Psychology M.A., Industrial/Organizational
MTSU is recognized for having one of the top-ranked Industrial/Organizational Psychology master’s programs in the nation. With a projected job growth rate of 53% for the I/O field through the year 2022, the future continues to look bright for program graduates. MTSU offers a wide range of courses designed to prepare students for positions in human resource departments, consulting opportunities, or entry into an I/O doctoral program. Graduates lead careers that specialize in recruitment and selection of employees, training, job analysis, compensation, performance measurement and evaluation, leadership, workplace attitudes, organizational development, and more. The program aims to produce professionals who can apply their I/O psychology knowledge base, grounded in scientific theory and research, to organizations. Beyond a required internship, students are involved in multiple applied projects with client businesses and organizations that provide real-world experience prior to graduation. With seven dedicated faculty members, a diverse group of students, strong research opportunities, and applied experiences with actual clients every semester, the I/O program at MTSU offers students a unique and high-quality education.
MTSU students receive national recognition
Three of MTSU’s I/O Psychology master’s students have received the Outstanding Graduate Student of the Year Award from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) in an eight-year period. This national award considers any graduate-level student in an HR-related field. One of the most recent award recipients, Matthew Sikorski, was up against approximately 150 other doctoral and master’s students across the country. Sikorski says that MTSU’s program provided him with the knowledge, tools, and opportunities to achieve the award through evidence-based classes, projects with the program’s consulting firm COHRE, and the University’s strong SHRM chapter. “MTSU’s I/O program truly is a top destination in the field for anyone trying to get a comprehensive education with both applied and scientific components,” Sikorski said. The MTSU SHRM chapter also earned the Merit Student Chapter award for the 2015–16 school year.
COHRE provides consulting experience for students
One of the contributing factors to the national acclaim of the I/O master’s program at MTSU is the on-campus consulting firm. The Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness (COHRE) is an unrivaled resource for expanding students’ opportunities to work on consulting projects beyond the classroom. COHRE provides a high-profile avenue for creating consulting partnerships between the business world and the program’s students and faculty. Utilizing the expertise and experience of MTSU faculty, graduate project associates, and consultants, COHRE helps clients meet their human resources and organizational development needs. In addition to the professional consulting experience, students leave the program with a résumé full of clients. Many students work directly for COHRE, and all have class projects and internships that develop from COHRE’s client relationships. The consulting firm is truly an unparalleled resource unique to MTSU’s I/O master’s program.
A master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology is designed to prepare graduates for opportunities in human resource departments of business, industry, and government, as well as careers in consulting or entry to related doctoral programs. The placement rate for landing a career-relevant job has typically been 100% for graduates of this program. Research by alumnus Felix Thai shows that the program provides an impressive return on investment ranging from 786% to 2,226%. Alumni of MTSU’s I/O program have successfully found jobs throughout the United States and internationally. MTSU master’s I/O graduates work in a variety of organizations ranging from large Fortune 100 companies to government and nonprofit organizations. Some alumni job titles include
- Compensation analyst
- Corporate human resources director
- Director of overseas operations
- Director of training
- HR generalist
- Research analyst
- Senior consultant of HR and organizational development
- Vice president of international services
Employers of MTSU alumni include
- American Red Cross
- Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems
- Comdata Inc.
- Cracker Barrel
- Dell Computers
- Towers Perrin Consulting
- Toyota Tsusho America
- U.S. Postal Service
Department of Psychology graduate programs lead to two advanced degrees:
- the Master of Arts (M.A.) with a major in Psychology and concentrations in Clinical, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, Quantitative, and Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology.
- the Specialist in Education (Ed. S) with a major in Curriculum and Instruction and a concentration in School Psychology.
The Industrial/Organizational Psychology concentration is designed for those interested in applying psychology principles in business, industry, or government. Those pursuing the I/O concentration will complete a two-year, full-time program.
