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The Best Online Master's in Organizational Psychology 2020

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Organizational psychologists use psychology principles to improve businesses.

They develop proposals to improve worker productivity, use psychology to solve marketing problems, and help businesses choose employees. Other titles for organizational psychologists include management psychologist, human resources psychologist, and organizational research consultant.

The best online organizational psychology master's programs prepare graduates for lucrative, in-demand jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median salary of $97,260 per year and benefit from 13% projected job growth between 2018 and 2028.

Unlike many other psychology jobs, organizational psychologists do not need a doctorate. Candidates with a master's degree meet educational requirements for organizational psychology careers. Our list of the best online master's programs in organizational psychology can help prospective students find the right program for their interests and career goals.

Top 10 Online Master's Programs in Organizational Psychology 2020

#1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#2 Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO
#3 Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO
#4 University of Hartford West Hartford, CT
#5 Eastern Kentucky University Richmond, KY
#6 Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH
#7 Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA
#8 Albizu University Miami, FL
#9 Austin Peay State University Clarksville, TN
#10 National Louis University Chicago, IL

What Is a Master's in Organizational Psychology?

Combining the principles of psychology and business, organizational psychology (also known as industrial psychology) is the scientific study of working. A master's degree in organizational psychology provides graduates with the critical leadership skills to drive structural and cultural change across an organization.

A master's degree in organizational psychology provides graduates with the critical leadership skills to drive structural and cultural change across an organization.

Online master's degree programs in industrial organizational psychology explore an array of topics related to human behavior and business, including workplace diversity, employee training, performance auditing, and change management. Students learn to use evidence-based best practice to effectively restructure organizations, promote teamwork, and enhance the workplace. Available concentrations in this degree track include talent management, human resources management, and coaching and consulting.

Online Master's in Organizational Psychology Programs

Each school offers its own unique program. For example, instead of traveling to a college campus for classes, some schools let distance learners complete all their work in virtual classrooms. This allows students to take classes and complete assignments in the comfort of their own home or office. It also opens the door for students to enroll in programs outside of where they live and work. Online students engage with their professors and classmates through email, web conferences, and discussion boards.

Instructors deliver online coursework synchronously, asynchronously, or as combination of both formats. Asynchronous programs do not require any specific login times, which means that students can complete work on their own schedules. Conversely, synchronous courses require students to sign on at specific times to participate in real-time video conferences or group discussions with classmates and instructors. Cohort-style online programs tend to mandate that students complete courses together at a set sequence and at a specific pace. Students in more flexible programs can choose their course loads and finish their programs at a pace that best suits their needs.

Online learning serves as a great option for students who require maximum flexibility, such as needing to balance work, family, or other personal commitments. The most successful distance learners are independent and self-motivated enough to complete their work.

The Advantages of a Master's Degree in Organizational Psychology

After earning an undergraduate degree, students often face the decision of whether to pursue a master's degree. A bachelor's degree in organizational psychology is a great steppingstone to a more advanced degree in the field. Professionals with bachelor's degrees in organizational psychology may find careers as training and development coordinators, instructional designers, personnel analysts, or human resources generalists.

However, many positions in this field require a master's degree. Earning an online master's degree in industrial organizational psychology opens the door to many job opportunities with higher earning potential, including as organizational consultants, training development directors, researchers, and employee relations directors. Some organizations may even prefer to hire industrial-organizational psychologists who hold their Ph.D. Earning a doctoral degree in industrial organization also qualifies graduates to become college professors. The following section describes five potential careers for students with a master's in organizational psychology.

Choosing an Online Organizational Psychology Graduate Degree Program

Organizational psychology programs analyze the behavior of people in business settings. Professional organizational psychologists use psychological principles to create methods and plans in order to optimize productivity. The highly specialized nature of the degree means that further concentration options are not always available. However, students often personalize their program by choosing electives of interest.

Courses in an online master's in industrial-organizational psychology program apply theory to practical settings. Students may take classes such as measurement and statistics, research methods, workforce training, and cross-cultural psychology. Prospective students should note that specific classes and electives vary from school to school.

