In the competitive global economy, it’s not enough to focus on the short-term bottom line. Organizations of all types are increasingly focused on management policies that are designed for sustainable, long-term success. That’s a primary reason why industrial/organizational psychology (I/O)—the scientific study of how people shape businesses and organizations, and how these entities shape individual and community behavior—is one of the fastest-growing specialties in the field.

Adler University’s online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program produces socially responsible leaders who use the core principles of I/O to reshape organizations and establish psychologically healthy environments and policies that improve the day-to-day lives of employees and the community at large—and help boost productivity, encourage innovation, and add to the bottom line.

Experienced faculty members guide students through a rigorous online curriculum that combines academic knowledge with effective, strategic insights and training. Each course also emphasizes Adler’s commitment to social justice, inclusiveness, and socially responsible practices. The tangible result is a Social Responsibility Action Plan that each student develops to address a real-world organizational problem.

All of our online programs are delivered with the academic rigor and personal attention that has distinguished Adler University for more than 60 years. Graduates of the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program are prepared to make an impact in a wide variety of I/O roles, including roles in recruitment and staffing, organizational culture and diversity, instructional design and training, executive coaching, team dynamics, and more.

This leadership-focused master’s program can help graduates advance their professional standing in the field; our schedule-flexible online approach means students can balance existing professional and personal responsibilities and complete this degree program.

Earn your Industrial and Organizational Psychology master’s degree fully online from an institution that shares your values of social justice and community-based solutions.

Program Outcomes

Graduates of Adler University’s online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology program are equipped to take on leadership roles that shape organizational success. With this graduate degree, you will be able to perform the following critical functions in both small and large organizations:

  • Recognize underlying business challenges and key stakeholders involved.
  • Integrate social justice to recognize and acknowledge individual differences and how they influence organizations.
  • Identify and assess organizational efforts toward social responsibility and corporate citizenship.
  • Use data- and evidence-based practices to inform ethical decision-making.
  • Develop legally defensible talent management systems.
  • Apply I/O and psychological theories to deliver solutions that promote organizational effectiveness.
  • Deepen self-awareness and personal growth for lifelong learning as an I/O practitioner.

Courses

Adler University’s fully online Master of Arts (M.A.) in Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a 37 credit-hour program. Courses are eight weeks in length, and this program can be completed in just over two years with scheduled breaks.

The Industrial and Organizational Psychology M.A. is offered in the following sequence of classes, including a final Action Plan course:

