The Best Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology
| TBS Staff
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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 $92,880 per year and benefit from 2.5% projected job growth between 2019 and 2029.
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.
|#1||Carlos Albizu University Miami, FL|
|#2||Missouri University of Science and Technology Rolla, MO|
|#3||Southern New Hampshire University Manchester, NH|
|#4||Colorado State University Fort Collins, CO|
|#5||Baker College Owosso, MI|
|#6||National Louis University Chicago, IL|
|#7||Touro University Worldwide Los Alamitos, CA|
|#8||Bellevue University Bellevue, NE|
|#9||Adler University Chicago, IL|
|#10||Golden Gate University San Francisco, CA|
Featured Online Schools
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
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 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: $67,000
- Mid-Career: $92,000
- Experienced: $110,000
- Late Career: $125,000
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: $86,000
- Late Career: $100,000
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: $75,000
- Mid-Career: $92,000
- Experienced: $104,000
- Late Career: $107,000
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: $70,000
- Mid-Career: $75,000
- Experienced: $86,000
- Late Career: $52,000
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: $95,000
- Experienced: $115,000
- Late Career: $120,000
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.
The Best Online Master's in Organizational Psychology Programs
Established in 1966, Albizu University provides educational resources to over 2,000 students every year. It has campuses in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Miami, Florida.
CAU's online master of science in industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology teaches students to apply scientific knowledge to workplace problems. The 48-credit curriculum features courses such as employment law, attitude theory, and applied research with a capstone project.
The application for this online organizational psychology degree must include an official undergraduate transcript showing a 3.0 GPA, three letters of recommendation, a CV, and a statement of purpose.
From its home in Rolla, Missouri, Missouri University of Science and Technology educates over 7,600 students annually. Started in 1870, this university has a long legacy in technology, research, and innovation.
Missouri S&T's online master of science in industrial-organizational psychology gives students proficiency in this field. The 40-credit, thesis-optional curriculum features such courses as applied psychological data analysis, small-group dynamics, and advanced social psychology.
Priority applicants must have a minimum 3.5 GPA or a GRE score of 300. For standard consideration, applicants must present a minimum 3.0 GPA or a 3.25 Psychology GPA.
Southern New Hampshire University accommodates more than 138,000 students from its Manchester, New Hampshire, campus. Since 1932, this school has become one of the fastest-growing universities in the US.
With its master of science in psychology — industrial and organizational program, SNHU prepares students to help organizations in employee-related matters. Within the 36 credit curriculum, students learn to address workplace challenges in courses such as motivation in the workplace, organizational consulting, and psychology of leadership.
Applying for this master's in organizational psychology requires completing a graduate application and providing undergraduate transcripts showing a minimum 2.75 GPA.
Since 1870, Colorado State University has operated from its campus in Fort Collins, Colorado. It has grown from an agricultural college to a university with over 36,000 students.
This online master's in industrial-operational psychology from CSU teaches how to solve workplace problems with staff and leadership. The 38-credit curriculum focuses on practitioner-oriented skills with courses such as applied psychology research methods, succession planning and leadership development, and applied measurement theory.
Admissions requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, an undergraduate 3.0 GPA (general and major-specific), and GRE scores (general and major-specific). Non-psych majors must submit proof of experience in the field.
In 1965, Muskegon College and Baker Business University joined together to form Baker College in Owosso, Michigan, just outside Flint. Today, Baker has over 26,000 students.
Baker's online master of science in industrial-organizational psychology targets managers wanting to learn how people cognitively function in the workplace. This 36-credit master's program offers courses such as individual and group factors in the workplace, evidence-based coaching, and an integrative capstone in psychology.
Applicants must submit official transcripts from all institutions attended, a current resume, and a 500-to-1,000-word essay on career objectives. Baker does not require GMAT or GRE scores.
National Louis University's main campus sits in Chicago, Illinois. Currently serving approximately 9,000 students annually, NLU has provided a progressive and professional education platform since 1886.
The 36-credit, online master of science degree in industrial and organizational psychology from NLU aligns students for success in industry, labor, health organizations, and business. The coursework from this master's in organizational psychology includes performance analysis and measurement, talent acquisition and retention, and a capstone in I/O psychology.
Applicants must demonstrate a GPA of 3.0 or higher or submit recent Criterion Online Writing Assessment scores, plus official transcripts from a regionally accredited institution and a written statement of academic and professional goals.
Established in 1998, Touro University Worldwide provides flexible higher learning from its campus in Los Alamitos, California. This university enrolls over 19,000 students.
TUW's online master of industrial and organizational psychology focuses on the quantitative effect of motivated employees on productivity and profits. In the 36-credit curriculum, students benefit from courses like developing high-performance teamwork, facilitating organizational change, and IOP 699 capstone.
TUW admissions require an official transcript from an accredited institution that verifies an overall 2.5 GPA.
From its main campus in Bellevue, Nebraska, Bellevue University has served as an open-access, higher learning institution since 1966. Nearly 9,000 students attend Bellevue online and on-campus.
BU's online master of science in industrial and organizational psychology concentrates on professional networking, applied assessments, and real-world organizational strategies. The program's 36-credit curriculum includes courses such as job analysis and performance appraisal, organizational development, and social psychology.
BU admission requirements include a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited college or university, a 2.5 GPA or better over the last 60 credits of coursework, and a letter of recommendation.
