Reasons to Get an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Online
Industrial-organizational psychology is a unique discipline. It focuses on studying how people behave within organizations and in the workplace.
The main purpose of studying workplace behavior is to identify problems that occur at work and resolving those problems. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), an industrial-organizational psychologist might seek to address issues related to everything from recruiting new employees to researching consumer behavior to developing measures of performance to evaluate employees.
In other words, if you study industrial-organizational psychology, you’ll not only learn about human behavior, but you’ll also learn how we function in a work environment – and how to make that functionality better.
The skills you learn can be applied to a wide range of workplaces, too. Industrial-organizational psychologists work in the public and private sectors, non-profits, academics, healthcare settings, community organizations, and many others.
Not only can this be a very fulfilling line of work, but you can also expect good compensation. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) notes that the median annual salary for industrial-organizational psychologists is $112,600. Job growth is expected to be strong, too. While there are not many industrial-organizational psychology positions in the United States (about 780 nationwide in 2020), it is assumed that as organizations seek to streamline their operations that more positions for I-O psychologists will be created.
Another advantage of studying industrial-organizational psychology is that you can get your degree online. Whether you’re seeking a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, or a doctorate, universities around the country offer online degree programs that are well-respected and accredited.
Let’s have a look at some of the primary benefits of studying I-O psychology online.
One of the main reasons many people earn a degree online is the flexibility of the programs.
Most online programs are entirely or partly asynchronous. This means that it is not necessary to take courses in a specific order or at a specific time. Granted, some courses might only be offered in certain semesters, so you’ll need to plan your studies accordingly to avoid scheduling issues. But by and large, the timing of when you take courses is quite flexible.
As in a regular classroom, there are deadlines and due dates for online studies. However, it is usually not necessary to be in a certain place at a certain time each day to attend class. Instead, your online studies are largely independent. You might have to join a video chat or audio chat here and there to “meet” with your class, but most days you will have the freedom to work on your studies at the time of day that best fits your schedule.
Needless to say, this flexibility allows people who are caring for family members or whose work does not allow them to attend classes to still obtain a degree.
Online education has undergone a huge expansion in the last two decades. Most colleges now have online programs, and in many cases, they may be virtually indistinguishable from the curriculum available in brick-and-mortar classes.
Of course, the biggest difference between online courses and on-campus courses is that online courses are much more convenient. You can study any time of day in any location, provided you have an internet connection to submit assignments, take tests, and so forth. In many cases, universities have rich online environments where you can converse with your professors and classmates, get study help, access online library materials, and so forth. You can even do these things on your smartphone or tablet, so you don’t necessarily have to lug around your laptop to get your schoolwork done!
Many online courses are taught by the same faculty as on-campus classes. This ensures that you get the same quality of education from the same experts in the field as a student that attends class on campus.
Of course, one of the greatest conveniences of online learning is that if you’re interested in studying industrial-organizational psychology online, you can choose from schools anywhere in the country instead of being limited to what your local college or university has to offer. In fact, you might even be able to choose a school that specializes in an approach or has a faculty that suits your particular areas of interest in the field of industrial-organizational psychology.
Alongside the advantages of increased flexibility, these conveniences make for a strong argument for studying industrial-organizational psychology online.
No Testing Requirements (in Some Cases)
It used to be pretty standard for online (and on-campus) industrial-organizational psychology master’s and doctoral programs to require students’ GRE scores. Today, this is not always the case.
While many programs still have a GRE requirement, a growing number do not. In lieu of entrance exams, admissions committees are placing increasing importance on undergraduate GPA and relevant research experience. These measures often do more to predict your abilities to study psychology at a high level than does an entrance exam, so it stands to reason that committees would zero in on your educational and work history and performance.
Additionally, master’s and doctoral program committees look at relevant work experience, letters of recommendation, and internship and practicum experiences to delve deeper into your knowledge and skills.
This kind of holistic view of evaluating a student’s experiences is a better deal for you, too. Not everyone does well in a testing environment, so some highly capable students might be passed over due to low GRE scores.
Lastly, since online education is inherently more flexible and convenient than on-campus studies, it makes sense for online industrial-organizational psychology programs to drop the GRE requirement. Not only does it encourage more students to apply, but without the GRE requirement, schools are finding that they have better tools for evaluating the potential success of students in their program as well.
Some people may worry that online education might still be inferior to classroom education. However, studying industrial-organizational psychology online could lead to better outcomes for students.
As noted earlier, having greater flexibility to study when your schedule allows is a primary benefit of online learning. The convenience of logging on and completing your studies is also a benefit of this type of learning.
