I/O Curriculum

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Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program (MA)
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Coursework | Internship | Thesis | Comprehensive Exams

Coursework

Students enrolled in the I/O concentration at ECU complete a total of 45 semester hours of coursework. Below is a listing of some of these courses as well as a link to the official ECU Graduate Catalog. please note that the Graduate Catalog is considered the only official source of course information.

Required Courses (30 Hours)

  • PSYC 6327: Methods in Human Measurement (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6343: Psychology of Organizational Behavior (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6420: Issues in Personnel Selection (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6430: Statistics & Research Design I (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6465: Ethics & Professional Practice (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6521: Special Topics in I/O Psychology (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6970: Internship in I/O Psychology (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7000: Thesis (6 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7431: Advanced Research Design II (3 s.h.)

Electives (15 Hours - 6 hours must be in psychology)

  • MGMT 6102: Comparative Management (3 s.h.)
  • MGMT 6802: Organizational Behavior (3 s.h.)
  • MGMT 6832: Human Resources (3 s.h.)
  • MIS 6143: Management Information Systems (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6421: Social Psychology (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6423: Employee Motivation & Leadership (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 6428: Cognitive Psychology (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7433: Multivariate Statistical Analysis (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7504: Occupational Health Psychology (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7505: Structural Equation and Hierarchical Linear Modeling (3 s.h.)
  • PSYC 7506: Counterproductive Work Behavior (3 s.h.)
Click here for the ECU Graduate Catalog.

Internship

Each student in the I/O concentration must complete an internship that provides practical experience in an organizational setting. An internship is an opportunity to do professional work under the supervision of another professional, and may entail either personnel research or applied activities, such as training, selection and appraisal, job analysis, or other similar functions.

Internship Criteria

An internship must meet the following minimal criteria:

  • One semester of full-time employment in an organizational setting. Internship placements generally occur during the summer (May through August) following the first year of coursework. A full summer's assignment (no less than 10 weeks) will be considered equivalent to one semester.
  • A work placement, which will allow the application of knowledge and skills acquired as an I/O graduate student. Students may not interview for an internship without receiving prior approval from the Program Director. Students are usually placed on the company's payroll, and the assignment may require the student to relocate for the semester.
  • An on-the-job supervisor who is familiar with the requirements of the internship program must supervise the internship. A psychologist (or other human resource professional) employed by the organization will supervise the student, or he or she will work under the supervision of an ECU I/O faculty member. The provision of supervision must be approved by the I/O Program Director prior to the beginning of the assignment. Each supervisor will be asked to summarize the student's performance in a feedback report provided to the Program Director and the student. Students will be evaluated on job performance, attitude, and professional growth.

Internship Placement Procedures

Program Placements

All first-year students (successfully completing 24 s.h.) will be assumed part of the internship applicant pool. As they are identified, open positions will be announced using at least one of the following methods:

  • Open positions may be announced in a class in which all first-year students are enrolled.
  • Open positions may be posted on the bulletin board outside the Program Director's office.
  • Open positions may be e-mailed to all first-year students.

Internship placements will be made according to the following set of guidelines when possible:

  • All available organizations will be sent résumés/CVs of all of the available students.
  • The number of students to be interviewed will be determined by the respective organizations.
  • Each organization will be asked to rank acceptable candidates.
  • Once all rankings are completed and returned to the Program Director, or by April 15th (whichever comes first), students will be assigned according to organizational rankings and student preferences. Where possible, assignments will be made in order to maximize the possibility that each organization gets one of its top choices.
  • When possible, students will be informed of their assignments on or before April 15th.

Self-Placements

Although the program typically facilitates the internship assignment, self-placements, arranged by the student, are acceptable with prior approval from the Program Director. Written evidence that the placement will meet the minimal requirements for an internship assignment is required prior to the student accepting the position. This statement should include:

  • Description of the organizational setting, and outline of the work assignment.
  • Description of expected work output (e.g., project report, technical manual, training material, etc.).
  • Qualifications of supervisor.
  • Supervisor's written endorsement of the project and agreement to provide feedback to both the student and the Program Director.
 