Applicants must have
- an undergraduate grade point average of 3.00 or higher
- a minimum score on the Graduate Record Exam of 141 (current scale) or 450 (former scale) on the GRE quantitative measure
- 15 semester hours of psychology classes (or must complete those credits in addition to the graduate program if admitted)
- March 1 for the Fall semester (primary selection time)
- Oct. 1 for the Spring semester (few, if any openings)
Typical average scores of admitted students are GPA 3.6, GRE-Quantitative 149 (600 with previous GRE format), GRE-Verbal 151 (470), and GRE-Analytical Writing (4.5-5.0).
The Academic Common Market allows out-of-state students from Tennessee’s neighboring states to pay in-state tuition for approved academic programs.
A minor in Psychology at the graduate level is also available at MTSU.
For complete curriculum details, click on the REQUIREMENTS tab above.
The department also offers a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) with majors in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Psychology, and Psychology with a Pre-Graduate Psychology concentration. An online psychology degree is available in conjunction with the University College.
MTSU undergraduates can earn a minor in one of five psychology fields: Psychology, Life Span Development, Mental Health Services, Industrial/Organizational, and Neuroscience. The department participates in an interdisciplinary minor in Behavioral Research.
Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Concentration, M.A.
Patrick McCarthy, Coordinator
The Department of Psychology offers programs which lead to two graduate degrees: the Master of Arts with a major in Psychology and concentrations in Clinical, Experimental, Industrial/Organizational, Pre-Specialist in Education: School Psychology, and Quantitative Psychology and the Specialist in Education with a major in Curriculum and Instruction and concentration in School Psychology. The department also offers a minor at the graduate level.
The goal of the Industrial/Organizational (I/O) concentration is to produce professionals who are able to apply the science of psychology in business, industry, and government settings. The program is designed to prepare students for positions in human resource departments or consulting, or for entry into an I/O doctoral program.
Please see undergraduate catalog for information regarding undergraduate programs.
Admission to graduate study in Industrial/Organizational Psychology is competitive and not automatic for students meeting minimal admission requirements. Students are selected from a pool of qualified applicants. Each year the number of students admitted to the program depends on the availability of adequate faculty supervision.
In order to be considered for unconditional admission, candidates must meet two standards: an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher and a minimum score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). A minimum score of 141 on the quantitative measure of the Graduate Record Examination is expected for admission to the I/O concentration within the Master of Arts in Psychology.
Applications for Summer/Fall admission must be complete by March 1 and applications for Spring admission must be complete by October 1. Late applicants who meet the admission criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis. (See admission standards under Admission to the College of Graduate Studies.) Applicants to the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program must provide a letter of intent stating goals and objectives.
Conditional Admission: Students who do not meet admission requirements may be admitted conditionally to the Industrial/Organizational concentration. Students admitted conditionally must maintain a 3.25 GPA in their first semester (9 hours minimum) of required graduate courses in their concentration areas.
Applicants must demonstrate knowledge of the core areas of psychology by completing the following courses at either the undergraduate or graduate level prior to entering the I/O program or during enrollment in the program (relevant courses offered at MTSU are listed in parentheses):
- group measurement/testing (PSY 4260/PSY 5260 or PSY 6050);
- abnormal psychology or personality (PSY 3230/PSY 5230, PSY 3590, or PSY 6020);
- learning or cognition (PSY 4040, PSY 4480/PSY 5480*, or PSY 6190*);
- social or developmental (PSY 2210, PSY 2300, PSY 4190, PSY 4210/PSY 5210, PSY 4610/PSY 5610, PSY 6410);
- brain and behavior, sensation and perception, or research methods (PSY 3070, PSY 4240/PSY 5240, or PSY 4030/PSY 5030);
- introductory course in I/O psychology (PSY 3320).
Courses marked with an asterisk (*) may be counted as approved graduate electives depending upon specialization.
