Ranking Top 10 Best Graduate Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Graduate programs in industrial/organizational psychology and behavioral neuroscience open doors to a number of challenging yet rewarding careers. These two fields of psychology are experiencing the greatest growth, meaning they are in the highest demand. Both industrial/organizational psychology and behavioral neuroscience require students to earn a graduate degree in order to practice.

In addition, most states require future psychologists to complete a doctoral program in order to become fully licensed to practice. A doctorate also helps to ensure that applicants earn the highest salaries and receive the most job responsibilities. Whether you are looking for a terminal master’s degree or want to continue on to a doctorate program, the following are the top 10 best graduate programs in industrial/organizational psychology and behavioral neuroscience.


With so many highly rated programs, it can be overwhelming to try to narrow them down to the best program for your budget as well as your career goals. Therefore, this ranking list identifies and evaluates the top-ranked graduate psychology programs in industrial/organizational psychology and behavioral neuroscience to help prospective students whittle away at their options. We used information obtained from the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator tool. We conducted a search for the term “industrial/organizational psychology and behavioral neuroscience graduate degrees.” We took the initial pool of 80 universities and colleges and chose the top 10 institutions based on in-state graduate tuition for the length of the program.

Ranking Top 10 Graduate Programs in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

10. Austin Peay State University

Clarksville, Tennessee

Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology


Tuition: $17,838

Austin Peay State University is located in Clarksville, Tennessee. The school educates more than 10,000 students each year and has become the fastest-growing university in the state. The Master of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology program is an online program that follows the scientist-practitioner model of training. Throughout the program, students are trained in I/O psychology research methods and theories. Students develop their expertise in areas such as:

  • leadership
  • team performance
  • motivation
  • performance management
  • training and development
  • personnel selection and assessment

Students must complete 34 hours of coursework. They may earn their degree in two years.

9. St. Cloud State University

St. Cloud, Minnesota

Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.S.)


Tuition: $16,389

St. Cloud State University was founded in 1869 above the Beaver Islands on the Mississippi River. It’s is one of the largest schools in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities System. A regional comprehensive school, SCSU has nearly 110,000 alumni and more than 14,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

The school’s graduate degree in industrial/organizational psychology prepares students to find solutions in the workplace. They do this  by using psychological principles to understand behavior and improve employees’ quality of work lives and productivity. Students can choose from either a thesis pathway or a portfolio/project pathway. Each consists of 41 credits of study. Graduates are prepared for careers as:

  • staffing and recruiting coordinators
  • human resource managers
  • talent managers
  • leadership development coordinators
  • research associates.

8. CUNY School of Professional Studies

New York, New York

Master of Arts in Psychology


Tuition: $16,380

The City University of New York (CUNY) School of Professional Studies offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in a number of areas.  Students may pursue a Master of Arts in Psychology degree that is available entirely online. This allows students to complete assignments, participate in class discussions, and read course materials on a more flexible schedule.

Students may specialize in either developmental psychology or industrial/organizational psychology. They acquire knowledge of core applications, concepts, and theories in three of the five following areas:

  • theories of personality
  • social behavior
  • learning and cognition
  • psychopathology
  • biological bases of behavior

Graduates are prepared for doctoral study or for careers in:

  • research and data analysis
  • market research and marketing
  • personnel and training
  • human and social services
  • human resources.

7. Angelo State University

San Angelo, Texas

Industrial/Organizational Psychology Master’s Degree (M.S.)

Tuition: $15,626

Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas offers more than 130 undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Founded as San Angelo College in 1928, it is now the second-largest campus in the Texas Tech University System. It was ranked among the top 20 fastest-growing public master’s degree-level universities in the country.

The school’s Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology is a 42-semester-hour program that follows the scientist-practitioner model of training. The curriculum emphasizes consulting skills and research. Students may choose to practice solving work problems or conducting research in a practicum course or thesis course. Graduates are prepared for:

  • doctoral training
  • serving as organizational consultants
  • entering a human resources position.

