Online Master of Science in Applied Psychology

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Advantages of Applied Psychology for Business

Advantages of Applied Psychology for Business

What are the Advantages of Applied Psychology for Business?
Friday, November 13, 2015

In today’s global marketplace where competitive edges may be few and far between, applied psychology can be the key to ensuring a business is working at maximum productivity and efficiency.

During this webinar we discuss the advantages of applying scientifically-based psychological principals to the workplace and the marketplace, and the benefits of a Master of Science in Applied Psychology degree for business professionals.

University of Southern California’s Master of Science in Applied Psychology Online Program Director, Dr. Ellen Leggett moderates. A short Q & A follows the live session.

Featuring Guest Speakers:
Dr. Ellen Leggett: Applied Psychology Graduate Program Director
Dr. Maura Harrington: Psychology Professor
Anny Cho: Student Program Advisor
Sarah Renteria: Enrollment Advisor
Gina Chang: Enrollment Advisor


Originally aired Friday, November 13, 2015

Sarah Renteria: Hello and welcome to the advantages of applied psychology for business webinar, presented by the Master of Science and applied psychology online program at University of Southern California’s Dornsife College of letters, arts and sciences.  I’d like to take you for taking the time out of your business schedule to join us today.  I’m enrollment advisor Sarah Renteria and I will be your host today.

Before we begin, I’d like to review what to expect during this presentation.  To cut down on background noise, please mute your phone lines so you are not to disturb the presenters.  If you have any questions for our panelists, please type them into the Q&A box in the lower right-hand corner of your screen and hit send.  Feel free to enter your questions as you think of them.  We will answer as many as time allows at the end of the presentation.  A copy of this recording and slide presentations will be available in the following weeks.

With us today is Dr. Ellen Leggett psychology professor and director of the applied psychology graduate program at USC, and psychology professor Dr. Mora Harrington.  Here is a quick look at what we will be covering today.  First, we will hear from Dr. Ellen Leggett about the advantages of applied psychology for business.  Then, Dr. Mora Harrington will talk about the career outlook and career opportunities for psychologists with an applied psychology graduate degree.  Dr. Leggett will also give us an overview of the online Master of Science and applied psychology program at USC, and Dr. Harrington will outline some of the program’s distinguishing features.

Lastly, I will go over the program’s admissions requirements, important dates and deadlines and information about the application process.  We will end the presentation with a Q&A session.  Now, let’s get started.  Thank you for joining us today Dr. Leggett.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Ellen Leggett: Sure.  I’m happy to be here and welcome to all of you who are on the line.  I’ve had several careers in my long journey from being an undergraduate majoring in psychology many years ago.  And like many of you, I may have been a psychology major who didn’t really know what I wanted to do to apply psychology in a career.  And what’s been interesting to me is that my career has taken a pretty unpredictable path and I’ve had several careers where I’ve worked in higher education, both as a professor and as a dean.

I’ve also had the pleasure of working for 25 years in a career that didn’t even exist when I was a psychology student in undergraduate school, and that is that I’ve been on the forefront, have been on the forefront for developing ways for jury psychology to be utilized in the courtroom.  So, I’ve worked with trial lawyers and corporations all over the country for the last 25 years.  I did my doctoral work in psychology at Harvard fully expecting I would be a professor.  But instead, spent much time in this litigation consulting world with companies and now have the great pleasure to be back at USC full circle as a professor and directing this program here in the master’s department, in the master’s program.

Sarah Renteria: Thank you Dr. Leggett.  Dr. Harrington, thank you for joining us today as well.  Would you mind sharing a little bit about yourself with our audience?

Maura Harrington: Absolutely.  You’ll see there is some similarities, but the journey is not always a straight line but often much more detailed and fun turns.  I was a psychology undergrad as well and was really interested in how psychology could be used, not just at the individual level, but at the organizational level.  And so I pursued a Ph.D. in organizational psychology and applied research and also did an MBA because I was interested in learning all aspects of business and psychology.

So, saying that, I’ve been able to use organizational psychology in a consulting fashion for the past 25 years.  I worked for a while at Kaiser Permanente in a department called organization effectiveness which allowed me to see, from an internal perspective, lots of things about all facets and pieces of organizational life.  Since then, I have worked more as an external consultant as part of a boutique firm and now part of a non-profit to help organizations try to achieve the best effectiveness they are able to through structured design and through employees and through their people.

