Applications can be completed online through the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS). This link is for the GSAS home page: http://gsas.nyu.edu/object/grad.admissions.onlineapp. From here, click on the Application Resource Center link for the online application and GSAS application guide.
Note: The I/O program also requires a supplemental application question which is posted on this page below. Questions are typically posted 60 days prior to the due date.
For Spring admission: October 1st
For Summer and Fall admission: February 1st
Note: Given the extremely competitive nature of the I/O program, serious consideration of the most qualified applicants may result in offers being extended beginning one month post-deadline.
The I/O Open House is an opportunity to hear from the Program Coordinator about the details of the program, ask questions, and meet students and alumni of the program. For information about the I/O Open House schedule and how to RSVP, click here: http://psych.nyu.edu/programs/ma/openhouse.html.
Supplemental I/O Application Question (required for all applicants)
United Airlines Case
Below is the supplemental writing sample required case study item for the Fall and Summer, 2013 applications (February 1, 2013 deadline).
The I/O Psychology M.A. Program requires a writing sample essay. This supplemental document provides an opportunity for applicants to prepare (as would be expected in the program) to put Psychology and Science into practice. It represents a realistic preview of how one might be engaged to consider consultative intervention aimed at improving conditions for employers and employees alike.
This is a business case that asks you to write about the company, United Airlines, from an I/O Psychology vantage point. In addition, it will allow for the inclusion of personal strengths, key background experiences, and personal perspective. Include personal challenges, priorities, goals, and achievements that might bear on candidacy for admissions to the program. Bring your own history, previous studies, business experiences, and interests into focus to address the real-world human capital challenges and opportunities the case presents.
The United Case:
The past decade has proven quite difficult for many companies, probably none more so than for airlines. United Airlines is a good case in point. It struggles to achieve the potential benefits from its merger with Continental Airlines in 2010, facing competitive pressures from smaller more nimble airlines, and having to respond to everyday, real-time operational challenges resulting from unpredictable external crises. United’s CEO, Jeffrey Smisek, originally of Continental, is facing an uphill battle bringing the efficient processes and good attention to customer service that Continental was known for to the merged company. Combining with Continental in a mega-merger, the new combined United now flies to more places in more time zones with more planes and employees than any other airline (at least for now). Mr. Smisek has to solve numerous challenges that the I/O field develops interventions for, at many levels in parallel.
Operationally, problems integrating Continental and United have plagued the merger. Reservation web sites have gone down limiting access, flights have been cancelled, and premium frequent fliers are not happy. Its on-time arrival rate, although improving, is perceived to be one of the worst in the industry. The quality and consistency of the customer experience has varied considerably according to passengers. Yet fares are increasing on average, and pillows and blankets have been removed for most.
At the human capital level, some employees in the merged giant now have better schedules and routes. Others, however, have been re-assigned or transferred to perhaps less desirable options from their perspective. Some hard feelings may have developed between members of the employees from the two units as previous competitors before the merger. Now they must work together, perhaps with different work rules, activities, and evaluation criteria. Working for post-merger airline as an employee has also become equally challenging from many perspectives. Acquisitions and mergers can impact seniority, pay, benefits, and even basic work responsibilities. Long- term stable career with any given company may have unfortunately become more of a thing of the past. The flying public decries reduced airline perks and rapid decline in customer service. They blame employees and frequently express outsized emotions of frustration, despair, and anger directed at staff. Add to this the need for negotiating with employee unions, human resources needs creative and proven solutions to address these employee relations issues, at the individual and team levels as any one fight is team-based delivery service both on board and in communication with ground controls.
In a broader business and economic context, United has faced increased global competition, and shrinking revenues from business and leisure travelers. Upstart new carriers have undercut fares and taken market share (e.g. Jetblue, Easyjet, Ryanair, etc.). Mergers and acquisitions have predominated as alliances are formed to raise global competitiveness but do not always succeed. Bankruptcies have unfortunately become common, and even the best of traditional airlines with previously near “national monopolies” have reorganized in the face of competitive pressures (e.g. JAL).
Unexpected events add additional pressure on an organization’s capacity for resilience. For example, Hurricane Sandy recently devastated the northeastern United States closing many airports for days. Tempers flared. Passengers and employees alike were stranded. Many were pushed to their breaking point or beyond. The “super storm” and its aftermath of snow certainly impacted one of United’s largest hubs (Newark) as the gateway from the northeast to Europe.
