What Can I Expect from an Online Master’s Organizational Psychology Program?

Earning an online master’s in organizational psychology enables graduates to work within companies and groups to positively impact human capital and workplace performance. As a degree and career that is deeply rooted in psychological principal and paradigms, a master’s in organizational psychology enables work optimization through research, assessments and collaboration. Online degrees offer students flexibility in their studies at tuition rates that often are lower than typical college settings. Students can continue to work in their current careers while completing their academics. Additionally, they won’t have to worry about relocating just to work on a degree. Students can decide between many online learning opportunities to earn their master’s, choosing between set class times and asynchronous studies, as well as various program lengths, on-campus intensives, internship requirements and earned accreditations.

Concentrations Offered for an Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology

CONCENTRATION DESCRIPTION CAREERS THIS CONCENTRATION PREPARES FOR
Coaching and Consulting Coursework focuses on preparing students to take on internal or external consulting roles, conduct needs-based evaluations and coach impacted employees effectively. Industrial/organizational consultant, organizational coach
Human Resource Management The HRM concentration combines business and psychology studies to best prepare graduates to enter challenging leadership roles that have a direct impact on employees and workplace environment. Human resources manager, human resources coach, human resources consultant
Occupational Health Psychology Studies enable students to use analyses of physical and psychosocial work environments to determine the impact on the well-being of employees plus build initiatives and programs to encourage work-life balance as well as address workplace stress and frustration. Occupational health psychologist, organizational psychologist

Curriculum for an Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology

Graduate-level studies in organizational psychology fall into three main degree types. First, some organizations offer an M.A. or M.S. in psychology or applied psychology with a concentration in organizational psychology. Those programs offer a broader scale of core courses with organizational psychology studies available through electives. Second, other schools offer an M.S. in industrial-organizational psychology, which offers a slightly different scope than does the third option, an M.A. or M.S. in organizational psychology. Some programs require two-week campus intensives for in-person learning; many require an internship or practicum. Programs also differ in whether they offer a capstone course, final examination or thesis to complete the degree. Typically, students who anticipate furthering their education in the future with a PhD complete the thesis track.

During your master’s coursework in organizational psychology, you may encounter some of the following classes:

COURSES DESCRIPTION
Foundations of Professional Psychology A core psychology course with the framework of its application in workplaces or professional environments.
Theories in Personality An exploration into different personality types and how those attributes can impact an individual’s workplace experience.
Motivation in the Workplace A deep dive into motivation and understanding how differing work environments and work-related benefits contribute to an employee’s work efforts.
Applied Statistics for Psychology A quantitative learning experience, teaching how the gathering and interpreting of statistics can be used for effective organizational psychology practices.
Occupational Health Psychology Applying successful psychological techniques and applications through the combination of theories and empirical research to optimize both the workplace environment and individual employee’s well-being.

How Long Does It Take to Get an Online Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology?

The length of time students will spend earning an online master’s in organizational psychology varies depending on the type of program and degree, any specializations or concentrations sought and the number of credits a student is able to take each term. For instance, an M.S. in psychology with an organizational psychology concentration may require between 38 and 51 credit hours, including practicums and internships. Those degrees may be completed in two to four years of study. Alternatively, an M.A. in industrial and organizational psychology may require between 30 and 36 hours to complete, often possible in under two years. Overall, most available classes for an online master’s in organizational psychology can be accomplished in about two years.

Other factors can increase or decrease the time necessary to finish this master’s degree. Students who have begun their graduate education in the past may be able to transfer credits related to psychology, particularly if they are similar to elective courses in the new degree program. Most schools limit the portion of credits that may transfer. That number varies by college but could enable a student to save between one and two semesters. On the other hand, students who choose to pursue more than one concentration or specialization may find their schooling extended by several semesters. Schools often enforce a timeframe in which all degree requirements are fulfilled, typically five years from the time the student began their studies.

Certifications and Licenses an Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Prepares For

CONCENTRATION CERTIFICATION
Certified Management Consultant The Institute of Management Consultants confers this certification in three levels: basic, experienced and management. The certification requires work experience in consulting plus related education. Applicants need to pass both a written and an oral exam plus make available five or more clients who endorse their capabilities.
Society for Human Resource Management Certification Candidates with a graduate degree related to human resources, including organizational psychology, can sit for the written test for this certification. Once passed, SHRM confers either basic level or senior level certification, depending on the number of years worked in an HR role.
Professional Human Resources Students can combine their education and HR experience to qualify to test for a Professional Human Resources certification, a Senior Professional Human Resources certification for those with more experience or a Global Professional Human Resources certification for those who work within multinational organizations.
American Board of Professional Psychology The ABPP awards certifications to individuals who work in a variety of specialties, including Organizational and Business Consulting. Certifications require oral and written boards as well as professional endorsements.