I do a lot of private research looking at employee satisfaction, employee motivation, management development training, leadership development training and much about organizational assessment.  And some of you might be familiar with organizational development techniques.

Currently, I work in an organization called the Center for Non-Profit Management where we provide training, education and consulting to non-profits, government agencies, as well as foundations.  And as well, I teach at USC as a professor teaching organizational psychology online and on campus.  I’ll stop there.

Ellen Leggett:  Thank you Dr. Harrington.

Sarah Renteria: In today’s global marketplace where competitive edges may be few and far between, applied psychology can be key to ensuring a business is working at maximum productivity and efficiency.  Dr. Leggett, can you describe some of the advantages of applying scientifically based psychological principles to the business world?

Ellen Leggett: Absolutely.  In our very unique program, we really believe that organizations and businesses are really people businesses and that if you don’t understand people, you will miss some very important opportunities to assure that your organization is as effective as possible, and that you are reaching your consumers as effectively as possible as well.  So, we really focus, in this program, both on the people that are inside the organization, meaning the employees, the leaders all the way down to the rank and file hourly employees.  And for some organizations, those employees might not be paid, but may be the volunteers that are very important to keeping the organization working.

And we also, simultaneously in this program focus on the external audience for every organization, which is often their consumers, the buying public, the people that may be donors to an organization as a non-profit.  So, looking at both organizational psychology and consumer psychology together, we feel gives students in our program an opportunity to impact organizations wherever there’s an opportunity to apply psychology.  And that’s really wherever there are people in an organization.

So, as we said, looking at the consumer behavior, this focus puts an emphasis on what are consumer purchasing trends, how do consumers make the decisions that they do in the marketplace.  How do marketers persuasively communicate their message to consumers and also how to effectively use psychology, the psychology of persuasion to build the kind of marketing plans that take advantage of really knowing the consumer well and having insights about the consumer’s motivations and needs.

On the organizational side, and Dr. Harrington certainly is the expert in this area, we’re really looking at how to use data about employees to help the company make good decisions, help an organization or a company make good decisions about how best to deploy employees, how to best keep employees engaged and motivated, and often to bring about change within an organization as well.  A lot of the students in this program are very interested in talent, talent acquisition, talent development and how best to use psychology to bring the best tools to bear on those very important areas of corporate life.

So I know you wanted me to talk, Sarah, about what the career outlook is for the areas that we specialize in in this program and we’re really poised to be very timely in the emphasis that we have in this program because the job growth is projected to be very high for human resources and organizational psychologists, generally.  Organizations, you know businesses have just been through a very difficult time with the recession and to pull out of the recession and to now maximize their effectiveness, there is hopefully going to be an upswing in hiring and some retooling of the workforce.  Re-engineering how corporations and businesses use their employees to best maximize productivity.  And the organizational psychologists are really the people who can help provide some of that needed input about the psychology of the people that make the organizations work.

Similarly, and the consumer side market researchers, the people who can actually use data and make sense out of data, that job growth is expected to be very significant as well.  And there’s also the training and development that I made mention of before.

There are so many job titles and there are even many, many more than this that are relevant to the kind of training that we are providing here at USC – everything from being a data analyst.  We do emphasize data skills in our program because data is really just answering how to make sense out of the results of surveys.  And if you’re like me, you can’t even go to your local drug store without getting a survey to fill out afterwards about how satisfied you were.  Surveys are ubiquitous in our life right now, but what do companies do with all that data?  They need analysts inside their companies to help make sense of all this data.  And psychology has always been a data science and we do emphasize data skills in our program.

So whether you’re being in the marketing side, or even in the organizational HR side, data skills are very much an asset.  Market research, doing public relations and even working in advertising, are all areas that our students have found very exciting opportunities in after graduating.

That leads me to finally tell you about our program and Dr. Harrington and I are very excited about this program.  Of course, we know that we’re at an amazing University here, top 25 institution USC in Los Angeles.  And we’re very keen on having an innovative program that, as I said, first, blends both organizational psychology and consumer psychology so that you can see across functions as to how organizations can best maximize people and communicate and persuade people.

We also really pride ourselves on the faculty.  Like Dr. Harrington, the faculty have been professionals in their fields and they have not spent a lifetime doing research insider the hallowed halls of academia, although all of us have spent our time in academia and value that time very highly.  We also value our ability to apply that in the real world and bring to the classroom examples from the real world.

So, our faculty is very innovative and very excited to really have students that want to know how to bring to bear in the real world of work the kinds of skills we’re learning in the classroom and skills that you, as students, actually bring to the classroom as well from your own work.