6. Valdosta State University

Valdosta, Georgia

M.S. Degree With a Major in Industrial/Organizational Psychology


Tuition: $15,206

One of four universities in the University System of Georgia, Valdosta State University is located in Valdosta. It enrolls more than 11,000 graduate and undergraduate students. VSU offers degrees at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels.

Students may pursue a 45-credit-hour Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology that includes six credit hours of on-site practicum experience. Required courses cover areas such as:

  • human factors psychology
  • human resource development
  • social psychology
  • motivation
  • research design and analysis
  • personnel selection and performance appraisal

Students may choose whether or not they wish to complete a master’s thesis. However,  it is strongly recommended for those who wish to pursue doctoral study in the field of I/O psychology.

5. University of Central Florida

Orlando, Florida

Industrial and Organizational Psychology (M.S.)


Tuition: $14,047

Founded in 1963, the University of Central Florida (UCF) enrolls 66,000 students each year.  UCF offers more than 200 degrees through 13 colleges at 10 regional campuses. It has more than 260,000 alumni worldwide. UCF offers a four-semester Master of Science in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. It focuses on the application of psychological principles to:

  • companies
  • businesses
  • organizations

Students may choose from either a thesis or a non-thesis track. The program consists of 38 semester hours of work. Coursework emphasizes areas such as:

  • statistics and experimental design
  • assessment center technology
  • test theory and construction
  • models of productivity, job satisfaction, and motivation.

4. University of Oklahoma

Norman, Oklahoma

Industrial/Organizational Psychology


Tuition: $11,446

The University of Oklahoma is a public research university located in Norman, Oklahoma. The school was founded in 1890. It offers 75 doctorate degrees, 160 master’s programs, and 152 bachelor’s degrees to more than 30,000 students.

Students may earn a graduate degree in industrial/organizational psychology that follows the scientist-practitioner model of training. Students are provided with the research skills and knowledge they need to study human well-being, performance, and motivation in the workplace. Students can also work on real-world projects in industrial and academic settings. Here, they apply what they have learned in their studies to real-world workforce management issues. The program’s primary objective is to prepare graduates for doctoral study by focusing on research and practice in the area of organizational behavior and industrial psychology.

3. Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green, Ohio

Master’s in Industrial Organizational


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Located in Bowling Green, Ohio, Bowling Green State University has nationally recognized research facilities and programs in many areas, including the social and natural sciences. The school offers more than 200 bachelor’s degrees as well as doctoral and master’s degrees.

Students may earn a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology and acquire a solid foundation in psychological principles and theories. Graduate students are encouraged to engage in research. They gain applied experience through projects conducted with area businesses via the Institute for Psychological Research and Application.

Additionally, although internships are not required, many students take advantage of year-long or summer placements to gain more applied experience.

2. University of South Florida

Tampa, Florida

Ph.D. Program in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology

Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

The University of South Florida (USF) is a metropolitan public research university located in Tampa, Florida. Founded in 1956, it is a member of the State University System of Florida and the fourth-largest public university in the state.

Students looking to pursue doctoral studies may consider USF’s Ph.D. program in industrial and organizational psychology. It prepares graduates for research-oriented positions in industry and government as well as university faculty positions. Research skills are emphasized as the essential foundation for both applied and academic careers. Students may choose to pursue a specialization in occupational health psychology. Students take a traditional curriculum and are encouraged to take additional classes in other departments to fulfill the minor requirement.

Although not required, teaching experience and internships are recommended and available nationally and locally.

1. University of Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Ph.D in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (I/O)


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Located between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, the University of Minnesota is the oldest and largest campus in the University of Minnesota System. It also operates the sixth-largest main campus based on student enrollment in the U.S. It educates more than 51,000 students per year. Immediately upon entrance into the school’s doctoral-level graduate program in industrial/organizational psychology, students become involved with a faculty research project. Students  are required to develop and carry out a first-year research project.

Core areas of study during the first year include:

  • research methods
  • organizational psychology
  • personnel psychology
  • psychometrics
  • analysis of psychological data

Students are required to complete a number of I/O seminars during the second and third years. The fourth and fifth years are reserved for the dissertation.

