Industrial and Organizational Psychology Degree and Career Guide
Business psychology, more commonly called industrial and organizational (I/O or I-O) psychology, is one of the top-paying psychology fields.1 Recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA) as a specialty in professional psychology since 1996, industrial and organizational psychology is the study of human behavior in the workplace.2 Industrial and organizational psychologists analyze and interpret workplace dynamics at the individual and group levels and suggest solutions to improve the health of the organization and its employees. The American Board of Professional Psychology (ABPP) considers it a specialty under the umbrella of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology, which includes I/O psychology and consulting psychology.3
While some business and I/O psychologists find entry-level positions with bachelor’s degrees, most business psychologists obtain a master’s or doctoral degree in the field, and some become licensed in psychology in their state and/or certified by organizations such as the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP). There are several schools offering bachelor’s programs I/O psychology, but over twice as many award master’s or advanced degrees Master of Arts (MA), Master of Science (MS), Doctor of Psychology (PsyD), or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). A bachelor’s degree in psychology is often preferred for entrance into one of these advanced degree programs.
- There are 127 not-for-profit colleges and universities with industrial and organizational psychology programs.4
- 6 schools offer a certificate in industrial and organizational psychology.5
- 1 school offers an associate degree in industrial and organizational psychology.4
- 33 schools offer a bachelor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology.4
- 98 schools offer a master’s or advanced degree in industrial and organizational psychology.4
Table of Contents
- Business Psychology Degree Requirements and Coursework
- Top-Ranked Business Psychology Degree Programs
- Best Value Schools With On-Campus Business Psychology Programs
- Select Business Psychology Degree Programs
- Business Psychologist Career Information
- Becoming a Business Psychologist
- Job Description
- Salary and Job Outlook
- Additional Resources
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Student Reviews
Degree Requirements and Coursework
In a business psychology or I/O psychology degree program, students learn about the dynamics of the workplace, human resources management, employee training and development, performance appraisal and employee motivation, and how to effect developmental change. Since I/O psychology is already a subfield of psychology, it is considered a specialization (or concentration, specialty, or emphasis) in psychology, and further specializations are not usually offered.
Advanced degree program requirements typically include a bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and some require minimum GRE scores. Some programs prefer an undergraduate degree in psychology or business. Many programs are small and selective. Terminal master’s programs in I/O psychology or business psychology typically take around two years to complete, and doctoral degrees in the field usually take around three to five years to complete and often include a master’s degree. Check with the schools of your choice to confirm whether the master’s degree is stand-alone or part of the doctoral program. Sample coursework for students of business psychology degree programs include:
- Advanced Industrial Psychology
- Advanced Personnel Psychology
- Collective Bargaining and Arbitration
- Employee Selection
- Developmental Psychology
- Motivation and Job Attitudes
- Training and Development
Top-Ranked Business Psychology Degree Programs
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology’s Top I-O PhD Programs Overall 2020
- Alder University (#1; online)
- Albizu University (#2; on campus or online)
- Alliant Internation University (#3; on campus)
- Austin Peay State University (#4; online)
- Baker College (#6; online)
- Bellevue University (#7; online)
- California Southern University (#8; online)
- Chicago School of Professional Psychology (#11; online)
- Colorado State University (#13; online)
- Eastern Kentucky University (#14; online)5
US News & World Report’s Best Industrial and Organizational Psychology Programs 2022
US News ranked I/O psychology programs at the doctoral level; therefore, all of the following rankings are for PhDs in I/O psychology, but some schools may offer master’s-level programs as well.
