How many students are in the program? 

Usually there are around 15-20 students in the program at any one time. Some incoming "classes" have had only 2 or 3 students, others have had as many as 7 students. The number of students admitted each year depends on several factors, including how many returning students there will be and what sources of funding will be available in the upcopera:speeddial oming year. Maintaining a low student-faculty ratio is important to allow students frequent interaction with all faculty and to provide for close mentoring relationships.

How many classes do students typically take? 

Students typically take two (3-credit) classes each semester, prior to their dissertation work. This allows for ample time for involvement in multiple research projects. Each class is usually one three-hour seminar each week. First-year students take a standard set of courses, including two courses that provide an introduction to the Organizational field, one statistics course, and one course in psychometric theory and test construction. In fall and spring semesters, students who have assistantships are typically waived tuition for nine credit hours; during summer session, five credit hours of tuition are typically waived. While a few summer courses are offered in related departments, most students take thesis or dissertation credits during the summer.

What are the classes students typically take?

Each class is usually one three-hour seminar each week. First-year students take a standard set of courses, including two courses that provide an introduction to the Organizational field, one statistics course, and one course in psychometric theory and test construction. Although students take a majority of their classes within Organizational psychology, students are allowed to participate in seminars in other areas that fit with their interests. In past semesters, students have taken courses in social psychology, management, cognitive psychology, communications, math, human development, and education.

How long does the graduate program take? 

The graduate program can be completed in four years, although most students prefer to complete it in five years. The reason for choosing an extended plan is that it offers students more time to become involved in research and applied projects that are outside of their required assistantship work or coursework. Students begin working toward their master’s degree by completing a thesis sometime between their second and third years in the program. After the thesis, the student is admitted to the doctoral level of the program. Then students spend a semester, usually in the third or fourth year, preparing for and completing comprehensive exams. When the student has passed these exams, work begins on the dissertation. After completion of a dissertation, the student receives the Ph.D. degree.

Will I be assigned to work with a particular professor, or will I get to choose whom to work with? 

First-year students will be assigned (when they are admitted) to work as a teaching or research assistant with a particular professor for their first year in the program. However, students are required during their first semester to work on an additional project with a different professor. Generally, the first-year students and the faculty get together as a group and agree upon who will work on which project, based on the interests of the students and faculty. Students are always encouraged to work with more than one faculty member or on more than one research project, to gain more and varied experience in Organizational Psychology.

Which professors are admitting students next year?

Whereas many psychology programs use a direct mentoring approach, which assigns each graduate student to a single advisor, MSU’s Organizational students are selected into the program by the entire faculty. Students are not brought in to work with a single faculty member, but instead, gain a broad base of knowledge early in their graduate career by working with different faculty and eventually specialize over time. Students participate in different types of projects through their graduate careers: some involve one student with one faculty member, other projects involve collaborations of multiple students and/or multiple faculty members.

Will I receive a teaching or research assistantship? 

Generally, all students who are admitted to MSU’s Organizational program receive either a teaching or research assistantship, although this is not guaranteed. It is not feasible to expect a student to complete the necessary graduate work at the same time as holding down a full or part-time job. Therefore, MSU’s Organizational program has established a practice of only admitting the number of students that can be supported on a graduate assistantship through available funding. Specific information about funding offers is included in admission letters sent in the spring.

Are professors actively involved in research? How involved are the students in research? 

The faculty members in MSU’s Organizational program are all actively involved in research. Some faculty members pursue more laboratory-oriented research, others are more focused on field research projects, and some are involved in both. All students are encouraged to work on research projects with the faculty members. Usually the role the student plays in the research depends on their interest and level of expertise. Student activity ranges from collecting laboratory data to participating in research plan development, and students are often encouraged to "take the lead" on various research projects.

What kind of applied work is done? 

Professors regularly do work with outside organizations. Examples of recent applied projects include: selection system design, training program development, employee surveys, and evaluations of interventions to enhance productivity and satisfaction. Some of the organizations where this work has been done include Ford Motor Company, Accident Fund, Honeywell. Great Lakes Industries, and Kelly Services. In addition to gaining hands-on experience, the project teams often build some research questions into the project design, which enables them to produce research articles as well as technical reports. Often students’ research assistantships will involve an applied project.

Org Applied Work

Will I be required to do an internship? 

While internships are not a required part of the doctoral program, students who are considering careers in applied settings are encouraged to seek an internship. Students who do intern usually take a position sometime during their fourth year, after completing comprehensive exams. Internships are not arranged by the faculty; students must actively and individually pursue internship positions with organizations and/or consulting firms.

Org Recent Intern

Where have students recently interned?

Graduate students in our program have engaged in internal consulting, external consulting, government-based, and international internships. In recent years, our students have interned with Google, Sodexo, Aon Consulting, Jackson National Life, the Singapore Civil Service College Center for Leadership Development, Valterra, HumRRO, and Proctor and Gamble. 

Where are recent graduates employed? 