Most applicants have completed 15 semester hours of psychology classes prior to admission to the graduate program in Industrial/Organization psychology. Those applicants without 15 semester hours of undergraduate psychology may be admitted to the program but must complete those credits in addition to their graduate program requirements.
All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.
- submit an application with the appropriate application fee (online atwww.mtsu.edu/graduate/apply.php);
- submit official transcripts of previous college work;
- submit letter of interest/intent;
- submit official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
- submit three letters of recommendation;
- submit a resume' or curriculum vitae.
For more information about application materials, please see mtweb.mtsu.edu/iopsych/prospectivestudents.html.
The Master of Arts with an Industrial/Organizational concentration requires completion of 43 semester hours including at least 38 hours in psychology courses. Only 30 percent of the total number of hours may be dually listed (5000-level meeting in conjunction with 4000- or 3000-level) courses.
- demonstrate knowledge of the core areas of psychology by completing the following courses at either the undergraduate or graduate level prior to entering the Industrial/Organizational program or during enrollment in the program (relevant courses offered at MTSU are listed in parentheses):
- group measurement/testing (PSY 4260/PSY 5260 or PSY 6050);
- abnormal psychology or personality (PSY 3230/PSY 5230, PSY 3590, or PSY 6020);
- learning or cognition (PSY 4040, PSY 4480/PSY 5480, or PSY 6190);
- social or developmental (PSY 2210, PSY 2300, PSY 4190, PSY 4210, PSY 4610/PSY 5610, or PSY 6410);
- brain and behavior, sensation and perception, or research methods (PSY 3070/PSY 5070, PSY 4240/PSY 5240, or PSY 4030/PSY 5030);
- introductory course in I/O psychology (PSY 3320).
- complete PSY 6280, PSY 6290, and PSY 6640 (3 hours);
- successfully write and orally present a written thesis evaluated by a committee of psychology faculty in conjunction with PSY 6640;
- pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the Industrial/Organizational faculty (may be taken no more than twice).
Curriculum: Psychology, Industrial/Organizational
Candidate must complete 43 hours in the following course of study:
Required Courses (6 hours)
- PSY 6280 - Psychological Statistics: Regression 3 credit hours
PSY 6280 - Psychological Statistics: Regression
Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent or admission to Psychology graduate program. Corequisite: PSY 6281. Review of basic statistics; various correlation coefficients; multiple and partial correlation; simple and multiple regression. Laboratory included.
- PSY 6281 - Psychological Statistics: Regression Lab 0 credit hours
PSY 6281 - Psychological Statistics: Regression Lab
Corequisite: PSY 6280.
- PSY 6290 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA 3 credit hours
PSY 6290 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA
Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent or admission to Psychology graduate program. Corequisite: PSY 6291. Review of basic statistics. Scientific quantification, research design, and statistical analysis from the perspective of analysis of variance: one-way, factorial, repeated measures, and mixed designs. Laboratory included.
- PSY 6291 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA Lab 0 credit hours
PSY 6291 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA Lab
Corequisite: PSY 6290.
Core Courses (22 hours)
PSY 6070 - Advanced Industrial Organizational Training and Development
Prerequisite: PSY 3020 or equivalent. Theory and methodology used in the training and development of human resources in organizations: needs assessment, program development, program evaluation, and legal and special issues in training and development.
- PSY 6090 - Internship: Industrial/Organizational Psychology 3 credit hours
PSY 6090 - Internship: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Supervised experience in industry, business, or government using psychological principles at a professional, applied level.
- PSY 6300 - Literature Review and Reading in Psychology: Industrial and Organizational 2 credit hours
PSY 6300 - Literature Review and Reading in Psychology: Industrial and Organizational
Supervised literature review and/or readings on a topic of current importance in psychology. Topics and requirements obtained from individual faculty members. Specific courses may be repeated to a total of 6 credits.
