If you have an interest in psychology but are unsure about the potential career prospects, consider an online master’s degree in organizational psychology. Careers in psychology are growing faster than the national average for all U.S. occupations, with a projected increase of 19% by 2024. The job outlook in industrial-organizational psychology, in particular, is expanding much faster than other psychology-related positions. Organizational psychology, as the name implies, studies behavior in organizations, and uses psychological concepts and research to solve problems and improve the workplace environment. Some organizational psychologists find positions in a research or academic environments, while others work in corporate settings to help address issues like productivity, employee relations, job satisfaction, and workplace diversity. As organizations increasingly recognize the need to enhance productivity and improve the quality of the workplace environment, many more positions will open in the field. Furthermore, since this is a relatively small occupational niche, those with advanced degrees enjoy a competitive edge.
Online Organizational Psychology Master’s Degrees at a Glance
|Time to Complete||15 months to two years for a full-time student, depending on the program|
|Credit Hours||45-55 depending on the school and concentration|
|Accreditation||Regional accreditation by one of the six accreditation agencies (Middle States, New England, North Central, Northwest, Southern, Western)|
|Additional Considerations||Licensing is not required for I/O psychologists unless state-mandated. A voluntary certification is available through the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP). Many organizational psychologists join the professional association, The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP).|
Austin Peay State University
|Value Score 8.45||
Named after a former governor, Austin Peay is a rapidly growing public university located in Clarksville, Tennessee. Austin Peay's enrollment has increased dramatically over the last decade, thanks to a wide variety of majors and degree concentrations, including an online master's in industrial organizational psychology program. Students access virtual class sessions in real-time or at their convenience, using archived recordings.
The program takes a scientist-practitioner approach to teaching the theories and methods of I-O psychology; students enrolled in the industrial organizational psychology master's program online use knowledge gained through research to facilitate change in practical situations. The program's 12 required courses focus on psychology and research methods and can be completed in two years. Students may complete a thesis or take two additional electives and a comprehensive exam. Applicants should have completed 12 hours of psychology coursework (or related classes in management, public administration, or sociology) and must have a 2.5 undergraduate GPA. GRE scores are required.
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Missouri University of Science and Technology
|Value Score 8.16||
As one of the first technical institutions west of the Mississippi, Missouri S&T has been educating students in the latest innovations for nearly 150 years. Its online master's in industrial organizational psychology program emphasizes technology in the workplace and trains students to manage human resources in rapidly changing technology environments. The program offers a general thesis track and a non-thesis option, along with three concentrations: leadership in technical organizations, psychometrics, and human factors. Students interested in the psychometrics concentration should have a strong math background that includes algebra, basic calculus, and familiarity with vectors.
Online classes for the 30-credit program have three start dates per year and are delivered asynchronously. Most students take one to two classes per semester and complete the program in three to four years. All students pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of state residency, and discounted tuition is available for US military personnel. Transfer students may earn credits by exam for coursework not eligible for transfer credit.
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Touro University Worldwide
|Value Score 7.80||
With campuses in four states, as well as in Germany, Israel, and Russia, Touro University Worldwide takes a global approach to education. Unlike other schools offering industrial organizational psychology master's programs online, Touro emphasizes the use of psychological science to improve business processes and productivity in a global economy. Students earn a business degree, rather than a psychology degree. Touro's graduate program in I-O psychology meets the guidelines of both the Industrial Organizational Psychology Society and the Societies for Human Resource Management and Consulting Management. The 36-credit program consists of nine core classes; three concentration courses in coaching and consulting, human resource management, or occupational health psychology; and a final capstone project.
Touro's program is an affordable way to earn an online master's in organizational psychology. There is no application fee, and tuition rates are the same for all students, regardless of residency. Discounted tuition is available for active duty military personnel, reservists, veterans, and retired military personnel and their immediate families.