Graduates of MSU’s Organizational Ph.D. program are employed at a variety of organizations, consulting firms, and universities. Recent graduates have accepted tenure-track faculty positions at Univeristy of Akron, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, Indian School of Business, Singapore Management University, and Wayne State University. Graduates also are working in applied settings at Google, Aon Consulting, Personnel Decisions Research Institute, Aptima, and APT Metrics. 

Do students attend or present research at professional conferences? 

Each year students attend the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) annual conference. Most students present one or more academic research papers, or contribute to a symposium presentation of their research. Some students also attend and present research at the Academy of Management annual conference. 

Do students publish research in professional and scientific journals? 

MSU students regularly submit research articles to top-tier scientific journals and are often published. While many publications are generated by a group working together on a research project, students also have authored articles based on their dissertation, thesis, or class research papers. Student publications can be found in such journals as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes.

Do I need to have my own computer? 

MSU’s Organizational program provides a 24-hour access computer lab for Organizational graduate students. All computers provide access to both e-mail and the Internet. However, many students do choose to purchase their own computer for use at home.


Do students live on or off MSU’s campus? What is a typical monthly rent payment in the East Lansing area? 

Almost all students choose to live off-campus. There are plenty of reasonably priced apartments and townhouses in either walking or short-driving distance from campus. One-bedroom apartments (w/o utilities) tend to run in the $400-$500 range (per month); two-bedroom apartments are in the $550-$650 range.

When do students make living arrangements? 

Students generally come to the East Lansing area to look for an apartment and sign a lease during the early summer. However, some student start as early as April, because some apartment complexes will put you on a waiting list, and will contact you when a unit comes available within the time frame that you would like to start your lease. Students can also search for apartments through, or, or, or University apartments are also available on campus.

Do I need to have a car? 

While you may decide you don’t want to have a car if you live very close to campus, most of the current students do have cars. There are a few small stores and restaurants close to campus, but most of the supermarkets, other stores, and restaurants are not a reasonable walking distance. There is a bus line that runs through the East Lansing area. However, having a car is recommended. Parking permits are available for purchase for students who have assistantships or fellowships and cost around $130 for each of fall/winter, winter/spring, and summer semesters.

What is the weather like in winter in mid-Michigan? 

The first snowfall is usually in early November, and winter weather usually lasts until mid-March. Temperatures are coldest in January and February, usually ranging from mid-30s to the single digits. Snowfalls are not particularly heavy, and we have a number of students from southern states that have successfully learned to drive in the snow!

Will I need to take out student loans, or can I afford to live off the assistantship? 

The assistantship stipend is designed so that one student can afford to live modestly. Whether you need a loan will depend on your lifestyle, and if you have any other factors involved, such as a spouse or dependent children, high moving expenses, plan on purchasing a computer, etc. Many current students do have loans; however, there are a few who are managing the process loan-free.

Do I have to pay tuition? Do I pay the out-of-state resident tuition rates? 

In fall and spring semesters, students with assistantships are waived tuition for six credit hours; during summer session, four credit hours of tuition are waived. Students who take more than six (or four) credits are required to pay for those additional credits, but pay at an in-state student rate. The out-of-state portion of the tuition is waived for graduate assistants. Students are responsible for paying fees each semester.

Do I receive any health care coverage? 

All graduate students on an assistantship receive student medical insurance coverage free of charge. This includes major medical coverage, sick/injury visits to the campus health clinic, and many lab test are covered. Prescriptions have a $15 co-pay (generic; $30 for brand-name). Dental, optical, and well-care visits are not covered.

Admissions Process

When should I apply to MSU’s graduate Organizational program?

The application deadline is December 1st of every year. Be sure to take your General and Psychology GRE tests soon enough that the scores will be released to MSU by the deadline.

What materials in the application are considered? 

While the MSU Organizational program has no particular formula to apply when considering an application, the following is a list of what the faculty will look at when deciding whether to admit a student: 

  • GRE Scores (General & Subject) 
  • Independent Projects 
  • Interest Statement 
  • GPA 
  • Research Experience 
  • Fit with Faculty Interests 
  • Psychology Courses Taken 
  • Relevant Work
  • Experience 
  • Letters of Recommendation 

Most admitted students have good credentials in all of these areas; however, a strength in one area can help to balance a slight weakness in another area. For example, good research experience can be a benefit to a student who does not have an outstanding GPA. Given this holistic approach, there is no minimum GRE score for admission into the program.

How many students apply to the graduate program? How many are admitted? 

Approximately 70 students apply each year to MSU’s Organizational program, out of which two to five students are generally admitted into the program. 

Should I visit MSU? 

Once admitted, students are encouraged to visit us and explore MSU and East Lansing. Though they can come at any time, we try to coordinate visits in late-March so that all of the prospective students come at the same time and meet each other, as well as interact with all of the faculty and current students. Students typically arrive on Friday (or the night before) so that they can attend our weekly "Brown Bag" presentation and often stay through part or all of the weekend.