- PSY 6320 - Performance Appraisal and Job Analysis 3 credit hours
PSY 6320 - Performance Appraisal and Job Analysis
Covers the theory, techniques, current research, legal issues, and reliability and validity concerns associated with the practices of: job analysis, competency modeling, performance appraisals, and developing performance management systems.
PSY 6330 - Professional Issues in Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Survey of issues related to professional ethics, relevant legislation, professional affiliations, professional identity, and professional responsibilities.
- PSY 6420 - Advanced Personnel Selection and Placement 3 credit hours
PSY 6420 - Advanced Personnel Selection and Placement
Prerequisites: PSY 5260 or PSY 6050 and preferably PSY 6280. Employee selection decision making. Considers individual differences, recruitment, selection tools, measurement issues, validation procedures, and legal constraints.
- PSY 6450 - Advanced Organizational Psychology 3 credit hours
PSY 6450 - Advanced Organizational Psychology
Review of theory and empirical research in organizational psychology. Students will apply theory and research findings to understand and explain work behavior at the individual, group, and organizational levels and will use this knowledge to solve organizational problems.
PSY 6570 - Psychological Research Methods in Human Resource Management
Prerequisite: PSY 6280 or permission of instructor. Theory and appropriate methodology for conducting research relevant to human resource practices in organizations. Applied psychometric theory and quasi-experimental design.
PSY 6085 - Pre-Internship: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Prerequisite: Admission to program. Expectations, requirements, and procedures involved in a practicum in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program. Encourages students to assess career goals and helps facilitate selection of a practicum that moves toward exploring and meeting those career goals.
Electives (12 hours)
At least two of the following four courses must be among the electives selected:
- PSY 5290 - Wage and Salary Administration 3 credit hours
PSY 5290 - Wage and Salary Administration
Design and management of compensation systems including job evaluation, salary market data, pay for performance, legal issues, benefits, and practical applications.
- PSY 6360 - Organizational Change and Development 3 credit hours
PSY 6360 - Organizational Change and Development
Prerequisite: PSY 6450 or permission of instructor. Analysis of theory and practice of organizational change and development, process of change, organizational development (OD) interventions, and evaluation and research of OD effectiveness.
PSY 6365 - Organizational Surveys and Employee Attitudes and Motivation
Prerequisite: PSY 6450. Special topics in employee attitudes and motivation and the measurement of employee attitudes through the use of organizational surveys. Develops skills in survey techniques and includes practical experience with surveys.
- PSY 6380 - Work Group Effectiveness 3 credit hours
PSY 6380 - Work Group Effectiveness
Prerequisite: PSY 5380, PSY 6450, or permission of instructor. Analysis of factors leading to effective work groups. Topics covered include task effects on performance, group composition, leadership, group processes, and team building.
NOTE: Students may fulfill all 12 elective hours by taking all four classes above. If interested in one or two alternate elective courses, consult your advisor. Following are examples of alternate electives that are sometimes available:
- PSY 5340 - Human Factors Psychology 3 credit hours
PSY 5340 - Human Factors Psychology
Prerequisite: PSY 3320/PSY 5320 or consent of instructor. The process of designing for human use. Considers individual differences, visual, auditory, and tactile displays, anthropometry, illumination, noise, humans in motion, and space and environmental studies.
- PSY 6460 - Factor Analysis and Related Methods 3 credit hours
PSY 6460 - Factor Analysis and Related Methods
Prerequisites: PSY 6280, HHP 6700, or equivalent. Surveys each of the major factor analysis techniques and related latent trait theory with main focus on application. Nature, power, procedure, computer programming, interpretation, and limitations of each technique.
NOTE: This is not an inclusive list of all potential alternate electives, and some may be available from other departments. Advisor approval required for all electives.
Thesis (3 hours)
- PSY 6640 - Thesis Research 1 to 6 credit hours
PSY 6640 - Thesis Research
1 to 6credit hours
Selection of a research problem, review of pertinent literature, collection and analysis of data, and composition of thesis. Once enrolled, student should register for at least one credit hour of master's research each semester until completion. S/U grading.