Accreditation for Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Degrees

Accreditations serve as a way for students to discern what external organizations have evaluated a master’s in organizational psychology program or the school offering the degree. Schools and programs may attain accreditation through regional and national organizations or through entities specific to the field of psychology. Prospective students should research which accreditations a school has earned. A few of the regional and national bodies that offer accreditation include:

Additionally, schools may hold accreditations through the Masters in Psychology and Counseling Accreditation Council (MPCAC).

Employment Outlook for Master’s in Organizational Psychology Graduates

Job Placement: Master’s v. Bachelor’s

A majority of jobs in the organizational psychology field require at least a master’s degree, with some organizations and job types requiring a doctoral degree. Very few positions are available for professionals with only a bachelor’s degree in psychology, most often entry-level jobs. With a master’s, organizational psychologists can effectively fill many professional roles, including those offered by global organizations or state and federal governments. Under the broad umbrella of psychology, organizational psychologists can expect to find above-average job growth.

Expected Salary

Industrial-organizational psychology is a very niche field, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which reports only 920 in the profession as of 2017. That represents just 0.5 percent of the overall 166,600-strong psychology field that includes all specializations and degree levels. While the general psychology umbrella that includes all types of professionals earns a median salary of $77,030, median wages in industrial-organizational psychology total $87,100, while mean wages equal $102,530 per year.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Median Salary and Related Occupations

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

A master’s in organizational psychology plus earned certifications opens many doors for career options. The highest number of organizational psychologists or consultants work for organizations designated as scientific research and development services, followed closely by management and consulting firms. The remaining three positions in the top five list of workplace types include government, schools and company management.

The table below ranks those industries in which an organizational psychologist may practice from highest to lowest mean annual wages.

Industry Profile and Mean Wages of I/O Psychologists

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Career Opportunities

Although a slim field, graduates with a master’s in organizational psychology have many employment opportunities in a variety of settings.

JOB TITLE JOB DESCRIPTION MEDIAN SALARY PROJECTED GROWTH RATE
Organizational Psychologist Organizational Psychologists use psychology-based methods to research, conduct assessments, and craft responses and solutions for employees and human capital management paradigms within varied workplace environments. $87,100 per year 14%
HR Manager Human Resources Managers oversee daily HR operations and staffing needs, develop workforce strategies and optimize employment environments and results. $110,120 per year 9%
Occupational Workplace Consultants Consultants with a background in organizational psychology partner with various internal departments and external resources to develop best practices, healthy workplace environments and strategic change management initiatives. $82,450 per year 14%

Professional Organizations

Organizational psychology is an ever-evolving field. Through membership in industry organizations, first as a student and later as a credentialed professional, organizational psychologists can stay up-to-date in emerging trends and the latest in thought leadership. Additional, membership in professional organizations enables access to continuing education programming, networking opportunities and financial aid for either schooling or external research, as well as professional certifications and guidance for post-doctoral licensure for students who continue their education beyond the master’s level.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology: SIOP touts “science for a smarter workplace” and provides learning and networking opportunities both to students in organizational psychology programs and degreed graduates. The organization provides webinars, continuing education, research grants and guidance for licensure for candidates who have finished their PhDs in the field.

American Psychological Association: The largest organization dedicated to psychology in the United States, the American Psychological Association provides those who practice in the many areas of psychology with robust resources, learning opportunities, professional development and networking through annual and regional events.

Society for Human Resource Management: The Society for Human Resource Management is the largest organization of its kind for members and nonmembers alike who work within human resources. SHRM provides a constant stream of legislative updates, best practices, continuing education opportunities, certifications and direct interactions.

Financing Your Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Degree

The price tag associated with master’s level studies in organizational psychology varies widely between institutions, but most colleges and universities that offer this degree do so with more affordable fees than traditional graduate programs. Students interested in a degree in organizational psychology can find financial aid through a variety of sources. These include government grants and loans, private loans and scholarships, and workplace tuition matching programs. Prospective students may also apply for in-house scholarships from schools and discounts for individuals who are associated with the armed forces, as well as many other designations and defining characteristics such as single parenthood, disabilities or minority and other underserved demographic communities.

Begin the financial aid process by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This same application must be submitted each calendar year you work on your degree. Upon completion, you’ll learn about various federal programs available to help finance your degree in organizational psychology

Resources

Scholarships

Scholarships

Details

Hebl Grant for Reducing Gender Inequalities in the Workplace

Award: $3,000

Deadline: Rolling

Eligibility: Students must be working on a master’s thesis or doctoral dissertation in the field of industrial-organizational psychology and related to the issue of gender inequality.

James L. Outtz Grant for Student Research on Diversity

Award: $3,000

Deadline: Spring/Summer

Eligibility: Grad students who are embarking on research for their thesis or dissertation that examines diversity-related topics in industrial-organizational psychology.