UTC I-O Program Description
Our program at UTC leads to a balanced terminal M.S. degree in the science and practice of I-O Psychology. Most of our graduates go directly into practice-oriented jobs. However, the program also provides a solid research and statistics foundation for students seeking an eventual doctoral level education in I-O or a related field. Apart from the few graduates every year who continue their studies at the doctoral level, our graduates begin careers in several areas. Many enter human resources departments as HR generalists or training/development specialists. Other graduates have become specialists in job analysis, compensation, testing and measurement, organization development, and selection. Still others have used their training in computer technology and statistics to become data analysts and survey research analysts. There are also always a couple students who find non-traditional ways of leveraging their I-O education along with their other unique skills and interests. Whatever your occupational goal may be, we can help you work towards it while gaining a firm footing in the science and practice principles of I-O psychology.
We have developed a rigorous and comprehensive curriculum for the M.S. degree at UTC, which requires you to successfully complete at least 48 semester hours of graduate-level coursework. Approximately 95% of our students within the last 10 years have finished the program in two years, when beginning in a fall semester (the typical starting point for each incoming class). In a few special situations we have allowed students to begin their studies in a spring semester and then continue on with the incoming class for that fall, but we do not recommend this sequence because it disrupts the comprehensive ordering of courses that we have prepared.
The program curriculum is composed of the following four components:
1) Required core courses. All courses have been designed to conform as closely as possible to the competency-based graduate education guidelines promoted by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and last updated in late spring 2016. These courses address multiple core content areas, including: statistics/research methodology, critical industrial psychology topics, and critical organizational psychology topics. The actual required courses are outlined in the Graduate Catalog (but note that an improved and revised curriculum goes into effect with the Fall 2017 Graduate Catalog).
2) At least 300 hours of applied experience. Students receive credit for the hours they spend on practicum/internship or working on other forms of approved applied projects. This applied experience may be gained by working with local organizations or organizations in other locations more convenient for students. Please note that all students in the UTC I-O program are required to enroll in and complete the first of these applied experiences (for at least 150 hours and 3 credit hours) during the summer between the first and second year in the program. Tuition and fees will apply for this one summer course, as per the university Bursar's fee schedule.
3) Targeted elective courses. We strive to give students as much flexibility as possible in choosing their electives. They may be taken from courses offered in the Psychology Department, the UTC School of Business, or from other departments on campus when relevant. We have also recently added several elective offerings taught periodically by our full-time I-O program faculty. These offerings have been designed to reflect the changing needs and interests of our students and potential employers and they include courses such as:
- Core Skills for I-O Psychologists: Practical Business Skills for I-Os
- Compensation and Benefits
- Strategic Human Resources
- Occupational and Organizational Health
4) Comprehensive exam or completion of a thesis. In addition to completing a minimum of 48 hours of coursework, students must either pass a comprehensive exam given in the spring semester of the second year or complete a master's level thesis under the guidance of the program faculty.
The Typical Program of Study
To make it easier for you to juggle school, work, and life, all of our program's required graduate core courses are offered in the evenings. Each of these classes meets once per week from 5:30 to 8:00 pm. More details on the typical program of study for students in this program can be found in the current Graduate Catalog (click here for direct access).
The placement of electives in the above typical schedule may not apply to all students. Some choose to take their electives at different times, based on what is offered and/or on what the student's schedule will allow in a given semester. For students choosing to complete a thesis, PSY 5990 - Thesis may be used to replace up to two elective courses. Students often decide to take a portion of their elective coursework outside the department. We strongly encourage this cross-disciplinary study and we try to advise students to the highest quality course offerings within other departments on campus when these interests arise.
All I-O students who do not complete a thesis are required to take a comprehensive exam. These exams are typically given in early March of the 2nd year spring semester. The exam consists of several integrative questions requiring the student to bring together material from the core courses. In the past, to facilitate in-depth study and preparation, a list of potential exam questions has been distributed about five weeks prior to the exam.
We strongly encourage students considering additional training at the doctoral level to complete a thesis instead of the comprehensive exam. This thesis project involves extensive collaboration with a faculty member who serves as the primary thesis supervisor. Thesis topics are chosen in conjunction with the thesis supervisor, who then supervises the topic and research plan development, data gathering and analysis, and final write-up and reporting of findings. A committee of additional faculty members is also involved in evaluating the quality of the proposed and completed project. It is not uncommon for theses to be accepted for paper presentations at regional or national conferences. If you are interested in seeing what recent thesis students and our I-O faculty have been doing, check out the following collection of theses archived through the UTC Scholar system.