School of Psychology


Frequently Asked Questions

Xavier University Industrial-Organizational Psychology MS Program


Question: How many students do you accept each year?

Answer: Our target class size is around 10. With three faculty, this allows us to keep the faculty-student ratio relatively low for purposes of thesis and project work, while still allowing students to take classes with all the core I-O faculty.


Question: What percentage of applicants does that equate to, if you’re taking ten students each year?

Answer: It varies. Some years we have as many as 80 applicants. It’s impossible to predict.


Question: Why do you require a thesis? Not every program does.

Answer: We’re strong believers that doing a thesis gives you skills that go well beyond how to conduct research. Most of our graduates go into applied fields, after all, so conducting formal research studies with hypotheses and whatnot won’t be part of their jobs. What will be part of their jobs is managing projects and writing. These two competencies are central to doing a master’s thesis. You have to manage the project (setting deadlines, organizing materials, coordinating meetings), and you have to write the thesis itself. Writing skills were rated as one of the most important competencies for I-O practitioners in a survey published in TIP a few years back. The more writing you do, the better you get. Simple as that. This isn’t to take anything away from programs that don’t require a thesis. It’s just a different philosophy and emphasis.


Question: Aren’t a thesis and an internship a lot to do, in two years?

Answer: Yes and no. The thesis will get developed through your coursework (you write two major papers your first semester, which will hopefully provide thesis-related material, then during your second semester you will write a full first draft of a thesis proposal in your Research Methods class), and the internship is only 120 hours minimum. You can get that working 10 hours a week for less than a semester.


Question: Only 120 hours? That doesn’t seem like much.

Answer: It’s not. Most of our students don’t stop at 120 hours, though. That’s just what’s required to satisfy the requirement. Students who are doing I-O work and getting relevant experience are encouraged to stick with their internship for as long as it’s practical to do so. Many internships turn into full-time jobs post-graduation, after all.


Question: I heard Xavier is expensive, because it’s a private school. Is that true?

Answer: Our credit hour cost is publicly available, as with most universities. If you’re just looking at in-state tuition, Xavier is more expensive than most of our competitors. However, Xavier doesn’t have separate in-state and out-of-state tuition costs, and our tuition is WELL below most I-O programs’ out-of-state tuition rates. So if you’re looking to come here from somewhere that’s not Ohio, the cost to attend should be pretty competitive with other I-O Master’s programs.


Question: How important are GRE scores in your admissions process? What is the minimum score you will take?

Answer: We keep most of our GRE-related norms updated on the SIOP web site, so you can compare us to other schools you may be looking at. Having said that, we use a regression model in ranking applicants for consideration, and GRE scores are only one of the factors that we consider. Since you’re looking at I-O graduate programs, you know that regression is compensatory – if you’re weak in one area, you can compensate for it by being strong in another. We can’t reveal the weightings we use for our decision process, but it’s safe to say that if you have below-average GRE scores, that wouldn’t automatically rule you out as a candidate. You’d need to show us that you’re academically capable (read: GPA…), a reasonably good writer (read: personal statement…), and that you have impressed your current professors/supervisors enough that they can write you strong letters. Not everyone is great at standardized tests. We get that. We’re not looking for people whose only life-skill is excelling at standardized tests. We’re looking for people who can be great I-O psychologists.


Question: Do you always give long answers to short questions?

Answer: That’s Morrie’s thing. Or an academic thing. Take your pick.


Question: What kinds of internships do students get while they’re in the program?

Answer: There are lots of different internships our students have held. They’ve worked with consulting firms, in HR functions, doing recruiting, handling I-O work in organizations as diverse as manufacturing and real estate – there are a lot of opportunities. Cincinnati is a much bigger city than people give it credit for, just in terms of the number and variety of major corporations that have their homes here. That leads to a lot of opportunities just in the local area.


Question: Do students ever get internships in other parts of the country?

Answer: Sure. The summer between your first and second year, you won’t have any classes. Students who want to take an internship in another part of the country are welcome to do so, during that time. All internships need to be approved by the I-O Director, but that’s generally not a big deal.


Question: Do I get to choose who I will work with, when I’m there, or do we just get assigned to one of the faculty?

Answer: You will initially be assigned an advisor, for administrative purposes, but for your thesis you can work with any of the faculty. We encourage you to get to know us, our work styles, and our feedback styles, and to decide who seems like the best fit.


Question: I’m worried about statistics.

Answer: Well, that’s not really a question. But to answer the general concern, you’re not alone. Some students really don’t like the idea (or practice) of statistics. However, understanding statistics is an important part of what you bring to the table, once you’re “out in the world.” That’s why you’ll get two semesters of statistics (both lecture and an SPSS lab), taught by I-O faculty members. We will make sure you get exposure to the core statistics you will need both to conduct your thesis, and to understand and communicate data once you’re on the job.


