Schedule: A Graduate students' schedules are very flexible and autonomous. Although all PhD students have their own desk, there are no strict requirements for coming into the office at certain hours. Some students prefer to work at home, in coffee shops, or in one of the university’s libraries.
Classes: Certain statistics and organizational psychology classes are required, but for the most part, students can shape their class schedule to fit their unique interests. One can also take classes within other areas of psychology and outside of the department altogether. Most classes are reading and discussion based, and meet once a week for about 3 hours. Class papers are often written with the intention of converting them into future research projects. Students typically take only two classes per semester to leave time for working on research projects.
Research: Research projects can be initiated by both faculty and students and range across a wide spectrum of interests. Students can work one-on-one with professors, on larger research teams, with one another, or on their own. Michigan State has the advantage of a large subject pool to facilitate lab-based and survey research. The faculty are also frequently contacted by organizations for applied projects, and students are offered the opportunity to join and even lead these projects. This is a great way to get field samples for research studies. Applied projects often result in conference presentations and publications.
Conferences: Conferences are a popular outlet for students to present their work. Students regularly present their research at the annual conferences for the Society for Industrial & Organizational Psychology, the Academy of Management, the American Psychological Association, and the Association for Psychological Science, to name a few. The Psychology department offers students funding to travel to a conference where they will be presenting their work.
Intramural teams and sports: Many students play on intramural teams throughout the year. Psychology students team up with one another and other graduate students, which is a great way to meet new people and have fun.
Other activities: Many students also pursue activities outside of the program, including MSU sports teams, recreational classes, clubs, and associations. Both the East Lansing Hannah Community Center and the MSU Graduate School offer affordable or free exercise classes. Students can also get involved in volunteering activities, or join the Council of Graduate Students. There are opportunities to get involved with the community both through MSU and the surrounding area.
Social life: Many students also like to just spend time together outside of the office. Going to football games, movies (tickets are very affordable!), theater performances, and concerts are some of the things to do for fun.
Students take trips to neighboring cities like Detroit, Grand Rapids, Grand Haven, and Royal Oak to experience all that Michigan has to offer. Michigan is also a natural beauty, and is home to destinations like Sleepy Hollow State Park, Mackinac Island, and Sleeping Bear Dunes where students can go to hike, camp, kayak, etc.
A lot of students travel home during the holidays. During the summer and spring breaks, many go home for several weeks and easily continue working with team members and faculty remotely.
A typical day in the life of an organizational psychology graduate student varies tremendously from person to person because students have different preferred working styles and are able to accommodate those preferences. Here is one student’s description of her typical day:
“My schedule is pretty different from day-to-day. In general though, I usually head in to the office for classes and research meetings (and also spend some time there socializing and taking a trip to Grand River to grab some coffee or lunch with friends). Then I usually get some more work done before relaxing, working out, or playing some sort of sport before calling it a day.”