But the educational benefits don’t stop there.
For example, traditional lecture-based courses, of which there are many in psychology, can be held online just as easily as they are in person. Video formats like Zoom have made it far easier for college classes to be held online in a way that’s engaging and exciting for students. You can interact with your professors and your classmates, ask questions, answer questions, work in groups, and so forth, all from the comfort of your own home.
Another benefit of learning online is that you have the potential of being exposed to far more viewpoints than you might otherwise be in an on-campus setting. That is, with online tools that allow for students around the world to take a course, you could collaborate with other learners from points around the world. As the world continues to globalize, having a chance to learn with people from thousands of miles away can help you develop a multicultural, global perspective.
Additionally, online learning represents an opportunity to learn new technological skills. As we continue to see advancements in technology, it will be critical that you have the ability to use technologies to carry out your job duties. As an industrial-organizational psychologist, you might need to be able to collaborate with people from around the globe. Your online studies could provide you with the skills you need to do so.
Of course, studying online also means that you have to be self-motivated. Without the same level of structure as on-campus programs, your online studies necessitate being motivated, self-directed, and make good use of your time. Any employer will look kindly on a job applicant that possesses those skills.
Improved Time Management Skills
In some cases, online learners have a lot more to juggle than traditional on-campus students. You might have a part-time or a full-time job, family obligations, and a host of other life events pulling for your time.
In that context, learning online means you can more easily accommodate learning into your schedule. But you still have to demonstrate an ability to manage your work-life-school balance so your studies don’t suffer.
Having well-developed time management skills will not only help you be a more successful student, but it will also make you a more attractive employee. Employers want employees that are self-directed, self-starters, and independent thinkers. These are all skills that you will develop over the course of your online psychology studies.
Furthermore, it takes an extra level of motivation to be an online learner. You have to be independent, able to learn on your own, and take initiative to get your studies completed. The same is true of any workplace environment, and particularly so in the field of industrial-organizational psychology. Can you imagine trying to be a successful I-O psychologist if you yourself are a disorganized mess?! In this regard, online learning is a great “test run” for honing the very skills that you will need as you enter the workforce. It’s the same skills that you will seek to help your colleagues develop as part of your industrial-organizational psychology duties.
As noted earlier, there aren’t a wealth of industrial-organizational psychologist positions in the United States. But as companies strive to streamline their operations, more positions should be created in the coming years.
In addition to more positions being created, this field offers excellent opportunities in a variety of work settings. According to the BLS, the most common work setting for industrial-organizational psychologists is in scientific research and development. Working in higher education is an equally popular option.
But the opportunities don’t end there. By studying industrial-organizational psychology online, you can prepare yourself for a career working for private industries, state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and in healthcare settings, to name but a few.
Of course, opportunities arise in this field in some areas more so than others. For example, the highest concentration of industrial-organizational psychologists is in California and Virginia. This is not surprising given that California has the largest economy of the 50 states and Virginia is home to so many government and research facilities that employ industrial-organizational psychologists.
Clinical Work Requirements
Students should look into requirements for their state, but many states exempt industrial-organizational psychologists from licensure requirements. Others only require licenses in certain circumstances.
While students who are getting an online degree in programs that have a required element of clinical work may be at a disadvantage, this is often not an issue for people who are studying industrial-organizational psychology online. This means that in many cases, online students will be on the same footing as those who studied in more traditional environments when it comes to job searches.
For employment that does require licensure, students may still be able to obtain a bachelor’s degree online and go on to graduate school at a traditional university where they can fulfill any clinical requirements. But as the movement to more online learning continues, graduate and post-graduate programs are increasingly allowing students to fulfill practicum, internship, and research requirements in or near their hometowns. This is a significant change from the past that allows online learners to get critical field experience for their degree.
Is Online Learning Right for You?
Industrial-organizational psychology can be an excellent career field for people who are interested in improving the quality of life for workers while earning a good salary. With an expected rise in job opportunities, it could also be a lucrative career move.
Preparing for your future by studying industrial-organizational psychology online requires that you be a highly motivated, independent learner. The onus is on you to keep up with your studies, submit assignments on time, and meet the requirements of each course.
Building these skills will help you in any career, but particularly so in industrial-organizational psychology. After all, as noted earlier, you’re responsible for analyzing how people work and determining how to make organizations run more smoothly. Directing your learning in an online environment is a great way to begin to develop the very skills and workflow you seek to engender in the organizations for which you work.
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