Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Message from the Director

Welcome, Current and Prospective Students! 

As the director of this graduate program, I am passionate about increasing awareness of industrial/organizational psychology. I/O psychology is the application of psychological science to the study of work, with the goal of improving employee experiences and organizational performance (e.g., focusing on topics such as efficiency, productivity, equity, training, and employee wellbeing). Grounded in the scientist-practitioner approach, it is an exciting applied field that lies at the intersection of psychology and business. If you enjoy asking challenging questions about human behavior and believe in evidence-based best practices, I/O psychology may be a good home for you. 

The Industrial/Organizational Psychology program at Fairfield offers two programs of study:

  • A traditional Master of Arts program in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, which requires the completion of 39 credits of approved courses (36 of these credits must be in psychology). This program is typically completed across five semesters, but is flexible (some students opt to complete the program across a lighter, part-time schedule).
  • An Accelerated MA program for eligible Fairfield University Psychology majors (Integrated Bachelor's/Master's degree), which requires the satisfactory completion of 11 credits at the undergraduate level and 30 additional credits at the graduate level. This program is typically completed across three graduate semesters (summer, fall, spring).

Our program focuses on breadth, to expose graduate students to the many different sides of I/O psychology and potential career options. We implemented a major update to our curriculum in 2022, resulting in a modern and comprehensive series of courses, covering topics such as: consulting and OD, training, teamwork, conflict management, coaching, diversity, and research methodologies. The program includes one-semester of fieldwork, during which students apply the knowledge and skills they developed across their coursework to a real-world project. The final assessment for the program is a comprehensive exam, which takes place in the last semester of each student’s program plan. A research thesis is not required, but students have the opportunity to collaborate with Psychology Department faculty to conduct extra-curricular research.

Most graduates of the I/O Psychology MA program work in organizational settings after graduation, while others use their time in the program to strengthen their academic backgrounds in psychology before pursuing further graduate studies at other institutions. Graduates of the program can assume positions in for-profit and non-profit organizations in human resources, training, consulting, research, organizational development, recruiting and similar specialties. Our graduates have been employed in companies such as GE, Shell Oil, Gartner, Survey Sampling, Bank of Montreal, Deloitte & Touche, Hewitt Associates, Toyota, and Merrill Lynch; and by the Red Cross, the Justice Department, and a number of universities such as Loyola, UConn, and Fairfield University. The skills, psychological principles, and methodologies mastered in the program may be applied in a variety of organizational settings depending upon the student's interests and career choices.

Please contact me with any questions about Fairfield’s I/O Psychology graduate program.


Katie Tomlin, PhD

Associate Professor of the Practice

Graduate Program Director, I/O Psychology

Admission to the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis. After all components of your application are received, you will be invited for an interview with one of our faculty members. This interview is intended to clarify your understanding of the program and the profession, and to evaluate your potential success as a candidate.

After admission, each candidate will be provided with a faculty advisor, who will outline a planned program of study. Prior to registering for courses each semester, candidates are encouraged to meet with their advisor. Students may be required to take one or more English writing courses if their writing skills do not meet graduate level standards.

Note: Students who need to be enrolled in 9 credits every semester for financial aid or visa reasons may need to take additional credits beyond the minimum required for the degree or plan in advance for an adjusted course sequence. Students should consult with the Office of Financial Aid and the Office of Student Engagement – International Student Life, respectively, and alert the Program Director to their needs.


In a student’s final spring semester, they will complete an intensive 13-week long fieldwork project with a local organization. Students will use the previous fall semester to identify a host organization and negotiate the plan for the work they will complete – all placements and projects must have final approval from the graduate program director.

The fieldwork project is an opportunity for students to apply the knowledge and skills they have cultivated across their coursework. Students should take on a key leadership role on their fieldwork project, driving the work and holding responsibility for the completeness and quality of the final outcomes. The focus and scope of the projects varies between students, depending on the interests, strengths, and career aspirations of each student. These placements often serve as excellent networking opportunities for students.

Comprehensive Examination

Successful completion of the master's comprehensive examination is required of all candidates.

The comprehensive examination in I/O psychology requires candidates to demonstrate mastery of relevant concepts in psychology, the ability to apply that knowledge to real-world scenarios, and the ability to communicate effectively both verbally and in writing.

Candidates are eligible to take the master's comprehensive examination after successful completion of 24 credits, 21 of which must be specifically in psychology. Candidates have a maximum of two opportunities to pass the examination.


Candidates in the Industrial/Organizational Psychology program are expected to act in accordance with the American Psychological Association's ethical principles. Candidates who behave unethically may be dismissed from the program. The APA’s ethical principles are available online. In addition, Fairfield’s Academic Honesty Policy, as presented in the Academic Policies section of this catalog, applies to all students in this program.

PSYC 5110 Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology    3 Credits

This course introduces the application of psychological concepts, principles, and methods to process issues and problems in the work environment. Topics include personnel selection, training and development, work motivation, job satisfaction and effectiveness, work design, and organizational theory. For students interested in the five-year integrated bachelor's and master's degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, permission of the instructor is required. Previously PY 0420.