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Colorado State University-Fort Collins
|Value Score 6.66||
Colorado State prepares students for immediate employment; 75% of its graduates are working in jobs related to their majors. Colorado State's master's of applied industrial/organizational psychology is a practitioner-oriented online program that trains students in quantitative research methods through project-based learning. The 38-credit program includes classes such as applied psychology research design and applied measurement theory. Students complete a final capstone project, during which they work in virtual teams with a real-life organization to refine their consulting skills. Classes are offered asynchronously, and summer courses are required to complete the online master's in organizational psychology program.
Applicants must have a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, grades of B or better in industrial psychology, human resource management, and organizational behavior coursework, and a passing score on the GRE psychology subject test.
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Carlos Albizu University-Miami
|Value Score 4.03||
With campuses in Puerto Rico and Miami, Florida, Albizu was one of the first institutions in the Caribbean and mainland US to offer graduate studies in psychology. Albizu's state-of-the-art virtual campus was established in 2013, and its master's of science in industrial and organizational psychology program is offered entirely online. The program's 48 required credit hours include comprehensive research and a capstone project. Classes are taught asynchronously, so students can complete coursework according to their own schedules.
All online students pay the same affordable tuition rate, regardless of state residency. All online faculty receive additional training through Albizu's online teaching certification program, ensuring that they are comfortable with the latest technologies and can handle the unique challenges of providing a virtual education.
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What Will I Learn in My Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Program?
The required courses in a master’s degree in organizational psychology online program will depend on the school and the concentration you choose. You can expect courses in areas like research methodology and quantitative analysis, organizational theory and behavior, human resource management, diversity in the workplace, and training, development, and performance assessment. Some industrial organization psychology degrees may also require an internship or thesis.
- Research Methods This course explores the scientific method and psychological research with specific application to industrial organizational psychology. Topics include hypothesis testing, research designs, linear modeling, and canonical correlation for planning research studies and analyzing data.
- Diversity and Conflict Management Students are introduced to theoretical and applied approaches to understanding diversity and cultural groups, including developments in labor law, policies. Also covered are best practices to address conflicts in the workplace and overcoming barriers to productivity and efficiency.
- Human Resource Management This course introduces students to the role of the human resource professional in organizations, and examines areas of expertise needed by HR departments; this includes recruitment, appraisal, retention, compensation, and labor relations.
- Organization Theory and Behavior This course surveys organizational theory and research on organizational behavior and leadership in the workplace. Special attention is paid to the impact of technology, organizational culture and climate, and issues related to ethics and social responsibility.
- Workforce Training and Development Topics covered in this course include hiring, training, promoting, and retaining qualified personnel. The course also examines setting organizational employee goals, identifying training needs, designing and implementing programs to facilitate employee development, effectiveness and satisfaction.
Concentrations for Online Organizational Psychology Master’s Degrees
An online master’s degree in organizational psychology serves as a gateway to many well-paying and challenging employment opportunities, and a growing number of employers require graduate work as an entry requirement. Some programs offer a general I/O psychology degree, while others offer a choice of concentrations that provide specialized training for careers in organizational development, human resources, diversity training, research, testing, and coaching.
- Industrial Organization Psychology: This is the most common concentration in organizational psychology programs — and the most general. This specialty covers areas like employee relations, training and development, human resources, guidance and coaching, product and services testing, and research to optimize efficiency, productivity and employee satisfaction.
- Personnel and Human Resources: This concentration connects the principles of organizational psychology to workplace issues, including productivity, organizational climate and culture, and job satisfaction; these principles are also applied to hiring, training, motivating, and evaluating employees.
- Diversity in the Workplace: As workplaces mirror the demographic changes in society, organizational psychologists educate employees about cultural diversity and develop strategies that defuse the potential for interpersonal and intragroup conflict.
- Training, Testing and Evaluation: This concentration provides designs and administers research studies, analyzes data, constructs and conducts testing procedures, and evaluate and assess employees and programs in line with an organization’s strategic plans.
- Coaching and Consulting: This concentration stresses the application of behavioral principles to achieve organizational goals by helping management and employees learn interpersonal skills, team building strategies, and effective communication and leadership styles.