Thesis

The Master's thesis project is an important component of the educational experience for the Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology graduate student and is considered by the faculty to be a significant step toward acquiring the sophistication required to carry out original research and applied work. The thesis requires the student to work closely with a faculty member on a research project that will be evaluated by a committee of faculty members. The objectives of the thesis project include:

  • Application of research skills acquired in the classroom;
  • Demonstration of effective oral and written communication skills;
  • Completion of a research project from inception to a final report;
  • Submission of a thesis that has the potential to be published in a refereed journal. 

Committee Chair and Members

It is critically important for the graduate student to identify an area of interest and conduct additional readings in that area as early as possible. Although not a requirement, the student will usually find it advantageous to select a topical area in which a faculty member in the program has substantial research expertise. Once the student has chosen a suitable area for thesis research and a faculty member who is able and willing to provide direction, the student should formally ask that professor to serve as the chair of his/her thesis committee. In consultation with the thesis chair, the student will then select at least two additional faculty members from the Department of Psychology and formally ask them to serve on the committee.

All committee members must meet the requirements for and currently hold ECU Graduate Faculty status. Although the thesis chair is responsible for directing the student's project, all committee members are expected to provide resource and evaluative functions during the thesis project. Furthermore, all committee members will attend the proposal meeting, discuss the student's performance, attend the oral thesis defense, and vote regarding the acceptability of the thesis. 

Proposal Preparation

Once a thesis topic has been identified and a committee established, the student works with the chair and committee members, as necessary, to prepare a proposal. The proposal should include the following sections: (1) Introduction, (2) Literature Review (including specific research hypotheses), (3) Proposed Method (including proposed data analysis plan), and (4) References. The proposal should be formatted based upon the most current APA Publication Manual and the Graduate School Manual of Basic Formatting Requirements for Theses and Dissertations (located on their website: www.ecu.edu/gradschool).

Proposal Meeting

As soon as the proposal has been prepared to the extent that the student and chair feel confident about presenting it for review, a committee meeting should be scheduled. Each committee member will receive a copy of the proposal at least one week prior to the proposal meeting. During this meeting the student will present the thesis proposal and respond to questions from the committee members. The format of the meeting is to be decided by the thesis chair – ranging from a formal presentation to a working meeting.

The committee will recommend changes, if any, that need to be made to the proposal (e.g., depth of the literature review, design of the study, nature of the hypotheses). Once all of the committee members have approved the proposal, the student is responsible for completing and submitting the ECU Pre-Thesis Research Approval Form. Furthermore, it is the student's responsibility to ensure that all research has been approved by the University and Medical Center Institutional Review Board (UMCIRB; www.ecu.edu/irb) or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC), as applicable, prior to the start of data collection.

Completing the Thesis

Following the proposal meeting, the student is responsible for keeping the committee chair informed of his/her progress with data collection and analysis, and, if necessary, should discuss the project with any of the other committee members. Once the study has been completed, the student will begin preparing the final manuscript. Early drafts should be developed by the student in close consultation with the committee chair and should include (1) Results, (2) Discussion, and (3) Conclusions, as well as (4) an updated Method section. These early drafts are not typically shared with other committee members unless so requested by the thesis chair. Refer to the most current APA Publication Manual and the Graduate School Manual of Basic Formatting Requirements for Theses and Dissertations for specific guidance on manuscript formatting requirements.

Once a final draft has been approved by the thesis chair, the student will provide each committee member with a copy of the final manuscript at least one week prior to the scheduled thesis defense. A copy will also be placed in the Department of Psychology (e.g., Rawl 303) for public review. The thesis defense may not be scheduled until this final copy has been distributed. The student is responsible for e-mailing an official notice identifying the time and location for the defense. This notice should be sent at least one week prior to the defense and should include (1) the title of the thesis, (2) the name of the student, (3) the name of the thesis chair, and (4) the names of all other committee members. This notice is usually sent via email notification to all faculty and graduate students via the ECUPSY-L listserv (address your email to ECUPSY-L@Listserv.ecu.edu). Below is an example of the typical notice that is sent:

Re: Thesis Defense: Evoked Potentials, Expressed Anger, and Circulating Androgens

Faculty and graduate students are cordially invited to attend the defense of Ima Student's Master's thesis, "Evoked Potentials in the Nucleus Spurious: Relationship with Expressed Anger is Moderated by Level of Circulating Androgens." The defense will take place in Rawl 303 from 2:00 PM until 3:00 PM on Tuesday the 30th of February, 2007. Dr. Martha McClintock is chairing the thesis committee, and Drs. Gustav Fechner and Pierre Flourens are serving as thesis committee members. A copy of the thesis is available for public review in the graduate seminar room (Rawl 303).