- Rice University (#1; on campus)
- Michigan State University (#2; on campus)
- Bowling Green State University (#3 tie; on campus)
- University of South Florida (#3 tie; on campus)
- George Mason University (#5 tie; on campus)
- Purdue University–West Lafayette (#7 tie; on campus)
- Texas A&M University–College Station (#7 tie; on campus)
- University of Minnesota–Twin Cities (#7 tie; on campus)
Best Value Schools With On-Campus Industrial/Organizational Psychology Programs
Many public and not-for-profit colleges and universities across the US offer on-campus business or industrial-organizational psychology programs at the graduate level. We researched these schools and narrowed the list down to those with the highest undergraduate graduation rates (60% or above) and the lowest undergraduate net price (under $20,000 per year). A high graduation rate tends to be an indicator of a school’s success, and a low net price is important to prospective students as they consider the return on their investment. We also included other helpful information, such as degree names, US News & World Report rankings, and the percentage of tenured faculty.
|School||Graduate Degree(s)||US News National Rank8||Grad Rate5||% Tenured Faculty9||Net Price5|
|CUNY Bernard M Baruch College||MS Industrial/Organizational Psychology||NR||70%||29%||$4,544|
|Appalachian State University||MA Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management||NR||73%||39%||$10,473|
|Missouri University of Science and Technology||MS Industrial Organizational Psychology;|
Certificate Applied Workplace Psychology;
Certificate Statistical Methods in Psychology
|Montclair State University||MS Industrial/Organizational Psychology||#169 tie||65%||23%||$15,224|
|University of Central Florida||MS Industrial/Organizational Psychology;|
PhD Industrial/Organizational Psychology
|University of Georgia||MA Industrial-Organizational Psychology;|
PhD Industrial-Organizational Psychology
|SUNY at Albany||MA Industrial/Organizational Psychology;|
PhD Industrial/Organizational Psychology
|Colorado State University-Fort Collins||Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology;|
PhD Industrial/Organizational Psychology
|St. Mary’s University||MS Industrial/Organizational Psychology||NR||63%||33%||$17,806|
|Clemson University||MS Industrial-Organizational Psychology;|
PhD Industrial-Organizational Psychology
|Texas A&M University-College Station||Certificate Industrial/Organizational Psychology;|
MS Industrial/Organizational Psychology;
PhD Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Select Business Psychology Degree Programs
Traditional Bachelor’s Programs
At Baldwin Wallace University, students can pursue an interdisciplinary bachelor’s in industrial and organizational psychology (I/O) psychology that prepares them for graduate school or a human resources career. The program is a second major available to Bachelor of Science (BS) in Psychology and Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business Administration majors that comprises 34 credits in addition to the coursework in the primary major. Required courses include Human Resource Management, Research Methods, Psychological Testing, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and a capstone project. Electives include courses in psychology and business, but cannot be used for both the primary major and the I/O major. These courses include Human Relations and Group Dynamics; Business Communications; Employment Law; Personality Psychology; and Cognitive Processes.
CUNY Bernard M Baruch College (Baruch College) offers a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology through its Zicklin School of Business that prepares graduates for further graduate study or for entry-level careers in government, marketing, advertising, occupational analysis, or market research. The major itself comprises 25 credits and includes coursework such as Research Methods in Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Personality and Individual Differences, Cognitive Psychology, and Psychology of Organizational Training and Development. Baruch College also offers a Master of Science (MS) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology.
Traditional Master’s Programs
Appalachian State University (App State) offers an interdisciplinary master’s program in Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management (IOHRM) through its Department of Psychology and Department of Management, preparing graduates to work in I-O psychology or HR-related jobs. In line with the educational standards set by the Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Society for Human Resource Management, the IOHRM program at App State emphasizes theories, methods, and research in behavioral sciences. It teaches how to apply these theories to address business issues such as selection, motivation of employees, training, performance reviews, and organizational change. A thesis or internship is required for all students to gain real-world experience in the I-O psychology or business field. Students have completed internships with companies like Delhaize, Volvo Financial Services, T-Mobile, Texas Instruments, and Reynolds America. Most students complete the master’s program in less than two years.
Minnesota State University (MSU) offers a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. The program emphasizes research and consulting and prepares graduates for careers in consulting, human resources, and market research. Students complete 44 credits to receive their MA, including a three-month internship or thesis, and participate in real-world projects that prepare them to enter the workforce. A bachelor’s degree in psychology is preferred for admission, but prospective students who have a bachelor’s degree in another subject must have completed a minimum of 15 credits in psychology, including courses in introductory psychology, statistics, research methods, and social psychology. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is required for entry, as well as GRE scores with a Verbal and Quantitative Reasoning score in the 35th percentile and an Analytical Writing score of 3.0 or higher.
