Online Organizational Psychology Degree Guide

Industrial and organizational psychology, also known as IO psychology, is the science of human behavior in organizations and the work setting. 

Human behavior is what sets the tone for workplace atmospheres, and organizational psychologists can impact company culture by helping businesses solve human resource issues to improve the quality of life for its employees.

The number of organizational psychologist positions is projected to grow 3% between 2019-2029, and IO psychologists earn an average annual salary of $112,290. 

What is Organizational Psychology?

IO psychology is the science of human behavior as it relates to the workplace setting. As an IO psychologist, you typically work in the human resource department and use your psychology expertise to help improve company culture and the employee onboarding process. 

The overall goal of an organizational psychologist is to help people reach their full job potential within the organization by addressing issues such as:

  • Hiring and onboarding procedures
  • Employee evaluation methods
  • Conflict resolution
  • Leadership development
  • Workplace safety
  • Diversity
  • Work-life balance 

People are the backbone and foundation of an organization, and having someone with a psychology background influencing human resource policy and procedure is key to company success and employee retention. 

Organizational Psychology vs. Industrial Psychology

IO psychology consists of two branches including industrial psychology and organizational psychology. Both deal with human behavior psychology in the workplace, but there are a few key differences.

Industrial psychology focuses more on the needs of the individual employee in regards to:

  • Recruitment
  • Selection
  • Classification
  • Compensation 
  • Performance evaluation 
  • Training

Organizational psychology focuses on the big picture needs of a company and its ability to run smoothly and effectively. Examples of this include:

  • Socialization
  • Motivation
  • Occupational Stress
  • Leadership
  • Group Performance
  • Organizational Development

The educational pathway to becoming an industrial psychologist and an organizational psychologist is the same. 

What Degrees Do I Need to Get a Career in Organizational Psychology?

Obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology is the first step toward becoming an organizational psychologist.  

Finding an entry-level position as an organizational psychologist typically requires a master’s degree. However, to advance your career and earnings capability, it is highly recommended that you pursue a PhD or doctorate degree 

Online Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Psychology

If you already know that you want to specialize in IO psychology, then obtaining a bachelor’s degree (BA or BS) in psychology is the first step toward your goal. 

Some schools offer bachelor programs specializing in IO or business psychology while other schools may only offer a general psychology degree. 

A few universities that offer a bachelor IO program include:

Admission Requirements

The minimum admission requirements to get into a bachelor’s of psychology degree program typically include:

  • High school diploma or GED
  • High school transcripts
  • 2-5 letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample/essay
  • ACT/SAT standardized test scores

Graduation Requirements

A bachelor’s degree in psychology requires about 120 semester units and usually takes about four years to complete depending on whether you attend full-time, part-time, online, or on campus. 

Some programs may require a culminating experience paper/project or internship hours to graduate.

Skills Learned

While working towards your bachelor degree in organizational psychology, you will learn many essential skills including:

  • Emotional intelligence
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Critical thinking 
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Effective oral and written communication

Career opportunities

Have a bachelor degree in psychology with an emphasis in industrial and organizational science makes you well suited for many entry-level positions in a company or organization including:

  • Training and Development Specialist
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Human Resource Specialist
  • Management Analyst
  • Compensation, Benefits, and Job Analysis Specialist
  • Recruitment Coordinator

Courses in Undergraduate Organizational Psychology Programs

There are a variety of psychology courses offered in undergraduate programs that include both core curriculum classes and specialty courses geared toward your interests. If you plan to focus on industrial or organizational psychology, you can expect to take classes like:

  • Introduction to statistics
  • Introduction to psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Applied psychology of learning
  • Introduction to group dynamics
  • Social psychology
  • Cross/cultural psychology

How Long Does it Take to Get an Organizational Psychology Bachelor’s Degree?

Online bachelor’s of psychology programs are becoming more abundant, and many schools allow online students to complete the degree on a part-time or full-time basis. The biggest benefits of online learning include:

  • Flexibility and self-paced learning
  • Better time management
  • Improved virtual and communication and collaboration
  • No commute
  • Faster graduation times
  • Ability to work from anywhere

On average, an online bachelor’s degree in psychology usually takes about four years to complete. However, this timeline is dependent on whether you study full-time or part-time, as well as previous education completed.

Bachelor’s degree programs in psychology typically require about 120 semester credits depending on your area of concentration and program modality.

Accelerated programs are also available and allow you to complete the program in as little as one year. However, these programs are fast-paced and rigorous. 

