Earning an Online Industrial Organizational
Psychology Bachelor's Degree

Put simply, industrial organizational (IO) psychology is the science of how people think and behave at work. Students who enjoy studying human behavior and want to make a positive impact in the business world may benefit from earning a industrial organizational psychology degree online.

Receiving a bachelor's in IO psychology from a top program qualifies students for entry-level business and human resources positions, or paves the way for further study at the graduate level. To become a licensed IO psychologist, a master's degree in the field is usually the minimum requirement.

Overview of Industrial Organizational Psychology Bachelor's Degrees

Industrial organizational psychology applies psychological principles and science to different aspects of the workplace, including training, leadership, and team dynamics. IO psychology is similar to and often intersects with human resource management, but IO psychology studies the process of organizational change, whereas HR management focuses on day-to-day personnel issues.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the field of industrial organizational psychology will grow 8% by 2026, and professionals with quantitative research skills may hold a competitive edge. Earning an industrial organizational psychology degree online can prepare students for a career in IO psychology by helping them understand human motivations and behavior, and by teaching them the best ways to influence employees and organizations. Students gain the knowledge necessary to become hiring managers, training and development managers, or corporate recruiters.


Application Process

Most colleges and universities have similar application requirements, which generally include essays or personal statements. Application fees range from $40-100, though some universities offer free applications. For schools with an application fee, applicants can often waive fees based on financial need, so there are cheap options. Most universities require high school or GED program transcripts, as well as records for any college credits taken, and some also require up to five letters of academic or professional recommendation. Sometimes applications include a section to upload these letters, but often they are submitted separately.

What Will I Learn?

Students enrolled in industrial organizational psychology programs learn how to predict job growth, notice key personality traits in employees, retain company knowledge, motivate workers, and encourage leadership styles tailored to specific contexts. IO psychology students also receive instruction in general education, psychology, and business.

Required credits for an IO program typically include 40-60 general education credits, 30-45 psychology- and business-specific credits, and 30-35 elective credits. Most bachelor's in industrial organizational psychology programs require 120 credits total.

Curriculums vary across programs, but topics generally include:

Selection

Classes on selection cover performance predictors, selection law, and discrimination. Students design applications and interviews that attract the best candidates and follow all applicable laws.

Training

Training classes teach students how to identify necessary skills, design training programs, and evaluate trainee progress. These skills are especially valuable when working in staff development or consulting firms.

Motivation

Motivation classes focus on self-regulation and goal setting. Understanding motivation strategies allows students to improve training programs, development plans, and personnel reviews. Expertise in these areas is especially useful in HR management positions.

Teams

Understanding how teams improve an organization's flexibility serves graduates well in managerial positions, even outside the IO psychology field. Teams classes help students learn to effectively implement corporate team structures.

Diversity

Racism and diversity in the workplace are sensitive topics requiring careful study. In diversity classes, students learn to create policies and design processes that avoid discrimination and promote diversity.

Leadership

Leadership courses discuss how different leadership styles, like transformational leadership, benefit different organizations. Knowing the function of leaders within an organization allows graduates to lead more effectively.

What Can I Do with an Online Bachelor's Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology?

An online bachelor's degree in industrial organizational psychology gives students the skills to tackle hiring and selection, training, evaluation, employee motivation and satisfaction, and team management -- all while keeping in mind diversity and leadership issues. Students with these skills transition successfully into a variety of careers related to IO psychology.

Core Skills

Graduates from the best online industrial organizational psychology programs can apply statistical techniques learned in behavioral science research to a variety of workplace issues. They can also design effective applications and interviews that find the best candidates for the listed position, improve training programs, and create policies that avoid discrimination and promote diversity. Additionally, graduates of industrial organizational bachelor's programs know what constitutes a good team, what motivates employees, and what qualities make a good leader.

Potential Careers and Salaries

Graduates from top industrial organizational psychology programs possess applicable skills for organizations across many industries. IO psychology graduates find positions with corporations, nonprofits, and government agencies. According to the BLS, it is also common for IO psychology professionals to work in scientific research, at government agencies, at colleges and universities, or at consulting firms.

Industrial organizational psychologists apply the scientific method to principles of human behavior by observing, analyzing, and interpreting professional environments to improve organizational effectiveness. Often, they focus on hiring, training, and evaluating employees, or on developing programs and policies that increase performance, retention, and morale. As IO psychology professionals gain experience in the field, they bring in higher salaries.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Salary
Experience Median Salary
Entry-Level (0-5 Years) $66,911
Mid-Career Level (5-10 Years) $90,022
Experienced (10-20 Years) $108,278

Will I Need a Graduate Degree for a Career in Industrial Organizational Psychology?

Most industrial organizational psychologists have a master's degree. However, students with a bachelor's degree in IO psychology can pursue related positions that serve as stepping stones to IO psychology careers, including entry-level HR positions. For students wishing to start at in leadership or specialized positions, earning a graduate degree in IO psychology is the best choice.

Accreditation for Industrial Organizational Psychology Bachelor's Programs

Accreditation demonstrates that a school's programs meet academic standards established by the accrediting body. Employers, graduate schools, and professional organizations may not recognize degrees earned from unaccredited programs.

The American Psychological Association (APA) offers psychology-related accreditation, but only to doctoral programs in clinical, counseling, or school psychology, and to postdoctoral residency programs. Due to this selectiveness, the APA does not accredit undergraduate IO psychology programs.

Since there isn't specific accreditation available for undergraduate IO psychology programs, prospective students should be careful to choose a program offered by a regionally accredited school. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation website includes a full list of regional accrediting bodies.

Industrial Organizational Psychology Professional Organizations

While researching industrial organizational psychology programs online, students should consider joining a professional organization in the IO psychology field. These organizations offer resources and professional opportunities for students. For example, students can attend conferences, or submit articles to journals. Organizations also help students network with professionals and transition from school to the workforce.

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
SIOP prides itself on being the "premier professional group committed to advancing the science and practice of the psychology of work." SIOP holds an annual conference and offers resources for students, schools, and IO psychologists.


Academy of Management
AOM strives to improve the world by teaching about organizations and management. Their mission is to "build a vibrant and supportive community of scholars by markedly expanding opportunities to connect and explore ideas." AOM also holds an annual conference and publishes a journal where researchers and business leaders can share their expertise with others.


Society for Human Resource Management
As the world's largest human resource professional society, SHRP aims "to be a globally recognized HR professional society that exists to develop and serve the HR professional, and advance and lead the HR profession." While SHRM does offer resources for current students, it focuses on providing tools and certifications for HR professionals.