Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychologists are not actually psychologists. Instead, these social scientists utilize principles traditionally taught in psychology courses. The skills these professionals acquire in graduate programs effect change in their place of work.
I-O specialists write employee guidelines, conduct job candidate assessments, and train staff on the latest employee policies and procedures. By hiring or consulting an I-O psychologist, corporations increase profitability, retain employees, and run efficiently.
How much money do people make with a Master’s of Industrial/Organizational Psychology degree?
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) proves that Industrial-Organizational professionals have job security and impressive salaries. Yearly wages span from $52,950 to $184,380. The mean annual wage is $104,570. The field is still small, so new jobs total just 900.
I-O psychologists have the highest mean wage of all social science occupations including economists, clinical psychologists, and urban planners. Tucked away within reports issued by the BLS in 2013, we found that I-O psychologists have an estimated job growth of 53.4 percent between 2012 and 2022.
Several industries hire professionals in Industrial-Organizational psychology. Most work in scientific research and development (340 jobs). Consulting firms for management, technology, and science employ 270. Another 170 operate within state governments and schools from the elementary to graduate level.
Surprisingly, almost all I-O specialists live in two states: Virginia and Massachusetts. In Virginia, 310 individuals earn an annual mean wage of $120,260. The 120 residing in Massachusetts report annual mean wages of $84,550. The cost of living factors into both figures.
The other population centers for I-O professionals are Pennsylvania, Missouri, and New Jersey. Annual mean wages span from $110,410 to $112,200. For now, students pursuing careers in the field should plan to search for employment in these five states.
What does an Industrial/Organizational Psychology field look like?
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) explains the field as an applied science. Professionals usher in critical changes to improve employee wellbeing. For example, an I-O psychologist might implement anti-discrimination policy, analyze hierarchy and recommend restructuring, or provide executive coaching.
SIOP’s website provides access to membership in its professional society as well as forums, webinars, conferences, and local chapters. Search the menu options for job links, internship opportunities, and research grants.
The American Psychological Association (APA) maps out the traditional educational trajectory for I-O psychologists. The recommended first step is a Bachelor’s in Psychology. To land an entry-level job in the field, students need to continue into graduate school. A Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology remains the standard starting point for this career. Earning a PhD increases the chance of being hired but can be completed later.
The APA reports that starting salaries with Master’s degrees equaled $65,000 in 2012. With a PhD, starting salaries averaged $81,000. In private industries, earnings exceeded $100,000. College professors in I-O psychology earned $70,000.
A report by US News describes Industrial-Organizational psychology as “a natural marriage between psychology and business.” The site gives this career field a high ranking of second place for “Best Science Jobs.” An expert in the field, Mark Poteet, recommends the PhD for work in academia, research, and scientific industries. U.S. News considers I-O psychology a field with average stress, normal work-life balance, and average potential for promotion.
What Are the Best Online Schools in Industrial-Organizational Psychology?
The ten colleges and universities profiled below exceeded our standards for Master’s degree programs in I-O psychology. We factored in the net price to obtain a diploma, the length of the program, and return on investment. All of the programs provide courses fully or partially online. Data for the rankings comes from program materials, the National Center for Education Statistics’ IPEDS website, salary surveys, and media pages devoted to collegiate rankings. Each of the ten programs earned accreditation from a state board and/or regional commission. Students researching programs can trust these schools to deliver a solid foundation in I-O psychology. Make sure to look at our rankings for the Best Online Colleges and Universities.
Best Online Master’s Programs for Organizational Psychology
See our rankings methodology page.
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Chicago
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) opened its doors in 1979. Now, students choose from twenty degrees accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges’ Senior College and University Commission. In addition to its online programs, the school maintains campuses in California, Washington, D.C., New Orleans, and Chicago. TCSPP uses hands-on learning experience it calls The Engaged Practitioner Model. Program Features
The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers the online M.A. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Students join the Applied Research Project (ARP) track, which the school classifies as non-licensure. Unlike TCSPP’s other Psychology programs, I-O psychologists will not practice in the field of psychology. Courses in the online Industrial and Organizational Psychology program:
- Organizational Culture and Design
- Performance Management
- Organizational Team Dynamics
Online students connect to The Chicago School through the Canvas learning management system. The interactive portal includes links to the course syllabus, assignments, chat, and tutoring. Candidates who enroll online have the option for dual degrees combining the M.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology ARP track with a Master of Legal Studies.
Colorado State University-Global Campus
Colorado State (CSU) began with a donation of land to educate remote areas of the United States. Because of its history as a land-grant university, the school committed to an ongoing mission: deliver excellent programs and create the next generation of highly qualified professionals. CSU lists awards and accolades from U.S. News, Kiplinger’s, Forbes, and the Fiske Guide. Program Features
Colorado State University has several programs in the Industrial/Organizational field. Online students work toward a Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Completion requires 38 credits and lasts two (full-time) or four (part-time) years. Courses in Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology:
- Applied Industrial Psychology
- Succession Planning and Leadership Development
- Workforce Training and Development
The Master’s degree has no thesis requirement. Instead, students form consultative teams working on projects. The program requires between nine and twelve hours of work each week. Graduate students in the program attend summer courses.