Thesis Defense

The student must complete a final oral examination (referred to as a thesis defense) administered by the Thesis Committee. The thesis defense is open to all students and faculty who wish to attend. The student defending his/her thesis is expected to make a formal presentation of approximately 30 minutes. The presentation should focus on (1) the research problem, (2) hypotheses, (3) methodology, (4) analyses, (5) interpretation of the data, and (6) implications of the findings. Following the presentation, the student will address questions from the students first, then from the committee members, and then from other faculty members in attendance. The committee will then deliberate in private regarding the acceptability of the student's thesis. If approved, the student will make all requested changes and submit the final thesis for appropriate signatures. Additionally, committee members will complete the ECU Thesis Scoring Rubric. If the thesis is not approved, the student will need to make the requested changes and schedule a second thesis defense.

Depositing the Thesis

Following the defense, the student must complete any corrections or additions that are indicated by the committee. Once the final draft of the thesis is completed, the student should obtain the appropriate signatures from the committee and submit the manuscript to the Department Chair for review and signature. Students should allow at least one week for the Department Chair to read and return the thesis. The student then follows the Graduate School's procedures for electronic submission of the thesis. The Graduate School will check to ensure that all of the required sections of the thesis/dissertation are included and will provide the student with a receipt certifying completion of the thesis/dissertation.

Thesis Hours

Students will register for PSYC 7000 for thesis course credits during the fall and spring semesters of their second year. The grade of S will denote satisfactory progress in research, and credit hours will be included in overall attempted and earned hours. This will ensure that graduate students making satisfactory progress will remain eligible for federal financial aid for the longest period of time allowable. The grade of U will denote unsatisfactory progress in research; credits will not be earned but credit hours will be included in attempted hours. Upon successful defense of the thesis and approval by the Graduate Dean, the grade of R will be assigned by the Registrar's Office upon receipt of the Thesis/Dissertation Acknowledgement Form from the Graduate School. Grades of S, U, and R will carry no quality points and will not be included in the calculation of grade point averages. (Any grade of Q in PSYC 7000, assigned under the former grading system prior to spring 2011, will be replaced with a grade of R at the time of completion and approval of the thesis.)

Throughout this process, the student should meet department and university deadlines and follow the format requirements of the department and the university. Students should check the Academic Calendar and note the deadline for submitting theses to the Graduate School for the semester they wish to graduate, and allow time to make corrections requested by their Committee prior to submitting to the Department Chair. 


Comprehensive Exams

Format

A student has three hours to complete the exam. The primary purpose of this exam is for the student to provide the most correct and succinct answer to the provided questions; thus, all questions must be answered in 15 pages or less. The format of the exam requires the student to answer three out of five questions. One of the five questions is designated as obligatory (i.e., it must be answered by all students), and the student is asked to select and answer two of the four remaining items. Three hours are allotted for the entire exam.

Coverage

The comprehensive exam consists of essay questions related to the following topical domains:

  • Organizational Behavior (PSYC 6343)
  • Special Topics in I/O Psychology (PSYC 6521)
  • Ethics and Professional Practice (PSYC 6465)
  • Issues in Personnel Selection (PSYC 6420)
  • Methods in Human Measurement (PSYC 6327).

The exam items are written by faculty who teach the graduate classes listed above. Students may approach any of the professors involved to seek study guides/reading lists.

Grading

If the student receives either an A or a B from the first reader (grader) on each of the three questions, this constitutes the student's final grade on the examination. If the student receives either a C or an F from the first reader, the examination automatically progresses to a second reader. If the second reader returns the same letter grade (any pluses or minuses will be ignored), this constitutes the student's final grade. If the first and second readers' evaluations differ, then the examination goes to a third reader, in which case the final grade is simply the median of the three grades given.

Students who receive on three exams:

  • All A's, pass with honors.
  • No final grade lower than a B, pass unconditionally.
  • One C and no F's must retake the examination on which the C was received.
  • Two final grades lower than a B must retake all three examinations.
  • One final grade of F must retake the entire examination.

A student is allowed to retake the exam one additional time, no sooner than the subsequent semester (excluding summer semesters). If the second attempt is unsuccessful, the student is terminated from the program.

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