Can I afford this?
Making the decision to pursue a graduate degree in I-O psychology means making a decision to invest in your future. A terminal Master's degree in this field is a pre-professional degree that prepares you well for strong employment prospects and earnings potential. Most good investments require some up-front costs, and graduate school is no exception. It is incredibly important to understand that few investments can guarantee the same return on your investment as earning a graduate degree in I-O psychology. To put it simply, a Master's degree in this field opens up an incredible number of opportunities and a higher starting salary than would ever be possible with a Bachelor's degree alone. Recent data reported by the Wall Street Journal showed that the median debt among master's degree students in our psychology department was around $37,000. Graduates from our I-O program have a median starting salary of around $70,000, yielding a debt-to-income ratio of .53. We are proud of the affordable value that our program provides and are confident you will be amazed at how affordable it can be to earn your I-O graduate degree with us.
To help you understand what your financial picture will probably look like if you are admitted to the UTC I-O program, we recommend that you consider three core elements:
1. Educational Expenses (what you will owe UTC): The typical trajectory for students in our program is 12 credit hours Year 1-Fall, 12 credit hours Year 1-Spring, 3 credit hours, Year 1-Summer, 9 credit hours Year 2-Fall, and 9 credit hours Year 2-Spring. Because tuition and fees can change year to year, the best resource for you to estimate your educational expenses is to make use of the "estimating your cost" materials provided through UTC's Bursar's Office (click here for a direct link). NOTE that UTC's current out-of-state and international student tuition rates are extremely competitive compared to other graduate programs.
2. Living Expenses (what it will cost you to live in Chattanooga): In addition to the costs of tuition and fees noted above, most of our students spend between $7500 and $12,000 per year on housing (including utilities), approximately $3000 on food, and another $1500 or so on transportation and entertainment expenses combined. With a little help, careful planning, and adherence to a budget, most students are able to make ends meet.
Students in our program use a variety of strategies to make their finances "work" while they are enrolled in our two year program. Some examples of these strategies include:
- Sharing rent and utilities with a roommate (we recommend no more than 1 roommate, but this can cut your monthly housing expenses in half)
- Working a part-time job (we recommend no more than 20-25 hours per week); if I-O related work, our students typically earn at least $18-$23 per hour in this region
- Unsubsidized educational loans (if you qualify for Federal loans, total annual amounts are typically around $20,000)
3. Forms of Financial Assistance (what can help you cover expenses): Aside from these personal strategies, the Department of Psychology and UTC offer several other forms of financial assistance. Most students in our program combine one or more of these opportunities along with outside work to make ends meet during their two years in our I-O graduate program. Here are some general details about the most common sources of financial aid and support to our recent graduate students:
- Academic Common Market: Although not technically a form of "aid" that a student receives, many of our students from surrounding states benefit from the Academic Common Market program. This program makes it possible for certain out-of-state students to pay in-state tuition rates during their time as a graduate student in our program. For more information about this excellent opportunity, please check out UTC's Academic Common Market website. If you are not a resident of one of the currently listed common market states, you may still be eligible for this tuition opportunity by requesting that your state's ACM office add UTC's I-O program to your state's list of eligible programs. In order to obtain the in-state tuition rate, a student must contact the ACM officer from his or her state and obtain the necessary documents and forms from that officer.
- Psychology Department Graduate Assistantships: Each year the department offers a respectable number of half-time graduate assistantships on a competitive basis. In the UTC I-O program, these are typically filled by a mix of first- and second-year students. Assistantships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and established performance. Each assistantship includes a stipend and partial tuition waiver. Students who are awarded such departmental assistantships are required to assist faculty with teaching or research responsibilities for 10 hours per week. All students who are enrolled full- time in the graduate psychology program are automatically considered for these assistantships.
- Other University Graduate Assistantships: Graduate students in our I-O program are highly sought after by other UTC departments and administrative offices, which typically offer graduate assistantships to which students must apply (as with a normal job). Many of these are available to first- and second-year students and in the recent past, students have obtained GA's with the Office of Institutional Research, the Graduate School, the Career and Placement Center, the Registrar, the Chancellor's office, the Center for Women and Gender Equity, and the Counseling Center at UTC. In addition, each year assistantships in other academic departments have become available. Our students consistently fare quite well when they decide to pursue these types of GA opportunities. It is worth noting that nearly all students (> 90%) seeking some sort of GA support since Fall 2016 have secured either a half- or full-time GA position in the Psychology Department or other office at UTC. Details on applying for open GA positions are shared with all candidates who are admitted (typically in late spring and early summer each year).
- Teaching Assistantships: The Psychology Department offers a limited number of teaching assignments. Students fulfilling these assignments act as lab instructors for introductory statistics and introductory research methods, section leaders for the introduction to psychology course, and/or fulfill other teaching-related duties.
- Paid Internships: While all students are required to complete internship hours while enrolled in the program, many students manage to extend their internships into their second year or begin them in the spring of their first year. These internships are almost always paid (typically ranging between $20-$25/hour), and thus become a source of funding for students, especially for students in their second year of the program.
Additional information on available assistantships, scholarships, grants, and low-interest loans is available from UTC's Graduate School (see specifically the sections on scholarships and assistantships) and Office of Financial Aid. International students are especially encouraged to contact the UTC Graduate School with any questions about available scholarships and aid.