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FAQs: I-O Program Info

Application Info

When can I expect to hear back?

Although we cannot guarantee a particular response time, most applicants will hear something regarding the status of their application in March.

What are the minimum and average GPA and GRE requirements? 

There are no set minimum requirements. The average scores for incoming students in recent years are the following:
• GPA: 3.55
• GRE-Verbal: 156 
• GRE-Quant: 151 
• GRE-Writing: 5.11

Do I have to be a psychology major to apply? 

No, you do not. However, the following courses (or equivalent) are required for admission: 
• General psychology 
• Statistics 
• Research methods 
• Introduction to Industrial - Organizational psychology

What should I put in my personal statement? 

Great personal statements convey the following information: 
• Why you are interested in Industrial – Organizational Psychology 
• Description of research related experiences. o Please tell us about your responsibilities/contributions on your research project(s) 
• Be sure to highlight any research presentations, publications, grants, awards, etc. 
• Why you are interested in our program specifically 
• A sense of your personality 
• Strong writing skills 
• Any additional information you want us to consider as we review your application

Do I need to apply to a specific lab? 
No, students are not assigned to a specific advisor or lab when they are admitted. Students can work with multiple faculty in the program and choose an advisor after arriving. However, if you are interested in working with a particular faculty member, you may indicate this information in your personal statement.

I am an international applicant. What do I need to know? 

Please consult UM-SL’s International Student & Scholar website for information.

Who can I talk to about the application process?

E-mail the Director of the I/O Program, Dr. Stephanie Merritt, at MerrittS@umsl.edu.

Program Info

Do most students receive funding?

Most doctoral students receive a tuition waiver and stipend in the form of a teaching assistantship. In most cases, funding for PhD students is guaranteed for the first 2 years, and usually a 3rd year of funding is provided through teaching assistantships in the College of Business. Students in the terminal M.A. program typically do not receive funding. Currently, the stipend for doctoral students is $11,000 per year with a full tuition waiver, and a 25% subsidy by the Graduate School of a health-care premium, if needed.

Are students expected to teach classes or conduct research in exchange for funding?

Yes, usually students have 20-hour-per-week assignments in return for funding. Fifteen of these hours are devoted to GTA or other similar duties, and the remaining five hours are spent helping faculty with research projects. Thus, through GTA assignments, students begin getting both research and teaching experience right away.

How much focus is there on research?

Regardless of whether you plan to eventually have an academic or applied career, you will be involved in research in graduate school. The faculty encourage as much involvement in research as possible – if you don’t understand research, how can you know what will/won’t work in an organization? 
• A Master’s Thesis
• A Dissertation 
• Involvement in faculty research projects 
• Writing research proposals for class papers 
• Becoming familiar with I-O research in preparation for comprehensive exams

What does the average week look like? (Answered by our students)

• “Lots of reading and prepping for class discussion, stats assignments, teach/TA, office hours, classes, some work or research on a paper for class, some work/research on thesis/other research project, internship.” 
• “Depending on the year, you are usually in class a few times a week. During the week you will be doing a lot of reading and a lot of stats.” 
• “You'll be on campus at least 2 or 3 days a week just to attend your classes. You may be on campus more, depending on what your teaching or research assistant obligations are, as well as whether you prefer to do your work on campus or at some other location. At least once a month on Fridays, there will be a presentation that you're required to attend and it seems like most students and faculty then get together for a happy hour after that.“

What is the average time frame to receive your Master’s and Ph.D.? 
The program has recently made some changes to help students complete their PhDs in 5 years. It takes about 2-3 years for the Master’s degree. In the past, students have taken 7+ years total to finish their dissertation (including the time to the M.A.) because their progress tends to be slower while they are working on internships. However, with the recent changes, we expect students to finish in 5-6 years.

Is this program on quarters or semesters? 
The program is on a semester system with major breaks in mid-December and over the summer. However, graduate students often continue to work on their theses/dissertations or other projects over the breaks.

Student Life (Answered by our students)

Why did you come to UM-St. Louis? 

