The UTC I-O program leads to a comprehensive and balanced terminal M.S. degree in the science and practice of I-O Psychology. Most of our graduates go directly into practice-oriented jobs. However, our program also provides a solid foundation for students seeking an eventual doctoral level education in I-O or a related field. Apart from the few graduates every year who pursue further training at a doctoral level, our graduates pursue a variety of careers. Many enter human resources (HR) departments as HR generalists or training/development specialists. Other graduates become specialists in job analysis, compensation, testing and measurement, organization development/effectiveness, and selection. Still others have used their training in computer technology and statistics to launch careers in data analytics and applied research contexts. There are also always a couple students who find non-traditional ways of leveraging their I-O education along with their other unique skills and interests. Whatever your occupational goal may be, we can help you work towards it while gaining a firm footing in the science and practice principles of I-O psychology.
The UTC I-O curriculum is comprehensive and current. We recently updated and enhanced our full set of course offerings to ensure the strongest possible emphasis on all of the core competencies for graduate education outlined by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP; 2017). Specifically, the UTC I-O curriculum focuses attention on the following competencies identified by SIOP as essential to success as an I-O psychology professional:
- General knowledge and skills
- Ethical, Legal, Diversity, and International Issues
- Fields of Psychology
- Professional Skills
- History and Systems of Psychology
- Research Methods
- Statistical Methods/Data Analysis
- Core content
- Attitude Theory, Measurement, and Change
- Career Development
- Criterion Theory and Development
- Groups and Teams
- Human Performance
- Individual Assessment
- Individual Differences
- Job Evaluation and Compensation
- Job/Task/Work Analysis, Competency Modeling, and Classification
- Judgment & Decision-Making
- Leadership and Management
- Occupational Health & Safety
- Organization Development
- Organization Theory
- Performance Appraisal/Management
- Personnel Recruitment, Selection, Placement and Classification Training:
- Theory, Delivery, Program Design, and Evaluation
- Work Motivation
- Related areas of competence
- Consumer Behavior
- Human Factor
More than 99% of UTC I-O students within the last 10 years have finished the program in two years. We do our best to accommodate life schedules by offering all core courses from 5:30 - 8:00 pm Monday through Thursday, and electives typically one day per week in the afternoons. We have a strong presence in the Chattanooga region, and most local employers of our students and graduates have been willing to accommodate these class schedules with flexible work hours as needed.
At a high level, our program curriculum is composed of the following four components:
- Required core courses. Our courses have been designed to conform to SIOP's competency-based graduate education guidelines. These courses address multiple core content areas, as outlined in the current Graduate Catalog.
- At least 300 hours of applied experience. Students receive course credit for the 300 hours of required time they spend on practicum or working on special approved applied projects. This applied experience may be gained by working with local organizations or organizations in other locations more convenient for students. All students are required to enroll in and complete the first of these applied experiences (for at least 150 hours and 3 credit hours) during the summer between the first and second year. Tuition and fees apply, as per the university Bursar's fee schedule.
- Targeted elective courses. We strive to give students as much flexibility as possible in choosing their electives. They may be taken from courses offered in the Psychology Department, the UTC School of Business, or from other departments on campus when relevant. The placement of electives in students' schedules may vary. Some choose to take their electives at different times, based on what is offered and/or on what the student's schedule will allow in a given semester. As an example, for students choosing to complete a thesis, PSY 5990 - Thesis will be used to fill two elective courses. Students often decide to take a portion of their elective coursework outside the department. We strongly encourage this cross-disciplinary study and we try to advise students to the highest quality course offerings within other departments on campus when these interests arise.
- Comprehensive exam or completion of a thesis. In addition to completing a minimum of 48 hours of coursework, students must either pass a comprehensive exam (spring semester of the second year) or complete a master's level thesis under the guidance of the program faculty (by the spring semester of the second year).
- The comprehensive exam consists of several integrative questions requiring the student to bring together material from the core courses. In the past, to facilitate in-depth study and preparation, a list of potential exam questions has been distributed about five weeks prior to the exam.