Industrial and Organizational Psychology
37 credits
MIO 001 (0)
Student Orientation
Student orientation provides new students with an overview of Adler University policies and procedures, systems, personnel, resources, and organizations. Newly admitted students are expected to complete this mandatory orientation prior to enrollment. Failure to complete orientation prior to the 10th day of their first course may result in dismissal from the program.
MIO 502 (3)
Organizational Theory
This course presents a multifaceted view of organizational theory for the I/O practitioner. Both the history of the field and current issues related to research and practice are explored. The course begins with basic concepts of structure and systems and moves to exploring relationships in the organizational ecosystem (i.e., among leaders, the workforce, and key stakeholders). Important organizational factors, such as life cycle, culture, and ethical decision-making, are linked to organizational effectiveness. Special attention is given to applying these concepts to unique organizational challenges via case studies affecting large corporations and nonprofits.
MIO 517 (3)
Talent Management
This course will offer students an introduction to the field of talent management and what has also been known as personnel psychology. An overview of the processes used by organizations to attract, select, retain, and develop employees will be discussed in this course. With the right talent in place, organizations can be more effective in reaching their strategic and operational objectives. The sequence of the course will follow the cycle of employment, from recruitment and selection, to training, performance management, and development.
MIO 504 (3)
Organizational Development and Change
This course examines the vital role of organizational development (OD) in helping organizations evolve to meet business challenges. Through case study and interactive discussion, students learn about the phases of planned change. Key factors such as increasing employee commitment and decreasing resistance to change are covered. This course prepares students to design sound evidence-based OD interventions and evaluate their impact. Experiential learning is employed to help students grapple with the impact of change. In addition, the distinct values of OD practitioners are highlighted as these are fundamental for building successful relationships. Finally, social justice and social responsibility concepts are integrated into knowledge about OD interventions.
MIO 503 (3)
Research Methods
This course introduces students to the basics of social science research methodology within the context of organizations. Students learn how to establish research questions and select appropriate research design to answer those questions. Sampling and selection of participants, selection of variables, and data collection methods will be reviewed. This course serves as the foundation for completing the Social Responsibility Action Plan. Students will identify a current or emerging social justice problem, which will serve as their topic, and will begin their research as part of this course. To support completion of the required project, guidance on how to conduct literature reviews will be provided.
MIO 518 (3)
Consulting Skills
Skilled consultants help clients define and solve problems. This course builds on content introduced in Organizational Development and Change to deepen student knowledge of the advising profession. Students will learn the intricacies of the consulting profession; analyze the phases of an effective consulting process using Block’s framework; and apply consulting skills via a team-based simulation. Sample project proposals will be presented to promote real-world learning, and students will reflect on the important role of the self in building client relationships. Finally, a career spotlight will include exploration of the distinct roles of internal and external consultants.
MIO 506 (3)
Statistics
This course prepares students to conduct statistical analysis using SPSS. Descriptive and inferential statistical techniques will be covered as they relate to making decisions and solving problems in organizations. Multivariate techniques will be introduced at the end of the term to inform students in making predictions and explaining data.
MIO 509 (3)
Group Dynamics
In this course, students are introduced to the function and structure of groups to promote organizational effectiveness. The science behind group decision-making, process, and communication are explored. Course topics also cover conflict resolution, leadership and power, collaboration, and shared goals. Students learn techniques to optimize group performance with special emphasis on building high-performance teams to meet business challenges. To increase awareness of how individual differences affect group dynamics, students take a variety of personality measures highlighting personal strengths and weaknesses. They apply these findings to group membership and discuss career applications of working with groups and teams. Social justice concepts are applied to ethical decision-making in group work.
MIO 512 (3)
Talent Selection and Recruitment
This course provides students with an introduction to tools and procedures used to recruit and select the best employees for organizations. The course will prepare students with the skills to conduct a job analysis, create job applications and structured job interviews, and evaluate appropriate tools for employee selection. Students will also review the theory and use of ability, knowledge, and personality testing, and multicompetency methods of evaluating employees, such as assessment centers. Legal issues and test measurement will be reviewed as it relates to employee selection.
MIO 519 (3)
Performance Management
In this course, students learn all aspects of the performance management process, which begins with the organization’s goals and standards and is continuously monitored by measuring and evaluating employees, distributing rewards, coaching and training employees, providing feedback, and aligning goals across the levels of the organization. Students learn about threats to performance evaluation accuracy, including issues of reliability, construct validity, and inter-rater agreement. Additional topics include rater errors, rater-ratee relationships, contextual performance, employee motivation, and performance management in multinational organizations.
MIO 507 (3)
Consumer and Employee Attitudes
This course prepares students to conduct survey research in organizations to measure employee or consumer attitudes. Students will learn how to design a survey, evaluate the reliability and validity of a survey, utilize statistics to analyze the survey data, and interpret and present survey results to clients. Qualitative and quantitative tools of measuring consumer and employee attitudes will be discussed, and an overview of employee attitudes will be reviewed.
MIO 510 (3)
Executive Coaching
This course teaches students cognitive, behavioral, psychoanalytic, developmental, and humanistic techniques of evidence-based executive coaching in the context of leadership development. The course aligns behavior change and individual growth with learning about organizational dimensions. The role of culture is explored in coaching engagements, as well as ethical and legal behavior of I/O practitioners. Career considerations are given in light of student interest and reflection on skill development.
MIO 511 (3)
Training: Theory, Design, and Evaluation
(Taken concurrently with MIO 515)
The course provides students with a thorough understanding of the role of a training and development practitioner. It will include an analysis of current best practices, including adult learning theory, instructional design/strategy, and program evaluation. The course provides practical opportunity for students to design their own training program and develop instructional strategies appropriate for training programs that are delivered in various formats. Students take a big-picture perspective by understanding the value of training to meet strategic organizational needs and individual employee development needs.
MIO 515 (1)
Social Responsibility Action Plan
(Taken concurrently with MIO 511)
Drawing on content across the curriculum, students will further their research on the social justice problem selected in the Research Methods course and propose alternative, socially responsible solutions. Students will prepare a white paper and brief presentation to communicate the problem, analyze existing research and practices, and present their unique contributions and solutions.

