Area Coordinator: Dr. John Skowronski
Welcome to the Social-Industrial/Organizational (Social-I/O) area of NIU’s Department of Psychology! There is considerable synergy between Social and I/O. Thus, though this combination is unusual, the program makes conceptual sense, and our experience is that this combination works.
Importantly, having expertise in both areas (as well as in Quantitative Methods/Tools) makes our students unique. Colleges and Universities who want solid scholars that also provide teaching flexibility find our graduates to be especially desirable. Businesses that want researchers who are fluent in research design and analysis and who also see things from both a theoretical view and from a practical view also find our graduates to be desirable.
Here’s why. The program is set up so that a student essentially earns a major and two minors. The major will be either Social or I/O, as the student chooses. One minor will always be Quantitative Methods. The other minor will be the area focus that is not the major (I/O if Social major; Social if I/O major). The extra coursework needed to meet the needs of these three sub-areas means that students will require three years of coursework before taking the required comprehensive exam needed for admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. program.
In addition to the coursework that is required, our program is also intensively research-focused. One major goal of our area is the discovery of new psychological knowledge. Accordingly, each student admitted to the program is expected to contribute to the area’s research mission from the moment they set foot on campus. These contributions are made via: (a) a student’s first year-project; (b) both ongoing independent research and collaborative research with faculty and other students (via course credit in PSYC 690, Psychological Research; and PSYC 681, Independent Study); (c) each student’s M.A. project and (d) each student’s Ph.D. project. The program’s model for research is a flexible one. Students are encouraged to pursue multiple research interests and to become exposed to different styles of research by collaborating with different faculty members and with other students.
In addition to the goal of discovering new knowledge, another goal of the program is the dissemination of that discovered knowledge. To accomplish this goal, students are encouraged to both present their work at scientific conferences and, when the work is ready, to publish the results of their research in the scientific psychology journals.
Students in the program also gain teaching experience. This comes in diverse ways. Students can be: (a) assigned to assist a faculty member in an advanced undergraduate course.; (b) asked to supervise the research efforts of advanced undergraduates; (c) assigned to teach sections of the Department’s General Psychology course, or (d) assigned to teach sections of upper-level undergraduate classes, such as Social Psychology.