Understanding human behavior is more than the basis of psychology — it is an essential component of virtually every organization and business. The USC online Master of Science in Applied Psychology delivers a unique blend of consumer psychology and organizational psychology to give you an edge in marketing, talent management and recruitment, research, social media and analytics, organizational development and a wide variety of related fields. Learn to impact any organization through people-centric decision-making with an applied psychology degree from the University of Southern California.
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Graduate in as few as 16 months with a relevant and universally applicable degree.
Earn the only online master’s degree in applied psychology from a top 25 institution.
Use 100% online classes to balance academics with family and professional responsibilities.
Succeed with the help of dedicated enrollment advisors, USC staff and an accomplished faculty of active practitioners.
Build key professional skills such as problem solving, data collection and synthesis, research efficiency, strategic thinking and communication.
Why an Applied Psychology Degree from USC?
An Empowering Experience
The USC online Master of Science in Applied Psychology is designed to make you an expert about psychology’s role in the modern world of organizations of all kinds.
- Learn to identify and better communicate with consumers.
- Cultivate the skills to build and communicate an effective strategic marketing plan.
- Develop strategies for creating a better workplace environment.
- Discover how to attract and retain top talent at your organization.
- Gain the real-world knowledge to help you define your own career path.
Why the University
of Southern California?
Why Choose USC?
The University of Southern California was founded in 1880 based on principles of diversity and inclusion. These principles still ring true today, as USC enrolls more international students than any other U.S. university. We believe exposure to different cultural viewpoints, especially in an applied psychology program, offers students a breadth of knowledge that can’t otherwise be attained.
Nationally ranked and globally recognized, the University of Southern California has distinguished itself as a leader in research and higher education. Our commitment to innovation in academics extends to the online classroom, where USC delivers programs of the same high quality that you would find on campus, but in an environment that offers added flexibility to those whose busy lives demand it.
Why Choose Dornsife?
The Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the oldest and largest school at the University of Southern California. The academic core of the university, USC Dornsife develops leaders in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences with a faculty that features some of the finest professionals and scholarly minds in the world. Top-tier educators, small class sizes and a commitment to personal and professional development provide USC Dornsife students with a world of opportunities.
A Rigorous and Rewarding Curriculum
The online Master of Science in Applied Psychology is project-based and real-world focused so you can immediately transfer what you learn in the online classroom to challenging workplace scenarios. The program blends content in consumer psychology and organizational psychology to create a universally relevant academic experience. The curriculum is broken down into four semesters and can be completed in as few as 16 months. The program includes 20 units of foundational coursework, 8 units of advanced application coursework and 6 units of practicum coursework.
Pro-seminar in Human Behavior: Foundations in Business Psychology
PSYC 550A provides the foundation for approaching the business world through the lens of applied psychology. This course will ask: How can psychology illuminate real-world problems faced in consumer marketing, employee management and organizational dynamics? Students will examine issues facing companies/organizations and then review contemporary psychology theory and research, seeking intersections between theory and practice. We will broadly review psychological concepts such as social, social-cognitive, personality and motivation, neurobehavioral, cross-cultural and developmental perspectives.
Pro-seminar in Human Behavior: Applications
PSYC 550B provides students with practical skills and tools grounded in psychological theory that can be directly applied in the business world while actively involving each student in personal professional development. A different workshop or professional development activity will be conducted each week. Workshops will be facilitated by a content specialist with experience teaching in business environments. By their nature, workshops depend on learning by doing as the primary method of instruction. Workshops in this course include Mediation Skills, Strategic Communication, Creativity Workshop, Multimedia Brand Development and Storytelling, and Emotional Intelligence.
Research Methods in Applied Psychology
Research Methods in Applied Psychology will introduce students to mixed methods research, which is used in a number of applied settings and academia. This course will examine quantitative and qualitative methods and their application in real-world research projects. To simulate professional situations, this course will provide opportunities to present work in front of other classmates. Upon completion of PSYC 505, students should be able to utilize some of the research methods most commonly used in business settings.