Founded as a school of professional psychology in 1952, Adler University continues to expand on that purpose from its Chicago, Illinois, campus. It serves more than 1,800 students.
Adler's master of arts in industrial and organizational psychology prepares students to be insightful and intuitive I/O professionals in this rapidly emerging specialty. Highlighted courses in this 36-credit master's program include group dynamics, talent management, and social justice practicum.
Applicants must have a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution or college, a 3.0 GPA or better, and two recommendation letters.
Golden Gate University has been producing educated professions since 1901. From its San Francisco campus, GGU facilitates over 3,300 on-campus and online students.
GGU's master of arts in industrial-organizational psychology equips graduates to identify and improve workplace dynamics. The program's 42-credit curriculum offers insights into this growing I/O field with courses such as leading complex change, adaptive decision-making, and ethics in managing people at work.
Applying students must present an official transcript from a regionally accredited U.S. institution that verifies a 2.5 GPA or above. Students with a GPA below 2.5 must submit a statement of purpose and a resume.
Online Master's in Organizational Psychology Programs Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and variety of courses provided as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
The motto of TheBestSchools.org is Finding the best school for you. Here is how we do it:
The value of any ranking list of schools and/or degree programs depends on having a methodologically sound assessment of each school’s/program’s characteristics, especially insofar as these can be objectively measured. A college or university is a complex entity, with numerous factors to consider, and distilling these down to the place where meaningful comparisons can be made to form a defensible ranking list becomes part science and part art.
To meet this challenge—and thereby provide you with the most useful and insightful educational rankings on the Internet — TheBestSchools.org formulates our rankings based on five informational categories (six, when considering online schools). The major metrics and qualities for which we rank are these (with expanded, detailed considerations and weights listed):
1. Academic excellence based on a school’s curriculum generally or within the selected discipline [weight = 25%]
- Weighs school against known leading schools in that discipline
- Weighs number of core curricula listed as advanced courses within that discipline and compares against introductory courses
- Weighs school’s curriculum against known knowledge needs of major employers in that discipline
- Considers number and types of specializations offered within that discipline
- Considers faculty expertise in that discipline
- Considers range of electives within that discipline
- Considers quality of online environment offered to students (if applicable), particularly within that discipline
2. Strength of faculty scholarship [weight = 25%]
- Considers education background of the faculty
- Considers years of faculty experience both inside and outside of academia.
- Considers faculty membership and leadership within relevant, prominent associations
- Considers academic papers published by faculty in relevant, prominent periodicals
- Considers awards and recognitions given to faculty members from prominent organizations and from other sources
3. Reputation [weight = 20%]
- Considers a school’s reputation among academic peers and employers regarding the following:
- “Freshness” of academic knowledge
- Adaptability to changes in employment sectors
- Suitability of graduates for the workplace
4. Financial aid [weight = 10%]
- Mandatory: Requires full accreditation from an agency endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education and listed on the federal register to accept student federal financial aid
- Considers range of school-sponsored financial aid such as scholarships and grants
5. Range of degree programs [weight = 20%]
- Considers range of degree levels: associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral and professional
- Considers range of degree subjects offered, such as art & design, computers & technology, education & teaching, criminal justice, and business
6. Strength of online instruction methodology (if applicable) [weight = 25%; subtract 5% from each of the above for online schools/programs]
Considers the following of the online classes:
- Types of online technology used to deliver content
- Pedagogy style: asynchronous, synchronous, or both (depending on the degree)
- Extent and quality of the online, community learning environment, including options for communication, interactivity, and collaboration between students and also between students and instructors
- Variety, breadth, and depth of coursework, and its support, including project options and online tutoring
Considers the following of instructors:
- Extent of training for teaching within an online learning environment
- Amount of timely, consistent feedback to students
- Extent of collaboration with prospective employers to ensure suitability of instructional materials for achieving desired skills
- Ratio to number of students in a class
- Number and quality of internships in a student’s geographical area for applicable degrees
Because students tend to review a variety of information when choosing a school, the weight a student gives any one criterion will vary. For instance, it’s not enough to offer a carefully constructed ranking of great schools if many are too expensive or too difficult to get into.
To better serve the needs of prospective students, we are therefore increasingly offering filters that help you better use our rankings to find the schools that match your specific needs. These supplement our ranking criteria and include:
- Public or private status
- Acceptance rate
- Retention rate
- Graduation rate
- ACT/SAT requirements
- Cost in-state / out of state
- Undergrad, grad, or both offered
Get the best rankings here AND get them to suit your personal needs. That’s TheBestSchools.org advantage!
If you have any questions about our ranking methodology, please contact us.
Citations: For a broader account of our ranking methodology, especially as it relates to TheBestSchools.org's underlying educational philosophy and, in other ranking articles, looks beyond academic excellence (as here) to such factors as return on investment or incidental benefit, see our article "Ranking Methodology: How We Rank Schools at TBS." Reputation of schools and degree programs can at least in part be gauged through the school or department's publishing activity, citations, and desirability. At TheBestSchools.org, we keep track of such social and peer validation: "Making Sense of College Rankings." For nuts-and-bolts information about colleges and universities, we look to the National Center for Education Statistics and especially its College Navigator. Insofar as salary and inflation data are relevant to a ranking, we look to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, nothing beats contacting schools and degree programs directly, which our researchers often do, with the result that all the entries in this article should be considered as belonging to this citation!
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