Besides its locations in Chicago and Vancouver, B.C., Adler offers degrees online. Accreditations include the Higher Learning Commission and the Illinois Board of Higher Education. The university provides superb programs that accommodate the needs of today’s busy graduate students. Program Features
Students complete an online Master of Arts in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The program includes 24 months of coursework in staffing, cultural diversity, and healthy work policies. Courses in Industrial and Organization Psychology from Adler University:
- Group Dynamics
- Consulting Skills
- Executive Coaching
Each online course lasts eight weeks. In its stated outcomes of the Master of Arts program, Adler lists awareness of social justice and corporate ethics. Graduates write talent management protocol and design training classes for employees.
Austin Peay State University
Tennessee’s Austin Peay State University plans to expand its student rolls by thousands before the year 2025. To further that goal, the school welcomes students to consider its online degree programs. The online Master of Science degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology utilizes the scientist-practitioner model as defined by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SOIP). Program Features
Austin Peay State offers the M.S. in Industrial-Organization Psychology in a 100-percent online format. Students complete 34 credit hours over two years. Courses in Industrial-Organization Psychology:
- Personnel Assessment and Selection
- Applied Measurement in I-O Psychology
- Leadership and Organization Change
Candidates seeking admission to the graduate Industrial-Organizational Psychology degree need 12 prior credit hours in psychology coursework. Work experience may count toward the requirement. The College of Graduate Studies expects minimum GRE scores of 350 (verbal) and 350 (quantitative).
Southern New Hampshire University
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) received its charter in 1963. In its modern iteration, the university’s president expanded the student base from 2500 to 80000 in just 13 years. All of the school’s programs, including online degrees, receive accreditation from the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, Inc. Program Features
SNHU designed an online Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Prerequisites include a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology or proof of undergraduate coursework in psychology, statistics, and research. Classes in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at SNHU:
- Motivation in the Workplace
- Cognitive Processes
- Organizational Consulting
The Master’s degree program teaches critical thinking, theory, ethics, and applied research skills. Graduates work in human resources, the justice system, public health agencies, and many other fields. Admissions have rolling deadlines throughout the year.
University of Hartford
West Hartford, CT
The University of Hartford (UHart) began in 1957, and today the school has almost 7000 students. The graduate program draws nearly 1600. From 2016 to 2017, 32 percent of all degrees conferred were Master’s degrees. Program Features
UHart’s M.S. in Organizational Psychology functions fully online. The professors demonstrate expertise, and several have published articles on the subject. Classes from the online curriculum for Organizational Psychology:
- Experimental Design
- Advanced Research Methods
- Personnel Psychology
Classes begin three times per year. Each course wraps up in seven weeks. Students sign in with Internet access anywhere around the globe. The program lasts two years if the student completes two classes per term.
Baker College in Flint, Michigan, tailors its degree offerings to the latest industry trends. The school commits to flexible options for working professionals. Along with its many campuses in the state, Baker also grants online degrees. Program Features
The online M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology focuses on developing business leaders in management and human resources. The curriculum translates the theories of psychology into all aspects of human capital management. Classes in Industrial/Organizational Psychology:
- Research Methods
- Tests, Measurements, and Assessment in the Workplace
- Evidence Based Coaching
Graduate students have the option of completing a residency. Baker describes this choice as a conference format in which participants work together to prepare for careers in the field. In total, the I/O program requires 38 credit hours of study.
Missouri University of Science and Technology
Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) began in 1870 in Rolla, Missouri. Today, the school provides opportunities for online certificates, Master’s, and doctorate degrees. The Master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology ranks second in the country. Program Features
Missouri S&T categorizes its online Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology program under the Psychological Science department. Classes cover core subjects, scientific methods, and electives. Students choose a thesis or non-thesis track. Methods courses in Industrial-Organizational Psychology:
- Applied Psychological Data Analysis
- Ethics and Professional Responsibilities
Online classes operate through the Canvas learning management system. Each session live streams on the Internet or students access prerecorded content. For admission, candidates need to complete prerequisites in psychology, research, and statistics. In addition, Missouri S&T wants to see records of classwork in neuroscience, theory, and multiple aspects of psychology.
Kansas State University (KSU) requires candidates for its Master’s degree program to have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0. Priority for admission goes to applicants with at least two years of professional experience. KSU cautions applicants to submit materials by December 20 for financial aid consideration. Program Features
Kansas State awards a Master of Science in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The program caters to human resources specialists. This hybrid degree requires both on-campus and Internet-only coursework. Classes in Industrial and Organizational Psychology:
- Performance Appraisal
- Ethical and Legal Issues: Seminar in Professional Problems
- Practicum: Job Analysis
Students complete 38 credit hours over 2.5 years. The last class consists of a research project with each student’s employer. The faculty supervises this practicum experience.
Walden University was an early adopter of the Industrial-Organizational Psychology programs so popular in graduate schools today. Students learn to apply psychological theories and practices in the workplace. Graduates will be able to identify ideal job candidates, develop a strong staff, and improve corporate outcomes. Program Features
Walden’s M.S. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology follows a fully online or a hybrid format. The curriculum includes roleplay, simulations, and personal feedback. Students have the option to choose concentrations in Evidence-Based Coaching, Consulting Psychology, Forensic Psychology, Human Resource Management, International Business, and Organizational Diversity and Social Change. Classes in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Walden University:
- Psychology of Organizational Behavior
- Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
- Leadership and Leader Development
Students finish their degree in a minimum of 15 months. Transfer students retain no more than 23 credits from their prior graduate school. Those interested in pursuing a terminal degree may apply 40 credits to the school’s PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.