Laure Pou’s internship was “absolutely” critical to her landing a full-time job in UTC’s Office of Human Resources.
Sure, it helped that her internship was in the university’s Office of Human Resources, but more than that, she was able to apply the skills and concepts she was studying while earning her master of industrial and organizational psychology.
“One of my final course projects was to analyze business processes that may need improvement at UTC,” she says. Specifically, she was examining the methods used in training and development for employees of the school.
Impressed with her project and her work in general, Pou was immediately hired by HR after she graduated in 2009. Now executive director of the office, she says what she learned in the industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology master’s program is indispensable to her daily job.
“I-O is not just about stepping in and running things. It’s understanding why we have certain processes and asking questions. It’s how an organization impacts people and how people affect an organization.”
While the national profile of UTC’s I-O psychology master’s has been rising since its inception in 1975, it recently hit the stratosphere. In three separate ranking studies of American and Canadian graduate programs, UTC ranked in the Top 10 in eight out of nine categories, hitting No. 1 or No. 2 in three.
Released by The Society for Industrial-Organizational Psychology (SIOP)—the gold standard in the study and application of I-O psychology—UTC ranks No. 1 in terms of comprehensiveness of curriculum aligned with SIOP’s guidelines for graduate education and No. 2 for overall student satisfaction and the perception of the program’s quality.
Compiled through information provided by students and I-O program directors, the studies pitted UTC against between 40 and 70 separate master’s programs. The rankings cement UTC as one of the best in the country, says Dr. Chris Cunningham, the graduate program coordinator of the I-O master’s program.
“Our program and UTC are gaining real recognition in the applied psychology arena,” he says. “Whether through UTC’s annual River Cities I-O conference series or when presenting at international conferences or engaging with regional companies in our faculty-student consulting teams, ‘I’m with the UTC I-O psychology program’ increasingly elicits the response of ‘Oh, that’s a great program.’”
For prospective students, the SIOP graduate program rankings are the go-to resource when identifying the strengths of I-O master’s programs at schools nationwide, he says.
“What is most exciting and encouraging to our core program faculty is that, as we look across any of one of these three recent ranking studies, UTC is at or near the top,” Cunningham says. “No matter which rankings future students consider, we will have their attention and this can only continue to help our already strong and competitive recruitment admissions process.”
Dr. Brian O’Leary, head of the Department of Psychology, says the rankings are a “testament” to Cunningham, “whose tireless efforts have raised the visibility of our program, the quality of our students, and the value of our curriculum to our students, while he continues to pursue funding and internship opportunities to support them.”
Jenn Scroggins, who graduated from the master’s program in May 2016, is Organizational Development Manager at US Xpress and says the program “has provided me with the tools to succeed for the rest of my career.”
“I-O has taught me how to think differently, approaching challenges with a unique perspective and consider the human element in business decisions and processes,” she explains. “ As an I-O practitioner, I am able to provide solutions to help individuals, teams, and companies be more successful in reaching their goals.”
Meredyth Ring earned her I-O master’s in May 2017 and now is an Organizational Development Practitioner at Erlanger. Like Pou and Scroggins, she says UTC’s program helped “provided me with an excellent foundation of knowledge and practical experience that has helped me be successful in each position I’ve held.”
“The program’s reputation in the Chattanooga community and the strong I-O alumni network have also been instrumental in my success. These I-O professionals have been a great source of mentorship and support throughout the program, my internship and beyond.”
The SIOP rankings also help when the program is hiring faculty, he says, “because we can recruit top-notch faculty who want to connect with a strong program that’s well-respected.”
For students, a master’s in I-O psychology opens many doors that aren’t always available to undergraduate students, he says. The general impression from the public is that I-O graduates land in human resources offices, but those with master’s degrees have a much wider scope.
“Our graduates become directors of selection and assessment; they become training and development coordinators; they become data analytics specialists; they become consultants.
“It’s a skill set that’s so highly in demand.”
A master’s in I-O takes well-known elements of psychology such as understanding human behavior and emotional reactions and expands them out of the doctor’s office, he says.
“I-O is one of the areas of psychology that is very applied, and a lot of people like that because they’re real keen on the science of psychology, but they don’t want to do the clinical counseling thing.
“It’s the way we go about applying everything we know about what human beings do; how they behave; how they think; how they interact with their environment. So we take all that and we focus on the work environment then use that information to figure out how to find the best place the right people in the best jobs.
“It’s not all about generating profit, although what we tend to find is that, when these other things align, when you have people in the right jobs and they fit and they care about what they’re doing and they feel that there’s meaning and they’re engaged. That’s good for the person and it’s really good for the company.”