Careers

Well-trained industrial organizational psychologists are in high demand in the corporate, nonprofit, and public sector. The following are just a sampling of the potential careers available to graduates of Adler University’s Master of Arts (M.A.) in Industrial and Organizational Psychology online program:

  • Corporate Recruiter
  • Hiring Manager
  • Performance Manager
  • Executive Coach
  • Instructional Designer
  • Organizational Management Consultant
  • Change Management Consultant
  • Diversity and Anti-Discrimination Consultant
  • Survey Designer

Michelle Dennis

Michelle Dennis, Ph.D., PGCE, MATD
Program Director

Education

  • Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Marquette University
  • M.A., Clinical Psychology, Roosevelt University
  • M.A.T.D., Training and Development, Roosevelt University
  • PGCE, Online Teaching in Higher Education, Roosevelt University
  • B.S., Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Parkside

Experience

  • Adjunct Faculty, Roosevelt University
  • Interim Program Director, Nonprofit Management Program, Adler University
  • Adjunct Faculty, Cardinal Stritch University
  • Counselor, Catholic Charities
  • Associate Lecturer, University of Wisconsin
  • Associate Lecturer, Strayer University
  • Statistician, U.S. Census Bureau through Sabre Systems Inc.
  • Research Assistant, Medical College of Wisconsin

Areas of expertise, academic & research interests

  • Coaching
  • Leadership development
  • Interpersonal styles
  • Personality assessment

Professional memberships

  • American Psychological Society
  • Chicago Industrial Organizational Psychologists
  • The Organizational Development Network of Chicago
  • World Association for Online Education

What background do you bring to this field?

I hold a doctorate in clinical psychology, a graduate credential in online teaching in higher education, and a master’s degree in training and development. I have completed specialized training in corporate business management, coaching, and instructional design. I have worked as a statistician, researcher, and business analyst, and I have worked as an educator for the past 16 years.

What career enhancement does the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program offer prospective students?

This program offers students the opportunity to develop and enhance their skills in the areas of human resource management, talent management, talent selection and recruitment, executive coaching, consumer behavior, research methods, statistics, organizational analysis, organizational change, and training and development. Additionally, students have multiple networking opportunities and the opportunity to do independent research under the supervision of faculty members if they have an interest.

Graduates of the program have earned promotions in areas such as human resources and talent management following the completion of their degrees.

How do the concepts of social justice and social responsibility apply to I/O Psychology?

The majority of life is spent at work, and social justice is of particular importance on the job. Practitioners of industrial and organizational psychology address issues of inequality by encouraging fair hiring practices, increasing diversity and raising cultural competence, and advocating for ethical and empathic behavior.

Each course includes a discussion of social justice issues as they relate to the subject matter. Students develop a social responsibility action plan during their final course.

What is an advantage of the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program?

The courses in the Industrial and Organizational Psychology program focus on practical applications and social responsibility. This program is comprehensive and can be completed while working full time. Our emphasis on socially responsible practice helps graduates stand out and make impacts in their communities.

Is there one specific course you’d like to highlight?

The final course in the program, Social Responsibility Action Plan, provides students with the opportunity to investigate an issue about which they are passionate, describe the impact of the issue on the community, and propose socially responsible solutions.

What stands out in terms of the online student experience?

Many students report feeling more engrossed in their studies than they expected in an online program. This is due in part to our emphasis on student engagement. There is a student engagement coordinator and an active networking group for students. Additionally, faculty are very responsive and hold regular virtual office hours.

What excites you about what you teach?

I was drawn to Adler University because my values are consistent with the mission of this learning community, and I aim to inspire my students to realize opportunities for advocacy in their day-to-day work. My goal is to assist in the training and development of agents of social change who will implement socially just practices within their communities. Through our example and instruction, Adler University faculty have the opportunity to impact the next generation of socially responsible professionals who will go on to improve communities and increase equality.

I enjoy sharing opportunities for advocacy within the field of industrial and organizational psychology with my students. I am also passionate about sharing ways to demonstrate socially responsible practice in professional coaching. Exploring ethical dilemmas as they relate to the field also allows me to demonstrate the many real-world applications of the concepts that are taught in this program.

Program Faculty

Bill Karmia
Chuks Agada
Dawgelene Sangster
Delinda Howard Terry
Geoffrey Lantz
Susan Adams