Kurt Kraiger, Professor of Psychology and Director of the MAIOP Program, joins us today to discuss their Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology program which is also available Online.
1. Can you tell us about the Master's program(s) offered at Colorado State University?
This Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology (MAIOP) degree program studies the behavior of individuals in businesses and organizations to determine how to improve performance and productivity for that organization. Students learn how to use research and measurement skills to solve practical workplace issues and to apply the principles of psychology to human resources and leadership challenges within an organization. This degree is practitioner-oriented, providing practical knowledge and skills focusing on applied research and consulting.
2. How long does a typical Masters’ program take at Colorado State University? What is the maximum and minimum time of completion?
The program is made up of 12 courses and 38 credit hours. Two courses are offered each semester (Fall/Spring/Summer), so full-time students would take 2 courses per semester for six semesters, finishing exactly two years after they started. Because many of the 2nd year courses have 1st year courses as prerequisites, it is really difficult to complete the program any faster. About half our graduate students are part-time students, meaning that they are sometimes taking one course, or may even skip a semester. This fits their work/life schedule, but would of course lengthen the time it takes to complete the program.
3. What do you think makes the Colorado State University Masters’ program stand out from other programs offered by similar schools?
Many elements. The first is our brand. The Ph.D. program in I/O Psychology is nationally recognized in the field, so employers will recognize – and respect – the school name on the diploma. We were also one of the first online I/O masters program associated with a “brick-and-mortar” institution, so I think we’ve built terrific brand recognition even separate from the doctoral program.
Because our psychology faculty are nationally (and internationally) known as researchers and consultants, the curriculum is first rate and fresh. While it is true that our courses all practice-oriented, a student must have state-of-the-art knowledge as a foundation too. We revamp and update our curriculum on a rotation system, so each course is updated about every two years; this system, along with our faculty expertise, means that our student are getting really current knowledge of the field.
Finally, the classes are terrific. Our instructors really care about creating an engaging learning environment, and our classes tend to be characterized as lively with a strong skill-building component.
4. Does your Master’s in Psychology program offer any concentrations or dual enrollment opportunities?
We don’t. There are a few courses that a student could take as electives in the business school, or in performance consulting, but these would need to be on top of the courses required in the program.
5. How important would you say accreditation is when choosing a Master’s in Psychology?
This really depends on the state in which a student intends to practice. Each state has different laws on licensing and accreditation. That said, the vast majority of states do not require a practicing I/O psychologist to be licensed, or come from an accredited graduate program. Accreditation is critical in clinical, counseling, and school psychology, but not particularly relevant in I/O.
6. What kind of student characterizes your ideal candidate in the Master’s in Psychology program (i.e. personality traits, background, interests, career aspirations, etc.)?
The longer we are around, the stronger our applicants tend to be. Thus, it is important that applicants have fairly strong academic backgrounds and good GRE scores. However, we also really value diversity in our incoming classes, so we like to have a mix of students straight out of college, older adults switching careers, HR professionals adding new skills. There really isn’t an ideal candidate.
7. What are your class sizes for courses in the Master’s in Psychology degree program?
On average, about 15-20. We limit the incoming cohorts to about 18-20 to try to maintain this class size. Our classes are also capped at 25. If 15-20 seems high, keep in mind that so much of our classes build on class discussion, project teams, etc., and we have found that sometimes it is hard to create strong social learning environments with smaller class sizes.
8. What are the advantages to earning a Master’s in Psychology degree in general and where are you seeing employer demand for this degree?
To be honest, I don’t know about the advantages of a master’s degree in general. A master’s degree in I/O Psychology is very valuable. I/O is one of the few areas of psychology that one can practice – and earn good money – with a master’s degree. I/O Psychology always appears on lists of “brightest occupational forecasts” or “best career choices for the future” and organizations are hiring both masters and Ph.D.s. Ph.D.s will tend to start at higher pay, and they will tend to have a little more variety in the work they do, but a student trained in our program can find jobs applying what they’ve learned.
9. Is your university linked with any Government, Educational, or Industrial Partnerships to provide internships or practicum experiences for enrolled students?
10. Does Colorado State University offer job placement for students who graduate with a Master’s in Psychology?
Not formally. Faculty pass along recruitment opportunities that we see, and I am working on building an alumni network that will help with this in the future.
11. What type of financial aid packages are available for students in psychology? Are there any fellowships, grants and scholarships available?
Our Psychology Department does not offer financial aid or assistantships to MAIOP students, so any financial aid would have to come from the university.
12. Do you have any advice for students enrolling in a Master’s in Psychology program for the first time?
Enrolling? First, you have to apply. I recommend that potential applicants make sure that they really know what I/O psychologist do. There is a lot of information out there, but we still see applicants who right “I like to help people. I like business. I like to help people in business.” Graduate school is a big commitment, and you should make sure it’s right for you.
So, once you start: The biggest factors are keeping up and asking for help. We begin and end on a semester system (we even have spring break). All students have assignments due at the same time, exams at the same time. When you are balancing school with work and life, it can be easy to fall behind. But, your class will keep going! You really need to block out the time to get your classwork done each week. And, some material will be harder to grasp then others. Unlike a regular classroom, the instructor can’t see your face and see that you are confused. Our instructors (and fellow students) love to help, you just have to reach out to let them know where you need assistance.
13. What do you enjoy most about your position at Colorado State University?
Most? Everything! I have the best job in the world. I love teaching, I love doing research, and I love building programs (like MAIOP). I was less involved in MAIOP for a few years because I was the department chair, and I only had so much time. I’m excited to be back engaged on a regular basis. I love the passion our students have for their education and their careers.
For more information on the Master’s in Psychology programs offered at Colorado State University, visit them online.
Thank you Kurt, for sharing and participating in this piece.
That concludes our interview!
- Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.A.I.O.P.)
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