Factors to consider in an Online Organizational Psychology Program

  • Program Cost: Students must consider the cost of tuition when comparing master's degree programs. Some schools charge per-credit tuition, while others charge per course. Learners should calculate the total cost of a program to ensure that they can afford the degree. Students should also consider financial aid options, such as student loans, scholarships, and assistantships.
  • Transfer Policies: A school's transfer policy proves especially important both to students with previously earned college credits and to those who intend to transfer to a different school in the future. Each school develops its own policies for transfer students. Students with previous credits should look for schools with transfer agreements that make it easier to count old credits toward their degree.
  • School Size and Type: Students should consider whether a public or a private school suits them best. Public schools enjoy funding from the government, which usually results in larger class sizes. Private programs, by contrast, tend to offer smaller class sizes. Students should contact their prospective school to learn more about the size of their classes.
  • Program Length: The length of the program is a key factor when comparing master's in organizational psychology programs. Prospective students should think about how long they want to study. For example, schools offer online programs on an accelerated, full-time basis or on a part-time basis: the latter pace accommodating working professions content with extending the total time it takes to graduate.
  • On-Campus Requirements: When looking at online master's programs, students should find out about any on-campus requirements. Many schools feature 100% online programs; however, certain schools require distance learners to visit campus (or another location) a few times during the program.
  • Thesis, Fellowship, and Work Requirements: Most master's programs require students to write a final thesis paper, take a final comprehensive exam, or a complete a final capstone project. A thesis tends to focus on research, while exams may entail writing timed essays. Capstone project requirements vary by school; however, some organizational psychology programs require students to apply their research to real-world scenarios.

Accreditation for Online Organizational Psychology Master's Degrees

The accreditation process involves an evaluation of a school's academics, faculty, resources, and more. Accredited institutions are approved and recognized by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). The ED and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA), a non-governmental organization of colleges and universities, ensure the credibility of accrediting organizations.

Two types of accreditation apply to higher education: regional and national. Regional accreditation is the highest standard of accreditation, and seven ED- and CHEA-recognized regional accreditation agencies oversee accreditation in the U.S, including the Higher Learning Commission and the Middle States Commission of Higher Education. Schools with regional accreditation boast nonprofit status and typically serve as the more reputable institutions.

The ED also recognizes national accreditation agencies, including the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges and the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training. National accreditation focuses on specific trades, vocations, or faith-based careers. Students should note that attending a school with only national accreditation comes with some downsides, such as employer skepticism regarding the degree conferred and credit-transfer issues.

How Long Does It Take to Complete an Online Master in Organizational Psychology Degree Program?

Various criteria impact the length of time it takes to earn a degree. For example, most master's degrees require students to earn 30–40 credits, with some degrees requiring up to 54 credits. Whether distance learners take classes on a full-time or part-time basis also affects the length of time it takes to graduate. Some schools allow students to choose between full-time or part-time status; however, some programs only come in one format.

Students who take courses on a full-time basis may earn their degrees in 2–2 years, while those who opt for part-time programs may need 2–4 years to complete their degrees. Distance learners who wish to earn their degrees at a quicker pace should look for accelerated programs, which allow students to graduate in as little as 11 months. Additionally, students who transfer in previously earned credits may require less time to earn their degrees, as taking fewer credits results in a cheaper total program cost.

Courses in an Online Master's in Organizational Psychology Program

Organizational Development and Change

An organizational development course equips students with fundamental knowledge of organizational structures, processes, rules, and functions. In this course, students explore planning, executing, and managing change in today's modern, fast-paced work environments. Topics include human behavior, program implementation, and organizational analysis. Courses typically cover intervention and resolution methods such as consultation, coaching, and behavior modeling.

Psychology Research Methods

Research methods courses ensure that students develop a substantial understanding of the research process, including research design, hypothesis development, and experimentation. Research courses also cover the conception and implementation of a research study, from the planning phase to collecting data to analyzing results. Students may practice advanced statistical techniques, such as canonical correlation and logistic regression.

Personnel Psychology

Courses in personnel psychology provide students with a social psychological perspective of industrial and work-related problems. Topics include human resources, personnel selection, talent management, job satisfaction, and performance appraisal. Students discuss work behavior, job satisfaction, group relationships, organizational effectiveness, and corporate social responsibility. Courses also explore current trends and future directions of the field.

Talent Management

Talent management courses provide students with a strong understanding of topics related to human resources, such as how to recruit, select, develop, and retain employees within an organization. Courses explore talent acquisition, training and professional development, compensation, employee turnover, and labor relations. Students also discuss current challenges and explore various strategies and solutions.

Social Psychology

Social psychology courses explore the impact of social factors on human behavior. In this course, students examine how people think, act, and interact within various social situations, including in the workplace. Students analyze the underlying causes of different behaviors and discuss diverse perspectives. Topics include prejudice, stereotyping, aggression, conformity, interpersonal attraction, social cognition, and intergroup relations.

What Can You Do With a Master's in Organizational Psychology?

Working at the intersection between modern business and traditional psychology, industrial-organizational psychologists often partner with business or government professionals to develop employee training programs, evaluate organizational structures, and assist with change management programs. Students with their online master's degree in industrial organizational psychology also apply these principles to a variety of business operations within administration, human resources, and marketing. Professionals in this specialized field can also opt for careers in academia to conduct research, write papers and books, and instruct students.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial organizational psychologists analyze human behavior in the workplace. Their work includes research design, creating assessment exercises, conducting surveys, and interpreting results. Industrial-organizational psychologists generally hold a master's degree and state licensure, though some organizations prefer a doctoral degree.

