What are the different types of organizational-industrial psychology degree programs?

Postgraduate study in organizational-industrial psychology at the doctoral level is strongly grounded in research theory and application.

Degree programs in organizational-industrial psychology are typically offered in two different orientations: practitioner-oriented and scientific practitioner-oriented. The practice-oriented type of degree is usually a terminal master’s degree that prepares students to work as an organizational-industrial psychologist, while a scientific practice-level model prepares students to continue studies at the doctoral level. At the doctoral study level, students can almost always expect the rigors of the scientific-practical model. In the field of organizational-industrial psychology, the difference in the type of degree usually determines the type of career the professional will have. Those who graduate with a terminal master’s degree usually work for a company applying their qualifications in human resources and management matters, while those who continue at the doctoral level usually end up working in the academic field or conducting research.

Students considering degree programs in organizational-industrial psychology after completing their bachelor’s degree need to first understand what kind of career they want. Working as an applied industrial-organizational psychologist often means working closely with human resources departments and managers on key issues related to employee or organizational performance. As such, a terminal degree at the master’s level is generally practice-oriented, and the student will focus studies in the main theoretical areas of organizational-industrial psychology applied in an organizational setting. Research training is often included; however, training is rarely broad in scope at this level, often consisting of only one or two research courses.

Candidates entering Master’s-level organizational-industrial psychology degree programs, which are not terminal in nature but offer students a good balance of research and applied theory, are generally prepared to continue their studies at the doctoral level. While these students may also enter the job market after graduation, they are not prepared to take on research jobs, but neither will they have all the theoretical knowledge normally required to take on some applied positions. However, while they are prepared to study at the doctoral level, some students may take on junior positions in the field and work their way up to an experienced psychologist or research assistant position. Most of the time, however, these students will continue their studies towards a doctorate in the field of study.

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The postgraduate study in organizational-industrial psychology at the doctoral level is strongly grounded in the theory and application of research, including statistical methods and analysis. Preparation for major research projects, both in organizations and in academic environments, is the main focus. Completing the doctoral requirements will also give candidates the qualifications necessary to teach or lead degree programs in organizational-industrial psychology, which are usually limited to the graduate level, as undergraduate study often focuses on general psychology.

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