Ranking Top 10 Graduate Programs in Behavioral Neuroscience

10. New York University

New York, New York

Ph.D. in Cognition & Perception


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Founded in 1831, New York University is based in New York, New York but operates campuses and academic centers worldwide. The school’s Ph.D. in Cognition and Perception program spans multiple areas of psychology such as:

  • cognitive neuroscience
  • motor control, development
  • decision-making
  • emotion
  • language
  • categorization
  • memory
  • attention
  • perception

Research is central in the program’s graduate training. Students and faculty work closely with researchers in research centers and other departments. The first two years are devoted to core courses. The remaining years are spent completing the doctoral program. Students typically earn their degree within five years.

9. Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, Maryland

Graduate Degree in Behavioral Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Founded in 1876 and located in Baltimore, Maryland, Johns Hopkins University is considered the first research university in the U.S. The school’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers a Ph.D. program. It trains graduate students in psychological science through advanced and general seminars and by engagement in research.

The core program emphasizes scientific methodology. Students must choose a concentration area such as:

  • developmental psychology
  • behavioral neuroscience
  • biopsychology

Students may complete the program in five years. Those without a master’s degree will be able to earn one in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Ph.D. degree.

8. Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Duke University, located in Durham, North Carolina, in the present-day town of Trinity in 1838. It moved to its current location in 1892. The school offers undergraduate and graduate degrees, including a doctoral program in cognition and cognitive neuroscience.

Throughout the program, students use neural, computational, and behavioral methods to investigate human cognition, including:

  • decision-making
  • reward
  • emotion
  • training and learning
  • memory
  • attention

In addition to completing coursework, students must serve as teaching assistants for four courses. They give talks on their research in the third and fifth years. They are expected to attend talks, events, and seminars relevant to cognition and cognitive neuroscience.

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ph.D in Brain and Cognitive Sciences


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Founded in 1861, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is a private research university in Cambridge. It’s traditionally known for its education and research in engineering and the physical sciences. Students may pursue a doctoral degree from the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences to prepare for careers in:

  • industry
  • teaching
  • research

Students rotate through three different laboratories during the first year of study. Coursework requirements are limited to six subjects that students complete during the first two years. The final years of the program are spent in a laboratory. Graduates can earn their Ph.D. in five to six years.

6. University of Illinois

Champaign, Illinois

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Psychology


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Founded in 1867 as a land-grant institution, the University of Illinois is a public research university. It’s the flagship institution of the University of Illinois System.The school’s Ph.D. in Psychology program is comprised of:

  • 96 hours of graduate work
  • a master’s thesis
  • a doctoral qualifying examination
  • an oral preliminary examination
  • a Ph.D. thesis and defense

Students may choose from one of nine substantive program areas, including behavioral neuroscience. Those pursuing this track tailor the curriculum to meet their interests and goals. The only course requirements are those set by the department. The school emphasizes participation in research. Students are required to present a first-year project by the end of the third semester.

5. Yale University

New Haven, Connecticut

Ph.D in Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Founded in 1701, Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut is a private Ivy League research university. It’s the third oldest university or college in the country. It’s one of nine Colonial Colleges chartered prior to the start of the American Revolution. Students may pursue a graduate degree in neuroscience that encompasses a number of approaches to this field of study.

Students examine areas such as:

  • decision-making
  • learning and memory formation
  • mental disorders
  • mood disorders
  • functional neuroimaging
  • attention

Most of the neuroscience area faculty also advise students in the clinical, social, development, and cognitive areas of the graduate program.

4. University of California – Berkeley

Berkeley, California

Ph.D in Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Located in Berkeley, California, the University of California Berkeley was founded in 1868. It’s the University of California System’s flagship institution. It enrolls more than 40,000 students in its undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

Students pursuing the graduate program in behavioral and systems neuroscience cover the entire spectrum of the field. These area include:

  •  the behavioral study of humans and animals
  • neuroimaging
  • molecular, cellular, and computational analyses

Areas of specialty within this track include:

  • biology of sensitive periods
  • neuroethology
  • neural basis of learning and memory
  • sensory systems
  • hormones and behavior
  • value-based and perceptual decision-making.

