PhD & Master's in Industrial Organization (IO) Psychology Graduate Programs Online

Online Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs combine business acumen with research-backed psychology rigor, in a flexible digital format. These programs could help students prepare for roles in business settings, using psychology research methods to identify and resolve issues related to workplace productivity and employee satisfaction.

Some industrial organizational psychology programs online may also focus on academic pursuits, performing industrial organizational psychology research to help advance our understanding of how people function in workplace settings.

Online IO Psychology Programs may confer masters or doctorate degrees, or graduate certificates upon completion. Some programs may offer flexible scheduling. Others may be considered partially online, with some campus or field experience requirements that need to be completed in person.

 PhD & Master's in Industrial Organization (IO) Psychology Graduate Programs Online infographic

What Is Industrial Organizational Psychology?

Industrial Organizational Psychology is also known as business psychology or occupational psychology. This unique field focuses on the psychology of the workplace. It may touch on issues like individual employee satisfaction, group dynamics, and productivity. i

The field of organizational psychology is two-pronged. On one hand, it’s research-oriented field, using psychology research methodologies to study workplace dynamics in different environments. Topics of study may include group psychology, productivity, employee satisfaction, and employee retention.

On the other, it’s an application-based field. That means that professionals might use research-backed strategies to make positive changes within organizations. Goals may be to improve morale, recruit new employees, increase productivity, and overcome other related issues.

Despite being called “business psychology,” IO psychology may actually be applied in all different settings. The same knowledge and strategies might be of use in schools, community groups, or even in government. In most cases, entry-level education as an IO psychologist is a master’s degree. However, education requirements could vary considerably for each student depending on his or her intended career path and industry. ii

Why Consider Online Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs?

Earning an industrial organizational psychology degree online may be a convenient option to fit into your life, while also supporting your unique learning needs. These programs deliver courses through online course modules, which you could access from an internet browser on your computer or tablet (provided it’s compatible).

Online organizational psychology graduate programs may be especially attractive to working professionals interested in expanding their skills through a graduate program. That’s because the flexible nature of online learning makes it possible to study on the go—at home or in the office—potentially on your own schedule. Plus, studying alongside your career means you might be able to reinforce your learning by putting it into action.

Some online programs may still have requirements you’d need to complete in person. This could include campus learning requirements—short residencies or lab work, for example—exams or presentations, or even field experience. Make sure you review your potential programs carefully to make sure you understand if and when any of these elements might be required, so that you can plan ahead.

Types of Industrial Organizational Psychology Online Programs

In addition to the various degree types you could earn, industrial organizational psychology graduate programs online may have a few different approaches to the material. Generally, programs are designed to facilitate specific skills and knowledge, and support certain career paths.

In some cases, online organizational psychology graduate programs may allow students to focus on a single area or application of IO Psychology. For example, one program might center on group dynamics and organizational behavior, while another might emphasize psychology-driven leadership skills.

Some online IO psychology programs might align with specific training models. This is more common at the doctoral level, but could be useful in evaluating other types of programs too. These include:

  • Scientist-Practitioner: Programs that align with this model are often research-driven. They may hone fluency with psychology research methodologies, and encourage IO psychology researchers to be guided by practice-related issues. These programs may also encourage application-oriented professionals to familiarize themselves with current research in the field and use it to guide strategies and decision-making. This is also called the Boulder Model.
  • Practitioner-Scholar: These types of programs typically focus on practical application of occupational psychology research. While they may still cover research methods, the aim here is typically to understand and analyze the results, so as to make it actionable in the field. This is also called the Vail Model.

Online Masters in Organizational Psychology

Online Organizational Psychology Masters Programs are often designed to help students study the fundamentals and prepare for potential roles in the field. According to BLS, a masters degree is often the minimum entry level education for industrial-organizational psychologists.ii As a result, many programs may not look for prior experience as a prerequisite. That said, some programs may still look for prior related education, such as coursework in business and/or psychology.

In most cases, IO psychology graduate programs online may confer either a Master of Arts (MA) or Master of Science (MS) to students who successfully complete the program. The differences between these degrees are not always substantial, so it may be helpful to contact the program in question to find out more about their degree options.

Some schools may also offer an IO psychology MBA program. Less common than the other two options, these types of programs are likely to focus on business, personnel management, and leadership skills, with an emphasis on making leadership decisions backed by IO psychology research.

Online Organizational Psychology Master’s Programs often take around two years of full time study to complete. However, this could vary significantly depending on the program and your preferred pace. For more information about these and other organizational psychology masters degrees, contact the schools offering them.

Online PhD in Organizational Psychology

Online doctoral programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology are often designed for students who already have some prior education and/or experience. A master’s degree is often a prerequisite, and some program ask to see a professional resume.

Online doctoral programs in IO psychology typically use this previous experience as a foundation for learning. Many programs are research-oriented, and may offer student the opportunity to get involved with or perform their own IO psychology research. In fact, that’s often a requirement. Many IO psychology doctoral programs, both online and otherwise, have a dissertation requirement.

Depending on the schools you choose to apply to, you might be able to choose between a few doctorate degree types.

  • Online PhD in Organizational Psychology: One of the most well-known doctorate types, you may encounter IO Psychology PhD Programs a little more frequently than the other options. These programs often focus on the academic side of IO psych, namely performing and analyzing research.
  • Online IO Psychology PsyD Programs: Some schools may instead offer a Doctor of Psychology or PsyD in occupational psychology. These programs may focus on application of psychology methods and concepts in the workplace, to help individual employees and the organization as a whole make positive strides.
  • Online DBA in Industrial Organizational Psychology: A Doctor of Business Administration in Organizational Psychology is likely to focus on business and managerial skills, and how psychology research could be used to inform leadership decisions.

Whichever degree type is offered by your online IO psychology program of choice, it may not align exactly with the descriptions above. That’s because each school may have its own unique goals and preferences. For more information, reach out to the program in question.

Industrial Organizational Psychology Certificate Programs Online

Online Industrial Organizational Psychology Certificate Programs are shorter, non-degree programs that enable students like you to focus on a single topic within IO Psychology. They’re typically offered at a few levels, including both master’s and post-master’s certificates. Often, these programs could be completed in a year or less, depending on your pace of study. The available concentration areas may vary by program, so contact your preferred school to learn more about what they have to offer.

Find Online Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs

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Sources: [i] | [ii]

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