Increased government regulation imposed constrains United in terms of tarmac time and crew flying hours. One might suggest the jobs may even have changed fundamentally, as well as the psychological contract for most working and flying United. Union members are very tired of concessions and added work hours or responsibilities. But profitability is not assured in such a competitive market. As contracts are forthcoming between large unions of employees (e.g. pilots, mechanics, attendants) pressure is increased.
To grow, and prosper, and thrive, United must regroup, reassess, and revise. Smisek and his leadership team must raise engagement to improve efficiency, cut costs, and perhaps even release redundant staff. The customer experience will need to equal if not improve upon competitors to retain finicky high-end repeat travelers. Staff will need to buckle down and work even harder to help the airline to re-engineer.
United, it might be suggested is at a key tipping point. It perhaps presents a chance to reset the culture and values creating a new customer and employee experience. Or it could become one big challenge too great to survive. You have been asked to independently assess the situation from an I/O perspective, make recommendations, and offer potential pathways to resolution. Contentious discussions with employee groups, union leaders, and management await. Time is of the essence. A plan is needed to prioritize, focus, and direct activity.
Write a 1,500 word essay describing how you might advise and help United Airlines.
United’s post-merger adaptations are slow and need to be addressed on many levels including operational, technology, employee engagement, leadership, morale and commitment – and put into the larger context of a global economy and regulatory environment.
Specifically, what are the major areas of concern you have about the situation at United in terms of the challenges resulting from the merger, and in the context described above. What data might be gathered and analyzed to understand the problems and the viability of potential solutions? What might be suggested to resolve the human capital concerns? In what ways might the issues parallel those for other airlines vs. spring uniquely from the situation and leadership specifically at United? In what ways might global and cultural factors impact the relationships with employees? What benefits might be gained by suggested consultative intervention at United? What risks or downsides might need to be avoided? What tradeoffs need to be evaluated? How might individual staff, work teams, and the overarching organization as a whole be involved and impacted? How could success be measured? What might indicate that the intervention had addressed the most important problems needing to be addressed? What might a realistic practical business solution involve and entail?
From a personal and professional development perspective, what components from previous training, education, and work experience would help to investigate, inform and improve United’s situation? Why might you personally be the best candidate to address these issues? What personal strengths, skills and special abilities could be utilized so as to be selected in competition to earn this assignment? How might taking on this assignment through the program address your professional development and career aspirations?
Your essay must be unique and an original work of your own creation. The document submitted must not exceed 1,500 words. The essay should be solely of your own writing and ideas. Content beyond 1,500 words will not be considered. As in science parsimony is key. You may cite research, or ideas by including explicit references for any external resources paraphrased or copied from other sources.
Evidence that this essay has quoted material or ideas lifted without proper reference or were written by third parties will result in application rejection. This essay is designed to personally engage and reflect your understanding of models of psychology, business, science, analytical methods, and your professional development goals in the service of applied problem solving. Therefore, minimize restating the problem and restating information given in the question and focus on your value-added ideas: prioritizing, ordering and answering the questions and providing solutions.
For further investigation of the United Airlines circumstances and situation, you may find some or all of the following sources a good starting point, and accessible online or at a local university or public library. You may also want to consider other reference books, magazines, journal articles, or business sources to inform your thinking about I/O Psychology and the particular issues involved in the United case.
Recent relevant references:
For United, Big Problems at Biggest Airline. Mouawad, J. New York Times. November 28, 2012
2 years after merger, United struggles with its size: World's largest airline hit by delays, computer glitches and a huge loss. Mouawad, Jad. International Herald Tribune. 30 Nov 2012: 14.
Lean Airlines in Poor Shape To Handle Passenger Backlog. Sharkey, Joe. New York Times. 30 Oct 2012: B.6
Jump-Starting Air Travel After Everything Went Dark. Sharkey, Joe. New York Times 06 Nov 2012: B.5
An Indian Airline Loses Right to Fly. The New York TimesNew York Times 21 Oct 2012: A.8.
A Frequent Sufferer's List of Airline Grievances: [Letter] New York Times. 06 Oct 2012: A.20.
Airlines Dance Around A Merger. Andrew Ross Sorkin. New York Times. 10 July 2012: B.1
Relearning to Fly. Tabuchi, Hiroko. New York Times. 03 July 2012: B.1.
American And Pilots Near Accord On Contract. Mouawad, Jad. New York Times. 23 June 2012: B.1.
United, Pilots Go To Court Over Claims Safety Is Being Compromised. Darren Shannon. Aviation Daily. September 28, 2011. Pg. 5 Vol. 385 No. 63.
For more information about applying to the I/O program call 212-998-7920 or email email@example.com.