Touro College is home to a master’s program in Industrial-Organizational Psychology that prepares students to increase organizational effectiveness and to develop and implement sound business strategies. Students must translate academic learning to real-world practice through a required 240-hour internship. The program requires 36 credit hours and can typically be completed in four to six semesters. Courses take place on the school’s Manhattan campus during weekday evenings as well as via live online webinars, though all course finals must be taken on campus. Touro College offers competitive tuition rates as well as financial aid opportunities, including work-study positions for qualified students.
The University of Tulsa’s Kendall College of Arts and Sciences offers three graduate programs in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology: a Master of Arts (MA), a Juris Doctor and Master of Arts (JD/MA) combination degree, and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The MA program comprises 37 credit hours, including 16 hours of I-O core courses, six hours of general psychology courses, nine hours of research methodology courses, and six hours of electives, with an optional thesis available. In addition, students must complete a 200-hour internship and pass a comprehensive I-O psychology exam before obtaining their degree. The JD/MA joint-degree program offers a way for students to complete two degree programs at once, saving them 19 credit hours. There are two curriculum options for the JD/MA: one consists of 30 hours of psychology and 81 hours of law, and the other consists of 33 credit hours of psychology and 78 hours of law. The PhD in I-O Psychology requires 90 credit hours and trains graduates for roles in government, consulting, research, and teaching at the university level.
Traditional Doctoral Programs
George Washington University’s (GWU) Columbian College of Arts and Sciences offers a doctoral program in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology that culminates in a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and covers areas such as personnel selection, training and development, motivation at work, teams, and organizational development. The program consists of 72 credit hours, including 42 core credits, 12 elective credits, and 18 dissertation research credits. Admission is highly competitive. Prospective students should have an undergraduate degree in psychology or have completed undergraduate psychology prerequisites to be considered for admission. In addition to transcripts showing a GPA of 3.0 and above, applications must include three letters of recommendation, GRE scores in the 50th percentile or higher, a statement of purpose essay, and an interview is required. It typically takes students five years to complete the doctoral program, and candidates are expected to be full-time students.
Michigan State University’s Department of Psychology offers a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Organizational Psychology, which focuses on quantitative methods and I/O psychology. The degree is research-driven, targeted at students who intend to become faculty at universities or to conduct research in major corporations, government, or other organizations. The program maintains a student population of around 15 to 20 full-time students and typically staffs around primary faculty. The entire PhD program takes an average of five years to complete, with the integrated master’s program taking two years, comprehensive exams taking place during the third year, and the fourth and fifth years being devoted to an internship and dissertation work. While some students complete the program in four years, most students choose to complete it in five years so they can be more involved in their research and applied projects. As the program is heavily research-focused, students should expect to be involved in research at all times during their five years in the program. However, the program also boasts flexibility, allowing students to shape their studies to closely match their interests. Admission into the program is competitive, with incoming classes being as low as two to three students and as many as seven students.
Texas A&M University offers a doctoral program in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology that prepares graduates for academic careers or practitioner roles. Most students collaborate with faculty in applied research projects during their studies. An average of 20 full-time students are enrolled in the program at any time, so admittance is highly competitive, with only three to four new students admitted every year (out of an average of 70 applicants). The I/O PhD can be completed in five full-time years, and all students must participate in a weekly colloquium series featuring guest speakers from various I/O positions. Formal internships are not required but are highly recommended for students who wish to become practitioners. Introductory coursework in statistics, experimental design, I/O psychology, management and test construction, and social psychology is recommended before applying.
