Program Information & Courses

Program History

The SF State Industrial/Organizational Psychology Master of Science program has been in existence since the early 1960s. The program is a two-year course of study requiring 37 graduate level semester units of coursework, 300 hours in an applied internship, and culminating experience. The program is firmly grounded in the scientist/practitioner model and provides an educational foundation for students who plan to do professional work in the field or continue their education in I/O. Primary emphasis in the I/O Graduate Program has been placed on the theoretical and empirical foundations of Psychology. Although I/O Psychology is clearly an applied discipline, our faculty believe that the most valuable educational experience is one in which skills and knowledge are developed through an understanding of basic concepts, methods, and research in the field of I/O Psychology. The Program attracts applicants from throughout the country and abroad. Currently 80% of our students admitted to the program majored in Psychology as an undergraduate. Applicants often have experience with psychology research, working in human resources, and/or organizational consulting. Typically, 9-12 new students enroll each academic year. Because it is a two-year program, this means that there are usually 18-24 active I/O graduate students at any given time.

Application Requirements

  • The Graduate Requisite Exam (GRE) is not required nor will it be considered for 2024 applicants. 
  • Five undergraduate courses of psychology (total of 15 units). 
  • A course in intermediate statistics. If you have not already completed the intermediate statistics course, you may complete it during your first semester as a graduate student. You must earn a grade of “B” or better. 

Program Requirements

Students complete a minimum of 37 graduate level semester units across the two years. In year one, the workload primarily involves coursework within seminar courses. In year two, the workload primarily involves supervised work within an internship, independent study, and research. Coursework takes the form of weekly seminars. In these seminars, a small group of students meet with a professor for a 3-hour session of discussion on technical and theoretical material. Students must take at least two electives to complete the necessary units for the program. The electives can be taken during the first year or second year of the program. A wide variety of elective courses are available, subject to approval by the I/O faculty. Particular student interests and career goals are considered in selecting the elective courses. Electives most commonly taken include courses in other areas of psychology (e.g., social, developmental, statistics), the College of Business, and Supervised Research within a faculty research lab (PSY 799 or PSY 899).

Typical First-Year Coursework

  • Fall Semester 

    • PSY 761 Industrial/Organizational Psychology (3 units)
    • PSY 765 Industrial Training Program Development (3 units)
    • PSY 571 Statistical Analysis of Psychological Research (Prerequisite Course; If Needed)
    • Elective Course (3 units)
  • Spring Semester

    • PSY 760 Seminar in Organizational Psychology (3 units)
    • PSY 762 Seminar in Industrial Psychology (3 units)
    • PSY 770 Research Methods and Techniques (3 units)
    • PSY 772 Applications of Multiple Regression (4 units)

Typical Second-Year Coursework

  • Fall Semester

    • PSY 769 Field Experience in I/O Psychology (3 units)
    • PSY 768 Seminar to Accompany Internship (3 units)
    • Elective Course (3 units)
  • Spring Semester

    • PSY 766 Psychological Foundations of Organizational Change (3 units)
    • PSY 896 Directed Reading for Comprehensive Examination or PSY 898 Master Thesis (3 units)


See the University Course Catalog for course descriptions.


Students are required to complete 300 hours in an applied internship, which generally begins in the 2nd year. See our Internship Information page to learn more.

Culminating Experience 

For the culminating experience, a student can choose to conduct a Thesis or to take a Comprehensive Examination based on a discussion with advisors about his or her specific needs and interests. Thesis research focuses on a narrowly defined interest within the Industrial-Organizational Psychology field. The Thesis is a more creative activity compared to the Comprehensive Exam. Theses will often be recommended to students who are interested in pursuing a Doctoral Degree after graduation. In contrast, the Comprehensive Exam provides the opportunity to review, synthesize, and demonstrate a student’s knowledge in broad areas of I/O Psychology. For the Comprehensive Exam, a reading list of current literature is developed by the I/O faculty based on five topics that committee members have chosen (approximately 15-20 books, chapters and/or articles per topic). At the date of the examination (usually in early May), the committee will prepare one essay question for each topic and the student will be allowed approximately 8 hours to complete the exam, over two days. Please refer to the I/O Handbook for more details.