Industrial / Organizational Psychology - Master of Arts Program

Undergraduate and graduate I/O Psychology students collage

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Program Director
Kathleen Zimmerman-Oster, Ph.D.

Psychology skills to enhance organizational growth and effectiveness

The Master of Arts Program with a major in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology prepares students to function as master’s-level I/O psychologist practitioners. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology defines I/O psychology as "the scientific study of workplace issues facing individuals, teams and organizations. The scientific method and rigor is applied to investigate issues of critical relevance to business, including talent management, coaching, assessment, selection, training, organizational development, performance, and work-life balance.”

Application and professional practice

Detroit Mercy's accelerated 33-credit (11 course) evening program in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology focuses on theory for application and professional practice. It prepares students to perform quality professional services in a variety of workplace settings, including human resources, organizational culture and development, talent management, leadership development, workforce analytics, and research across any industry and organizational type. 

Full-time or part-time

The program can be completed in one academic year (late August to mid-June) for full-time students taking four courses in the fall semester, four courses in the winter semester and three courses during the summer semester (May and June). Students may attend either full-time (three or four courses per semester) or part-time (two courses per semester). Courses are offered exclusively in the evening and several courses are partially on-line to allow students to engage in either intensive studies, full- or part-time employment or graduate research and program assistant positions while in the program.

Competencies outlined by the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP)

The program equips students with competencies outlined by the Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and by the University Detroit Mercy Social Change Model. It also provides career advancement, professional development, as well as entry-level opportunities in private, non-profit and public sector organizations. As southeastern Michigan’s longest running terminal master’s degree program, this highly specialized and competitive educational and practical experience in I/O psychology is distinct from graduate business education (MBA) and from doctoral training in I/O psychology. Although a very small number of students later go on to pursue doctoral degrees, the intent of the program is career-related employment upon graduation.

Program Advantages

  • Students engage in managing, leading, enhancing, assessing and evaluating these programs and utilize a variety of industrial/organizational psychology skills to enhance organizational growth and effectiveness.

  • Students also conduct and/or create job analysis, surveys, training modules, assessment tools, onboarding programs, training manuals, databases, formal presentations, and other industry deliverables that can be shared with future employers in their growing work portfolios. In addition, three of the courses include service learning opportunities.

  • All students provide a professional presentation to their program peers and prospective students describing their internship, service learning experiences, and gained competencies.

Industrial / Organizational Psychology students at a recent open house discuss the program, the value they received, their interests and what they plan on doing with their master's degree.

250-hour internship/practicum

The internship/practicum consists of paid and/or unpaid supervised practice of industrial/organizational psychology in a private, non-profit or public-sector organization. Paralleling the internship/practicum experience is a capstone course. This course allows for the synthesis of courses taken throughout the program, focuses on career development and professionalization and the reflection and integration of the internship experience with psychological theory and practice. The program includes a comprehensive examination and a 250-hour internship/practicum experience.

Students participate in a 250-hour internship/practicum experience which results in graduates who are employed as external and internal consultants, managers, team leaders, supervisors, recruiters, trainers, instructional designers and individual contributors in a variety of human resources, organizational sectors and other workforce settings. Previous internship and employment sites include:

Alix Partners
American Axel & Manufacturing, Inc.
Blue Cross Blue Shield
CARE of Southeastern Michigan
Carhartt, Inc.
City of Detroit
Consumers Energy
Development Dimensions International
DTE Energy
Fiat Chrysler Automotive (FCA)
Focus Hope
Ford Motor Co.
General Motors (GM)
Human Synergistics
Kelly Services
Magnet Consulting
Meridian Health Plan
Plante Moran
Quicken Loans
Wayne County

Institute for Leadership and Service (ILS)

The program also partners with the University’s Institute for Leadership and Service (ILS). The ILS serves as a research and application laboratory and consulting client organization for students' growing I/O psychology skills. Through coursework, internal internships, and research assistantships, students work closely with the following ILS programs:

  • Emerging Leaders Program (ELP)
  • Ford Community Corps Partnership
  • GM Student Corps
  • University Honors Program
  • Multi-Institutional Study of Leadership (MSL)
  • Re-BUILD Detroit
  • Service Learning and Co-Curricular Outcomes Assessment
  • Step Up: Be a Leader and Pay it Forward

Students also help meet the needs of other University units (human resources, programs, services, etc.), as well as foundation, federal and local grants, or neighboring community and non-profit organizations.