The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at the University of Georgia (UGA) prepares graduates for academic, industrial, consulting, government, and military careers. The Industrial-Organizational Psychology program is based on the scientist-practitioner model and emphasizes diversity and the development of the whole person. The program aims to improve organizational functioning and the quality of life for working people. Students are required to conduct their own research under the direction of faculty for both the master’s thesis and doctoral dissertation. They will gain professional experience through approved internships. Applicants must submit official transcripts, GRE scores (preferred verbal score of 1200 and quantitative score of 308), three letters of recommendation, a list of professional achievements, and a statement of career goals.
Online and Hybrid Programs
Colorado State University (CSU) offers an online Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology (MAIOP). The degree is practitioner-oriented, providing practical knowledge and skills focused on research and consulting. The MAIOP program consists of 38 graduate hours and can be completed in two to four years. No thesis is required. Coursework is focused on quantitative research methods and includes courses such as Applied Measurement Theory; Applied Organizational Psychology; Competency Modeling and Criterion Development; and Succession Planning and Leadership Development. Students are grouped into virtual consulting teams to complete a series of projects together. The program is self-paced, allowing students to work while obtaining their degree. The GRE is required for admission, as well as a minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate coursework and a grade of B or higher for statistics courses.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) offers an online Master of Science (MS) in Psychology degree with a concentration in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. SNHU’s MS program offers its students a foundation of psychology research methods that can be applied in real-world organizations. Coursework includes Motivation in the Workplace, Psychology of Leadership, and Organizational Consulting, and a Seminar in Industrial & Organizational Psychology. The 36-credit online degree program adequately prepares students to apply psychology principles in organizations or to pursue a doctoral degree in the field. A Bachelor of Science (BS) or a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in psychology is preferred, but a bachelor’s degree in another field can be accepted if the applicant has completed foundational coursework in Psychology, Statistics, and Research Methods. GRE scores are not required for entry. A capstone and seminar course ends the program, in which students execute a faculty- and peer-reviewed project focusing on a contemporary issue in the field.
Business Psychologist Career Information
How to Become a Business Psychologist
A master’s degree in business psychology prepares graduates to practice in the field as consultants in business psychology. Licensed industrial and organizational psychologists need a Doctor of Psychology (PsyD) or a PhD in Psychology in any state, one to two years of supervised experience in their field, and a passing score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). While the steps for becoming licensed as an I/O psychologist vary by state, the basic steps are:
- Earn a bachelor’s degree in psychology or a related field.
- Earn a master’s degree in business or industrial-organizational psychology.
- Get hired by a public or private organization and begin practicing in non-clinical business psychology roles, if desired.
- Earn an accredited PsyD or PhD in Psychology with a specialization in Business Psychology.
- Accumulate the supervised clinical experience required by your state.
- Pass the required exam(s), including the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP).
- Seek optional I/O certification from the American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP).
- Apply for and receive a psychology license from your state psychology board.
- Begin practicing as a business psychologist.
- Complete the required continuing education to keep your license current.
Business psychologists study human individual, group, and organizational behavior within the workplace and help solve work-related problems. They assist in improving employee performance and motivation, help business leaders evaluate and develop their employees, and help managers plan for succession. I/O psychologists may work in any organization or workplace setting, including manufacturing, commercial enterprises, labor unions, government agencies, and healthcare facilities. On a day-to-day basis, they may research methods of employee assessment, leadership development, workplace safety, work-life balance, and diversity. Business psychologists with a PhD may hold academic positions at colleges or universities. Others may work in human resources departments or as independent consultants.
A master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology will typically qualify you for work in the private sector, while a doctoral degree will qualify you to work in academia and prepare you for state licensure. Job titles may include:
- Business psychologist*
- Business coach
- Human resources coordinator
- I/O psychologist*
- Organizational development consultant
- Organizational effectiveness consultant
- Organizational psychologist*
- Personnel psychologist*
*A doctoral degree is usually required for this job title.
