Making a career leap mid-degree

Career advancement after graduation is a goal of many a master’s student. For Kristin Durrance, however, that goal became a reality sooner than she initially anticipated. Now a graduate of Colorado State University’s online Master of Applied Industrial/Organizational Psychology (M.A.I.O.P.) program, Durrance made the leap from entry level to senior management in record time.

“I was at my current company before I started the program, just in an entry-level position,” Durrance said. Once she started her master’s program, she realized she was learning powerful tools to help address her company’s challenges with employee retention and satisfaction.

“I was very vocal about it to my company,” she said. “I told them, ‘You need me to finish the program, and I think I would be able to move into a position that would help.’”

The company didn’t wait for her to finish her degree — they hired her as a senior manager for learning and development while she was only midway through the degree. “Everything I’ve learned from the program, I’m able to apply directly to my job,” she said.

Studying human behavior in the workplace

Industrial/Organizational psychology is the study of human behavior in the workplace and how it influences areas like human resources, training and development, and enhancement training.

CSU’s program offers an applied learning approach that prepares students to conduct research and analyze data that drives change in organizations. As a graduate student, Durrance implemented several case studies within her organization, including a job satisfaction survey.

In her new senior management role, Durrance oversees four learning specialists who evaluate internal training programs. Her team has already made strides by revamping the semi-annual employee evaluation process, and also improving the onboarding process for new hires.

“I really feel that employees are key to an organization’s success,” she said. “The master’s in I/O psychology gave me the tools to really assess employees so we can align them with the best positions based on their knowledge, skills, abilities, and personalities.”