The degree prepares students to

  • Address multi-cultural and International workplace issues
  • Design, implement and evaluate training and development programs
  • Develop methods to improve job satisfaction, employee retention and organizational environments
  • Measure employee satisfaction, performance and motivation
  • Perform advanced research and statistical analyses
  • Execute selection, placement and talent management programs
  • Construct, administer and analyze psychometric assessments and evaluation tools
  • Manage, plan, implement and evaluate projects and programs
  • Consider ethical implications of workplace strategies
Alexis Stewart

Alexandra Stewart '23,
Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

"I came to the University of Detroit Mercy full of potential, without the ability to see it. I will be leaving with confidence and fervor as I culminate a life beyond my wildest dreams."

Holly Russell

Holly Russell '21,
Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

"I like to see how we can be better and how we can improve and grow. And that's such a big part of I/O is not just settling for the bare minimum. It's about being the best that you can be. Some other great things that I learned in the program is just how wide a field I/O is, and how widely applicable it is to every aspect of work, whether it's for the public sector, the private sector, or nonprofit... it can go everywhere."

Kendall Payne

Kendall Payne '19 '21,
Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

"Specifically, what's great about what I do is that I get to work with people, which is what I want to do for my profession. So I want to go into human resources and be really involved with people. So being on this ELP (Emerging Leaders Program) team, I get to really work with students specifically about their leadership requirements and with the Step Up Program with mentoring students at schools."

Matt Turner

Matt Turner '21,
Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

"So personally, for me, I went through a lot. I went to boarding school, came here and played lacrosse... And through this program, and just Detroit Mercy in general, you get a family concept that they're going to love support and care for you. And that's exactly the kind of mindset that I want to take to companies and teams and so forth going on in my career."

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    The Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology requires 33 credit hours, which can be completed in one academic year if the student attends full time. 

    Included within the 33 credits are a comprehensive examination and a 250-hour internship.

    The required comprehensive examination is provided for students to demonstrate their knowledge and integration of theory, research, and practice. The comprehensive exam is completed by students as the final exam in the Capstone Experience.


    The internship/practicum consists of paid and/or unpaid supervised practice of industrial/organizational psychology in a private, non-profit or public-sector organization or with an internal unit of the University. The projects consist of any of the following: assessing, analyzing or appraising performance, aptitudes, skills, preferences, needs, or personality factors; job/task analysis, employee recruitment, selection and placement; design, facilitate, and evaluate training and development programs, etc. Accordingly, students manage projects and programs, execute consultation engagements and/or design pertinent descriptive or evaluative investigations, collect data, and perform appropriate statistical analyses.

    Internships may occur in one of the following situations:

    1. An Internal Internship working with the Program Director, Dr. Zimmerman-Oster, or other approved faculty and/or staff.
    2. An External Internship formally arranged by the University and/or the student.
    3. An External Internship at a student's current place of employment, provided they are supervised by someone other than their regular supervisor and doing I/O psychology related projects other than or in addition to their regular work responsibilities.
    4. An External Internship involving a brand-new employment opportunity that utilizes a student's growing I/O psychology skills.

    Students are encouraged to seek out placements at existing sites in the program database and are also permitted to explore placement opportunities with new sites -- locally, regionally, or nationally -- that meet student’s career, industry, and geographic aspirations. Students create a list of these aspirations, as well as specific learning objectives for their internship/practicum experience. These documents ensure customizable, desirable, and appropriate placements for each individual in the program.

    Requirements for internship/practicum sites are provided in the Program Handbook and the Internship course syllabi for admitted students.

    Capstone Experience

    This course parallels the Internship/Practicum and is a combined independent study and seminar experience. It incorporates research, theory, practice, with peer, alumni mentor, and faculty support.