3. University of California – San Diego

San Diego, California

Ph.D. in Psychology


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

The University of California San Diego was established in 1960. It offers more than 200 graduate and undergraduate degrees and enrolls nearly 40,000 students. Prospective Ph.D. in Psychology students can choose from a number of specific research areas, including:

  • sensation and perception
  • cognitive behavioral neuroscience
  • developmental psychology
  • social psychology
  • cognitive psychology

All students must complete a first-year research project, including an oral presentation and a paper, as well as a teaching requirement, thesis research, and a dissertation. Although the program is non-clinical in nature, researchers looking to interact with clinicians can do so through the UC San Diego Medical School.

2. Harvard University

Cambridge, Massachusetts

Ph.D. Program in Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

Harvard University is a private Ivy League research university in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It was established in 1636 and enrolls more than 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The school offers a Ph.D. in Neuroscience. The program consists of common core courses taken during the first year and paired with individual electives. This gives students with the ability to tailor the program to meet their needs and goals. Throughout the  program, students take core coursework and conduct thesis research.

After completing the preliminary qualifying examination, students begin their dissertation research in the third year. The average time to complete for the Ph.D. in Neuroscience program is five and a half years.

1. University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Ph.D  in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience


Tuition: Tuition Paid by University

The oldest university in the state, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan was founded in Detroit in 1817. The school’s cognition and cognitive neuroscience program is for students with research interests in all areas of the field, including:

  • motor control
  • attention
  • learning and memory
  • categorization
  • judgment
  • decision-making
  • problem-solving
  • thinking
  • language
  • perception
  • sensation
  • performance

The program is geared toward students who wish to develop skills in:

  • psychology
  • artificial intelligence
  • neuroscience
  • statistics
  • mathematics

Students may also choose from one of several specializations:

  • Quantitative Methods
  • Mathematical Psychology
  • Formal Modeling.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for Graduate Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience?

Both industrial/organizational psychologists and those pursuing a career in behavioral neuroscience combine a unique set of skills that include analytical and quantitative abilities. Students also develop a thorough knowledge of motivation and human behavior. As is the case with any career, job titles and levels of responsibility depend on experience and educational level.

However, there are a number of positions that one can attain with either a master’s or a doctoral degree in industrial/organizational psychology, including:

  • Behavior Analyst
  • Research Analyst
  • HR Practice Manager
  • Selection Systems Manager
  • Professor
  • Consultant
  • Research Consultant/Senior Research Consultant

Students pursuing a master’s degree or doctorate in behavioral neuroscience have the skills, education, and knowledge to pursue careers such as:

  • Professor
  • Research Scientist
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Speech-Language Pathologist
  • Behavioral Neuroscientist
  • Physician’s Assistant

How Much Can You Earn in This Field?

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that the psychology field is expected to grow 14 percent through 2026. According to the BLS, the settings most likely to see growth include:

  • schools
  • mental health centers
  • social service agencies
  • hospitals

The highest salaries and greatest increase in the number of positions will be reserved for professionals who have earned a specialized degree in the field of psychology such as industrial/organizational psychology or behavioral neuroscience.

Industrial/organizational psychology, also referred to as I/O psychology, is a specialty within the field of psychology. Trained professionals use their education, training, and skills to help companies, businesses, and other organizations. According to the BLS, industrial/organizational psychologists earned a median annual wage of $87,100 in May 2017. The top 10 percent of I/O psychologists earned more than $184,520 per year, while the lowest 10 percent earned $50,730 or less. The salary future I/O psychologists can expect will vary depending on their:

  • level of education
  • area of specialization
  • the area in which they work

Behavioral neuroscience is also known as psychobiology, biopsychology, or biological psychology. It’s the study of how the nervous system facilitates behavioral effects in the areas of:

  • motor performance
  • attention
  • learning and memory
  • perception
  • motivation

Since there is a broad range of places in which these professionals work, the salary expectations are also just as diverse. According to the ZipRecruiter, neuropsychologists or clinical neuropsychologists earn an average yearly salary of anywhere between $64,000 and $96,000. Again, salary will depend on level of education, experience, and location.

