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Grad Program: Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Basic Information

Industrial and organizational psychologists (called I-O psychologists) are behavioral scientists who specialize in human behavior in the work place. I-O scientists conduct research to derive principles of individual, group, and organizational behavior, train future psychologists, and work on staff at--or as consultants to--business, industry, labor, public, academic, community, and health organizations.

I-O psychologists can work in a variety of areas such as hiring and placement, training and development, organizational development and change, performance measurement and evaluation, consumer psychology and marketing, and engineering psychology. They create and utilize diagnostic tools to improve employees' satisfaction with their work and employers' ability to increase productivity. Most graduate programs follow what’s called the “scientist-practitioner model,” whereby students are trained in research as a solid basis for practice in the field. Therefore, most require internships or fieldwork as part of their programs.

Degree Information

Degrees in industrial-organizational psychology can be sought and conferred through a variety of departments, including psychology, business, management, and human resources. Common master’s degrees are M.A. or M.S. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Human Resources or HR Management, Organizational Behavior, and Organizational Management. It’s also possible to get a Master’s in Organizational Development (M.O.D.) and get joint M.A./M.B.A. or M.A./J.D. degrees. Some master’s programs are combined with a bachelor’s into a five-year program. Most take one and a half years (including summer) to three years and require field work and a thesis. Ph.D. programs are typically four to five years.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Do you want to be a scientist? a practitioner? Do you want to incorporate both (say, by consulting)? With this in mind, what do graduates of a given program tend to do?
  • Does the program provide equal weight to the “I” and the “O” or lean towards one?
  • What are the internship or externship requirements? Does the program help you find such opportunities?
  • How accessible are the professors?
  • Does this program include a business school? If so, how much collaboration exists between the business school and the I-O program?
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