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SIOP Members, Graduate Education, and Employment Focus

Rob Silzer
HR Assessment and Development Inc.
Baruch College, City University of New York
Chad Parson
Baruch College, City University of New York

Every year the SIOP membership numbers and conference attendance rates seem to be increasing. At the same time, the need and demand in organizations for our expertise and knowledge also appear to be noticeably growing. Our talent expertise seems to be a great match for the broadening organizational interest in effective talent management (Silzer & Church, 2009; Silzer, Davis & McHenry, 2012; Silzer & Dowell, 2010). There also seems to be expanding global interest in our field, particularly in Asia, Europe, and South America. Many of our members see copycats in the marketplace that masquerade as legitimate competitors but that are typically shallow mimics of what we do. This is all evidence that we are in the middle of a golden era for our profession; one that reaches far beyond the basic selection/validation issues that dominated our field decades ago, to development, behavior change, engagement, retention, organizational development, and talent strategy.

However, at the same time we have been seeing some changes in industrial-organizational psychology graduate education in the United States. Some I-O psychology doctoral programs have disappeared (such as Ohio State University, New York University), and others have transitioned to different majors or programs. Still others in recent decades have become well-established in our field (University of South Florida, George Mason University). At the same time, about 50% of the SIOP members who are in academia now teach in business schools rather than psychology departments (Silzer & Parson, 2011). It seems that some major universities and psychology departments may no longer value the field of I-O psychology in the same way they did decades ago.

It seems odd that in an expanding market for our expertise, graduate education in I-O psychology is significantly changing and perhaps even shrinking. If this was true, we wondered if it might reflect two different views of our field, one by universities and another one by client organizations. We explored this issue by looking closely at the universities, graduate programs, and graduate degrees represented in the SIOP membership in order to examine where members received their degree and in what context they are currently working.

Our analysis is based on 2011 SIOP membership data. For each active full SIOP Member (Fellows were also included) we identified their graduate program and major field of study. We also identified their current employment focus (based on 2011 employment status).

Universities Represented in SIOP Membership

The 2011 membership archival data was reviewed for the 3,206 Members and Fellows. We identified the universities that awarded their graduate degrees. All information was self-report data. In a few cases the reported university name could possibly be associated with more than one campus. Some minor adjustments were made in a few cases (see Note) in order to clarify the self- report information and appropriately assign a member to a correct university.

Table 1
Rank Orders of Universities by Most SIOP Members

Rank

Institution

N

Rank

Institution

N

1

Univ. of Akron

114

16

New York Univ.

50

2

Univ. of Minnesota

110

17

Alliant  Univ./ CSPP *

48

3

Univ. of South Florida

97

18

Illinois Inst. of Technology

46

4

Michigan State Univ.

88

19

Columbia Univ.

43

4

Bowling Green Univ.

88

19

George Mason Univ.

43

6

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana  Champaign

86

21

Texas A & M Univ.

38

7

Univ. of Houston

80

22

Central Michigan Univ.

37

8

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

79

23

Georgia Inst of Technology

36

8

Univ. of Georgia

79

23

North Carolina State Univ.

36

10

Ohio State Univ.

76

25

Univ. of Michigan

35

11

Univ. of Maryland

70

25

Virginia Tech Univ.

35

12

Wayne State Univ.

68

27

Tulane Univ.

33

13

Purdue Univ.

66

28

Baruch College, CUNY **

32

14

Pennsylvania State Univ.

58

29

George Washington Univ.

31

15

Colorado State Univ.

52

30

Rice Univ.

29

Table 1 shows the top 30 universities represented in the SIOP membership. This is based on all full members and Fellows, almost all with a doctoral degree, across all major fields of study (associate members were not included in this study). Many of these universities also have well known doctoral graduate programs in I-O psychology. Universities in the Midwest and in the South tend to dominate the top rankings. And there are only two universities from the West: Colorado State and Alliant/CSPP.


Note: University/institution name adjustments were made in order to clarify self report information and appropriately assign a member to a correct university (we apologize for any minor errors made in these adjustments).

