How to Get a Masters in Industrial Organizational Psychology – Forbes Advisor

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Industrial and organizational psychologists use their knowledge of human behavior to help companies solve problems, increase profits, and optimize operations. These professionals work in human resource departments to support the onboarding, training, and development of workers. They can also play a role in hiring, firing, and creating initiatives to improve workplace productivity and employee satisfaction.

Given their complex managerial tasks, industrial and organizational psychology roles typically require an advanced degree. So, to take advantage of the growing demand in this booming field, you must first earn a master’s degree in organizational psychology.

What is a Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology?

A master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology is a graduate-level program that typically combines foundational psychology coursework with field-specific study.

During their first semester, students can take a variety of psychology courses, delving into topics such as social and abnormal psychology while mastering research design and collecting quantitative and qualitative data. Learners can also explore advanced topics in industrial and organizational psychology such as leadership, counseling, psychology of organizational behavior, and work motivation.

Many master’s programs in organizational psychology also include some sort of culminating experience. In some programs, students must conduct original research and write their findings in a thesis. At other schools, degree candidates must complete a capstone project or take a capstone seminar in industrial and organizational psychology.

Most graduate degrees in industrial and organizational psychology last 18 to 54 months and consist of 30 to 60 credits. Turnaround times vary based on credit requirements and enrollment status.

Admission requirements for the Master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Some industrial and organizational psychology graduate programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in psychology, sociology, or a related field. However, many programs admit applicants who did not study a related subject during the undergraduate. These learners may need to take prerequisite courses in areas such as research methods and basic psychology before progressing to industrial and organizational psychology courses.

Many programs require a minimum 3.0 cumulative undergraduate GPA. Others require a GPA of 2.5 or 3.3. Some programs require a minimum GPA in particular undergraduate psychology courses.

Additional admission requirements may include a statement of purpose, letters of recommendation from undergraduate professors or former employers, GRE scores, and a resume. Some programs require applicants to have work experience in order to gain admission. Some offer GRE waivers for students who exceed expectations in other areas, like GPA or previous work experience.

Industrial and organizational psychology course

Leadership Psychology

This course combines theory with best practices to teach students how strong leaders can impact business. Coursework uses case studies of real leaders and research on leadership and motivation to help students see how psychology can be effective in the workplace. Learners also have the opportunity to hone their own leadership styles.

Organizational consulting

In this course, students learn to operate as industrial and organizational consultants. These professionals support different business clients for months instead of working in-house for a single organization. Topics covered may include measurement, evaluation, and the application of psychology to improve workplace culture and performance.

Psychology of Organizational Behavior

In this course, students learn to apply behavioral theories to improve performance in the workplace. Topics covered may include job satisfaction, employee motivation, team building, executive leadership, goal setting, and organizational growth.

Motivation at work

In this course, students learn about different psychological theories, the foundations of motivation, and how to apply this knowledge in professional workplaces. Using case studies, students discuss motivators, as well as strategies to motivate and incentivize employees to be more productive.

Careers for Graduates of the Masters in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

human resources specialist

Median annual salary: $62,290
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +8%
Job description: Human resource specialists are entry-level employees who work in human resource departments. Along with a team of professionals, these workers help with hiring, onboarding, interviewing, compensation and benefits, and employee training. They can also play a role in creating a corporate culture, establishing rules and policies, and resolving interpersonal conflict.

management consultant

Median annual salary: $93,000
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +11%
Job description: Management consultants work with clients to help them improve the efficiency and productivity of their organization. These professionals team up with the managers of an organization to improve the techniques of the leadership team. They study company culture and worker satisfaction to ultimately make recommendations on how the company can improve.

Market analyst

Median annual salary: $63,920
Projected job growth (2021-2031): +19%
Job description: Market research analysts predict future sales of a product or service based on market conditions. Holders of a master’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology can thrive as market research analysts through their understanding of human behavior. They can often predict consumer behavior, allowing them to better estimate future sales and demand.

Frequently Asked Questions About Industrial Organizational Psychology Psychology

Is it difficult to get a job in IO psychology?

Industrial and organizational psychology is not the easiest field to break into, often proving competitive thanks to its relatively stable demand, hours, and pay rates. However, for those with a master’s degree, it is often easier to find employment in the field.

Are IO psychologists in demand?

Yes, industrial and organizational psychologists are in high demand. Between 2021 and 2031, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) predicts steady demand for human resource professionals, as well as high growth rates for relevant careers like market research analyst and management consultant.

Where do IO psychologists work?

Industrial and organizational psychologists typically work in a variety of business settings. They may work in-house for companies or as consultants, spending weeks or months with different clients before moving on to the next job.


Aubrey L. Morgan