- We strongly encourage students considering additional training at the doctoral level to opt for the thesis instead of the comprehensive exam. Thesis topics are chosen in conjunction with the thesis supervisor, who then supervises the topic and research plan development, data gathering and analysis, and final write-up and reporting of findings. A committee of additional faculty members is also involved in evaluating the quality of the proposed and completed project. It is not uncommon for theses to be accepted for paper/poster presentations at regional, national, or international conferences. Many student-faculty thesis research teams have also successfully published work from thesis projects. If you are interested in seeing what recent students and faculty have been doing as thesis research, check out the following collection of theses archived through the UTC Scholar system.
More details on the current UTC I-O courses and program of study can be found in the current Graduate Catalog.
You can learn more about our core I-O program faculty by viewing their departmental profiles (through the left side navigation bar). The following bio summaries may also help:
Dr. Kristen Jennings Black, is involved in research that is focused on understanding factors that impact worker health and wellbeing. She is particularly interested in stressors experienced among employees in high-risk occupations, such as military personnel, police officers, and healthcare workers, as well as how various forms of social support can help employees in these unique contexts. Beyond high-stress jobs, Kristen is also interested in norms around stress in everyday work contexts and more positive states of employee engagement and meaningful work. Kristen’s teaching interests include research methods and statistics, organizational psychology, occupational health psychology, and groups and teams. Outside of research and teaching, Kristen enjoys being outside for walks or cookouts with friends, heading to the mountains for hikes, and (being a good Clemson Alumni) watching Clemson Football in the Fall.
Dr. Chris Cunningham is actively engaged with research targeting a variety of I-O and occupational health psychology topics. In addition to serving as Graduate Program Director for this program, he manages the Healthy and Optimal Work (H.O.W.) Research and Applications Lab in the department (details available through the website link below). Dr. C studies issues associated with stress and recovery from stressful work, the complex interface between work and nonwork roles, and the role of individual differences as factors influencing worker health, safety, and well-being. Within the UTC I-O program Chris teaches organizational psychology, organization development, and research methods courses with a smattering of special electives related to occupational health. Apart from his academic career, Chris is active in the Chattanooga community perhaps most notably as an accomplished trumpeter. He also maintains a steady stream of I-O related consulting projects with public and private, for-profit and non-profit organizations. You can get a good idea of what Dr. C is up to by reviewing his website (click here).
Dr. Brian O'Leary's research relates primarily to the impact of perceptions of justice on individual and group performance, but also branches out to collaborative efforts with students and other faculty on a variety of topics. He is currently focusing on equity sensitivity and its role as a moderator or mediator of many important I-O relationships. He is also developing a construct that relates to the impact on supervisor attitudes and performance of their perceptions of the support they receive from their subordinates. Brian's background is rather unique. He began doctoral studies in Organizational Behavior at Tulane University after a 14 year career with AT&T in which he held a variety of supervisory and non-supervisory positions in government contracting, accounting, and project management. His hobby is running - mostly 5 and 10Ks, and, after completing the Kona half-marathon, still has visions of running a marathon "some day" (should his knees hold out). His passion is Notre Dame football and, while he is famous for his availability to students, it is probably best to avoid him when the Irish are playing in the Fall.
Dr. Alexandra (Alex) Zelin's research interests lie within the realm of gender and the workplace. More specifically, she focuses on gender inequality, sexism, and perceived competence of women (in comparison to men) within the selection and performance appraisal contexts. She is interested in both the "I" and the "O" side of I-O Psychology - she just can't choose which she likes best! With regard to teaching, Alex is currently teaching research methods, job/work analysis, selection, and employee performance and development within organizations. She has also worked on numerous consulting projects within both the private and the public sectors, ranging from creating selection tests for police officers to developing career-paths for different I-O Career tracks. Outside of the classroom, Alex spent most of her younger days swimming lap after lap in competition pools. But now, you can find her lounging by the pool reading Harry Potter or historical fiction! She also enjoys going on hikes and plans on "borrowing" other colleagues' dogs to keep her company. She is known for her stress-relief dessert baking skills and will help to make sure that the Psychology Department stays well fed! You can get an up-to-date perspective on what Dr. Z is working on by reviewing her current CV (click here).