The stereotypical image of a psychologist involves a clipboard, a couch, and personalized cognitive-behavioral therapy. In reality, however, the field of psychology is far more diverse than the average person suspects; many psychologists work on an organizational level, observing and interacting with a variety of employees as they strive for a more productive workplace.
A rapidly growing field, organizational psychology plays an increasingly significant role in major corporations, nonprofits, and government entities.
Read on to learn more about this exciting field — and to determine whether you might be a candidate for a rewarding career in organizational psychology.
What Is Organizational Psychology?
Sometimes referred to as I-O psychology, industrial-organizational psychology applies the basic principles of psychology to a variety of organizations, including large corporations and government entities. Organizational psychologists observe and analyze workplace practices — and how they impact the behaviors and attitudes of various employees.
Through careful examination, I-O psychologists hope to understand how people behave in an organizational environment. Psychologists ultimately use these findings to improve not only workplace productivity, but also the health and wellbeing of all employees.
Types of Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs
The first step to pursuing a career in organizational psychology is to gain credentials from an accredited university. Johnson & Wales University offers two online graduate degree level programs dedicated to enhancing students’ expertise in the field of Organizational Psychology. Here is an overview of the MBA and MS programs offered at JWU Online.
Master of Business Administration — Organizational Psychology
This unique MBA program helps students develop both core competencies in the business sphere and a foundational understanding of organizational psychology. Through a variety of core courses, students delve into such intriguing and essential topics as:
- Operations Management
- Strategic Marketing
- Team Dynamics
- Talent Development
- Corporate Financial Accounting
This program ends with an interdisciplinary capstone course, in which students apply findings from previous coursework to contemporary businesses scenarios. The capstone includes group discussions, readings, and a comprehensive project that is graded on a collaborative basis.
Master of Science in Organizational Psychology
Tailored specifically for students with either an undergraduate degree in psychology (accompanied by a business minor) or an undergraduate business degree (with a psychology minor), the Master of Science in Organizational Psychology builds on existing foundational knowledge in business and psychology. Students gain a greater appreciation for diverse perspectives and ethical practices.
Capstones play a critical role in the Master of Science program. In two separate capstone courses, students apply their findings by completing consulting projects or writing research papers. Through rigorous application of complex theories in comprehensive projects and group discussions, students are thoroughly prepared to apply newly-acquired skills in the workplace.
Organizational Psychology Career Opportunities And Outlook
Organizational psychology graduate programs equip students with the skills needed to take on a variety of lucrative positions. Many enter the field explicitly as industrial-organizational psychologists. This position may involve conducting psychometric studies, analyzing business data, or coaching staff members. Other I-O graduates work as consultants, contracting with various organizations to improve processes without committing to a single entity.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics highlights a job outlook of 14 percent for psychologists between 2016 and 2026. This is well above the average across all industries. I-O enthusiasts, however, point to an even better outlook in the niche field of organizational psychology. Experts at the Wall Street Journal anticipate that industrial-organizational psychology jobs will abound in the near future.
Expected industrial-organizational psychology salary levels can vary based on the position, and more importantly, the setting. As of 2015, the Department of Labor's Occupational Outlook Handbook listed a median annual salary of $77,350 for organizational psychologists. Experts at the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), however, estimate that I-O psychologists earn an average annual income of $100,000 in private sector positions and $103,000 as university professors. The top five percent of SIOP members are believed to earn, at minimum, an annual $250,000.
Opportunities abound in the quickly growing field of industrial-organizational psychology. If you're looking to make a difference in the lives of hardworking employees, a Master of Science in Organizational Psychology or Master of Business Administration in Organizational Psychology could open the door to your dream career.