• “I knew UMSL was the right choice for me because of the applied-focused curriculum and noncompetitive environment, there are many efforts in place to help students complete the thesis, the program’s reputation, some of the faculties' reputations and interests, the recruiting efforts and personal phone calls, and the location (city = lots of I-O internship opportunities)” 
• “It was my first choice because my research interest meshed with faculty.” 
• “It seemed to be very much a community atmosphere--students seemed to help each other instead of compete with one another.” 
• “I knew that I wanted to be in a city where I would have opportunities to intern as well as teach. The faculty seemed pretty collegial and I wanted that in a program.” 
• “I wanted to have applied opportunities while I was a grad student, and there are more opportunities in a large metropolitan area like St. Louis than some of the other towns that have I/O programs. I also really liked that the psychology and business programs work together and that I would have opportunities to teach so that I can make a more informed decision in my immediate future as to whether I would pursue an academic career. “ 
• “Location! I very much wanted to be in a major city (defined by having multiple professional sports franchises).”

How would you describe your first year? Second year? Third year? Fourth year, thus far? 

• “First year was a nice transition into graduate school. It was hard, but not overwhelming. Second year we gained so much valuable knowledge through coursework but it challenged us daily; definitely an endurance test! It's the beginning of my third year but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!” 
• “1st year - not as difficult as I though it would be. 2nd year - really got into the "meat" of I/O and confirmed that this is what I want to do as a career; the applied I-topics class was a great experience. 3rd - connections started to be made as I started really preparing for comps. 4th - it's a weird feeling to not have classes; it takes a lot of discipline and motivation to set and adhere to dissertation goals.” 
• “First year was a nice transition from undergrad to graduate school. Topics were broad. Second and third years were more challenging and it was at this point I realized I was in the right field. Our classes became more hands-on with applied experiences.” 
• “The first year was tough just to make the transition of moving to a new place, finding my way around. I really started to feel like a graduate student in my second year, when we had our seminars and really got into the research for our theses. The third year was great for the fall semester, but spring of the third year was the hardest so far. The fourth year is by far and away the best so far. It feels so good to have my master's, defended my thesis, and passed comps. The only thing standing between me and my doctorate is this tiny little thing called a dissertation...or maybe not so small.”

What are the faculty like? 

• “Approachable” 
• “Get along well with each other and students” 
• “Want to see you succeed and help you how they can” 
• “Patient”
• “Knowledgeable” 
• “Supportive”

How are the I/O classes structured?

• “During the 1st year, students take several classes with MBA students in the business school. These tend to focus on lectures, discussion, and exercises such as case studies.” • “After your 1st year, the I/O classes are structured as seminars. So, you'll read a group of articles for each class and students take turns leading the class discussion and providing notes about the articles for that week. The faculty will help the discussion along, ask questions, and bring everyone into the discussion.” 
• “The quantitative/statistics classes are structured as lectures, as are the other classes you take in the first year.” 
• “Most courses involve weekly readings, papers and/or exams, and group discussions.”

Do most students work or have internships? 

The faculty advise against working or interning during your first 3 years, but after that time most students do obtain work/internship experience. 
Here is what some current students had to say: 
• “At some point during graduate school, yes. With all of the large companies in St. Louis, there are a lot of opportunities to intern.” 
• “There are often internship opportunities or projects that get passed along through the department that students (especially those who want to go applied) would be wise to take advantage of.” 
• “Most students do work or have internships, especially after the third year. Some fourth year students do choose to teach courses in the psychology or business department in addition to having an internship or I/O related job.”

Do students have time for a social life?

• “If you are organized and good at prioritizing your time, it's not usually a problem.” 
• “Students who organize their time do. The work ebbs and flows (mostly flowing).” 
• “Your schedule will definitely be full, but you can make time for a social life. Be sure to carve out some time for things that make you happy.” 
• “Students do have time for a social life, but there is certainly more time during the first year and over the summers.”

What does the average week look like? 

• “Lots of reading and prepping for class discussion, stats assignments, teach/TA, office hours, classes, some work or research on a paper for class, some work/research on thesis/other research project, internship.” 
• “Depending on the year, you are usually in class a few times a week. During the week you will be doing a lot of reading and a lot of stats.” 
• “You'll be on campus at least 2 or 3 days a week just to attend your classes. You may be on campus more, depending on what your teaching or research assistant obligations are, as well as whether you prefer to do your work on campus or at some other location. At least once a month on Fridays, there will be a presentation that you're required to attend and it seems like most students and faculty then get together for a happy hour after that.“