  • One I-O PhD member listed PSU as his/her degree institution and was moved to the Pennsylvania State University category.
  • 51 members from the University of Illinois did not list whether their degree was from the Urbana Champaign or Chicago campus. These individuals were placed in the U. of Illinois–Urbana Champaign category because that institution is typically known as the University of Illinois.
  • 11 members from the University of Nebraska did not list whether their degree was from the Omaha or Lincoln campus. These individuals were placed in the U. of Nebraska- Omaha category because Lincoln does not have an I-O PhD program listed on their website.
  • 2 members from the University of Missouri did not list whether their degree was from the St. Louis or Columbia campus. These members listed majors and degrees that were consistent with other U. of Missouri-Columbia graduates and were placed in that category.
  • 5 members from the University of North Carolina did not list whether their degree was from Chapel Hill or Charlotte. These members listed degrees that were consistent with UNC Chapel Hill graduates and were placed in that category.
  • 49 members from the University of Tennessee who did not list their campus affiliation and were placed in the University of Tennessee-Knoxville category because Knoxville is the only campus that offers an I-O PhD.

Graduate Programs and Degrees Represented in SIOP Membership

As most readers should be aware, there has been an extensive discussion in SIOP about what we should call our field: industrial-organizational psychology (I-O) or organizational psychology (OP). So we were interested in looking at the frequency of major fields of graduate study, including I-O and OP, among SIOP members.

Table 2
Rank Orders of Major Fields of Graduate Study by Most SIOP Members

Rank

Major Field of Study

N

1

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

2073

2

Organizational Behavior

214

3

Social Psychology

137

4

Organizational Psychology

107

5

Psychology

100

6

Clinical Psychology

64

7

Counseling Psychology

56

8

Human Resources

55

9

Educational Psychology/Administration

32

10

Other *

30

Table 2 shows the top-10 graduate-school majors for SIOP members. I-O psychology is listed as the major graduate field by 65% of SIOP members. The next closest major is organizational behavior (OB) at 7% of the membership. This may partly be the result of SIOP’s efforts to connect with business school faculty. Other fields of study that were identified by fewer than 30 SIOP members each included management, experimental psychology, applied psychology, measurement-psychometrics, business, industrial/labor relations. Some members might not have expected social psychology to rank third. However, as many of us know, I-O psychology is in many ways “applied” social psychology.

Specific Graduate Program Rankings

We were interested in knowing the graduate programs that were producing SIOP members in each major field of study. First we looked at I-O psychology graduate programs and ranked them by the number of SIOP members (see Table 3).

Table 3
Rank Orders of I-O Psychology Graduate Programs by Most SIOP Members

Rank

I/O graduate program

N

Rank

I/O graduate program

N

1

Univ. of Akron

111

14

Illinois Inst of Technology

45

2

Univ. of South Florida

93

17

George Mason Univ.

42

3

Bowling Green  Univ.

84

18

New York Univ.

39

4

Univ. of Houston

73

19

Central Michigan Univ.

36

5

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

71

20

North Carolina State Univ.

35

6

Univ. of Minnesota

67

21

Virginia Tech Univ.

31

7

Wayne State Univ.

61

22

Alliant Univ. / CSPP *

30

7

Ohio State Univ.

61

22

Georgia Inst of Technology

30

9

Univ. of Georgia

59

24

Rice Univ.

29

9

Michigan State Univ.

59

25

Univ. of Tulsa

27

11

Pennsylvania State Univ.

51

25

DePaul Univ.

27

11

Colorado State Univ.

51

25

Texas A & M Univ.

27

13

Purdue Univ.

46

25

Old Dominion Univ.

27

14

Univ. of Maryland

45

29

Baruch College, CUNY **

26

14

Univ. of Illinois -Urbana Champaign

45

29

George Washington Univ.

26

The top ranking I-O doctoral programs in Table 3 (in terms of SIOP membership) are mostly long-standing graduate programs. Again, University of Akron topped the rankings in producing the most I-O psychology doctoral graduates who are also SIOP members. It is worth noting that University of South Florida in just a few decades has become highly productive in terms of I-O PhDs. In addition, other programs that are relatively newer (compared to some of the older Midwest programs) have become very productive: George Mason University and Alliant University/California School of Professional Psychology. It should be mentioned that this analysis only includes doctoral degree graduates who are SIOP members. There may in fact be a number of doctoral-level graduates who have chosen not to join or who have left SIOP over the years.

It is interesting to note the discrepancies between Table 1 rankings (all majors) and Table 3 rankings (only I-O majors). The University of Minnesota, for example, has 110 SIOP members (doctoral level; rank #2) but only 67 of them are I-O psychology majors (rank # 6). As opposed to other universities that may only produce I-O psychology PhDs who join SIOP, the University of Minnesota produces PhDs in differential psychology, education psychology, counseling, social, and so on who also join SIOP. They represent “applied psychology” in the broader sense. Minnesota also has cross-specialty programs; for example a number of graduates have double majors in I-O psychology and counseling psychology, and the I-O faculty have often held double appointments in counseling psychology or in industrial relations in the business school.