PSYC 5230 Psychology of Personality    3 Credits

In what ways do you differ from other people, and in what ways are you similar? How did you come to be that way? The psychology of personality examines how individual differences in tendencies toward attitudes, behavior, and cognition cohere into stable constellations that people recognize as personality. Topics will include personality assessment, personality development, personality stability and change, biological and contextual influences on personality, emotion and motivation, and psychological adjustment. Although we will explore the major historical perspectives in personality research, the course will focus primarily on current empirical research and modern theories of personality. Additionally, throughout the course we will emphasize potential applications of personality science in business and industry. Previously PY 0435.

PSYC 5240 Organizational Development    3 Credits

Prerequisite: PSYC 5110.

This course explores and analyzes the various methods and techniques for effective organizational development in contemporary organizations. The course focuses on models, case studies, and candidate examination of organizations with which they are affiliated. Candidates identify and study key success factors such as organizational culture, leadership, and history. Previously PY 0406.

PSYC 5810 Behavioral Statistics    3 Credits

Participants study descriptive and inferential statistics with an emphasis on methodological and technological applications in the behavioral sciences. Topics range from measures of central tendency to parametric and non-parametric tests of significance. Applied Psychology students must earn at least a B in this course for the course to count toward their degree. Candidates with a prior course in statistics may try to test out before the first class. Students must contact the instructor well in advance of the first class to make arrangements. Candidates who successfully test out of this course will substitute another approved three-credit course appropriate to their program. Previously PY 0433.

PSYC 5820 Research in Psychology    3 Credits

Prerequisite: PSYC 5810.

This course emphasizes developing a critical understanding of the essential issues involved in designing, conducting, and reporting the results of psychological research. It provides the foundation necessary for more advanced courses in research design and data analysis or for developing a master's thesis proposal. Previously PY 0571.

PSYC 6230 Program Evaluation    3 Credits

Prerequisites: PSYC 5810, PSYC 5820.

This course focuses on concepts and principles in performing evaluations of psychological and social programs. Evaluations are an amalgam of political and scientific perspectives that require numerous skills and talents. A number of topics and models of evaluation are presented. However, no two evaluations are alike. Therefore, solid training in methodology and technical techniques is imperative for performing evaluations. The objectives of this course are to develop skills in designing evaluations, to develop survey instruments, to develop proposals, and to communicate evaluation results. In each of these areas, ethical issues are addressed. Quantitative methods are emphasized, but qualitative approaches are presented. Previously PY 0475.

PSYC 6240 Consulting Theory and Practice    3 Credits

This course is designed to assist candidates in developing an understanding of and skills in the practice of consultation in both internal and external roles. The core psychological principles and techniques apply equally well in business, non-profit, and educational settings. The course focuses upon the psychological concepts, models, and principles for effective consultation. A variety of contemporary models are examined. Candidates are expected to develop insight into their own consultation approaches and their strengths and needs. Previously PY 0480.

PSYC 6260 Development and Training Programs    3 Credits

Prerequisite: PSYC 5110.

Designed for prospective trainers, training specialists, personnel generalists, or line personnel in business and industry, this course focuses on designing and developing training programs for administrative professionals, management employees, and school personnel. Course assignments provide individualization and allow content to be tailored to participant needs and working environments. Previously PY 0545.

PSYC 6510 Fundamentals of Survey Design    3 Credits

Prerequisite: PSYC 2810 or PSYC 5810.

This course covers the important basics of measurement and the fundamentals of un-normed survey and questionnaire design. It also will provide training in entry-level survey/questionnaire skills for those who may be required to develop simple surveys/questionnaires in their work. Previously PY 0501.

PSYC 6520 Performance Coaching    3 Credits

This course focuses upon the models, strategies, and techniques for coaching and mentoring managers and employees in contemporary organizations. Students are introduced to research on interpersonal and leadership style issues that have been shown to play key roles in leadership success or failure. Students are also introduced to research related to leadership "derailment," or failure patterns observed in managers and employees who have been previously assessed as being moderate to high-potential leaders. Within this course, students learn about the most common performance coaching challenges and practice conducting performance coaching sessions. Previously PY 0485.

PSYC 6530 Effective Interviewing    3 Credits

This course trains individuals whose work requires a high skill level in communication. The course emphasizes defining the goals of the interview and the best means for achieving these goals, attending to overt and covert language and non-language messages, and dealing with the emotional dimensions of the interview. Students learn and experiment with a variety of interviews in different contexts. Previously PY 0471.

PSYC 6850 Field Work in Applied Psychology    3 Credits

Prerequisites: Completion of 21 credits in psychology, including PSYC 5110, PSYC 5230, PSYC 5240, PSYC 5810, PSYC 5820, PSYC 6260; B or better cumulative GPA.

Advanced candidates matriculated in the industrial/organizational/personnel track undertake approved, supervised fieldwork in an area related to their professional interests and program content. Course requirements include a site supervisor and a faculty supervisor for each candidate, and a fieldwork placement that involves at least 13 full days of on-site experience. Enrollment by permission only. Previously PY 0578.

PSYC 6999 Comprehensive Exam in Applied Psychology    0 Credits

The comprehensive examination in applied psychology requires candidates to demonstrate understanding and mastery of a broad body of relevant knowledge in psychology, as well as the ability to synthesize this knowledge in the creation of sophisticated essays. Candidates are eligible to take the master's comprehensive examination after successful completion of 24 credits, 18 of which must be specifically in psychology. Cumulative GPA of 3.0 required to sit for the exam. Previously PY 0098.

Professors in the program are full-time faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.  Lecturers are active practitioners in their applied areas of expertise.



Associate Professor of the Practice

Tomlin, director