MA Program Curriculum | Social-Organizational Psychology | Organization and Leadership

Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Social-Organizational Psychology

In Organization and Leadership

Curriculum and Courses of Study

In line with our scholar-practitioner mindset, our curriculum covers a broad range of fundamental social-organizational psychology theory and research, yet also provides opportunities for studying real-world work experiences in the classroom, whether through courses that explicitly require working with live clients/organizations, or through assignments that prompt students to examine and reflect critically on their own work lives. The curriculum helps students grow expertise in the following areas:

  • understanding key organizational psychology theoretical frameworks and how they inform organizational practices in the workplace
  • critically consuming and evaluating research to understand its value and relevance to organizations and society
  • conducting applied research with live clients addressing critical organizational challenges
  • honing conflict resolution and mediation skills across a variety of settings
  • diagnosing both the explicit and implicit forces operating in groups and teams and developing strategies to leverage those forces
  • developing the ability to use a systems perspective when understanding organizational life and how to effect positive organization change
  • learning and practicing varied skills in individual and organizational assessment, diagnosing individual and organizational challenges, and crafting interventions for organizational performance and effectiveness

In order to earn the MA degree in social-organizational psychology, students are required to complete a minimum of 45 course credits. In addition, a comprehensive exam is required. The table below summarizes course requirements.

Summary: Course Requirements*
Social-Organizational Psychology MA Program

(to download, click here: MA Program Curriculum)



Core Level 1 (fundamental to an understanding of the field)
4 courses @ 3 points each

  • Functions of Organizations (3 credits): A survey of the primary functions and operations of organizations and the relation of these functions to human resource management
  • Understanding Behavioral Research (3 credits): Overview of alternative methods of behavioral research and their relative strengths and limitations
  • Organizational Psychology (3 credits): Introduction to theories and research that underlie the field of organizational psychology
  • Human Resource Management (3 credits): Current and emerging emphases in the management of human resources in organizations


Core Level 2 (to further develop advanced knowledge of key topics)
3 courses @ 3 points each

  • Group Dynamics (3 credits):  Explores social processes in groups and their impact on individual behavior
  • Organizational Dynamics & Theory (3 credits): Study of organizations as systems with emphasis on the reciprocal relationship between individuals and organizations
  • Managing Conflict in Organizations (3 credits): Designed to address conflicts in organizations from theoretical and practical points of view


Core Level 2: Application Course
1 course @ 2-5 Points
Choose one:

  • Internship in Organizational Psychology (2-3 credits): Provides students with an opportunity to gain practical experience relevant to their interests
  • Basic Practicum in Conflict Resolution & Mediation Skills (3 credits): training in the basic skills of collaborative negotiation and mediation with supervised practice
  • Practicum in Change & Consultation in Organizations (5 credits): Offers the opportunity to study and experience anticipated consultant roles during the entry, diagnostic, and intervention phases of efforts to effect change


Core Level 2: Advanced Theory Course
1 course @ 3 points
Choose one:

  • Leadership & Supervision (3 credits): Major psychological and other interdisciplinary approaches to the study of leadership with critical analysis
  • Fundamentals of Cooperation, Conflict Resolution, & Mediation (3 credits): Topics such as cooperation and competition, trust and suspicion, bargaining and negotiation as they relate to conflict resolution in various contexts
  • Intercultural Communications (3 credits): Explores the intercultural communication field and what it has to offer educators in the context of theory and practice and in their ability to design effective and empathic learning environments


Breadth Requirement
A minimum of 6 credits

  • Courses must be taken outside the social-organizational psychology program but must be taken at Teachers College. Please see the handbook for a listing of sample courses.
Permission must be obtained from the MA Program Director or Advisor if the course is not explicitly identified in the MA Student Handbook.


Elective Courses
Courses must be at least 2 points each

  • May be within social-organizational psychology, or outside of the program.
  • May also be taken outside of Teachers College at the Columbia Business School, the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of Social Work, etc. Please see the handbook for a listing of sample courses.

Permission must be obtained from the MA Program Director or Advisor if the course is not explicitly identified in the MA Student Handbook.


Comprehensive Exam

  • The Comprehensive Exam is required and is designed to ensure that students graduating from the Social-Organizational Psychology Program are knowledgeable in the primary, foundational areas of the field. The exam is administered three times a year -- once in the Fall, Spring, and Summer. Exam dates are announced at least one semester in advance. More information is provided at Orientation/Registration Day and reminders are sent via email to the listserv.




*For more specific details of these requirements, please consult the Academic Catalog or MA Program Handbook.


Practical Experience:

Prospective applicants are often specifically interested in the practice components of the MA degree. Our program requires students to complete at least two practice-based courses: Group Dynamics, a course that incorporates theory and practice and at least one of the following practica: Practicum in Change and Consultation, Practicum in Conflict Resolution, and/or an Organizational Internship. We offer a variety of additional applied courses, including:

  • Data-Based Interventions (ORLJ 5019)
  • Small Group Interventions (ORLJ 5017)
  • Executive Coaching (ORLJ 4010)
  • Internship, Community Mediation (ORLJ 5012)
  • Internship in Organizational Psychology (ORLJ 5012): You may choose to seek credit for an ongoing internship, through enrolling in ORLJ 5012, sponsored by Dr. Marina Field. The course can be taken for 1 to 3 credits, for a total of 4 credits. The purpose of the internship class is to support students’ gaining practical experience relevant to their interests and applying the principles of social-organizational psychology theories to real-world situations.

Students can also enroll in coursework outside of the social-organizational psychology program to build their applied skills by taking electives in other programs, including Counseling Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Measurement & Evaluation, and others. The MA student handbook contains more information about elective courses. 

Moreover, the faculty are actively engaged in current issues that organizations face. Many are organizational consultants, coaches, and advisors. Not surprisingly, our courses integrate theory and practice as well as relevant models and frameworks to analyze and implement changes to real world problems.


Additional Certifications:

Our students are sometimes interested in pursuing other certifications and licenses while enrolled in the MA Program, or directly after graduating. In the past, students have become certified in administering various psychological assessments, have enrolled in the Columbia Coaching Certification Program (CCCP), or have pursued the Certificate of Attendance in Conflict Resolution, through the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution.

To pursue the Certification in Conflict Resolution in particular, students must enroll in a specific set of courses and one semester of a conflict resolution internship. This level of study is aimed at developing the core competencies for reflective scholar/practitioners working in conflict resolution. These courses may be incorporated into your MA degree requirements although you will need to take coursework over and above the 45 credits to earn the Certificate. To find out more details about the course requirements, feel free to visit the Morton Deutsch International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution website (, contact the Center at (212) 678-3402 or stop by Room 232, Horace Mann Hall.

  • Apply
  • Request Info