Students must be able to meet the demands required for professional work in psychology. Therefore, students may be subject to dismissal from the Psychology Department if they (a) commit a serious breach of ethics or gross professional negligence or (b) present evidence of impaired psychological functioning that would present a danger to themselves or others in a professional role. Students who are dismissed may reapply and will be considered for readmission on a competitive basis. Students who reapply may be asked to provide evidence of improved ability to meet performance requirements.
- file a degree plan in the College of Graduate Studies prior to entry into the program;
- file a Notice of Intent to Graduate form in the College of Graduate Studies within the first two weeks of the term in which the student intends to graduate.
"It is great to have two years of on-the-job training with highly qualified mentors beside you, lending you advice and cheering you on. Each professor has something unique that has added to the program and my experience."—Jaclyn Pritchett, organizational development specialist, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
"The I/O staff at MTSU are not only knowledgeable about their field but have the practical experience to enrich the learning.”—John Opron, director of HR and organization development at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC
- Recommendation form
When applying for entry into the graduate program, this form should be given to each of your three references. Recommendation forms should be attached to recommendation letters and returned (by your reference) directly to the College of Graduate Studies.
- Graduate assistantship form
If you would like to be considered for a graduate assistantship, you must submit additional materials. Positions ARE available to first-year students.
Forms and guides
- Candidacy form
Each student must fill out this form and turn in to the College of Graduate Studies by the end of the first year of classes. This form must include prerequisites needed, required courses (already filled in), and electives the student plans to take. The form must be signed by the student’s advisor.
- Revision of Candidacy form
If a student decides to change his/her chosen electives after a Candidacy Form has been submitted, a revision form must be filled out and turned in to the College of Graduate Studies. This must also be signed by the student’s advisor.
- Comprehensive Exams registration
Students must complete registration form before the deadline to take comprehensive exams.
- Course Planning Guide
Find information on typical scheduling of classes, plus elective options for students in the first and second years of the program.
- Thesis Handbook
This handbook provides a comprehensive guide to the thesis process, including general guidelines, format and style requirements, sample pages, and other relevant information.
- Thesis Checklist
This can be used as a simple guide through the thesis process. It must be submitted with the final thesis and signed by the thesis advisor.
- Thesis Proposal Approval
This form must be signed for the thesis proposal.
- Thesis Final Draft Approval
This form must be signed for final thesis approval and be included with the final thesis document.
- Graduation Guidelines
Get details on steps a student must take in order to graduate with a master's degree from MTSU.
- Intent to Graduate form
A student wishing to file for intent to graduate must fill out the form and submit to the College of Graduate Studies.
Organizations and conferences
- Society for Human Resource Management
SHRM is the largest association devoted to human resource management. Many of our students, faculty, and alumni are members of this national organization.
- MTSU SHRM
Our I/O Master's students are strongly represented in membership and leadership positions for this student chapter.
- MT SHRM
Middle Tennessee regional chapter of SHRM of over 1,100 HR professionals are held in Nashville, Hendersonville, and Franklin.
- Society for Organizational and Industrial Psychology
SIOP is the premier membership organization of I/O Psychology.
- Association for Talent Development
This regional chapter of ATD provides a network for talent and development.
- River Cities I/O Psychology Conference
MTSU students often participate in and attend this annual student conference, held by the I/O Psychology master's program at the University of Tennessee–Chattanooga.
- National SHRM Conference
This is the annual conference for the national SHRM organization.
- SIOP Conference
Faculty and students both often attend this annual conference for SIOP.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is industrial/organizational psychology?
Industrial/organizational psychology is the scientific study of improving the workplace by studying employees and organizations. More simply stated, I/O psychology can be described as human resources meets organizational development. The “I” side of the field involves examining how to best match individuals to specific job roles, while the “O” side is more focused on understanding how organizations affect individual behavior. However, the two sides are equally important and work together within the field. Specific topics in I/O psychology include recruitment, selection, compensation, performance appraisal, training, socialization, motivation, leadership, group performance, human factors, and organizational development. I/O psychologists often work in a human resources department, consult, or conduct research.
