How to Choose a Masters in Organizational Psychology

The purpose of this article is to describe why you should consider getting a master’s degree in organizational psychology. We will explain to you about the types of classes you will be required to take in this graduate program, why you would want to work as an organizational psychologist and which are the best online organizational psychology programs to attend. We also describe the importance of making sure that your university is fully accredited.

What Is a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology?

For a workplace to function at its best, it is very important for people to get along and to operate at their best possible efficiency. In businesses where most of the employees are both healthy and happy, there is higher satisfaction, better work quality and improve employee retention rates.

An organizational psychologist applies advanced psychological principles and methods of research to businesses and the workplace. An organizational psychologist works with a company to get a ‘feel’ of the sort of workplace that it is and how the morale of employees is faring. Then, they collaborate with the company’s management to do screenings and training sessions, and come up with innovative plans to work with company managers and employees so they can better achieve company goals.

In an organizational psychology program and career, you can expect to do some or all of the following:

  • Do scientific research of employee behavior and activity
  • Collect data about employees via interviews, observations, surveys and other methods
  • Identify behavioral, psychological and emotional issues that are relevant in the workplace
  • Conduct research and determine how to identify problematic emotional and behavioral problems
  • Discuss possible treatment plans with employers and employees

This type of psychologist also studies workplace productivity, management and employee styles of working and morale. They will work closely with management on planning policies, screening employees, as well as organizational development.

Depending upon the online university you select, you may take courses such as the following:

  • Leadership and Leader Development
  • Psychology of Organizational Behavior
  • Consulting for Organizational Change
  • Research Theory, Design and Methods
  • Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
  • I/O Testing and Measurement
  • Personnel Psychology in the Workplace

Why Earn a Master’s in Organizational Psychology?

Many graduate students are choosing to earn their master’s degree in organizational psychology because there is more demand for all types of psychologists in the next decade. The Bureau of Labor Statistics states that the typical demand for all psychologists will be 19% increase by 2024, which is a great growth rate.

Also, organizational psychologists will see a 19% increase in demand. The US government believes that more companies will be investing in the services of organizational psychologists to help them select and keep the best employees. This will be more important in the years to come, as stronger economic growth can lead to more competition among employers to keep the best employees.

High Level of Pay

The median salary for all psychologists is $72,000, but the median salary for organizational psychologists is $77,350. You may be able to earn a higher salary than this if you are a private consultant with your own practice.

Licensure and Certification

To be an organizational psychologist, you need to have at least your master’s degree in psychology. You also must pass your Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. To learn more about the requirements for your particular state, you should refer to the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards.

Also, to enhance your resume, you may consider earning a specialty certification in industrial organizational psychology through the American Board of Professional Psychology.

Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology Degree Options

Colorado State University

For a professional who wants to pursue this career with an online degree, consider the Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Colorado State University.

This program requires you to complete 38 credit hours in 2-3 years. You may take your classes online in six semesters if you take two courses per semester, or you can choose to take three if you are not working. You also need to complete summer classes to graduate within three years.

All of the courses in this psychology program will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of industrial/organizational psychology. There is a very strong focus on quantitative research techniques. You also will have the chance to select electives that can improve or enhance your background for certain employers.

CSU offers several classes each semester so that you have the kind of flexibility that you need as a working professional.

Your required classes include:

  • PSY 647 – Applied Industrial Psychology
  • PSY 662 – Applied Psychological Research Methods I
  • PSY 665 – Applied Psychological Research Design
  • PSY 667 – Competency Modeling and Criterion Development
  • PSY 692D – Seminar: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 648 – Applied Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 605 – Applied Measurement Theory
  • PSY 660 – Applied Cross-Cultural Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 668 – Workforce Training and Development
  • PSY 648 – Applied Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 663 – Applied Psychological Research Methods II
  • PSY 661 – Applied Organizational Development
  • PSY 666 – Succession Planning and Leadership Development
  • PSY 669 – Capstone: Practicum and Skills Development

This program is built around a highly active learning model that features real and embedded situations that will provide you with essential I/O knowledge and skills. You and each of your students will be in a virtual consulting group, and with the support of professors, will complete several projects together each semester. For instance, your team could design a leadership development program or possibly do an organizational diagnosis.

Southern New Hampshire University

With the business climate changing quickly in the 21st century, there is more demand for psychology professionals who have the ability to boost employee performance, general well being and motivation. SNHU’s Master of Science in Psychology with a focus on I/O psychology will prepare you for this big challenge. Students who graduate from this program usually work in industries as broad ranging as criminal justice, health services, IT and education.

This program’s classes have been designed to align with the standards that have been set by the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP).

This MS in Psychology program will provide you with a solid base in collaboration, communication, reflectivity, and empathy so that you can work in a variety of workplaces with diverse perspectives. You will learn how to apply psychological research techniques, findings and theories in the real world by taking these courses:

  • Theories of Personality
  • Social Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • Ethical Practice in Psychology
  • Motivation in the Workplace
  • Cognitive Processes
  • Organizational Consulting
  • Seminar in I/O Psychology


It is important for the university that you are considering to be accredited by one of these regional organizations recognized by the US Department of Education:

  • Middle States Commission on Higher Education,
  • New England Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Higher Learning Commission
  • Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
  • Western Association of Schools and Colleges
  • Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

Note that the accreditation body that is most widely respected for psychology programs is the American Psychology Association or APA. It does not currently accredit online programs, so you should be certain that the university itself has been accredited by one of the above organizations.


Earning a master’s degree in organizational psychology is a solid move in your career that ensures that you will have a lot of work available, as well as a good salary.

Generally, this is one of the highest demand areas of psychology today in terms of job demand, and is particularly suited for psychological professionals who want to keep a foot in the private work sector. This can be a wise move, because large companies tend to have budgets available for consultants and other professionals who can help them to get more out of their workers and to enhance employee satisfaction.