We also looked at other graduate major programs that are well represented among SIOP members. They are identified in Table 4.

Table 4
Rank Orders of OB, Social Psychology and Organizational Psychology Graduate Programs by Most SIOP Members

Rank

OB Programs *

N

Rank

Social Programs *

N

Rank

Org Psych Programs *

N

1

Univ. of Maryland

14

1

Columbia Univ.

11

1

Univ. of Michigan

16

2

Purdue Univ.

12

2

Univ. of Illinois -Urbana Champaign

10

2

Columbia Univ.

14

3

Michigan State Univ.

11

3

Wayne State Univ.

5

3

Saint Louis Univ.

9

4

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

9

 

 

 

4

Alliant  Univ./ CSPP **

7

5

Univ. of Florida

8

 

 

 

4

Walden Univ.

7

There are 214 SIOP members who hold OB (organizational behavior) degrees. The top four OB doctoral programs among members (see Table 4) are all at universities that also have major I-O psychology programs. However most SIOP members who hold an OB degree have few OB peers from the same program in the SIOP membership (and often are the only one from their program). The top ranked organizational psychology programs at University of Michigan and Columbia University are long established and well known.

Employment Focus, Graduate Programs and SIOP Membership

Of particular interest was to identify which graduate programs were preparing graduates for particular careers in the field of I-O psychology. Our analysis leveraged our previous work of sorting all SIOP members into four primary employment focus groups based on their 2011 employment status (listed below with % of SIOP membership; see Silzer & Parson, 2011, for further definitions).

  • Academics/researchers–48.6% of SIOP membership
    • Academics–43.5% (in universities and colleges)
    • Researchers–5.1% (in research consulting firms and government positions with a research focus)
  • Consultants/organization based–49.3% of SIOP membership
    • Consultants–30.3% (in consulting firms and positions [nonresearch])
    • Organizational-based professionals–19.0% (in companies and government positions with a practice focus)

Our first analysis in this area looked at the programs that are producing the most members in each of the four employment focus categories (See Table 5).

Table 5
Rank Orders of Universities Producing the Most Academics, Researchers, Consultants and Organization-Based Members Who Are SIOP Members

Rank

Universities producing  most
Academics

N

Rank

Universities producing most Researchers

N

Rank

Universities producing most Consultants

N

Rank

Universities producing most  Organization -based

N

1

Michigan State Univ.

62

1

Univ. of Minnesota

17

1

Univ. of Akron

41

1

Univ. of South Florida

24

2

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana
Champaign

57

2

Univ. of South Florida

9

2

Univ. of Minnesota

40

1

Univ. of Houston

24

3

Univ. of Akron

50

3

Univ. of Georgia

8

3

Univ. of Georgia

39

3

Alliant / CSPP *

23

4

Univ. of Maryland

41

4

Univ. of Oklahoma

7

4

Bowling Green

31

4

Univ. of Akron

20

4

Purdue Univ.

41

5

Univ. of Illinois-Urbana Champaign

6

4

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

31

5

Wayne State Univ.

19

6

Univ. of Minnesota

39

5

Bowling Green

6

4

Univ. of South Florida

31

6

Bowling Green

18

7

Ohio State Univ.

38

5

George Washington Univ.

6

7

Univ. of Houston

26

7

Univ. of Georgia

16

8

Bowling Green

33

5

Virginia Tech

6

7

Illinois Inst of Technology

26

8

Univ. of Minnesota

14

8

Univ. of South Florida

33

9

Pennsylvania State Univ.

5

9

Ohio State Univ.

25

8

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

14

10

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

30

 

 

 

10

Alliant / CSPP *

22

8

Colorado State Univ.

14

11

Pennsylvania State  Univ.

29

 

 

 

10

Wayne State Univ.

22

 

 

 

Most of the universities listed in Table 5 are well known. The academic producing universities are well established and highly respected. The University of Minnesota has a history of producing researchers for well-known consulting firms historically focused on research work (such as PDRI, etc). The consultant producing universities represent a broader mix of universities (beyond the major Midwestern universities with I-O psychology programs). These rankings suggest that although universities with traditional, long-standing I-O psychology programs are well represented, there are also some programs that have been more recently established.

In addition, we looked at which universities were producing the most SIOP members in the two larger employment focus categories: (a) academics/researchers combined and (b) consultants/organization-based members combined. These rankings are listed in Table 6. It is worth noting that some universities have high rankings on both lists: University of Minnesota, University of Akron, Bowling Green State University, Ohio State University, and University of Tennessee. Other schools however only are ranked in the top 15 on one list or the other.

