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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Organizational Psychology

Editor’s Picks: Online Schools for Organizational Psychology

Value
The best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for value is offered by Colorado State University, which offers an online Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology. The university had an annual return on investment of 7.9% for in-state students, according to PayScale.com’s 2012 ROI rankings. That percentage went up to 9.3% for students receiving financial aid.

Flexibility
The award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for flexibility goes to Capella University, which offers an online Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in industrial/organizational psychology. Capella received a grade of A in academic flexibility from College Prowler. The university is committed to providing a flexible online learning experience where students can work on courses at their convenience, according to the university website.

Career Support
Colorado State University wants to ensure that graduates of its online programs have the tools they need to launch an effective job search, and therefore makes many services available through its career center. A few of those services include career counseling and assessment, resume/cover letter development, and help with interview skills and job hunt strategies. In addition, online students have access to CareerRAM, an online job board where students can search job and internship listings. Last but not least, online students can attend multiple career fairs that are planned each year.

Financial Support
The best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for financial support is offered by Capella University, which has a financial aid staff dedicated to helping graduate students find ways of paying for their education, such as through Federal Stafford Loans, Federal Graduate PLUS Loans, or other means. Capella offers a variety of scholarships and grants, including some earmarked for psychology students. The university has a reputation for providing generous financial aid; in the 2010-2011 school year, 100% of full-time beginning undergraduate students received some sort of financial aid, and 33% received institutional grants or scholarships, according to College Navigator.

Technology Support
The award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for technology support goes to Walden University, a fully online institution that offers a Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in organizational psychology. Walden provides its students with 24/7 technical support, according to the university website, meaning students do not have to worry that they will be left in the lurch if they encounter technical issues late at night or the early hours of the morning. In addition, Walden University was ranked among the best tech support schools by College Prowler.

Student Engagement
Kansas State University, which offers an online Master of Science in Psychology with an emphasis in industrial and organizational psychology, wins the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for student engagement. Unlike many fully online master’s programs, which can leave students feeling somewhat isolated from their professors and classmates, K-State’s master’s program incorporates an on-campus component that allows students to interact in person with their faculty and classmates, according to the program website. Each summer, students participate in a two-week-long summer workshop. This face-to-face element not only provides valuable networking opportunities with faculty and fellow students, but also contributes greatly to student engagement because students can finally put faces to the names they see online.

Disability Support
The best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for disability support is offered by Colorado State University, whose Resources for Disabled Students (RDS) department is dedicated to helping students with documented disabilities overcome barriers to their higher education. The university provides disabled students with reasonable accommodations, such as alternative testing, alternative text, sign language/oral interpreting, and note-taking support, according to the RDS website. Students with disabilities can also benefit from priority registration and assistive technology.

Library and Research Support
Colorado State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for library support because of the wide variety of library services that cater to distance learners. Online students have the same access to full-text databases, full-text e-journals, and interlibrary loan privileges as traditional students, which will be useful for graduate research. Online students also have access to a distance learning library team dedicated to helping students connect with CSU library resources from afar. Online students can also ask CSU librarians questions via email or phone.

Learning Support
Walden University is dedicated to providing support for its online students. Online graduate students have access to student success courses in relevant areas such as academic integrity, writing literature reviews, graduate writing, and advanced reading strategies. Students also have access to Walden’s writing center, which provides tutoring in writing, help with planning and revising student papers, and one-on-one consultations. These great support services, coupled with personal advising, library and research support, and Walden’s 24/7 tech support, are why Walden is the winner of the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for learning support.

Faculty Credentials
The award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for faculty credentials goes to Colorado State University because of their experience in the field. CSU’s industrial/organizational psychology faculty have an average of 15 years of teaching and consulting experience in the field, according to the program website. Faculty specializations are varied, and include corporate culture and climate, organizational justice and politics, performance evaluation and feedback, safety climate and safety culture, management assessment and development, and more.

