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What Can I Do with a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology?

What really drives a business? People. All too often, however, businesses misunderstand their people. Recognizing people’s behavior and the psychology behind their decision-making is essential to business success — from winning over consumers to attracting talented employees. That’s why USC’s online Master of Science in Applied Psychology (MAPP) program will teach you to leverage psychology tools and principles to support strategic organizational decision-making.

Through an intensive curriculum that combines theory and practice, you will learn how to better understand organizations and consumers by conducting research, analyzing organizational culture and studying consumer behavior. Courses focus on both organizational and consumer psychology, allowing you to understand the complexities and challenges of human behavior and how it impacts organizational efficiency and consumer decision-making.

As a MAPP graduate, you will be transformed into an innovative thinker who seeks creative solutions and puts psychology to work, using the right tools and strategies to better connect with both consumers and employees.

Applied Psychology Career Paths

A Master of Science in Applied Psychology can be a catalyst for success in a wide range of professional roles, including:

  • Research analyst (consumer or employee insights)
  • User experience (UX) researcher
  • Organization development consultant
  • People operations consultant
  • Director of research
  • Gaming insights manager
  • Product marketing manager
  • Senior human resources manager
  • Director of culture
  • Learning and development specialist
  • Talent development manager
  • Consumer insights consultant
  • Diversity and inclusion director
  • People analytics researcher
  • Technical recruiter
  • Shopper insights specialist
  • Director of change management
  • Talent acquisition coordinator

Benefits of Studying Applied Psychology

Psychology is often constrained to clinical contexts, but it is so much more widely applicable. Businesses can and should tap psychology in both consumer and organizational settings with the aim of ensuring that customers and employees are loyal, motivated, satisfied and engaged. The MAPP program will give you an in-depth understanding of psychology’s potential as a tool in business strategy, allowing you to creatively develop solutions that can lead any organization to a better future.



4 Common Careers in Applied Psychology

Research Analyst Career and Salary

Research analysts collect and analyze data to help their organizations make strategic decisions about how to market products and services. They research competitors to gain insights about their organizations’ positions in the marketplace and conduct interviews, market analysis surveys and focus groups to better understand what marketing materials will be most effective. Research analysts also track market trends to help their organizations identify the products that consumers want and how to price those products. The median annual salary for research analysts was $65,810 in 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), with the top 10% of analysts earning more than $127,410.

Talent Development Manager Career and Salary

Talent development managers play a key role in helping organizations attract and keep talented employees. They design and implement programs that monitor and assess the work of employees, with the aim of creating an environment that allows people to do their best work. Talent development managers also recruit skilled employees, develop training programs, and identify talent gaps and retention risks. The median annual salary for all human resources managers, including talent development managers, was $121,220 in 2020, according to the BLS, with the top 10% earning upward of $208,000.

Director of Diversity and Inclusion Career and Salary

Directors of diversity and inclusion develop and oversee programs that promote diversity and inclusion in their organizations. This role involves measuring the diversity of an organization and crafting policies that cultivate supportive work environments for all employees. It also involves addressing any harassment or discrimination issues. Directors of diversity and inclusion ensure their companies engage in fair and inclusive hiring practices. They also train human resources personnel to recruit, assess and manage a diverse workforce. The median annual salary for directors of diversity and inclusion was about $92,000 in February 2022, according to PayScale, with the top 10% earning more than $160,000.

Senior UX Researcher Career and Salary

UX researchers analyze consumer motivation and behavior to help organizations uncover what people want out of products and services. They work with user experience teams to help them understand what makes products more accessible, appealing and intuitive to consumers. Their work also involves using surveys, interviews and usability tests to make recommendations to design teams about how to improve products. According to PayScale, senior UX researchers earned a median annual salary of about $100,000 as of February 2022, with those in the top 10% earning upward of $138,000.



What Types of Professionals Can Benefit From USC’s Applied Psychology Degree?

You don’t need a background in psychology to excel in the MAPP program or put applied psychology to work in your organization. The MAPP program is suited for creative problem solvers, professionals aspiring to reimagine their definition of successful organizational management, and business leaders who want to truly understand their customers and employees.

It doesn’t matter what stage you’re at in your career, what industry you come from or how big your organization is; if you want to dive into the human psyche and develop a holistic understanding of human behavior to drive growth in your organization, then you can benefit from our applied psychology degree.




How do I start applying psychology in my career?

Individuals interested in applying psychology principles in their chosen fields need to cultivate the right skills and knowledge. By earning a master’s degree in applied psychology, professionals learn to use concepts such as cross-cultural perspectives and neurobehavior to solve problems in the business world. Establishing a strong foundation in organizational and consumer psychology concepts, along with polished research skills, can prepare professionals to apply psychology in their careers in various ways.

What industries can I work in through applied psychology?

Applied psychology degree holders have a myriad of options when it comes to choosing which industry to work in. No matter their career path, professionals can benefit from an improved understanding of consumer behavior in the marketplace and the role of psychology in employee management. That means industries ranging from aviation and manufacturing to technology and retail seek out applied psychology experts.

How much do applied psychology graduates make?

While the median annual salary of applied psychology graduates was around $67,000 as of May 2021, they can earn upward of $131,000 a year, according to PayScale. Incomes depend on position types and geographic location. Professional experience also plays into an applied psychology salary. Certain positions, such as director of diversity and inclusion and UX researcher, tend to offer more lucrative salaries compared with positions such as social media manager, for instance.

Is a degree in applied psychology worth it?

To measure the value of the degree, prospective students need to appreciate what applied psychology is and how it can propel their careers forward. Regardless of the industry, an applied psychology degree program teaches professionals how to apply theories about human behavior to real-world situations. This empowers professionals in the management of group dynamics, conflict resolution, and the selection and hiring process of new employees. It also helps professionals apply consumer behavior patterns to effective marketing strategies. The versatile skills the degree offers give graduates a competitive edge in many lines of work.

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