Table 6
Rank Orders of Universities Producing the Most Academics/Researchers and Consultants/Organization-Based Members Who Are SIOP Members

Rank

Universities producing most Academics & Researchers

N

Rank

Universities producing
most Consultants & Organization- Based Members

N

1

Univ. of Illinois
-Urbana Champaign

63

1

Univ. of Akron

61

1

Michigan State Univ.

63

2

Univ. of Georgia

55

3

Univ. of Minnesota

56

2

Univ. of South Florida

55

4

Univ. of Akron

53

4

Univ. of Minnesota

54

5

Purdue Univ.

45

5

Univ. of Houston

50

6

Univ. of Maryland

44

6

Bowling Green

49

7

Univ. of South Florida

42

7

Alliant / CSPP *

45

8

Ohio State Univ.

41

7

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

45

9

Bowling Green

39

9

Wayne State Univ.

41

10

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

34

10

Illinois Inst of Technology

35

10

Pennsylvania State Univ.

34

10

Ohio State Univ.

35

12

Univ. of Houston

30

12

Colorado State Univ.

34

13

Univ. of Michigan

27

13

Columbia Univ.

28

13

Wayne State Univ.

27

14

Univ. of Maryland

26

15

George Mason Univ.

25

15

Baruch College

25

15

New York Univ.

25

15

Michigan State Univ.

25

 

 

 

15

New York Univ.

25

 

 

 

15

North Carolina State Univ.

25

We were curious about which universities are the most balanced in producing both academics/researchers and practitioners. Table 7 identifies those universities that are the most balanced in producing graduates for both careers. Some universities have been impressively balanced in producing both academics/researchers and practitioners, such as the University of Minnesota and University of Akron. It should be noted that these two programs are larger and longer established than some other programs. It is tempting to cite these universities as doing a particularly good job in taking a balanced approach to preparing graduates in our field, or at least in producing a range of professional talent. However, a few of the I-O doctoral programs that achieved some balance have disappeared (i.e., New York University, Ohio State University).

Table 7
Rank Orders of Universities With the Best Balance of Producing Academics/Researchers and Practioners Who Are SIOP Members

Rank

Universities *

Total
N

% Academics /Researchers

% Practitioners

% Diff

1

New York Univ.

50

50.00%

50.00%

0.00%

2

Univ. of Minnesota

110

50.91%

49.09%

1.82%

3

George Washington Univ.

31

48.39%

51.61%

3.23%

4

Univ. of Akron

114

46.49%

53.51%

7.02%

5

Ohio State Univ.

76

53.95%

46.05%

7.89%

6

Georgia Inst of Technology

36

44.44%

55.56%

11.11%

7

Bowling Green

88

44.32%

55.68%

11.36%

8

Univ. of South Florida

97

43.30%

56.70%

13.40%

9

Univ. of Tennessee-Knoxville

79

43.04%

56.96%

13.92%

10

Virginia Tech

35

57.14%

42.86%

14.29%

We were also curious if certain major fields of study in graduate school led to different career paths. The later employment focus of SIOP members with specific major fields of study in graduate school are outlined in Table 8. SIOP members with major fields of graduate study in I-O psychology and organizational psychology work in a range of employment positions. It is worth pointing out that 56% of the SIOP members with I-O psychology degrees work as practitioners, but only 44% are academics/researchers. This suggests a continuing expansion of practitioner careers for SIOP members. SIOP members with other graduate majors tend to more likely work in certain employment positions more than others. For example:

  • OB majors strongly tend to be academics (88%)
  • Social psychology majors tend to be academics (71%)
  • Human resource majors strongly tend to be academics (85%)
  • Clinical and counseling psychology majors strongly tend to be practitioners (82%)
Table 8
The later employment focus of SIOP members with specific major fields of study in graduate school
Major field of study Academics Researchers Consultants In
organizations
N
Industrial-organizational psychology 780 133 667 493 2,073
Organizational behavior 189 4 14 7 214
Social psychology 97 6 20 14 137
Organizational psychology 58 4 29 16 107
Psychology 49 1 37 13 100
Clinical psychology 9 2 43 10 64
Counseling psychology 10 1 33 12 56
Human resources 47 0 6 2 55
Educational psychology/admin. 7 2 17 6 32
Other 9 0 15 6 30

 