Consumer Psychology will explore the factors that influence consumer behavior in the marketplace. Emphasis will be placed on individual (or internal) factors and group (or external) factors that help explain how and why buyers behave as they do. Understanding of consumer psychology will be tied to the development of effective marketing strategies. This course provides a transition from prior psychology coursework to the pragmatic practices of business.
Organizational Psychology examines people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior in organizational contexts. This class explores scientifically-based psychological principles and research methods to study topics important to understanding human behavior in many different types of organizations. As such, this course is relevant to virtually all work settings (and many non-work settings). The goal is to provide you with an overview of the main theories, concepts and research in this field.
Electives (Choose 8 Units)*
Group Dynamics and Leadership
Organizations are made up of individuals and leaders who form groups and teams. This course will deepen your knowledge of leadership styles and the manner in which different leadership approaches affect group dynamics. Students preparing to become organizational psychology practitioners will learn key tools to help organizations identify and develop effective leaders and managers. Additionally, students will enhance their understanding of their own leadership potential and capabilities.
Psychology of Interactive Media
The course will focus on how media marketing has provided new opportunities for maintaining consumer loyalty and purchasing behaviors, as well as company cohesion and reputation. This course will draw on historical underpinnings of media, marketing and consumer behavior; quantitative and qualitative research studies; and real-world experiences and campaigns to better understand how interactive media can innovate and improve marketing strategies and affect consumer behavior and organizational effectiveness.
Workshop in Quantitative Methods
The course will introduce you to advanced techniques in data analysis, study design and survey research as they are applied to business problems. The application of these techniques will primarily be focused on marketing and market research, though they are equally applicable to organizational behavior. Applications for both quantitative and qualitative data will be covered, as both are important to making business decisions.
Cross-cultural Psychology in Applied Settings
This course examines the major theoretical frameworks mapping worldwide cultures and values with a focus on applying that knowledge in organizations. It will provide students with tools to become more culturally competent, and also provide a guided, hands-on opportunity to adapt existing communication strategies to multicultural settings and audiences. Students should be able to identify the main value systems of different cultures and become aware of their own cultural biases; and analyze and synthesize knowledge relevant to culture, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation and disabilities to plan, intervene, and act as better leaders in any kind of organization.
Internship in Applied Psychology
This course enables students to apply concepts studied in prior MAPP coursework through an internship experience of the student’s choosing. Internships, whether paid or unpaid, may be in any industry and must be approved by the program director. During the internship, students will learn real-world skills through on-the-job training in their chosen area of interest (e.g. market research, marketing, recruiting, human resources, social media, organizational consulting, sales, advertising, etc.). In course meetings, students will evaluate, reflect and extend their internship learning through journals, presentations and structured experiences. To fulfill the internship requirement for this program, students must log 240 hours of work time.
The Treatise requirement in conjunction with PSYC 592 is an applied research project essential to all students for graduation with an M.S. in Applied Psychology. Treatise topics with the approval of the program director can be wide ranging and as creative as the student’s professional interest. All Treatise projects must relate to a real-world issue or circumstance in one of the topic areas taught in consumer psychology, organizational psychology, marketing, market research, advertising, human resources or a communication-related field.
The principles and practices in each of these areas have applications not only in commerce, but also in government, public service organizations and for advancing political and social causes. A core principle of the M.S. in Applied Psychology program is that knowledge of human behavior contributes to effective practice in each of the above fields, and the paper should provide an illustration of that tenet. Data collection to help answer a real-world business problem, as well as discussion of recommendations to apply the results in a business setting, are typically expected.
What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree
in Applied Psychology?
An M.S. in applied psychology can be a catalyst for success in a wide range of professional roles, including:
- Market analyst
- Project manager
- Social media manager
- Placement services director
- Career counselor
- Event planner
- Advancement and development director
- Talent development manager
- Market research consultant
- Business development specialist
- Survey analyst
- Consumer insights researcher
- Data analyst
- Corporate trainer
- Corporate recruiter
- Employment coordinator
- Human resources manager
- Business analyst
- Market researcher
- Employee relations specialist
- Employee benefits manager
- Public relations director
- Account executive
- Community relations director
- Public information officer
- Communications director
- Media relations specialist
- Corporate communications specialist
- Consumer insights specialist
- Advertising director
- Marketing manager