    Curriculum & Course Information ▶


    Admission Requirements and Process

    The Detroit Mercy program accepts both full- and part-time students. All courses are offered in the evenings and some are partially online.

    The application deadline is March 15 for admission for the following fall semester. However, all applicants are encouraged to submit materials and applications early. Group information and application interviews are typically scheduled for the third or fourth week of March. If opportunities are still available, additional interviews are held during the third week of April. Once capacity has been reached for the fall admissions cycle, eligible and selected applicants will be placed on a waiting list.
    The program begins each fall. Applications may be submitted up to one year prior to the start of the program and no later than August 5.

    Required application materials include:

    1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, with a 3.0 grade point average in the last two years (official transcripts). An exception may be made to this requirement if applicants can demonstrate exceptional promise in some other way.
    2. Completion of an undergraduate major in psychology or a major in a related field with required undergraduate prerequisite courses (typically this includes Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods, and Statistics. However, other Psychology and Business courses will be considered).
    3. Scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), General Aptitude Test (the Psychology subject test is not required) are an optional requirement and encouraged. Minimum combined scores of Verbal: 152-158, Quantitative: 153-158, Writing: 4.0 or greater are preferred. Note: Detroit Mercy undergraduates are not required to submit GRE scores.
    4. Three letters of recommendation from professors or colleagues. Note: Detroit Mercy undergraduates are only required to submit two letters of recommendation.
    5. A one to two page personal statement addressing the following items: how the applicant’s personal, academic and/or professional career has prepared them for graduate study, applicant career interests, and how Detroit Mercy’s I/O Psychology master's program will allow the applicant to accomplish their personal and professional career goals.
    6. Graduate transcripts (if applicable).
    7. Professional resume.
    8. An admission interview is also required. The interview’s purposes are: (a) to enable the faculty to become better acquainted with prospective students (e.g., to assess communication skills and career goals in relation to the program), (b) to permit applicants to become more familiar with the program and its potential contributions to their careers, and (c) for both parties to determine if the program is a good fit. This interview begins with a “realistic job preview” approach which includes a group interview with the program director and current I/O Psychology graduate students. Then, each prospective student meets with the program director individually. Applicants also receive a campus tour led by current students. The realistic job preview approach improves selection decisions, student retention, and applicant choice satisfaction.

      The faculty make admission decisions shortly following the interview to allow timely decision making and for accepted student participation in the required program orientation and mentor matching in May/June. Earlier admission is best for obtaining research and teaching assistant positions which involve working directly with faculty and affiliated University programs. Interviews for these positions are only for accepted and committed students and typically occur in April or early May.

    All application materials can be uploaded to the application portal once you apply online at:

    For questions regarding the application process, please contact:

    Graduate Admissions


    Academic Standards

    Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.0. A student who earns two grades of C+ or lower will not be eligible to continue in the program unless the student can demonstrate unusual or extraordinary circumstances as responsible for the deficient performance.

    Financial Aid

    Graduate students are eligible for several financial aid programs funded by the federal government and the State of Michigan. For more information, please contact the University of Detroit Mercy Financial Aid Office at 313-993-3350.

    Applicants are encouraged to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) as soon as possible and prior to the assistantship interviews in April to determine their eligibility for Graduate Work Study and field experience positions.


    Research and Teaching Assistant Positions

    The program offers several opportunities to support students' educational endeavors with research and teaching assistantships. These opportunities vary from year to year and require a separate interview. Many involve working with the Institute for Leadership and Service (ILS). Previous responsibilities have included coordinators of the following programs: Emerging Leaders Program, Step Up: Be a Leader and Pay it Forward, TRiO Upward Bound, Ford Community Corps Partnership, ILS Research, Assessment and Evaluation, I/O Program Research, Assessment, and Program Management. Students are paid via Work Study, research and programming grant funds, and/or tuition remission stipends.

    Additional Educational Opportunities

    Students are encouraged to consider additional coursework to enhance their Master of Arts with a major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. Please speak with your advisor about opportunities within the College of Business Administration and the College of Engineering & Science.

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