Guidebook for the Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychology M.S. Degree Program at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)

Last update: May 2017


Program Mission/Vision

The mission of the Master’s of Science degree program in I-O psychology at UTC is to provide students with the training necessary to pursue a variety of I-O related careers. These include, but are not limited to, positions in human resources departments in work organizations (e.g. job analyst, testing specialist, trainer, compensation analyst, organizational development specialist, generalist), but also positions as external organizational and human resource consultants. In addition, the UTC I-O program can be used as a preparation for the pursuit of doctoral training in I-O or related fields of study. As with any educational program, many graduates have found work in other fields based on some combination of their interests and circumstances. The fundamental educational philosophy of the program is to train students to think in a logical and critical manner. This skill is useful to anybody in any endeavor. The curriculum for this program is organized around specific core competencies that are at the heart of the practice of I-O psychology and in-line with recent recommendations for graduate level training issued by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Division 14 of the American Psychological Association). Two of the core domains of practice in this field, the industrial domain and the organizational domain, are evident in the program label. The industrial domain includes content such as job analysis, selection, tests and measurements, and training. The organizational domain includes content such as work motivation, organizational development, culture, and conflict management. The third domain, research methodology, includes content such as univariate and multivariate statistical analysis, experimental design, survey research and scale construction. In summary, the UTC I-O concentration promotes learning objectives that include critical reasoning, ability to apply and effectively share scientific knowledge in diverse situations, formal scientific methods and thinking, and advanced statistical analysis.

Program-Specific Information

Admission requirements and procedures

Details regarding the admissions requirements and procedures for the UTC I-O program can be found on our program website, in the Admissions Information section.



Advising within our program is handled primarily by the Graduate Program Director. To ensure efficient and timely progress, all graduate students can monitor their progress toward degree completion through the online MyMocsDegree portal beginning their first semester. This system is mappe onto the curriculum requirements for our program, as outlined in the Graduate Catalog for this program.



The curriculum for the UTC I-O psychology program is designed to provide students with a truly balanced education in the science and practice of I-O psychology. This is accomplished through a combination of elements, as detailed in the Program Description portion of our website.


Culminating Experience

Students in our program have a choice of culminating curricular experience: a thesis or a comprehensive exam. We strongly encourage students considering additional training at the doctoral level to complete a thesis, which 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. Please review additional thesis-related requirements below. Also note that students who opt not to complete a thesis, may still pursue an independent study and/or research project with faculty supervision as an elective course in their second year.

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 (i.e., spring semester) of each cohort’s second year. The exam consists of several integrative questions requiring the student to bring together material from the core courses. To facilitate in-depth study and preparation, a list of exam review questions is typically distributed about five weeks prior to the exam. 


Critical Program Requirements

These requirements are more fully detailed on our program website and in the current Graduate Catalog. In general, though, students in our program are expected to excel in and out of the classroom, as developing professionals in what is a very demanding occupational field (cognitively, socially, and psychologically). While all students must complete a core set of courses, as detailed in our program curriculum, there is a great deal of flexibility regarding which electives are taken to fulfill these requirements. The following points are important to highlight about electives in our program:

    • Please note that students who elect to complete a thesis project will use PSY 5990 Thesis credit hours to replace up to two elective courses (6 credit hours).
    • Note that students must complete 300 hours of supervised internship work, which equates to 6 credit hours of PSY 5360. These hours are split between the Summer session between students' first and second year and either the fall or spring of the student's second year.
    • Not all acceptable electives are offered in all semesters or years, so there is some flexibility in terms of which electives are taken during which semesters.
    • Some students choose to evenly balance their electives over all semesters in the program, while others choose to load some semesters more than others.
  • Students are permitted to take a portion of their elective coursework outside the department as a form of cross-disciplinary study. Such choices are discussed and approved by the Graduate Program Director to ensure that our students enroll only in the highest quality course offerings within other departments on campus when such an interest and/or opportunity arises.


Continuation Requirements

To maintain their status as members of the UTC I-O program, students must meet all standards for continuation as specified by the Graduate School (see details below). Please note that students in this program are expected to demonstrate the highest level of professionalism and ethics at all times, in and out of the classroom. This expectation is very serious, given the importance of professional and social networking in the day-to-day work of an I-O psychologist or Master’s Level I-O practitioner. A graduate student’s overall performance as a member of the program will be regularly evaluated by the faculty: Poor evaluations may be grounds for dismissal from the program. See also section on Dismissal below.


Additional Program-Specific Policies

Given the career paths taken by graduates from our program, it is a program-specific policy that all students adhere to at least a business casual dress code for all class meetings and special program-related events. Guidelines on what this means can be found here. Please note that a polo shirt and khakis will also be considered acceptable; this is the south after all and many of the organizations that ultimately employ our students permit this level of dress.

It is also recommended that all students in the program carefully monitor and manage their social media presence and actions at all times. As a member of the UTC I-O program, your actions on and off the UTC campus impact the program and all alumni from the program.  