The program can be completed in as few as 16 months.  This is a part-time only program online with students generally taking two courses a term continuously for 16 months.  Which means you’re going to school three terms a year: Fall, Winter and Summer, and taking two courses per term, with one additional term, the fourth term there to get you through the program with your master’s degree.  I think that’s all I wanted to say and I think are we turning this over to Dr. Harrington now?

Maura Harrington: I think so.

Ellen Leggett: You could probably elaborate on what I said Dr. Harrington.

Maura Harrington:Absolutely.  And you covered it so well that, you know, I am really excited about teaching this program because it is a tremendously unique opportunity to be able to take the wonderful learning and theories that we have in psychology and actually apply them through both real world examples and lots of different projects.

As Dr. Leggett mentioned, we work really hard to be innovative and constantly update and bring in new things that have hit the field or have happened in real life so that you’re able to immediately take what you’re learning and buy that into what you’re working on now at your current job and future jobs.

One of the mainstays of the program is that we focused on making it a project based, and as I mentioned real world focused.  We take in not only our own experience as practitioners, but we also try to work in scenarios that students have currently going on at their own work organizations so that we can do some real life problem solving and strategy developing.

Another unique opportunity here is that we really take content from across different areas within psychology, primarily in consumer and organizational psychology because a lot of the work that we talk about, the theories and the applications pertaining to people as Dr. Leggett mentioned, and those are both in terms of those who are inside the organization and outside the organization, consumers, employees and also partners within a business context.

The other thing that I really wanna kind of remind us all is while organizations often times focus on profit as being the big finish line in terms of where success is, we cannot get to those profit goals and those productivity goals without the people in the organization.  And because most of the work now being conducted within organizations is not manufacturing anymore, but it really depends on the motivation, the inclination, the commitment, as well as teamwork among folks within an organization.  We really need to understand what makes the people to have a successful experience within an organization go from what they bring to the organization as well as the environment, and the culture and structures and processes provided by the organization.

So, I think that this is really gonna be the key to success for all organizations as we move forward through this new economy that we have, the new normal is what we hear.  I’ll stop there.  I could go on for a long time, but I know you wanna hear about how to get into the program.

Ellen Leggett: Actually Dr. Harrington, I was wondering if you could say anything a little bit more about how our program may differ from other kinds of business programs that you have experienced?

Maura Harrington: Absolutely, that I have –

Ellen Leggett: Well you have an MBA for example, so you have some insight into MBA training and business schools.

Maura Harrington: I do, I do.  As I started to mention, business principles are important.  But they do, in my opinion, become a little limited when it comes to implementation.  We find that there can be wonderful strategic plans, economic plans, financial plans that any good marketing plans can be developed.  But what is going to make them successful is the commitment and the engagement on the part of the employees that will be the ones responsible for implementing and seeing their successful strategies.

In business school, my own experience was that the focus is often times more on the finance, the economics and some strategy, but the strategy tended to be a little – I’m trying to think of the right word – antiseptic.  It didn’t necessarily ground itself in what the culture of the organization was or in terms of how to make sure that you were building the correct force of human capital and relationships to get it done.

So, I think that we do have some business principles wound into the applied psychology because we’re all looking towards what makes more successful organizations.  And what I love about this program is that we bring in the psychological theory.  We make sure that students have that basis that they can build on, they can review and they can call upon.

But one of the most exciting things about this program is the ability to be able to take that theory and translate it into the organization, the workforce, the business setting and to be able to help people understand how to actually implement some of what this research is telling us, and to effectively have it interact with business strategy.

So, we call upon psychology, psychology principles, but we also look at management publications, ‘cause a lot of the conversations are very similar, so that folks will understand how these principles can better inform the discussions about either current issues or strategies in working with the workforce.  A workforce now that is continually changing as Dr. Leggett said in terms of not only for us, helping the organizations, but as we move into this new world of the millennials, how do we better understand how to set up work environments they’re gonna be productive, both for the employee and for the organization. Is that enough Dr. Leggett?

Ellen Leggett: Thank you.  Back to you Sarah.

Sarah Renteria: Thank you Dr. Leggett and Dr. Harrington for sharing both insightful and valuable information there.  Now, we’re gonna look a little bit more into our admissions requirements for the master of science and applied psychology program.  For this program, you will need a Bachelor’s Degree from a regionally accredited institution, GRE test scores, a personal statement of purpose, transcripts from all colleges attended, a professional resume or CV and three letters of recommendation that can be academic or professional.

