Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O psychology) is the area of psychology focused on work. Areas of emphasis may include employee selection and training, job satisfaction, performance, and motivation. The institutions on our list of the 10 most affordable top-ranked Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology offer high quality educational experiences that can help students gain traction in this breakout field. In the field of psychology, a master’s degree is required for even many entry level careers, so whether you are looking to break into the field or on your PhD path, these master’s programs have what it takes to get you moving in the right direction.
Using information gathered from the National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator, accredited colleges were identified that offered a master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. We reviewed regionally accredited programs and ranked them by affordability. Information regarding student: teacher ratio, and courses/specializations were noted.
- Salem State University
- University of North Carolina at Charlotte
- Appalacian State University
- University of Nebraska-Omaha
- Texas A & M University-College Station
- University of Central Florida
- San Jose State University
- Minnesota State University
- St. Cloud State University
- Bowling Green State University
Ranking of 10 Most Affordable Top-Ranked Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology in 2020
#10 – Bowling Green State University – Bowling Green, Ohio
I-O Psychology Master’s Program
Student to Faculty Ratio: 17:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $8,017/year in-state and $14,009/year out-of-state
Considered one of the top I/O psychology master’s programs in the nation by U.S. News and World Report, Bowling Green State University prepares students to become “active contributors to the psychology of work.” Students are typically admitted as PhD seeking students and complete their master’s degree while working toward their PhD. Students gain a strong foundation in psychological theories and principles through coursework. All students are encouraged to take advantage of research opportunities while in the program. Students participate in applied projects with area businesses through the Institute for Psychological Research and Application. Internship opportunities are available for students seeking hands-on field experience.
#9 – St. Cloud State University – Saint Cloud, Minnesota
Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.S.)
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,975/year in-state and $12,116/year out-of-state
The I/O psychology affordable master’s program at St. Cloud State University provides students with the skills needed to improve productivity and work life at any organizational level. Students are engaged in experiential learning opportunities that often allow for interaction with the local business community. Faculty and students are actively engaged in networking, participating in local and national conferences and meetings. Students can save additional dollars by applying for a graduate assistantship during the fall or spring semesters.
#8 – Minnesota State University – Mankato, Minnesota
Master of Arts Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 22:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,404/year
Minnesota State University Mankato offers a top affordable master’s in I/O psychology following the scientist-practitioner training model. This 44 credit hour program includes a three month internship or thesis, a comprehensive exam, and a portfolio review. Courses cover areas like:
- job analysis and performance appraisal
- organizational development
- psychometric theory
Classroom projects allow students to apply what they learn to real-world problems.
#7 – San Jose State University – San Jose, California
Master of Science program in Industrial/Organization (I/O) Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 26:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $7,176/year in-state and $16,680/year out-of-state
The affordable top I/O psychology master’s program offered by San Jose State University provides students with a strong foundation in theory, research, and application of I/O psychology. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, students have unique opportunities to intern or find employment with organizations such as Apple, Allstate, Intel, or Hewlett Packard. This two year program includes 30 units of graduate level coursework. All students complete a thesis and an internship.
#6 – University of Central Florida – Orlando, Florida
M.S. Program in I/O Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 30:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,916/year in-state and $25,759/year out-of-state
The University of Central Florida features an affordable top I/O psychology master’s program designed for full-time students. This four-semester program includes both thesis and non-thesis options. Students study areas like:
- employee selection and training
- learn assessment center technology
Admission to the program is extremely competitive with just 14-16 new students accepted annually. New students begin the program during the fall semester.
#5 – Texas A&M University – College Station, Texas
Master’s Program in I/O Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 20:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $6,552/year in-state and $17,904/year out-of-state
The College of Liberal Arts at Texas A&M University features a top affordable master’s in I/O psychology. New students are admitted to the program in the fall and the application process is competitive. The program admits abut 20 new full-time students to each cohort. All students have a full-time internship, usually completed between their first and second year. Students have secured internships with companies like Hewlett Packard, Merck, and Texas Instruments. All students must pass a comprehensive written exam at the conclusion of the program.