Pertinent Graduate School Policies

Students are advised to carefully review the entire section of UTC’s Graduate Catalog for the year in which you start as a student in the program. Some of the most critical policies to note in this section are highlighted below for your easy reference.


Residency Classification for Paying Fees

At the time of admission, each student is assigned a residence classification for fee purposes. Full details on Graduate School policies pertaining to this issue, including appeals processes are found here.


Financial Support for Graduate Students

Graduate students have a variety of opportunities to earn at least partial financial support for their studies at UTC. The primary mechanisms of financial support for which the Graduate School has at least some oversight are summarized in the Graduate Catalog and referred to as:

An important point to note about these various forms of financial support is that they are not all equivalent. Specifically, while scholarships typically function as awards or grants to support your studies, Graduate Assistantships are work arrangements between students and a particular department or office on campus. It is important for students to understand that the financial benefits associated with a Graduate Assistantship come with time and effort commitments. The specifics of these commitments vary somewhat by assignment and area. Students are advised to be mindful of this when making plans regarding how many credit hours to enroll in for a given semester and also how much outside or additional work they are planning on doing in a given semester.

Another important point to note is that not all GA assignments are full-time. Sometimes due to limited funding and sometimes due to work demands, GA positions are split into half-time roles. The financial implications of this can be quite confusing, but what it comes down to is in a half-time GA instance, the college in which the GA is situated is responsible for 4.5 hours of Maintenance costs (the in-state tuition charges) and the university covers 6 hours of out-of-state tuition. This is in addition to half of whatever the full-time GA stipend is for a given academic year.

Finally, it is also critical that graduate students understand the tax-related implications of their GA assignments, as not all forms of GA are fully tax-exempt. The best way to get a full picture of your GA situation is to speak with the administrator responsible for managing your payment in whatever department or area you happen to be assigned.

A related financial support issue that is important to note, is that for graduate students, 5 hours minimum is required to qualify as a half-time student and 9 hours is the minimum to qualify as full-time. This is important to any student who may be receiving student loans, HOPE and other federal aid, as many of these forms of aid require students to have at least "half-time status". More details about all of this can be found through UTC's Financial Aid office.


Graduate Student Association (GSA)

The GSA represents graduate students across all programs on campus. Although its specific programming and activities vary from year to year, one of its primary functions as an organization is to award and distribute funds to support graduate students participating in professional development activities. Details can be found through the GSA website.


Program of Study

Each degree seeking graduate student must complete and file a Program of Study form by the end of the first semester of enrollment in graduate coursework. This form serves as a roadmap for successful completion of the program’s curricular requirements. More details on this form can be found here.


Course Withdrawals

Withdrawing from courses once registered can be easily done before the formal drop period for a given semester. After this period ends, a backdated withdrawal may be needed. Details on this process can be found here.


Thesis Requirements

For students who opt to complete a thesis as their culminating curricular experience, there are important guidelines regarding the thesis process and composition of a thesis committee. Details on these and other thesis-related requirements (including necessary forms, style templates, and timelines) are summarized by the Graduate School here

Within the UTC I-O program, thesis students must complete a thesis preparation course (PSY 5140) in the spring semester of their first year. Soon thereafter, students should work with their thesis committee chair to ensure that their project is successfully proposed no later than September 30th of their second and/or final year in the program. Students must complete all thesis-related work by early March of their second and/or final year in the program to comply with Graduate School deadlines. 

Following the completion of this thesis course, students then shift to working full-time under the supervision of their thesis committee chair. A student’s thesis committee shall consist of a chairperson and at least two other persons. The chairperson must be a full-time faculty member in the thesis student’s department in a tenure-track position and should have at a minimum full master’s graduate faculty status. One other member of the committee must be a full-time faculty member in the thesis student’s department. The remaining member(s) of the committee must either be full-time faculty members in the student’s department or must possess qualifications that are deemed suitable for committee membership by the student’s department and by members of the Graduate Faculty. Once a committee is set, the student is responsible for completing a Thesis/Dissertation Committee Appointment form, obtaining signatures of all committee members, and submitting the form to the departmental degree program secretary and a copy to the Graduate School in a timely fashion. 

There are many important policies to note and adhere to if pursuing a thesis while in the program. These are all detailed in the Graduate School website linked above, but it is especially important for students to note the following:

  1. The student must register for departmental thesis/dissertation courses for each semester the thesis/dissertation is in progress and for each semester or term in which the student receives faculty assistance and/or uses University facilities and resources. In our program this means that students must continue to register for PSY 5999r Thesis each fall and spring semester after the initial registration until the thesis is accepted for submission to UTC Scholar. The student must be enrolled for at least two semester hours of thesis during the semester the thesis is submitted. (Students graduating in August must register for thesis hours in at least one summer term.)
  2. The thesis and dissertation format and other technical matters shall conform to the University’s Theses and Dissertations Standards (available through the Graduate School website link above).
  3. Following acceptance of the thesis/dissertation by the student’s committee, the student will conduct a presentation open to the public and an oral defense of the work before the committee. After the defense, the student’s graduate committee shall approve or reject the thesis/dissertation. Students must make all corrections and changes in the thesis/dissertation as agreed upon and recommended by the committee prior to final approval.
  4. Upon passing the defense and having the thesis/dissertation approved by the committee the student must submit an electronic copy, using UTC Scholar, to the Graduate School to allow for checking that the document adheres to the University established formatting standards. The student will be required to make all formatting corrections using UTC Scholar.