Question: What can you tell me about your oral comprehensive exams?

Answer: During your final semester, you’ll have a one-hour meeting with the I-O faculty. In that meeting, you will be asked questions drawn from every class you’ve taken. The questions vary widely, and are often the kinds of questions you might be asked in an I-O job interview (e.g., job analysis, validation, and so forth). Now’s a bit early to be worrying about orals, though.


Question: Can I enroll part-time in Xavier’s I-O program?

Answer: Sorry, no. We’re a full-time, cohort-based program. You will be enrolled for 9-12 credit hours for fall and spring semesters both years, and will take classes primarily with the same cohort of students with whom you were admitted. This usually leads to the question of why we don’t allow part-time enrollment. There are a couple of reasons. The first is that we believe a graduate program is not just a set of classes that you take in order to satisfy your degree requirements. Graduate education, to us, is about building community. You’re going to go out into the world and be part of a community of professionals. You will need a network. Your graduate school cohort, and our existing alumni network, can help you build the foundation for your professional network. The second is that students who enroll part-time will often not have the same motivation to finish the program. Full-time enrollment requires more commitment, and more commitment means that students are more likely to finish their degrees.


Question: Do students actually finish their degrees on time? You have a lot of requirements!

Answer: Over 80% of students finish all of the elements of their degrees within two calendar years of starting the program (that is, by August two years after their initial enrollment). Of the students who don’t finish in two calendar years, many more finish within one “extra” semester. We would much rather everyone finish on time, though, and structure our courses in a way to try to make that possible.


Question: What kind of financial aid is available?

Answer: Because we’re a Master’s program, our funding options (like those of most Master’s programs) are limited. Each I-O faculty member gets one graduate assistant, drawn from the first-year class. Those individuals receive partial tuition remission and a stipend based on an expectation that they will work about ten hours per week on assistantship duties. Although we only have three assistantships to offer from within the School of Psychology, there are other assistantships available around campus that our students have had success getting in the past. You will receive information about assistantship opportunities when you’re accepted to the program.


Question: Do students also hold jobs while in the program?

Answer: Sometimes, students will take on part-time jobs to make a little extra money. Because the internships our students get are almost always paid, though, once students start their internships, they usually drop any other jobs they’ve been holding. We encourage students to not work more than 20 hours per week, regardless – 12 hours of graduate classes may not seem like much, but the workload is very different from undergraduate courses.


Question: Are classes scheduled at times that make working a part-time job possible?

Answer: Absolutely. Most semesters, students have classes no more than three days per week, and many class days still leave more than a half-day with no classes scheduled. Remember that graduate school classes aren’t scheduled like most undergraduate classes. A three-hour undergraduate class might meet twice a week for an hour and fifteen minutes, or three times a week for 50 minutes. A three-hour graduate class will meet once a week, for 2.5-3 hours.


Question: Do I have to handle scheduling my own classes?

Answer: Nope. You’ll know before you start the program which classes you’ll take during which semester, and probably who will be teaching them. The wonderful administrative staff in the School of Psychology will help make sure you get scheduled into what you need to be scheduled into.


Question: You only mentioned fall and spring classes. I want to be eligible for financial aid in the summer as well. Can I take classes then?

Answer: There aren’t standard classes offered in the summer, but all students should sign up for both thesis and internship hours. If you do that (and again, everyone should), you’ll have enough hours to qualify for federal aid/loans during the summer months as well.


Question: Do you offer any study abroad opportunities?

Answer: Not at this time. It’s not something that works well with the way we structure our courses, and frankly, two years isn’t very long as it is. You’ll have plenty to do in the program without studying abroad!


Question: Are any of your classes taught by adjuncts?

Answer: Only two. In both cases, the adjuncts are I-O psychologists with 18+ years of experience in a variety of roles, including both internal and external consulting. The level of expertise and rigor in those classes meets or exceeds what you will get in our other classes.


Question: How active are you in I-O professional organizations?

Answer: Mark Nagy has chaired a SIOP committee on licensure-related issues for several years. Morrie Mullins was editor of TIP (The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist) for three years, and is a member of SIOP’s United Nations team. All three I-O faculty are regular attendees/presenters at SIOP’s annual conference.


Question: Do students go to conferences?

Answer: Absolutely! Many years, we have 100% student attendance at SIOP’s annual conference. When it’s not been 100% in recent years, it’s generally because of conflicts, not because of lack of interest/opportunity.


Question: Is there funding available for students to go to conferences?

Answer: There are a variety of funding sources available both inside the School of Psychology, and elsewhere in the university (e.g., the Graduate Student Association), that students can apply for in order to cover some (or all) of their conference costs. Notably, you do NOT have to be presenting at the conference to qualify for most of these funds.