Prospective Graduate Students
Thank you for your interest in our Ph.D. program in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology. Our program is a rigorous training experience intended to provide students with sound research skills and expertise in quantitative methods. We prepare students for university faculty positions as well as research-oriented positions in government and industry.
Over the years we have talked to many students with varying backgrounds as they have contemplated graduate education. As a result, we are well aware of how difficult it can be to obtain all of the information you need about graduate programs in I-O psychology. We believe that this letter, along with other departmental materials, will answer many of your questions. If you have general questions about the application process or about careers in the field of psychology, we encourage you to read the resources noted in the P.S. below. You can also obtain more information regarding our graduate program by visiting the USF psychology department home page.
If you have specific questions about our I-O program after reading this material, please feel free to contact the chair of I-O admissions by e-mail. Unfortunately due to the high volume of applications we receive we cannot set up individual meetings with interested students. In the meantime, we wish you good luck in making your decision and hope that you will seriously consider applying to our program.
Those of you who are inquiring for the first time about graduate programs in I-O psychology may find some of this material discouraging. This is not our intention. We simply want to aid you in making an informed decision. Please keep that in mind as you read the information below.
- The competition for acceptance into our I-O program is intense. Last year over 130
students applied for a class of 4. Acceptance is based on a number of factors, including
GPA, GRE scores, interests, and past experiences. In general, if you are interested
in attending a Ph.D. program in I-O Psychology, you should consider applying to multiple
programs. Following this strategy will increase your chances of acceptance into at
least one program.
- Our program strongly encourages applications from minority members. Minority members
are underrepresented in the field of I-O psychology, thus we hope that students who
represent cultural minorities will seriously consider applying.
- Other than the minimum criteria set by the university for all graduate programs, we
do not have formal cutoffs for GRE scores and GPA, nor do we have minimum experience
requirements. Nevertheless, there are some guidelines you can use to evaluate your
chances for admission. Here are the scores of the 2016 entering class to use as a
guideline, UG GPA 3.89, GRE V 88th percentile, GRE Q 80th percentile. Please realize,
however, that students admitted into our program have lower (and higher) scores. Furthermore,
these are not the sole criteria for admission.
- You will need three letters of recommendation. Optimally, these letters will be from
professors with whom you have worked and who can speak to your abilities and accomplishments.
For example, professors with whom you have worked as a research assistant would be
- Most of our students have an undergraduate degree in Psychology, but this is not required.
It is highly desirable for a student to have some background in Psychology and in
Research Methods (e.g., Introductory Psychology, Experimental Design, Statistics,
- The Ph.D. program can be completed in four years of full time academic work, although
many of our students require five to six years. All students are involved in conducting
research projects under the supervision of faculty members throughout this period.
These projects include two independent research projects: a thesis and a doctoral
- You should not enter the program with the intention of obtaining only a M.A. degree.
If you cannot commit to the Ph.D. program, you should investigate the large number
of other schools that offer a terminal masters program in I-O Psychology.
- Some applicants already have a master's degree and, understandably, would like to obtain full credit for their degree. It is sometimes possible to transfer credit for courses that are virtually identical to those offered by our department. However, no final decision about such courses can be made prior to your acceptance into the program. Each individual case must be evaluated after admission. Likewise, it is sometimes possible to obtain credit for a previously completed master's thesis in psychology if it is judged equivalent in quality to those conducted by students in our program. After acceptance into the program, a faculty committee will review your thesis to determine whether it can be transferred.
Once again, we welcome your interest in our I-O Psychology program and sincerely hope that this letter along with other departmental materials will enable you to make an informed decision about applying. If you have additional questions after reading all these materials, we will gladly answer them. In the meantime, good luck in your pursuit of graduate education!
Tammy Allen, Ph.D.
Distinguished University Professor
Chair, I-O Admissions
P.S. There are a number of excellent books that can help with the application process. Two books that our students have recommended are: Getting in: A step-by-step plan for gaining admission to graduate school in psychology and Graduate study in psychology. Both of these books can be ordered from the American Psychological Association: 1-800-374-2721. The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology also has information listing graduate programs in I-O psychology. It can be accessed online. We hope these references help you become more educated about the application process.