Industrial/Organizational Psychology

As these terms would suggest, organizational and industrial psychologists are concerned with psychological factors in business and industry. They are concerned about the "human factor" in work organizations. Psychologists in this group provide a wide variety of services to their organizations. They might help design personnel practices, selection and promotion procedures, organizational hierarchies, tests to match people with appropriate jobs, persuasion techniques for sales and marketing, working conditions that improve morale and productivity, and continuing education programs. A sub-specialty in this area is engineering psychology where psychologists try to develop equipment that can be used more effectively and safely. Another area is "organizational development" where psychologists help with team building, staff development, goal setting, conflict utilization and management. Improved interpersonal communications and quality decision-making. Frequently industrial/organizational psychologists develop experimental and other evaluative research designs to test products and solutions to problems.

In part because business and industry are not as oriented to graduate degrees as is the health field, and they not as concerned about whether the psychologists they employ are licensed, some I/O psychologists do not seek licenses as psychologists, and instead use industrial titles in their positions. Some I/O psychologists only possess a master's degree, but in the future it is expected that nearly all I/O psychologists will obtain the doctorate. After clinical and counseling psychology, I/O psychologists are the largest group in the American Psychological Association. Several research studies indicate that I/O psychologists are the highest paid subfield in psychology.

Since every major graduate university does not have a doctoral program in I/O psychology, the interested student will need to begin to inquire about potential graduate schools long before applying. Write, and visit if possible, various schools to learn about their interests and faculty, and to evaluate the quality of the program to meet your needs. Increasingly graduate schools of business are also offering more courses related to the functions of I/O psychologists.

Specific recommendations regarding choice of major and courses:

Students planning careers in this area should take a broad program of liberal arts as well as a major in psychology. In psychology, the student would do well to emphasize social psychology (attitudes, conformity, socialization, leadership, persuasion, and group dynamics); research skills (including experimental and quasi-experimental designs, measurement, and statistics); personality; and experimental psychology (perception, learning, cognition). In addition, they should become familiar with work organizations through study in the business school, especially courses in management, personnel, economics, finance, and management information systems.