Salary by Experience

  • Entry Level: $61,000
  • Mid-Career: $91,000
  • Experienced: $106,000
  • Late Career: $125,000

Industrial-Organizational Professor

As the industrial-organization field grows, so does the demand for professors. Industrial-organizational professors teach college-level courses, conduct research, and mentor students. They also present lectures, assign coursework, and grade assignments. Colleges and universities require adjunct professors to hold at least a master's degree; however, most tenured professors hold a Ph.D.

Salary by Experience

  • Entry Level: $60,000
  • Mid-Career: $70,000
  • Experienced: $87,000
  • Late Career: $100,000

Training Development Director

Training development directors create and implement employee training programs. They establish training objectives and ensure that goals align with an organization's larger strategic initiatives. Most positions require a minimum of a bachelor's degree; however, many employers prefer a master's degree.

Salary by Experience

  • Entry Level: $72,000
  • Mid-Career: $91,000
  • Experienced: $101,000
  • Late Career: $114,000

Research Consultant

Research consultants collect and analyze data, and then they present their findings. Industrial-organizational research consultants solve business problems related to employees and the workplace. Most positions require at least a bachelor's degree; however, many employers require or prefer a master's degree.

Salary by Experience

  • Entry Level: $69,000
  • Mid-Career: $78,000
  • Experienced: $85,000
  • Late Career: $63,000

Employee Relations Director

Employee relations directors typically work in human resources departments. They manage the workforce, guide employee actions, conduct training sessions, and ensure compliance with labor regulations. Employee relations directors must hold at least a bachelor's degree; however, most employers prefer a master's degree.

Salary by Experience

  • Entry Level: $91,000
  • Mid-Career: $101,000
  • Experienced: $107,000
  • Late Career: $112,000

Organizational Psychology Membership Associations

Membership associations serve as a valuable resource for organizational psychology professionals. Association members receive numerous benefits, including access to specialized job boards, private events, and elite subscriptions. Professional associations provide members with ample networking opportunities and ensure they stay up to date on the latest research and trends in the field.

  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology Dedicated to advancing the industrial-organizational psychology field, SIOP is a professional association with more than 10,000 members. SIOP offers members several networking opportunities, such as the Annual Conference and the Leading Edge Consortium. Student members can search for internships in the association's JobNet and post their resumes on their Conference Placement Center.
  • American Psychological Association APA is a professional organization with more than 118,000 members. APA offers an abundance of resources for psychology students, clinicians, consultants, researchers, and educators, including internship opportunities, subscriptions to special publications, financial planning guides, discounts on continuing education opportunities, and a specialized job board.
  • Association for Behavior Analysis International ABAI is a 26,000-member organization dedicated to human behavior analysis. The association offers members networking events and continuing education opportunities around the world. Members enjoy access to a robust selection of career services, including a specialized job board and job placement services.
  • Association for Psychological Science APS is an international organization of more than 30,000 psychologists, scientists, academics, researchers, and students. Dedicated to understanding and improving the human condition, the association offers members access to conventions, research publications, and career services. APS regularly awards members for their contributions to the advancement of the field.

The Best Online Master's in Organizational Psychology Programs

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4

University of Hartford 

West Hartford, CT

About this school

The University of Hartford offers challenging academics, exceptional faculty, and a low student-to-faculty ratio of just 9-to-1. The private, nonprofit university educates about 4,800 undergraduate and 2,000 graduate students each year. UHart offers nine online graduate degrees, including one of the best online master's programs in organizational psychology.

The curriculum includes 36 credits that learners complete entirely online. Students learn how to conduct research and collect data to solve interpersonal and organizational problems. Required courses include personnel psychology, experimental design, and advanced research methods.

Learners can customize the degree through electives on topics like global talent management, emotional intelligence in organizations, conflict management, and intercultural communication. Students culminate the degree with an internship or capstone course. Courses feature an asynchronous format, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

UHart accepts students on a rolling basis and offers three start dates per year. Candidates must submit transcripts, a statement of intent, and three letters of recommendation.

Graduation Rate
58%
Percent Receiving Loans
76%
5

Eastern Kentucky University 

Richmond, KY

About this school

Eastern Kentucky University offers online programs that use accelerated, eight-week terms and asynchronous learning for optimal flexibility. The online master's degree in industrial-organizational psychology comprises 36 credits.

The curriculum follows guidelines set forth by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Graduates can work in high-level roles in human resources, organization development, and management. Courses include performance management, work analysis, applied research skills, and professional development. Students culminate the degree with a practicum. The university's Center for Applied Psychology and Workforce Development assists degree candidates in finding local practicum placements.

