MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Total units required for MA: 31-33

Program Description

The Master of Arts in Industrial-Organizational Psychology is designed for students who wish to develop marketable career skills that allow them to apply psychological principles and research methods to work-related issues. The I-O program at CSUS was strongly influenced by the 2016 Guidelines for Education and Training in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. While we cover all 24 major competency areas in the SIOP Guidelines to some degree, we give more emphasis to some than we do others—a strategy that is common and fully expected in master’s programs according to the narrative of the SIOP Guidelines. In consideration of the typical jobs held by master’s level I-O practitioners in general and especially in the local employment market for our students and alumni, our program gives primary emphasis to topics in human resource planning and development (e.g., job/work analysis; employee recruitment, testing, and selection; employee training; performance management) and general analytical skills (e.g., research methods; measurement; data analysis). These topics are slanted more toward the “industrial” side of the I-O field. Current literature in organizational psychology topics such as work attitudes and motivation, groups and teams, and occupational health and safety have important implications for the aforementioned human resource planning and development topics, and are covered more briefly in the coursework.

Many of our students work locally in I-O-related positions while taking classes, and often have full-time employment upon graduating. Our graduates are sought for employment in various branches of the State of California, other public sector agencies, and private sector consulting firms.

At Sacramento State students in the I-O option have many opportunities to pursue their interests in the field. These opportunities include:

  • Completing a supervised applied project, representing their area of research expertise and interest
  • Working with I-O faculty in their research labs and presenting research at conferences or submitting work for publication
  • Teaching Assistant experience
  • Applied fieldwork projects

All students who complete the program requirements are expected to finish the program in 2.5 years. Students who successfully complete the I-O program will have “Industrial-Organizational Psychology” printed on their transcripts and diplomas.

Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study in Psychology is selective. The Department equally weighs the candidate’s overall grade point average (GPA) and scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). An overall GPA of 3.0 is recommended. When making admissions decisions, the Department takes into consideration the candidate’s combined GPA and GRE score, letters of recommendation, previous (research and/or practical) experience, the candidate’s interest in a particular faculty member’s research agenda, and additional materials as required by each program option (ABA, General MA, and I/O).

Applicants are required to have completed upper division undergraduate psychology courses in statistics and research methods, with at least "C" grades in those courses, as well as a balanced and academically strong group of upper division courses covering at least five different core academic areas of psychology (e.g., biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, social). The upper division psychological research methods/statistics requirement is met by PSYC 121 and PSYC 102 taken at Sacramento State, or their equivalents at other universities. Upper division research methods/statistics courses from other four-year universities must be reviewed and approved for equivalency by the Department's Graduate Coordinator.

Please visit for information on each option’s additional requirements.

Admission Procedures

All applicants, including Sacramento State graduates, must apply to both the University and the Psychology Department.  Please submit the following to the Sacramento State Office of Graduate Studies:

  • an application for admission—via CalState Apply
  • two sets of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State, should be sent to:

California State University, Sacramento
Office of Graduate Studies
River Front Center 215
6000 J Street
Sacramento, CA 95819-6112

  • Official Graduate Records Exam (GRE) scores (be aware that it takes approximately six weeks from the test date for scores to be forwarded); for more admissions information and application deadlines please visit

At the same time, each applicant must file on-line with the Psychology Department:

  •  a completed application form;
  • one set of unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, including Sacramento State transcripts;
  • unofficial copies of the General GRE scores*;
  • three letters of recommendation, from individuals who can evaluate the applicant's potential for successful graduate study. At least two letters from faculty are preferred.  See application brochure for link—available from ;
  • additional materials, as required by each specific option (General MA, ABA and I/O).

*The General GRE must have been taken by the application deadline.

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA:  34-36
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0.  All units must be completed with a grade of ''B'' or better.

The field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I-O Psychology) covers all aspects of psychology in the workplace, including such sub-topics as: organizational development, leadership, performance evaluation, personnel selection, test validation and development, work teams, training, and personality influences.

The Industrial-Organizational Psychology Option at Sacramento State is designed to give broad-based training in the relevant content areas as well as provide a strong methodological background. Students obtaining the Master's degree should be prepared for a career as a personnel manager, a testing specialist, a member of an I-O consulting group; they should also be prepared for further graduate work at the doctoral level. By meeting all of the requirements for the degree, students will have met the master's level educational competencies identified by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Students are strongly advised to keep in contact with professors in the Psychology Department for academic advising.

Advancement to Candidacy

Each student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of graduate study. This procedure should begin as soon as the classified graduate student has:

  • removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;
  • completed at least 12 units of 200-level courses in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA;
  • selected a Thesis or Project committee;
  • obtained the committee's approval of a proposal for the thesis or project (as indicated by committee members' signatures on the Department's thesis/project approval form); and
  • taken the Writing Placement for Graduate Students (WPG) or taken a Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento or secured approval for a WPG waiver.

The student will complete the Advancement to Candidacy form after planning a degree program in consultation with a Psychology advisor and members of the student's thesis/project committee. The completed form is then returned to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval.

Program Requirements

Required Core Courses (6 Units)
PSYC 200Methods in Empirical Psychology 3
PSYC 202Survey of Contemporary Statistical Methods in Psychological Research3
Required Area Courses (18 Units)
PSYC 204Advanced Topics in Statistical Methods for Psychological Research3
or PSYC 205 Measurement Methods for Psychological Research and Practice
PSYC 206Tests and Measurement3
PSYC 267Training & Employee Development3
PSYC 269Analysis of Work and Employee Selection3
PSYC 216ACurrent Literature and Applications in Industrial-Organizational Psychology3
PSYC 216BCurrent Literature and Applications in industrial-Organizational Psychology3
Required Elective Course (3 Units)
PSYC 294Cooperative Research3
or any 200-level course
Culminating Experience (4-6 Units)
PSYC 500ACulminating Experience4
PSYC 500BCulminating Experience 12
Total Units31-33

Students must enroll in PSYC 500B if thesis/project is not satisfactorily completed while enrolled in PSYC 500A.