational psychology programs typically take one of two paths: begin or continue pursuit of a career, or continue study at the doctoral level. Industrial Organizational Psychology Doctoral Programs may be offered online or on campus, usually conferring a PhD upon completion.
Doctoral program prerequisites may include research experience at the masters level, a relevant master’s degree, and/or field experience. If you’re interested in moving from masters directly into a doctoral program, talk to your academic advisor in your masters program to find out more.
Search for Industrial Organizational Psychology Masters Programs
Find your potential industrial organizational psychology masters programs here on GradSchools.com! Start by reviewing the sponsored program listings. Use the menu to select your preferred program format and/or location to narrow down your options. Click on any program that sounds like it might be a good fit to learn more and get in touch.
Source: [i] bls.gov/oes/current/oes193032.htm
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