MBA vs Masters in I/O Psychology

Discussion in 'Business and MBA degrees' started by MrGoTime, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. MrGoTime

    MrGoTime New Member

    Likes Received:
    All, this is my first post, and I apologize if this is addressed elsewhere (although I couldn't find anything).

    I have my bachelor's in psychology. I've currently been involved in logistics management for the last few years, and am looking at getting a masters degree.

    I love psychology, but also enjoy business (and the income and earning potential associated with it).

    In the opinion of the individuals here, would I be best suited with a MBA (honestly - probably just looking at an online one, for convenience sake), or would I be better served with a Masters in Industrial/Organizational psychology?

    Any info one way or the other is appreciated.
  2. Neuhaus

    Neuhaus Active Member

    Likes Received:
    HR Business Partner
    Syracuse, NY
    The Masters in I/O is a fun little degree. I run into HR colleagues who have one, periodically. Most recently I had a colleague with an M.S. (M.A.?) in I/O from Capella. The company paid for it. She worked in our organizational development program and, shortly after earning her degree, became the person tasked with employee surveys, Meyers-Briggs testing and all sorts of fun stuff like that. Incidentally, she was also the first person to earn a Capella degree at the company and was instrumental in adding it to our "preferred list" for tuition assistance.

    MBAs are being handed out like candy, it seems, often by institutions who, 10 years ago, didn't even have a business program. Now suddenly every college, even the bible and vocational schools, are offering business degrees including the MBA.

    The thing is that neither are really necessary for work in logistics management. If you had to pick one that best aligned with your career (assuming you wish to remain in logistics) a case could be made for the MBA. Even more so if that MBA had a concentration in logistics, supply chain management or a similar field. The Masters in I/O would be nice. But you would be working well outside the field of I/O psychology. An HR person can sort of make that work because I/O Psychology can be tangentially related to what we do. Likewise, many HR people have found success with degrees in Labor Studies, General Management, Labor/Employment Law and a variety of other things. Logistics doesn't really have that much flexibility, in my opinion. I'm not saying that it wouldn't help you in some ways. It may make you a more well rounded professional. Even though not required it may even spark the interest of a future employer for no reason other than it is different and something not commonly seen in your fellow applicants. It may even make an interesting conversation piece during the interview. But if you are applying for a job that requires an MBA or equivalent you may also run into a hiring manager (or HR person) who doesn't consider your I/O degree to be a reasonable equivalent.

    How you proceed would really depend upon your goals.

    Do you want to remain in logistics management? If so, consider a degree in Supply Chain Management. There are two online programs with some decent name recognition you might consider:

    Rutgers's MS in Supply Chain Management
    Penn State's MPS in Supply Chain Management

    Do you want to maybe move around in your present company in a non-logistics role? If you want a broader business foundation to give you the freedom to move in and out of logistics then consider an MBA.

    An I/O degree, in your position, I would consider a "complementary" degree. By that I mean if you need an MBA to achieve your career goals you should earn an MBA. If an MS in SCM will work, get that. THEN tack on the I/O degree (or an I/O graduate certificate) if it really, really interests you. The I/O degree likely won't accelerate your career but it would complement your other education well. I jsut wouldn't rely on an I/O degree for career progression unless I was in a role that clearly required/preferred such a degree.

    As always, I have a relevant story:

    We have an engineering manager who doubles as a deacon at his church. He basically reached a middle management position on just a B.S. in Marine Engineering (not bad considering he doesn't work on marine equipment at our company). He wanted a masters and was really considering an M.Div. or an M.A. in Religious Studies or something similar. But he knew that he might have a shot at a higher position in the company if he earned an MBA or an M.S. in Engineering Management (or even an M.Eng.). For him, the deciding factor was that our company wouldn't pay for a religious degree so he'd be on his own to fund that pursuit.

    He earned an M.S. in Engineering Management. But then he also turned around and completed an online grad certificate in Pastoral Counseling. When he applied for a promotion to a Director job the certificate came up. His deacon work did as well. I won't say that either helped him get the job but they certainly helped keep the conversation positive and they absolutely didn't hinder him. Consider that when this guy left work he immediately went out and basically worked another job. The hiring VP felt that the manager had an appropriate work/life balance but was also an incredibly hard worker. His work experience showed he was competent at managing people but his deacon role, coupled with his grad certificate, showed that he genuinely enjoyed people and didn't simply tolerate them during the work week (a trait one of his competitors seemed to project).

    So, complementary. Focus on your primary education first. Focus on the thing you need to get the better job, keep your current job and position yourself well for the remainder of your career. Then focus on the other stuff. The "other stuff" could still help you in the long run but the ROI won't be as strong as the degree that meets the job requirements.

Share This Page