Employment Outlook for Master’s in Organizational Psychology Graduates
Master’s in Organizational Psychology Careers
Career opportunities in industrial and organizational psychology can be found throughout manufacturing, education, healthcare, social services, and government. The job outlook continues to expand; organizations of every type see an improved workplace climate and employee relations as key to achieving strategic goals, and enhancing growth, productivity and efficiency. This trend is accompanied by increasing competition for highly skilled and committed professionals. In addition to the specialized job skills gained in master’s level concentrations, I/O psychologists possess strong social skills and cultural sensitivity, competency in statistics, research, data analysis, and verbal and written communication. They also display a commitment to enhancing the workplace environment of their organizations.
Industrial Organizational Psychologist
I/O psychologists analyze and manage behavior in workplace environments, design and implement research studies, perform assessments and evaluations, assist human resource staff, and complete other activities that enhance the organizational environment and employee satisfaction and productivity. A master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology or a related field is the minimal requirement for this career.
Projected Growth Rate 26%
Human Resource Specialist
HR specialists work with other HR staff in areas like recruitment, hiring, compensation, benefit administration, training and development, data analysis, employee relations, and policy and labor law compliance. This position generally requires a bachelor’s degree, but a master’s degree will open career opportunities in specialized HR areas with correspondingly higher salaries.
Projected Growth Rate 5%
Diversity officers direct cultural diversity initiatives in a variety of workplace environments, and insure that organizations are in compliance with equal employment opportunity and affirmative action regulations. They provide cultural competency training and address the needs of minorities, women, and other historically disenfranchised groups. An increasing number of organizations require advanced degrees at the master’s and doctoral level for employment.
Projected Growth Rate 7%
Organizational Development Specialist
Organizational development specialists help organizations achieve strategic goals related to productivity, efficiency, and workplace climate. These specialists coach talent, team build, implement assessments and appraisals, and collect and analyze data. A bachelor’s degree is the minimum requirement, but a master’s and leadership and industry-specific certifications will translate into broader career opportunities.
Projected Growth Rate 7%
Research analysts are employed in organizations across the public and private sectors. They collect and analyze data, research topics, summarize findings, write and present reports, and examine or verify information. A bachelor’s degree is required and experience or graduate training in statistics, business, organizational psychology, and related fields is considered a competitive advantage.
Projected Growth Rate 14%
Organizational Psychology Licensure and Certification
Licensing is not generally required of I/O psychologists., however practicing psychologists with either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. must be licensed by the state in which their practice is located. Voluntary certifications are available in specialized areas for I/O professionals with a bachelor’s or master’s degree, and can sometimes be acquired as part of a degree program. The Society for Industrial Organizational Psychology (SIOP) monitors information about state licensing requirements and certification opportunities.
- American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP): The ABOBCP, an affiliate of the American Board of Professional Psychology, provides professional development and specialized certifications in I/O psychology, human factor psychology, and consulting psychology. This also includes organizational coaching.
- The International Coach Federation (ICF): The ICF offers independent credentialing for coach practitioners, continuing education, and professional development to those in the field. It provides three levels of certification: associate certified coach, professional certified coach, and master certified coach.
Job Placement for Organizational Psychology Graduates
The job outlook has never been better for those interested in organizational psychology master’s programs online. Among all the majors in the field of psychology, organizational psychology boasts the highest rate of growth and the highest median earnings. While some entry-level positions are available to those who hold a bachelor’s degree, graduate training opens more career options in specialized fields. Employment opportunities in I/O psychology are currently expanding very quickly in management, research and technological services, government, healthcare, and education. Currently, only 38% of organizational psychologists hold a master’s or doctorate degree, so graduate training — along with any available credentials — provides an attractive, competitive advantage.