And there’s another factor that’s attractive, he adds.
“Because you’re working a business or corporate setting, you can also get paid very well.”
Summary of 2018 Rankings of I-O Psychology Graduate Programs
I-O Graduate Programs Rankings Based on Student Perceptions
Top 20 MA/MS Programs Overall Based on Student Rankings
|2.||University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||18||31.764||1.706|
|3.||Appalachian State University||13||31.058||1.379|
|4.||New York University||4||30.619||1.176|
|5.||Middle Tennessee State University||25||30.597||1.166|
|6-tie.||San Diego State University||5||30.329||1.041|
|6-tie.||University of Maryland, College Park||12||30.329||1.041|
|8.||George Mason University||15||30.027||.902|
|9.||Missouri State University||21||29.874||.831|
|10.||Columbia Teacher’s College||21||29.785||.789|
Rankings of Program Culture
|1-tie.||Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis||4.00|
|1-tie.||University of Guelph||4.00|
|5.||George Mason University||3.88|
|6.||Appalachian State University||3.85|
|7.||Florida Institute of Technology||3.83|
|8-tie.||Missouri State University||3.78|
|8-tie||University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||3.78|
|10.||Carlos Albizu University||3.77|
|2-tie.||Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis||3.83|
|2-tie.||University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||3.83|
|4-tie.||George Mason University||3.80|
|4-tie.||San Diego State University||3.80|
|4-tie.||Wayne State University||3.80|
|7-tie.||University of Akron||3.75|
|7-tie.||University of Minnesota Duluth||3.75|
|9.||Appalachian State University||3.69|
|10.||University of Maryland, College Park||3.67|
The Cream of the Crop: Student and Alumni Perceptions of I-O Psychology Master’s Degree Program Quality
Program Rankings by Student Perceptions of Program Culture
|1||Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis||4.83||0.15||5|
|2||Appalachian State University||4.77||0.19||24|
|4||University of Maryland||4.71||0.25||19|
|5||Missouri State University||4.66||0.30||17|
|6||San Francisco State University||4.65||0.29||12|
|7||The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||4.64||0.33||22|
|8||University of Hartford||4.60||0.23||8|
|9||Western Kentucky University||4.58||0.42||8|
|10||Minnesota State University-Mankato||4.53||0.77||18|
Program Rankings by Student Perceptions of Program Resources
|1||Appalachian State University||4.63||0.32||24|
|2||Minnesota State University-Mankato||4.55||0.54||18|
|3||Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis||4.54||0.27||5|
|4||Missouri State University||4.53||0.38||17|
|6||The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||4.41||0.38||22|
|7||St. Mary’s University||4.31||0.52||15|
|8||Western Kentucky University||4.28||0.38||8|
|9||University of West Florida||4.25||0.46||5|
|10||Saint Cloud State University||4.24||0.37||11|
Program Rankings by Student Satisfaction
|1||Appalachian State University||4.69||0.28||24|
|2||Missouri State University||4.66||0.27||17|
|3||San Diego State University||4.60||0.37||8|
|4||San Francisco State University||4.58||0.37||12|
|5||Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis||4.54||0.28||5|
|6||University of Maryland||4.53||0.40||18|
|7||Minnesota State University-Mankato||4.53||0.77||18|
|8||The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||4.51||0.31||22|
|9||Middle Tennessee State University||4.51||0.42||25|
|10||Western Kentucky University||4.43||0.37||8|
Program Rankings by Alumni Perceptions
|1||The University of Georgia||4.65||0.25||8|
|2||University of Maryland-Baltimore County||4.63||0.17||3|
|3||Minnesota State University-Mankato||4.61||0.44||8|
|5||Middle Tennessee State University||4.51||0.23||9|
|6||The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||4.48||0.24||7|
|7||Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis||4.44||0.61||19|
|8||Valdosta State University||4.37||0.42||3|
|9||Appalachian State University||4.36||0.36||8|
Ranking I-O Master’s Programs Using Objective Data From I-O Coordinators
Overall Rankings of Top 20 Institutions/Programs
|Institution/program||Ranking score (0 to 1)||Z-score|
|1. Middle Tennessee State University||.87||2.14|
|2. Minnesota State University, Mankato||.83||1.84|
|3. Florida Institute of Technology||.80||1.54|
|4. Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville||.77||1.33|
|5. University of West Florida||.76||1.23|
|6. University of Tennessee at Chattanooga||.76||1.19|
|7. Saint Cloud State University||.76||1.18|
|8. Appalachian State University||.75||1.15|
|9. George Mason||.75||1.10|
|10. Western Kentucky University||.75||1.09|