SIOP Fellow Productivity by Universities

We also looked at which universities produced the most SIOP Fellows. This is one indication of program and graduate quality. This is a measure over time because it usually takes 15 years or more for a SIOP member to establish their contributions to the field. As a result, longer established programs may have some advantage here. The results are presented in Table 9. It is not surprising to find that some major Midwest universities—such as University of Illinois, Purdue University, Michigan State University, and Ohio State University—have been quite successful in producing SIOP Fellows who are in academic careers. These are long established programs and until just very recently the Fellow requirements strongly favored academics for their research contributions. However, the University of Minnesota distinguishes itself in this premier group by producing SIOP Fellows who are in all four career tracks (academics, consultants, researchers, and members based in organizations). The number of Fellows that Minnesota has produced who are in practitioner careers (eight) would alone earn it 8th place on this rank order list. It speaks to the high quality of the program, the breadth of the education there, and the diversity of the talented graduates. Both the University of Maryland and the University of Tennessee have also produced a notable number of practitioner Fellows (four each); however, these programs seem to be noticeably changing.

Table 9
Rank Order of University Productivity of SIOP Fellows
Universities

 

N *

 

Academics

 

Researchers

 

Consultants

 

In Organizations

 

Univ. of Illinois 
-Urbana Champaign

21 19

 

1

 

1

 

 0

 

Univ. of Minnesota

19 8

 

3

 

6

 

2

 

Purdue Univ.

18 16

 

0

 

2

 

0

 

Michigan State Univ.

16 15

 

1

 

0

 

0

 

Ohio State Univ.

12 12

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

Univ. of Maryland

11 7

 

0

 

4

 

0

 

Univ. of Tennessee
-Knoxville

9

 

5

 

0

 

4

 

0

 

Univ. of California, Berkeley

8 6

 

1

 

1

 

0

 

Univ. of Akron

8 8

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

Univ. of Michigan

7

 

5

 

0

 

2

 

0

 

Pennsylvania State Univ.

7

 

6

 

0

 

1

 

0

 

New York Univ.

7

 

6

 

0

 

1

 

0

 

Cornell Univ.

6

 

6

 

0

 

0

 

0

 

Yale Univ.

6

 

4

 

0

 

2

 

0

 

Conclusions

Our review of 2011 SIOP membership data have revealed some interesting results:

  • The traditional I-O psychology programs in midwestern and southern universities continue to have strong representation in SIOP; however, some newer programs are also well represented.
  • The graduate major of I-O psychology still dominates the membership (65% of members). But other majors such as OB, social, and OP are also well represented in the membership.
  • Many universities and graduate programs tend to produce graduates who primarily go into certain careers (such as academia/research or practice). However some universities, most notably the University of Minnesota and the University of Akron, have been successful in producing graduates who go into a broad range of professional careers. Although they may be among the larger doctoral programs, they may also provide a broader graduate educational experience.
  • SIOP members with graduate degrees in I-O and OP tend to pursue a broader range of career tracks, whereas members with graduate degrees in other areas are much more concentrated in either academic or practice careers.
  • The overwhelming majority of SIOP Fellows are in academic careers, and a few midwestern universities have been particularly successful in producing these Fellows. However, the University of Minnesota has notably produced SIOP Fellows in all four career tracks, which suggests that it is possible to structure an I-O graduate education that produces high quality graduates for a range of professional careers.

There has been a lot of discussion in SIOP about whether the current I-O psychology graduate programs are adequately preparing graduates for a range of professional careers in academia, research, and practice. Based on this data, it appears that members with an I-O psychology degree (as opposed to degrees in OB, or social psychology) have pursued a broad range of professional careers. However that does not necessarily mean that they were well prepared in graduate school for those careers. Some universities and graduate programs have been notably successful in producing high-quality graduates (based on SIOP Fellow productivity) in a range of career tracks. These schools seemed to have found a graduate school balance that can lead to a range of successful careers. In our next TIP column we will explore how the field of I-O psychology has changed over the last 40 years and what are the emerging trends in graduate schools, majors, and employment focus.

These results do suggest that the professional field of I-O psychology is well and very much alive. In fact, we believe that we are in the middle of a golden era for I-O psychology. While some graduate programs are disappearing or transitioning, new programs are being established that seem to growing and thriving. And the market demands for our expertise and talent seems to be continually growing.

References

Silzer, R., & Church, A. H. (2009). The pearls and perils of identifying potential. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 2(4), 377412.
Silzer, R. F., Davis, S., & McHenry, J. (2012, April). Reaching for the stars: Building high potential talent programs for organizational advantage. Workshop presented at the 27th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, San Diego, CA.
Silzer, R. F. & Dowell, B. E. (Eds.). (2010). Strategy-driven talent management: A leadership imperative. San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.
Silzer, R. F. & Parson, C. (2011). SIOP membership and Rrepresentation. The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist, 49(2), 8596.