Organizational Psychology

Organizational Image

General Information


The aim of the graduate program in Organizational Psychology at Michigan State University is to provide Ph.D. level training to students who intend to obtain faculty positions in universities or research-oriented positions in major corporations, government, or other organizations. The program provides a strong background in psychology and quantitative methods, as well as the content of Organizational psychology.

In addition, there is an excellent working relationship with the Department of Management, Eli Broad College of Business, and with the School of Labor and Industrial Relations. Such a strong link is unique among most Organizational psychology programs. Students and faculty from both programs frequently are involved in joint projects.

Program Description

Ranking. The program has been ranked first in the nation in industrial/organizational psychology for more than 13 years. See U.S. News & World Report for the ranking in 2013.

Size. Our faculty/student ratio is small and allows the development of close working relationships between faculty and students. The Organizational psychology program has approximately 15-20 graduate students who come from all over the U.S. and from foreign countries. All are full-time students. There are eight primary faculty in the Organizational program and a number of associated faculty from other departments.

Length. Students entering the program with a Bachelor's degree usually complete the Ph.D. program within five years. Students are expected to complete their Master's degree within the first two years, complete their comprehensive examinations during their third year, and devote their fourth and/or fifth year to an internship and dissertation work.

Stipend. The average stipend for a teaching or research assistantship in our Ph.D. program is around $15,000 for 9 months (excludes summer). Many opportunities exist for summer assistantships, which most of our students take advantage of. Also, a significant number of our graduate students receive fellowships from the university or outside organizations.

Courses. In general, there are few standard course requirements for graduate study in Organizational psychology. The extent of research, course, seminar, and other work in the various areas of relevance to Organizational psychology varies considerably depending on the students' unique backgrounds, abilities, interests, and goals. Specific information about required courses can be found in the Organizational Program Handbook.

Research. Research is the central focus of the program. Students are required to be involved in research at all times during their graduate training. This involvement begins with a high degree of structure as new students join ongoing faculty research projects. Over time, students take on greater responsibility for projects depending upon their research interests and their ability to manage projects independently. In all cases, faculty members work very closely with students on a one-to-one basis in order to provide the individualized guidance that best fits the students' needs. Project objectives may include the following: (1) experience in the applications of psychology; (2) collection of data on research issues of interest to faculty and graduate students; and (3) delivery of valuable service to an organization.

Flexibility. While maintaining a research focus, the program itself is very flexible. Programs of study are shaped to fit each student's needs and interests. Students in Organizational psychology have concentrated on traditional subfields within Organizational psychology, but they also have developed expertise in areas such as measurement, educational psychology, cognitive psychology, social and ecological psychology, counseling, labor relations, communications. Also, many graduate students take opportunities to assist and/or teach undergraduate courses.

Applied Experience. Michigan State University's Organizational Psychology program focuses on providing research training for future positions in academia. However, more than 50% of our graduate students go on to work in applied organizations. We provide many opportunities for students interested in the applied field, including carrying out studies with real-world companies, aid in finding internships, and providing graduate seminars in consulting.