As you can see on your screen, you have some important dates and deadlines in front of you that cover both application deadline and term start and end date.  Please note that our spring deadline is approaching Nov. 20 and we do take applications on a rolling basis.

Now it is time for the Q&A session.  Just as a reminder if you have any questions, please type them into the Q&A box in the lower right hand corner of your screen and hit send.  Along with myself, enrollment advisor Gina Chang, and student program advisor, Anny Cho, are available to assist you with any questions today.  If we don’t get to your question today, one of us will follow up with you directly.

Looking at our questions, our first question is how many hours of internship will we have to complete in order to graduate?  As far as the internship requirement goes, it’s a 240 hour requirement.  You will have an internship support center tab as part of your program and guidance throughout.  And your program director along with your program coordinator will help you with those opportunities as far as making sure that your hours are logged correctly.

Another question we have related to admissions requirements is credit given to those with an MBA with a systems management focus?  As far as transfer credit goes, it would all be determined on an individual basis, though transfer credit can be applicable that would be something that would be determined individually based off of your transcripts and experience.

Another question, will there be time to sit down with professors on campus at any time during the program for specific general questions and support?  If you’re looking to speak with somebody in particular, your best bet would be to get in touch with one of the advisors on the screen and we can work with you in a little bit more detail to see what your specific needs are and what we can potentially set up.

Ellen Leggett: Can I just interject though?  If the question pertained to once you’re a student in the program, the answer is you have a lot of access to the professors, but as to sitting down on campus, it depends on where you live.  We have students in the online program who are all over the country.  I taught a class last week and I had my student from Milwaukee and my student from Minnesota and the student from New York and my student from Hawaii.  And the students are obviously not right here, but if you ever do come to campus, we are more than delighted to meet you and we do hold events to try to get students in the online program to come.  We recently had homecoming on campus and had students fly.  We were delighted that they flew from as far away as Oregon to come and participate with us on campus.  So, the campus belongs to you whether you live here or not and we’re always exited when you make a visit and come to see us.

Maura Harrington: Yes, and I would add the contact is regular.  There are phone office hours, we make individual appointments and as Dr. Leggett said, should you be in the vicinity, we’d love to meet you in person as well.

Sarah Renteria: Thank you.  Another question that we have is can your full-time job double as the internship if you are in an applied psychology career?  Again –

Ellen Leggett: I will be happy to speak to that.  I think it depends completely on what you’re work is.  And generally, you do not get exempted from having an internship requirement, although we call it more like a professional development opportunity.  What we strive to do is to have students who are in the program and working full-time which is many of them identify a project or opportunity within their organization that they can contribute to in a new way.

So, for example, you may be working in one area but be really interested in getting into marketing.  And if you can identify a project in marketing where someone in the marketing area of your company who would be willing to be somewhat of a mentor for you and you can get some job relief or have your current supervisor understand that you’re going to meetings on occasion over in the marketing department to help them with something.  That has been very successful as a model.  But to continue just in your current job and expect doing the same responsibilities that you’ve been doing all along to also meet our requirement for USC would probably be inappropriate because we do want you to do something new.  You have the opportunity through this program to do something new and we want to leverage the program for you to give you new opportunities and get new skillsets, if you can, through the place that you already work.

Sarah Renteria: Thank you Ellen.  One final question that we have here.  Are instruction sessions entirely online?  When it comes to the online program, you will be completely online.  The nice thing about the program is it does have a combination of what we like to call synchronous and asynchronous learning, meaning you’ll be able to post in discussion topics and turn in assignments based off of weekly deadlines, but at a time that’s convenient for you, that way if you have other things going on, you can make that time management balance.

In conjunction with that though, there will be live lectures as part of your participation grade that you’ll be required to log into.  Each course will have on the syllabi when those lectures are so that you’ll know that ahead of time so that you can schedule accordingly.

With that being said, if your question was not answered today, please know that you are more than welcome to reach out to any, myself, Gina or Annie in reference to that.  At this time, I do wanna thank you very much Dr. Leggett and Dr. Harrington and thank you for everyone who participated today.  As you can see, all of the contact information is on the screen now, and a copy of this recording and slide presentation will be available in the following weeks.  This concludes today’s webinar.  Thank you again and have a great day.

Ellen  Leggett: Thank you everyone.

Maura Harrington: Thank you.

[End of Audio]

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