Salary and Job Outlook
I/O psychologists are well-paid, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reporting the 2022 average annual salary at $144,610.9 In fact, industrial-organizational psychologists are among the highest-paid in the field of psychology according to the BLS, commanding average annual salaries above those of clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.10 Most business psychologists are employed in colleges, universities, and professional schools, but the highest-paying industry for I/O psychologists is local government, excluding schools and hospitals, with an average annual salary of $156,940 per year in May 2022.9
The outlook for I/O psychologists is positive, with the Projections Central predicting employment growth of 2% between 2020 and 2030.12 For comparison, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists are projected to grow by 10.4% over the same time period, according to Projection Central.12
- The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP): APA’s Division of Industrial-Organizational Psychology (Division 14), and has over 8,000 members who enjoy benefits like subscriptions to newsletters, networking, and discounts to conferences.
- American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology (ABOBCP): Offers important information about the specialty, certification requirements, and more.
- Alliance for Organizational Psychology (AOP): A federation of work, industrial, and organizational psychology societies around the world, provides access to white papers and works to promote the science and practice of organizational psychology.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of degree do I need to become a business psychologist?
Most I/O psychologists have an advanced degree. While it is possible to practice I/O psychology with just a bachelor’s degree, it is not common. A master’s degree qualifies you to work in private or public companies and in consulting roles. A doctoral degree affords business psychologists even more opportunities, such as working in research or teaching roles at colleges or universities. A doctoral degree is also required for psychologists who wish to work in a clinical setting and use the title “psychologist;” in addition, state licensure is required for these roles.
How long will it take me to get an I/O degree?
The length of time it will take to get a business psychology degree depends on the program, but most master’s programs take an average of two years, and doctoral programs take an average of three to five years. So within five years, it is possible to complete a terminal degree in the field (though some students may take longer).
How do I become an industrial/organizational psychologist?
To be an I/O psychologist, you will typically need a graduate degree in industrial/organizational psychology. I/O psychologists must pass required state exams to gain licensure to practice. A master’s degree qualifies you for most jobs in public and private organizations without any further certification. If your goal is to be a clinician (practicing psychologist) or work in higher education, you will most likely need a doctoral degree. Check with your psychology board in your state for more information about licensure as a psychologist.
What is industrial and organizational psychology?
I/O psychology, or business psychology, is the practice of studying workplace dynamics and making recommendations on how to improve the company culture, employee relationships, and productivity.
How much do business psychologists make?
Business, or I/O, psychologists are among the highest-paid psychologists in the country. According to the BLS, they earned an average of $144,610 per year in 2022, which is more than clinical and counseling psychologists, who earned an average of $102,740 in the same year.10,11
65 Broadway #2
New York, NY 10006
The I/O Psychology program at Touro College is fairly new for this school. However, this department is growing very quickly. This is happening as a result of hard work and dedication of all department members of this program. My experience with Touro College has been a journey. This is because during my first year I knew very little about this program. Then with the help of professors and well-structured courses, I was able to find my passion for organization development and HR practices. Now, I have been working for almost one year for an organization and with the help of Touro also promoted to an HR Generalist role. Overall, Touro College has been a very positive experience for me.” – Student at Touro College
1. Rivier University, Top 5 Highest-Paying Psychology Careers: https://www.rivier.edu/academics/online/resources/program-resources/top-5-highest-paying-psychology-careers-rivier-university/
2. American Psychological Association, Specialities and Proficiencies, Industrial and Organizational Psychology: https://www.apa.org/ed/graduate/specialize/industrial
3. American Board of Professional Psychology, Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology: https://abpp.org/application-information/learn-about-specialty-boards/organizational-business/
4. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
5. Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, A Peek Into the Online World: Evaluating the Current State of Online I-O Graduate Programs https://www.siop.org/Research-Publications/Items-of-Interest/ArticleID/4756/ArtMID/19366/preview/true
6. US News & World Report Best Industrial and Organizational Psychology Programs
7. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
8. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
9. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022, Industrial-Organizational Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193032.htm
10. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/psychologists.htm#tab-5
11. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2022, Clinical and Counseling: https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes193033.htm
12. Projections Central, Long Term Occupational Projections: https://projectionscentral.org/Projections/LongTerm