#4 – University of Nebraska – Omaha, Nebraska
Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 15:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $5,053/year in-state and $14,125/year out-of-state
The College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Nebraska at Omaha features both an affordable master’s and PhD in I/O psychology. Students are mentored by both faculty and senior students throughout the program. Following the researcher-practitioner model, students are engaged in research opportunities and fieldwork in addition to their coursework. The University of Nebraska offers both an MS and MA in I/O psychology. The MS is a two year program for students seeking employment in applied settings after graduation. The MA program is for students planning to eventually complete their PhD and includes a thesis. Students from both programs are encouraged to participate in local and professional societies related to their career goals to take advantage of professional development opportunities.
#3 – Appalachian State University – Boone, North Carolina
Industrial-Organizational Psychology and Human Resource Management: Master of Arts (MA)
Student to Faculty Ratio: 16:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,839/year in-state and $18,271/year out-of-state
Appalacian State University features an affordable I/O psychology master’s program with a focus on HR management. This interdisciplinary program is offered through the Department of Psychology and the Department of Management. It’s the only program of its kind in the nation. All students complete an internship, but a master’s thesis is optional. Most students can complete the program in less than two years of study. Small class size allows for intimate classroom interaction. Students can further reduce the cost by applying for scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships available to eligible full-time students.
#2 – University of North Carolina at Charlotte – Charlotte, North Carolina
Industrial Organizational Psychology Master’s Program
Student to Faculty Ratio: 19:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $4,337/year in-state and $17,771/year out-of-state
The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte offers a top affordable I/O psychology master’s program that gives students the skills and knowledge to improve work from both the employer and employee point of view. The program offers courses during the evening and on the weekends to accommodate working professionals. Courses are offered in uptown Charlotte rather than the main campus for added convenience. New students are admitted to the program during the fall of even years.
#1 – Salem State University – Salem, Massachusetts
Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Student to Faculty Ratio: 14:1
Average Graduate Tuition Rate: $2,520/year in-state and $4,140/year out-of-state
Our most affordable top master’s in I/O psychology is offered by Salem State University. Salem offers the only I/O psychology master’s program in the Boston area. The program places emphasis on structured quantitative research and incorporates a case-based method of instruction. This 42 credit hour program includes a customized internship experience and electives with specializations in either HR or organizational development. Courses are offered during the evenings, hybrid, or even online. Most full-time students can complete the program in two years.
Why Industrial Organizational Psychology?
- According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the 2014-2024 job outlook for Industrial/Organizational Psychology is 19% growth, which far exceeds the expectations for many other careers, both in psychology and in other areas of business.
- The median annual salary for I/O psychologists is $80,000. The highest earners can make $250,000 or more each year.
- Industrial-organizational psychologists help improve recruiting, hiring and retention practices; they design and analyze performance evaluation systems; and they consult on a variety of issues related to employee training. In short, they make workplaces better, and that can be rewarding.
- Industrial Organizational Psychologists are needed in a wide variety of businesses, so people with an IO Psychology degree can choose a wide variety of areas to specialize in, and businesses with whom to work.
What Does an Industrial Organizational Psychologist Actually Do?
Industrial–Organizational psychologists apply psychology to the workplace by using psychological principles and research methods to solve problems and improve the quality of work life. They study issues such as:
- workplace productivity
- management or employee working styles
- employee morale
They also help top executives, training and development managers, and training and development specialists with policy planning, employee screening or training, and organizational development. IO psychologists can be found developing interview techniques, rating scales, and psychological tests to assess competencies in selection, placement, and promotion. They apply principles of learning and individual differences to design and evaluate the utility of training programs. They conduct surveys and research studies to assess organizational climate affecting worker morale and motivation. They advise management on personnel policies and labor-management relations.
A primary difference between the types of job titles acquired between the psychologists who obtain a terminal master’s degree versus those who complete their PhD is the amount of research conducted. Although some students with terminal master’s degrees may find themselves with some amount of research to their credit, primarily professionals with a Master of Art or Master of Science degree in Industrial Organizational psychology be more involved in the direct instruction of business professionals. Conversely, students who pursue a PhD in the field will find themselves in more research based careers, often in academia or research labs.
IO psychologists are relationship-focused, skilled in developing and maintaining interactions with others. They are:
- problem focused,
- critical thinkers
I/O psychologists are persistent in their efforts and are also comfortable guiding and leading others. Like all psychology professions, good oral and written communication skills are essential to communicating ideas to others.
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