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Is a Master’s in Industrial-Organizational Psychology Worth It?

Human beings are complicated. Our upbringings, cultural values, belief systems and personal preferences all impact how we interact with one another – and that complexity also drives our performance and behavior in the workplace.

Understanding how psychological principles play out in work settings makes resolving conflicts, overcoming common human resources challenges and creating highly functioning and engaged workplaces possible. Increasingly, organizations are looking for professionals with backgrounds in industrial-organizational psychology and related fields to optimize individual and team performance. 

One way to gain this experience is by earning a master’s degree in industrial-organizational psychology. This degree opens the door to new roles for many professionals and can help them command a higher salary. However, before you invest time and money in a degree program, it’s essential to carefully consider whether it’s the right decision for your circumstances and goals. 

Who is an I/O Psychology Master’s For?

A master’s in industrial organization (also known as I/O) is well suited for professionals looking for a greater understanding of how to use human psychology and behavior to improve organizational functioning, develop teams and improve business outcomes. 

This degree may be a good fit if you want to work in areas like organizational development, consulting, human resources, or training and development. It’s important to note that industrial-organizational psychology master’s programs are geared toward work in businesses and other organizations rather than diagnosing or treating individuals in a clinical setting. 

What matters most when choosing a master’s program? Compare features, benefits and cost to find the right school for you.


How Much Does an I/O Master’s Cost?

The cost of an I/O master’s varies significantly by institution and delivery method (online, hybrid, or in-person). According to US News and World Report, the cost of an online master’s in I/O psychology can be up to $48,000. In-person programs can cost even more, especially once expenses like transportation and lodging are considered. The time commitment is also significant, since most programs take about two years to complete. 

It’s also possible to earn a degree in I/O psychology or related fields, like business psychology, for less. Franklin’s master’s in business psychology costs less than $30,000. Plus, it can be completed in less than 14 months and offers the flexibility to fit your schedule. 

What Can I Earn with an I/O Psychology Master’s?

A master’s in I/O can offer access to competitive positions in nearly every industry. But how much do industrial-organizational psychologists make? The answer depends on many factors – but median advertised salary figures provided by Lightcast Analytics, a leading labor market research firm, provide a helpful baseline. Typical jobs for industrial-organizational psychologists include the following:

  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $108,800
  • Human Factors Specialist or Manager:  $88,300
  • Human Resources Manager: $89,900
  • Market Research Analyst: $72,400
  • Organizational Consultant: $151,000
  • Marketing Manager: $109,800
  • Management Consultant: $83,200
  • Training and Development Manager: $88,300
  • Executive Leadership Coach: $102,100

It’s important to note that salaries can range much higher than medians. According to Lightcast, the top 6% of jobs requiring a master’s in I/O psychology with advertised salaries pay between $165,000 and $280,000. Professionals who often work as independent contractors, such as organizational consultants and executive leadership coaches, have additional control over their income. 

How Do I Decide if an I/O Master’s Is Right for Me?

Before you invest in a master’s in I/O, take the time to carefully assess your career goals. Beyond specific job titles, think about what types of projects you want to work on and what impact you want to have in the workplace. Look at job postings and talk to others in your field to learn whether and how a master’s degree might help you. For example, some organizations require an advanced degree for certain leadership positions, meaning you may run into a “ceiling” without a master’s. 

It’s also wise to explore the costs of different degree program options and weigh the upfront investment against the potential payoff in increased salary. 

Also consider related programs, like business psychology, which may better fit your goals. 

“When deciding whether to pursue I/O or business psychology, the learner needs to understand where and who they wish to impact,” says Dr. Jeffrey Ferezan, a member of Franklin’s business psychology faculty. “While I/O psychology focuses on individual and personal workplace issues such as engagement and morale, business psychology applies psychological practices to big-picture areas.”

Move Your Career Forward at a Lower Cost at Franklin

If you’re seeking a program to help you build in-demand I/O knowledge while developing your business acumen, consider Franklin’s M.S. in Business Psychology.  Earn your degree in as little as 14 months with a theory-to-practice curriculum that allows you to put what you learn into practice from the start. Franklin's affordable tuition is fixed when you enroll, so you never have to worry about costs rising between terms.

Learn to use insights into human behavior to solve real-world business problems and emerge with a deep understanding of relationships and cooperative systems. Whether you’re an experienced professional or new to the field, our supportive faculty and advisors will be beside you every step of the way. With low tuition and flexible scheduling, our program is designed to fit your life. 

Find out more about how Franklin’s Master’s in Business Psychology can help you shape your future.  

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