Graduation Audit

Students heading into their second year in the program will be asked to submit a revised Program of Study and apply for graduating early in their second year. At this time, a full Graduate School audit of the student’s graduate course-progress is conducted. The details and form(s) for this process can be found here.


Petitions and Appeals

Whenever a graduate student feels that his/her rights and interests have been seriously jeopardized by unfair, arbitrary, or malicious exercise of faculty grading prerogative, the student may appeal a grade within five (5) days of final grade posting for a given semester. The details of this grade appeals process are outlined here in the Graduate Catalog.

Student petitions for readmission, late candidacy, extension of candidacy, course waiver/substitution, request to take excessive hours, and requests for second extensions of IP grades will be heard at the program level. The dean of the Graduate School will act on decisions made at the program level. In cases where a student wishes to appeal a petition decision at the program level or decision by the dean of the Graduate School, the Graduate Appeals Committee will hear the appeal. Residency petitions are submitted directly to the Dean of The Graduate School. Students should note that the burden of proof for petitions and appeals is on the student. Full details for both of these items are provided in the Academic Policies section of the current Graduate Catalog.



Students may be dismissed from a graduate program for failure to meet course and non-course related criteria. Full details on dismissal policies and procedures can be found here in the Graduate Catalog.


Pertinent University Policies

All students at UTC, undergraduate and graduate, are expected to abide by certain other policies and standards. The most critical are outlined below.


Honor Code

The Honor Code is based upon the assumption that the student recognizes the fundamental importance of honesty in all dealings within the University community and that education is a cooperative enterprise between student and teacher and between student and student. Any act of dishonesty violates and weakens this relationship and lessens the value of the education which the student is pursuing. The Honor Code, the Honor Court, and its procedures are detailed in the UTC Student Handbook.


Financial Aid

UTC has several financial programs to assist graduate students with the cost of advanced studies. The University provides funds to students who have documented financial need; it also has assistance that is not need-based. Students who want further information about academic merit awards (graduate assistantships) should contact the department of the program to which they are applying for graduate study and obtain applications from The Graduate School office, as noted above. Here’s a summary of the main types of financial aid available to most graduate students at UTC: 

Type of Aid





Part-time employment for students who do not meet the federal guidelines for employment under the College Work Study Program


Placement Office Application Student Application, Employment Financial Aid Office


All students

Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans




All students enrolled at least half-time in a degree seeking program

Graduate Assistantships


Specific degree program office


Graduate students who plan to enroll for at least six credit hours

Graduate Opportunity Assistantships Program


Office of Equity and Inclusion


First year/first generation graduate students



Graduate School


All students meeting donors’ criteria





All students meeting specified criteria


Many students also benefit from the Academic Common Market program, offered by the Southern Region Education Board (SREB). This program allows a student to enroll in an undergraduate or graduate program at a university in another state without having to pay out-of-state tuition if that program of study is not offered by the public institutions in the student’s home state. Please check out UTC's Academic Common Market webpage for important details about this program and how it works here at UTC. Please also review more information about financial matters summarized here on our UTC I-O program website.


Student Support Services

There are a variety of support services available to all students at UTC. Here is a summary of the main resources that may be helpful to you at some point during your time as a student in our program:

  • Student health: Services include visits for acute and chronic illnesses, physical exams, screenings, immunizations, lab services, TB skin testing and allergy shots. 
  • Counseling and personal development: Services include individual and group counseling, testing, psychiatric services, referrals, consultations, and outreach to the university and broader community.
  • Disability Resource Center: Facilitates in the removal of barriers and creation of an accessible environment for students, faculty, staff, and visitors to our campus; provides opportunities for education and advocacy by helping to promote independence and growth for our students, supporting our university’s core values. For more information, please contact the Disability Resource Center at 423-425-4006.



Mission is to contribute to the intellectual endeavors of the UTC community by assisting in the discovery of information and providing the infrastructure and resources for learning. Learn more through the UTC Library website.


Technology Support

At some point here you will need help with technology-related questions. The UTC Technology Support center can help with just about every technology-related issue you might experience, including:


UTC Learn

UTC Learn is home to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga’s distance learning opportunities. UTC Learn houses both synchronous and asynchronous programming utilizing a variety of technologies including Blackboard Learn, Adobe Connect, video conferencing, and Media Site. You can access and find more information about UTC Learn here.


UTC Alert

UTC ALERT is a messaging system that allows UTC to communicate with members of the campus community quickly in the event of an emergency. You can sign up for this helpful service by following these instructions.