What makes your program stand out from other programs?
First, we have seven full-time faculty members whereas most I/O master’s programs rarely have more than three. Second, in addition to rigorous academic work, our program puts a strong emphasis on applied experiences, which allows students to gain real-world experience by working with local businesses and clients. Additionally, each year our classes consist of a diverse group of students, varying in both home location and personal experiences.
Are there opportunities to get involved in real-world projects?
A strength of the program in the availability of opportunities to participate in projects that provide students with real-world experiences outside the classroom. Students receive these experiences through required internships, course projects, COHRE (Center for Organizational and Human Resource Effectiveness), and other outside opportunities. During the required internship, each student is able to work with a company using the knowledge and skills they have learned in the program. Past students have had internships with Nissan, General Electric, Bridgestone, State Farm Insurance, Gaylord Entertainment, FedEx, and many more. Beyond the internships, each semester students are involved in at least one applied project through course projects or involvement with COHRE.
What are your alumni doing now?
Our alumni are a varied group working in several different positions, countries, and corporations. Examples of places where our alumni currently work at are Coca-Cola Co., Microsoft, Bridgestone/Firestone, Dell Computers, WorldCom, Verizon, just to name a few. While many alumni enter directly into the workforce after completing our program, several have gone on to successfully obtain doctoral degrees. The balance of academic rigor and applied experiences offered by the program prepares students to enter the workforce or pursue I/O doctoral programs.
How do I apply?
Before applying to our program, please refer to the Requirements tab to determine if you have met our application requirements. If you have met or will be meeting our requirements, you can submit an Online Application for Admission. Please note that the general application deadlines on this online form do not apply. The I/O master’s program deadlines are March 1 for the Fall semester (primary selection time) and Oct. 1 for the Spring semester (few if any openings). Next, you will submit all additional application materials to the College of Graduate Studies. Application materials are also outlined under Requirements and must be submitted on or before the application deadline. If you would like to be considered for a graduate assistantship, you must complete a separate and additional application. This application can be submitted at the same time as your application for admission.
What is the typical academic profile of program applicants?
Admission to the master’s in I/O Psychology program is competitive. Each year, the program admits 10–13 new students. The program usually draws 60–80 applications who meet the minimum qualifications. Of those admitted, the typical average scores are: GPA 3.6, GRE-Quantitative 149 (600 under previous GRE format), GRE-Verbal 151 (470), and GRE-Analytical Writing 4.5–5.0.
What do you like to see in a personal statement?
Successful personal statements may address the following: 1) why you are interested in I/O psychology; 2) why you are interested in our program; 3) research and relevant experience; and 4) additional information that will help us know more about you.
What does it cost to attend graduate school at MTSU?
Cost is a primary concern of those looking to invest in attending a graduate program. At MTSU, tuition and fee rates are set on a yearly basis. View this year’s graduate fee chart.
What kind of financial aid is available to students?
There are many resources for financial aid available to incoming students. Most incoming students will receive a graduate assistantship, which may provide tuition assistant and a stipend. Other assistance is available through student loans, paid internships, COHRE projects, etc. Our Financial Aid information page can provide more information on these different opportunities and how to apply for a graduate assistantship.
Can I talk to a current student about the program?
Yes! Our current students are happy to talk to prospective students. Second-year students Caleb McLaughlin (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Erin Leuschke (email@example.com) have volunteered as the contact persons for prospective students. Please feel welcome to reach out to them.
Contact and Student Information
Department of Psychology
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 87
1301 E. Main St.
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
College of Graduate Studies
Middle Tennessee State University
MTSU Box 42
1301 East Main Street
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
MTSU College of Graduate Studies
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