Faculty Accessibility
The winner of the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for faculty accessibility is the William James College, which offers both blended and online versions of its Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology program. Students who opt for the blended program complete the majority of the program online, but participate in a weekend-in-residence (WIR) once a month on campus. This means that students will always be able to access their faculty face-to-face on a regular basis throughout the program while still enjoying the flexibility of a primarily online program, giving students the best of both worlds.

Alumni Engagement
Kansas State University wins the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for alumni engagement because its alumni association is 40,000 members strong and is ranked first in the Big 12 for percentage of graduates who are members, according to the university website. Alumni benefits include athletic ticket discounts and access to K-State libraries. The alumni association also provides awards for fellow alumni for career achievement and humanitarian service, and provides an award for graduate students. In addition, alumni can connect with one another through spirit clubs and alumni clubs across the nation and even internationally.

Prior Learning Options
The University of the Incarnate Word, which offers an online Master of Science in Psychology with a specialization in industrial/organizational psychology through its Virtual University, wins the award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for prior learning options. The university’s generous transfer credit policy for graduate course work allows a student to transfer in a maximum of 12 credit hours from other accredited programs, provided the credits are equivalent to those offered at UIW and the student has earned a grade of B or higher, according to the university website. UIW also provides prior learning assessments that may grant students credit for life experience, work experience, correspondence courses, testing programs, military services, and more.

New Online Student Orientation
The award for best online master’s degree in organizational psychology for new online student orientation goes to Walden University because it offers a free, self-paced Student Readiness Orientation. This orientation teaches students what it’s like to learn online and introduces students to their student support team. Included in the orientation are important topics like how to submit assignments online, how to participate in online discussions, and more.

Explore a Master’s Degree in Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychologists, or industrial-organizational psychologists, apply psychology to human resources, administration, management, sales, and marketing problems to improve employment, training, organizational development, and productivity. Organizational psychology combines social psychology, organizational behavior, and statistics into a field for use in industrial, governmental, consulting, and academic settings. They require analytical skills to collect pertinent information, communication skills to collect and communicate information to clients and peers, and an ability to develop working relationships with clients, patients, and other medical professionals.

Class Curriculum

A graduate degree in organizational psychology requires core course work in personnel selection, performance appraisal, training and development, statistics, and research methods. Further course work may include work motivation and attitudes, leadership and strategic change, foundations of organizational behavior, small group behavior, social cognition, and social development. Below are courses that may be included in an organizational psychology master’s degree program:

  • Work Motivation and Attitudes. Work motivation and attitudes studies the theories and principles of individuals and groups in a work environment. Lectures may evaluate techniques like job enrichment, participative management, improved supervision, goal setting, reinforcement, leadership development, and influence techniques.
  • Social Cognition. Social cognition studies how people understand others and themselves, and the effect of this perception on social behavior. Students study cognitive psychology on perception, memory, and inference, and how that relates to the social environment.
  • Organizational Development. Organizational development covers methodological approaches like organizational diagnosis, data collection, interventions, feedback, and evaluation. Course work may also apply social psychological research and theory to industrial and organizational problems.

A graduate degree in organizational psychology may require thesis work throughout the degree program. Students may also be required to participate in research or gain internship experience for professional development. Assignments may include problem sets for statistics course work and reading for research methods or research specific to course work and lecture. Students may be required to submit their own research or participate in laboratory work.

Building a Career

Most states require practicing psychologists to obtain state licensure, which usually requires a doctorate in psychology, internship experiences and one to two years of professional experience, and passing the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. National certification through the National Association of School Psychologists is accepted by 30 states toward licensing or certification, and is awarded as the Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP) designation.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists in May 2011 was $124,160. The BLS also reports that the median pay for psychologists in May 2010 was $68,640 per year. Wages and employment opportunities tend to vary by factors including employer, area, experience, and position. Employment for psychologists is expected to increase by 22% between 2010 and 2020. Industrial-organizational psychologists employment is expected to increase by 35% between 2010 and 2020. However, The BLS reports that industrial-organizational psychologists is a small occupation, and the fast employment growth may only result in about 800 new jobs between 2010 and 2020.

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