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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.

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What We're Doing

MTSU students receive national recognition

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

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.

Related Media

  • MTSU College of Graduate Studies

    MTSU College of Graduate Studies


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
  • BellSouth
  • Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems
  • Bridgestone
  • Coca-Cola
  • Comdata Inc.
  • Cracker Barrel
  • Dell Computers
  • Microsoft
  • Nissan
  • Target
  • Towers Perrin Consulting
  • Toyota Tsusho America
  • U.S. Postal Service
  • Verizon
  • Walmart
  • WorldCom


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) 

Application deadlines:

  • Feb. 15 for the Fall semester (primary selection time)
  • Oct. 1 for the Spring semester (few, if any openings)

Typical average scores are: GPA 3.7, GRE-Quantitative 153, GRE-Verbal 154, and GRE-Analytical Writing 4.5.

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
(615) 898-2126

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 Requirements

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 admission, candidates must meet the following standards: an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 or higher and a minimum score of 141 on the quantitative measure of the Graduate Record Examination is expected for admission. Additionally, all applicants should have successfully completed an undergraduate course in statistics.

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. Applicants to the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program must provide a letter of intent stating goals and objectives.

Students who do not meet admission requirements may be admitted as non-degree seeking. Students admitted as non-degree seeking must maintain a 3.25 GPA in their first semester (9 hours minimum) of required graduate courses in their concentration areas to be fully admitted to the program.

Most applicants have completed 15 semester hours in the core areas of psychology prior to admission to the graduate program in Industrial/Organization psychology. Those applicants without 15 semester hours in core areas of psychology may be admitted to the program but must complete those credits at the undergraduate or graduate level. See additional requirements listed below.

Application Procedures

All application materials are to be submitted to the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicant must

  1. submit an application with the appropriate application fee (online Once this initial application has been accepted, the applicant will receive directions on how to enter the graduate portal to be able to submit other materials.
  2. submit official transcripts of previous college work;
  3. submit letter of interest/intent;
  4. submit official scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
  5. submit three letters of recommendation;
  6. submit a resume' or curriculum vitae.

For more information about application materials, please see

NOTE 1: Admission to graduate study is competitive and not automatic for students meeting minimal admission requirements. Each year the number of students admitted depends on the availability of adequate faculty supervision.

NOTE 2: To be considered for graduate assistantships, student must submit additional material. Information is available at

Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts with an Industrial/Organizational concentration is designed as a 43-hour program for students who have demonstrated knowledge of the core areas of psychology prior to entering the Industrial/Organizational program.

Students must complete a minimum 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.

Candidate must

  1. successfully write and orally present a written thesis evaluated by a committee of psychology faculty in conjunction with PSY 6640;
  2. pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the Industrial/Organizational faculty (may be taken no more than twice).

Curriculum: Psychology, Industrial/Organizational

The following illustrates the minimum coursework requirements.

Required Courses (6 hours)


  • PSY 6280 - Psychological Statistics: Regression

    3credit hours

    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 6290 - Psychological Statistics: ANOVA

    3credit hours

    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.

Core Courses (22 hours)


  • PSY 6070 - Advanced Industrial Organizational Training and Development

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Supervised experience in industry, business, or government using psychological principles at a professional, applied level.

  • PSY 6320 - Performance Appraisal and Job Analysis

    3credit hours

    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 6420 - Advanced Personnel Selection and Placement

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    1credit hours

    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 - Compensation System Design and Administration

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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

    3credit hours

    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.

  • PSY 5830 - Occupational Health Psychology

    3credit hours

    Prerequisites: PSY 1410 and PSY 3020 or equivalent statistics course. Focuses on identifying and improving the key health, safety, and well-being issues that employees face.

Thesis (3 hours)


  • PSY 6640 - Thesis Research  1 to 6 credit hours  
    (3 hours required)(3 hours required)  dotslash:(3 hours required) title:(3 hours required) 
    (3 hours required) 

    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.

Additional Requirements (0-15 hours)

Students who lack one or more of the core areas of psychology will be required to complete additional coursework to fulfill the requirements listed below. Relevant courses offered at MTSU are listed in parentheses.

  1. group measurement/testing (PSY 4260/PSY 5260);
  2. abnormal psychology or personality (PSY 3230/PSY 5230, PSY 3590, or PSY 6020);
  3. learning or cognition (PSY 4040, PSY 4480/PSY 5480, or PSY 6190);
  4. social or developmental (PSY 2210, PSY 2300, PSY 4190, PSY 4210, PSY 4610/PSY 5610, or PSY 6380);
  5. introductory course in I/O psychology (PSY 3320).

Program Notes

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.

Our adjunct faculty bring outstanding professional experience to our programs. Many are industry leaders with decorated careers and honors. Importantly, they are innovative educators who offer hands-on learning to our students to prepare them to enter and thrive in a dynamic, and oftentimes emerging, industry and professional world. They inspire, instruct, and challenge our students toward academic and professional success.


"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

Prospective Students

  • 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. 

Current 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 formIf 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 

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 Feb. 15 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 3.7, GRE-Quantitative 153, GRE-Verbal 154, and GRE-Analytical Writing 4.5.

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 Madison Thompson ( and Sarah McClure ( have volunteered as the contact persons for prospective students. Please feel welcome to reach out to them.

Contact Information

Patrick McCarthy

Who is My Advisor?

Patrick McCarthy

Mailing Address

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

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