Master’s in Organizational Psychology Salary
Salaries in organizational psychology depend on one’s professional speciality, the geographical region, years of experience, level of education, and the kinds of certification required by the position. This chart provides salary information in some professions where organizational psychologists are projected to be in demand.
|Job Title||Overall Median Salary||Top Paying Cities/States||Median Salary for Entry-Level Employees (0-5 years)||Median Salary for Mid-Career Employees (5-10 years)||Median Salary for Late-Career Employees (20+ years)|
|Industrial Organizational Psychologist||$70,964||Washington, DC||$65,577||$91,398||$101,846|
|Human Resource Specialist||$49,473||San Francisco, CA; Washington, DC; New York, NY||$46,637||$51,640||$61,556|
|Diversity Officer||$116,321||Chicago, IL; New York, NY||$100,000||$121,000||$144,000|
|Organizational Development Specialist||$60,144||New York, NY; Atlanta, GA||$57,228||$72,940||$75,000|
|Research Analyst||$52,944||San Francisco, CA; Boston, MA; Atlanta, GA||$51,174||$60,644||$80,927|
Do I Need to Take the GRE to Enroll in an Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Program?
The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a requirement for admission to most graduate programs in organizational psychology. If you took the SAT or ACT when you applied to your undergraduate program, you know that these kinds of tests help schools determine your readiness for a degree program. The GRE measures critical thinking, analytical writing, verbal reasoning, and quantitative skills, and each master’s program determines the minimum score accepted for each section. Professional courses are available to help students prepare for the GRE, but most students opt to study independently. You can expect to spend one to three months studying several hours a week, but this amount will vary depending upon your academic background and test-taking skills. Some colleges and universities, including some online master’s programs, do not require the GRE and instead rely on other evidence of academic potential, which may include portfolios, GPA, and life experience.
Accreditation for Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Degrees
Accreditation is an important factor to consider when pursuing a master’s degree in organizational psychology online program. Regional accreditation is the most prestigious designation, and most online programs are regionally accredited by agencies with regional jurisdictions. Conversely, nationally accredited schools usually offer non-degree and vocational programs. The major difference to note is that regionally accredited schools do not normally accept transfer credit from those with national accreditation, while nationally accredited schools accept credits from most institutions.
You should also check for schools with accreditation recognized by the Department of Education or the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The major accreditation bodies for individual psychology programs are the American Psychological Association (APA), Commission on Accreditation, and the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB).
Financing Your Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Program
For many students, the biggest challenge is how to pay for graduate school. An affordable online master’s in organizational psychology is within your reach, and financial assistance is most likely available to you in some form. The search for funding begins with completion of the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal scholarships, loans, work-study, and state grants. Do your research; you will find that the field of organizational psychology offers scholarship opportunities for graduate work aimed at academically talented students, and for those in particular demographic or underrepresented groups. Some scholarships and grants are also designed to foster independent research in organizational psychology.
Scholarships for Online Organizational Psychology Master’s Degrees
Organizational Psychology Scholarships
Asian American Psychological Association (AAPA) $500
Scholarship Deadline: December 1
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be accepted at an accredited institution with the goal of earning an M.A. or Ph.D. degree, demonstrate their connection and commitment to the Filipino community in the U.S., and submit a personal statement of 1,000 words outlining why they are studying psychology.
The Ethel Louise Armstrong Foundation Scholarship (ELA) $2,000
Scholarship Deadline: March 31
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be enrolled in a master’s degree or above, have good academic standing, maintain active involvement in a national or local disability-rights organization, agree to participate in ELA networking activities, and exhibit a commitment to a career centered on the inclusion of people with disabilities.
Thelma Hunt Research Grant $3,000
Scholarship Deadline: September 15
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be active Psi Chi members, attend an accredited U.S. university, maintain good academic standing, and conduct empirical research that addresses any psychological issue directly related to Psi Chi.
James L. Outtz Grant $3,000
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be enrolled in a graduate program, and agree to conduct a research proposal on a topic related to diversity and inclusion. An advisor or thesis chair must indicate that the proposal has been accepted for a master’s or doctoral thesis.
Hebl Grant $3,000
Scholarship Deadline: June 30
Eligibility Requirements: Students must be enrolled in a graduate-level program in any field related to industrial organizational psychology, human resources, or organizational behavior, and conduct research related to their specialty in their master’s or doctoral thesis.