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree with some coursework in statistics and psychology. Candidates need an overall GPA of at least 2.75 and a minimum 3.0 in their final 60 credits of undergraduate coursework. Applicants with an overall minimum 3.0 GPA do not need to submit GRE scores. Other applicants need GRE scores of at least 149 on the verbal section and 144 on the quantitative section.

Online students gain access to online tutoring and career services. All online learners pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. Active-duty military receive a tuition discount.

Graduation Rate
47%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
6

Southern New Hampshire University 

Manchester, NH

About this school

Southern New Hampshire University offers more than 200 online degrees. The university uses asynchronous learning in all of these programs, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations. SNHU strives to make education affordable, with no out-of-state fees, a tuition freeze in place since 2012, scholarship opportunities, and discounts for members of the military.

The online master's in psychology with a concentration in industrial-organizational psychology prepares graduates to conduct market research, manage human resources tasks, and complete management evaluations. However, SNHU's program does not prepare students for licensure. Courses include research methods in psychology, theories of personality, ethical practice in psychology, and motivation in the workplace. Learners culminate the degree with a three-credit capstone.

SNHU accepts year-round applications for the online organizational psychology master's program. The university designed the program for learners with a bachelor's degree in psychology. However, SNHU also accepts candidates with bachelor's degrees in other areas, provided their transcripts include introduction to psychology, research methods in social science, and social science statistics. Applicants typically receive admissions decisions within days of submitting their online applications.

Graduation Rate
54%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
7

Touro University Worldwide 

Los Alamitos, CA

About this school

Touro University Worldwide is founded on Jewish traditions, philanthropy, and rigorous academics. TUW's 19,000 students have access to a career center, which helps them find jobs, learn about professional networking opportunities, and locate volunteer opportunities.

TUW offers a master of arts in industrial and organizational psychology that requires 36 credits. Core courses include facilitating organizational change, developing high-performance teamwork, improving customer relations, and statistical methods. Learners may choose between three concentrations: coaching and consulting; occupational health psychology; and human resource management. Learners can also pursue a custom concentration through electives. The degree culminates with a capstone course.

Applicants need an accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA. Transfer students need a minimum 2.75 GPA. Applicants must submit official transcripts. TUW does not charge an application fee or require GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
50%
Percent Receiving Loans
23%
8

Albizu University 

Miami, FL

About this school

Distinguished psychologist Carlos Albizu-Miranda founded the Puerto Rico Institute of Psychology in 1966 to train culturally sensitive psychology professionals from diverse backgrounds. The school grew into the Albizu University System, which now offers courses in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Miami, Florida; and online. The university's programs emphasize multiculturalism and social responsibility.

The 42-credit, online master of science in industrial and organizational psychology includes courses on attitude theory, employment law, advanced research methods, and work motivation. Students culminate the degree with a six-credit capstone. To qualify for graduation, students need a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. The curriculum prepares graduates to work in human resources, education, research, and government.

Degree candidates may transfer up to six credits from accredited universities toward the program. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The school considers applicants with lower GPAs on a provisional basis. Candidates must submit official transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume. Applicants must complete an upper-level undergraduate statistics course before beginning the program.

Graduation Rate
10%
Percent Receiving Loans
50%
9

Austin Peay State University 

Clarksville, TN

About this school

Named after a former governor of Tennessee, Austin Peay State University offers diverse undergraduate and graduate programs, including 30 online programs. Online programs feature asynchronous formats, giving students the flexibility to balance their studies with work and family obligations. Online learners gain access to online tutoring, a writing center, career services, and online mental health screenings.

APSU's fully online master's in industrial-organizational psychology comprises 34 credits. Core classes include personnel assessment and selection, leadership and organizational change, applied measurement in industrial-organizational psychology, and performance management. Students culminate the degree with a comprehensive exam or thesis. The thesis takes two semesters to complete.

Applicants need a regionally accredited bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and 12 credits of psychology courses. Applicants must also demonstrate GRE scores of at least 143 on the verbal section and 138 on the quantitative section.

Graduation Rate
41%
Percent Receiving Loans
58%
10

National Louis University 

Chicago, IL

About this school

Founded in 1886, National Louis University is a private, nonprofit institution that hosts students on seven campuses in Illinois and Florida and online. NLU's online master's in industrial and organizational psychology comprises 36 credits.

The course includes classes in performance analysis and measurement, work motivation and job attitudes, measurement of individual differences, talent acquisition and development, and research design. Learners culminate the degree with a capstone project. Students need an overall minimum 3.0 GPA to qualify for graduation.

Applicants must hold a regionally accredited bachelor's degree and submit transcripts, a resume, a statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation. Some applicants must submit professional writing samples or their scores from the Criterion Online Writing Assessment. Applicants with undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0 and those who hold other graduate degrees do not need to meet this requirement.

Graduation Rate
22%
Percent Receiving Loans
15%
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