What Coursework Can You Expect in Industrial/Organizational and Behavioral Neuroscience Programs?

Although coursework for both industrial/organizational and behavioral neuroscience programs will vary depending on the degree as well as the school itself, there are some common themes and courses offered across the board.

Industrial/organizational psychology is a diverse field, with small and large companies employing these specialists in an attempt to help their businesses change, grow, and prosper. Although programs in I/O psychology are available at the bachelor’s level, most students in this field pursue, at minimum, a master’s degree. In the master’s degree program, students can expect to study subjects such as:

  • Compensation and benefits
  • Labor relations
  • Career development/personnel psychology
  • Consumer psychology
  • Engineering psychology
  • Human factors
  • Organizational theory and development
  • Small group theory
  • Attitudes and work motivation
  • Design and theory of training programs
  • Performance feedback and evaluation
  • Employee placement and selection
  • Data analysis and research methods

Psychologists who go on to earn a Ph.D. may find that they command a higher income and have better employment opportunities in this competitive field. A Ph.D. can be particularly useful if a student plans to work in the academic world. Doctoral degrees in I/O psychology delve more in depth than master’s degrees. While Ph.D. programs place more of an emphasis on research and require the completion of a dissertation, Psy.D. programs focus more on applied clinical practice.

Behavioral neuroscience focuses on the biology of behavior. Physiological and neural processes are combined with the psychology of:

  • emotion
  • motivation
  • cognition
  • memory
  • learning
  • perception

. Most master’s in neuroscience degrees are extremely research-intensive and lead to a master’s thesis. Graduate coursework in this field may include topics such as:

  • Autism
  • Motor control
  • Genetics and genomics lab
  • Integrative neuroscience studies
  • Functional neuroanatomical processes
  • Studies in synaptic transmissions

Careers in the highest levels of clinical and academic research require students to complete a Ph.D. program in behavioral neuroscience. A doctorate can also be used to augment education in other careers such as biological psychologist and medical doctor. Program applicants should be able to show a strong academic background in:

  • physical science
  • biology
  • psychology

Some programs also include a teaching component to prepare graduate students for academic careers in neuroscience. Coursework and research at this level may include:

  • Neurotoxicology
  • Phase-plan neural oscillator analysis
  • Biological music communication concepts
  • Mechanics of individual perception
  • Memory and neuronal mechanisms

Are There Any Professional Organizations for Industrial/Organizational and Behavioral Neuroscience Psychologists?

Professional organizations benefit both graduate students and professionals employed in the field of psychology. These organizations offer a number of benefits, including:

  • access to job boards
  • networking opportunities
  • access to the latest industry news and studies
  • career resources
  • seminars
  • lectures
  • conventions

The following are the top five professional organizations for those pursuing a career in industrial/organizational psychology:

  • Society of Psychologists in Management
  • Human Factors and Ergonomics Society
  • Emotional Intelligence Consortium
  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Local and State Organizations

Aspiring or active behavioral neuroscience psychologists may consider joining one of the following professional organizations:

  • Society for Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology
  • International Behavioral Neuroscience Society
  • American Academy of Neuroscience
  • American Neurological Association
  • Society for Neuroscience

As you can see, the fields of industrial/organizational and behavioral neuroscience are challenging yet rewarding. Students pursuing a career in one of these two fields would benefit from earning either a master’s or doctoral degree to further develop their education. Although some positions can be attained with a master’s degree, the top-paying, highest-regarded positions are given to those with a doctoral degree.

With help from the ranking list above, prospective students are sure to find one or more graduate programs in the field that meet their needs, budget, and professional goals.

This concludes our ranking of the Top 10 Best Graduate Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience.

By  OPD Staff