Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs FAQ

what is an organizational psychologist

Industrial organizational psychology refers to the application of psychological and behavioral principles to the workplace. Here are some commonly asked questions about this compelling and growing field.

What is the median salary for organizational psychologists?

What degrees could help to become and organizational psychologist?According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics the median annual industrial organizational psychology salary in 2012 was $98,800 or $47.50/hour[i]

What does an industrial organizational psychologist do?Individuals who earn a master’s degree in organizational psychology might be qualified to work in a variety of job settings. Those interested in pursuing a career as a licensed organizational psychologist will likely be required to earn a Ph.D. or Psy.D. with a specialization in organizational psychology in order to become a licensed “organizational psychologist” in most states[ii].

What does the “industrial” refer to?Industrial organizational psychologists use psychology principles to improve the workplace environment, as well as worker satisfaction and productivity. Their work blends statistical analysis and quantitative research with psychology and behavioral interventions. View a more in-depth definition of organizational psychology and an overview of industrial organizational psychology jobs.

The “industrial” in industrial organizational psychology refers to the individual employee. The industrial side includes assessing employee performance, identifying training needs and delivering training, developing job standards and conducting performance appraisals. This area of psychology is also known as “personnel psychology”.

What does the “organizational” refer to?

The “organization” in industrial organizational psychology refers to understanding how organizations impact the behavior and performance of the individual employee. Organizational structures, management styles, and social norms are all areas that organizational psychology addresses.

What is organization development?

One definition of organization development comes from Richard Beckhard’s 1969 Organization Development: Strategies and Models: “Organization development is an effort

  • Planned
  • Organization-wide
  • Managed from the top
  • Increase organization effectiveness and health through  
  • Planned interventions in the organizations "processes,” using behavioral-science knowledge.”

In other words, it’s a field that enhances individual development and organizational performance using particular interventions related to applied behavioral sciences[iii].

What is organizational change?

Organizational change refers to the process of modifying management processes and structures. Typically, organizational change consists of three stages: establishing the need, implementation, and monitoring.

How important is organizational psychology in the workplace?

Well, considering that industrial organizational psychology refers to the scientific study of employees, workplaces, and organizations – very! Organizational psychology principles help employers identify and modify employee attitudes, behavior and motivation. Not surprisingly, the role is sometimes referred to as workplace psychology as well. These principles also help organizations through periods of growth, challenge, and/or change. Put another way, an organization that ignores organizational psychology is highly likely to get in its own way.

How is occupational health psychology similar to organizational psychology?

Occupational health psychology refers specifically to practices that promote and preserve the health and well-being of employees in the workplace. It is a combination of health psychology and industrial organizational psychology. It addresses topics such as burnout, work-life balance, violence in the workplace, ergonomics, and occupational stress.

What is social-organizational psychology?

Social organizational psychology is closely related to industrial organizational psychology. However, it places more of an emphasis on working with the organization as a whole and understanding its impact on the individual, rather than working directly with individual employees.

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