Pursuing a master's in industrial organizational psychology takes learners one step closer to calling themselves an I/O psychologist, but it also opens many other professional career avenues. Industrial organizational psychology graduate programs -- which typically take two years to complete -- require learners to explore advanced and nuanced topics not covered at the bachelor's level and give them a deeper understanding of the field.
If you are considering this path, you probably have a few questions. This guide outlines common classes you can expect to take, how you can use the degree, available career opportunities in I/O psychology, and where to find professional networking opportunities.
Typical Admission Requirements:
Official transcripts from all previously attended schools, GRE scores, a minimum GPA, letters of recommendation, a personal statement, a resume, and a completed application.
Time to Completion:
Two years full-time, or up to four years part-time
Why Get a Master's Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology?
Pursuing a master's in industrial organizational psychology offers graduates endless professional and personal benefits. We review some of them in the section below.
- Specialized Knowledge: While bachelor's degrees build foundational knowledge, I/O master's programs explore nuanced and in-depth studies of specialized topics.
- Increased Salary: As research demonstrates, individuals with master's degrees make substantially more than those with associate or bachelor's level credentials.
- Transferable Skills: The skills earned in an I/O psychology master's program transfer well to related careers, such as human resources, research, talent management, and behavior analysis.
- Entrepreneurial Possibilities: Many industrial organizational psychologists operate their own consulting firms. This allows them to set their own rates, manage their own schedules, and select their clientele.
- Networking: Even while still in school, master's students can network with their professors, fellow students, visiting companies, and potential employers or clients who visit their classes.
The courses in an industrial organizational psychology master's program vary from school to school, but most programs offer some version of the classes highlighted in this section. Learners who want a more accurate portrait of what they will study should contact individual institutions to learn about specific coursework and requirements. In general, degree-seekers can expect to learn about human capital management, research, data analytics, leadership development, and maximization of strengths and productivity.
This course blends studies in both human behavior and management principles to help learners better understand the underlying factors that affect employee morale and productivity. Students consider questions around organizational behavior theory, job satisfaction, communication techniques, group behavior, values, and leadership styles.
Methods in Human Measurement
In this course, students learn about human resource metric analytics. This includes how to better understand employee strengths and weaknesses in order to maximize productivity and increase employee satisfaction. Learners also consider various methodologies and frameworks around human measurement to decide which work best in their organizations.
Issues in Personnel Selection
The first part of this class explores existing methodologies in personnel selection, while the second part asks students to develop their own selection metrics based on newfound knowledge. Learners consider questions of equity, experience, education, personality type, and work style when creating their frameworks.
Analysis of Psychological Data
Students in this class learn to take raw, primary data gathered in workplace settings and translate it into actionable information for their clients. Learners dig into statistical analysis models and consider questions around data collection techniques, sampling distribution, probability, and hypothesis testing.
What Can You Do With a Master's Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology?
Graduating from one of the many top industrial organizational psychology master's programs qualifies you to pursue careers both inside and outside the world of I/O psychology. If you want to learn more, you can check out our comprehensive guide on jobs within the world of industrial organizational psychology.
If you want to advance your career beyond a master's degree, there are several available paths to help you do so. Individuals who want to qualify as industrial organizational psychologists must complete a doctorate and they may also need to pursue licensure, depending on the rules in their state.
Industrial organizational psychology doctorate programs prepare graduates for a variety of advanced roles. It is the required degree for psychologists, though individuals who want to work as research scientists or university professors must also complete a Ph.D. in I/O psychology. Most labs, research facilities, colleges, and universities look for these credentials when hiring. Doctorate programs typically require 3-5 years of study, depending on whether the learner enrolls full or part time.
Licensure is a standard part of the process for becoming a psychologist. This may not be a requirement for industrial organizational psychologists because they do not diagnose and treat individuals, but some states still require it. Check with your state's board of licensing to be sure. In addition to receiving a license, individuals must complete continuing education requirements to keep their licenses active and unencumbered.
- Human Factors and Ergonomics Society HFES benefits members by providing access to industry news, regional events, an annual conference, in-house publications, professional research, and online communities for networking and learning.
- Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology SIOP offers white papers, journals, a professional practice series, podcasts, a job network, internships, career path resources, an annual conference, continuing education programs, and business resources for I/O professionals.
- Emotional Intelligence Consortium A great resource for research, the EI Consortium offers access to reports, articles, dissertations, models for industrial organizational psychology graduate programs, reprints of existing articles, guidelines for best practice, and interviews with leading practitioners.