Online Master’s in Organizational Psychology

Obtaining a master’s degree in IO psychology can open up many opportunities to advance your career, salary, and expertise in the field.

Entry into a master’s program typically requires a bachelor’s degree, GRE score, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and a written essay.

Courses in Graduate Organizational Psychology Programs

Course curriculum depends on the school and program you choose, but a master’s of organizational psychology degree program usually includes:

  • Organizational behavior
  • Methods in human measurement
  • Issues in personnel selection 
  • Analysis of psychological data

How Long Does it Take to Get an Organizational Psychology Master’s Degree?

On average, a master’s degree in psychology program usually takes about two years to complete, though this timeline depends on:

  • Whether you study online
  • full-time or part-time learning
  • Previous education
  • Your specialization
  • How long it takes to complete your thesis project 

Master’s programs in psychology typically require about 36 semester credits depending on area of concentration and program modality.

Online Organizational Psychology PhD or PsyD

To advance your career and salary potential in organizational psychology, you should obtain either a PhD or PsyD degree.

A doctorate degree leads to research opportunities, the application of advanced best-practices in the business setting, and college-level teaching positions. 

A PhD program is typically more competitive than a PsyD, takes about one year longer to complete, and focuses on the application of research. A person with a PhD is well trained to work in research for universities and institutions. 

A PsyD degree is a good option if you would like to do clinical work. The degree also tends to yield higher-paying positions than a PhD. 

Courses in Graduate Organizational Psychology Programs

Curriculum for a doctorate degree in organizational psychology can vary depending on program, but usually consists of courses in:

  • Statistics
  • Research methods
  • Ethics 
  • Clinical practice
  • Behavior science 

How Long Does it Take to Get an Organizational Psychology Doctorate Degree?

A doctorate degree in organizational psychology typically takes about 5-7 years and can depend on several factors including:

  • Previous education
  • Online learning
  • Part-time vs. full-time learning

Additional Organizational Psychology Education Requirements

In addition to core classes, many graduate programs also require the completion of a practicum (observing real-world professionals), a dissertation (original ideas and research), and an internship.

Internships in Organizational Psychology

To graduate from a doctorate psychology program, you must complete a two-year internship in your field of study, usually within a company’s human resource department. 

The internship is usually full-time and can be completed either during your program or after its completion. 

Organizational Psychology Certification and Licensure

Clinical psychologist positions require a license or certification to practice or obtain a job. It is important to research requirements for your desired career path, and choose a school, program, and specialty that align with your goals. 

Specific license and certification required varies by state. Make sure to check your desired field’s requirements before you commit to a school or program. 

Organizational Psychology Career Outlook and Salaries

CareerSalaryProjected Job Growth (2019-2029)About the Position
Human Resources Manager$121,2206%A human resource manager is in charge of planning and coordinating administrative tasks involved in hiring, compensation, and acts as a link between leadership and its employees.
Psychologist$82,1803%Psychologists use human behavior principles to help improve a company’s processes and employee behaviors.
Career Counselor$58,1208%Career counselors in a workplace setting help people develop skills, look for advancement opportunities, and explore careers.
Survey Researchers$59,870-4%Survey researchers compile and analyze data as it pertains to employment and salary information, and gauging beliefs, opinions, and concerns of employees.
Source: BLS

Can You Earn an Organizational Psychology Degree Online?

Online and hybrid psychology programs are becoming more abundant, and accredited online IO psychology degrees match the quality of their on-campus counterparts. The biggest benefits of online learning include:

  • Flexibility and self-paced learning
  • Better time management
  • Improved virtual and communication and collaboration
  • No commute
  • Faster graduation times
  • Ability to work from anywhere

IO psychology programs may also require an internship or work experience that have to be completed in-person.

Organizational Psychology Career Resources

Professional organizations are a great way to stay up-to-date on current psychology trends as well as a place to seek networking and educational opportunities. Here are a few options:

FAQ

What does an organizational psychologist do?

An organizational psychologist applies the study of human behavior to the workforce and deals directly in the planning and coordination of programs that directly affect a company or organization’s employees.

What is organizational psychology?

IO psychology is the science of human behavior as it relates to the workplace setting

How do I become an organizational psychologist?

To become an organizational psychologist, you will need to first obtain a bachelor’s degree in psychology.  Depending on your career aspirations, you may be required to obtain a master’s and doctorate degree. 

What is the difference between industrial psychology and organizational psychology?

Industrial psychology focuses more on the needs of the individual employee while organizational psychology focuses on the big picture needs of a company and its ability to run smoothly and effectively