By Sloane M. Perron, Manager of Marketing Communications 

Anna Maria College has revamped its Industrial Organization Psychology program (IO Psychology) making the master’s course fully online and accelerated to an 8-week semester schedule. In addition to the added benefits of flexibility, the revised IOP program also includes a field placement requirement to give students the hands-on experience that they need to excel in their career fields.  

John Pratico, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Dean of Behavioral and Mental Health Program, explained that the accelerated aspect of the program means that students who take two 3-credit courses in each accelerated term can graduate with a calendar year. While the online instruction broadens student accessibility, the course still retains the personalized attention and small class sizes that Anna Maria College is known for. 

“The fully online track will provide the added convenience of online courses at larger universities while maintaining a “small school” look and feel,” said Pratico, “All of the instructors take a community focused approach which means they ask themselves how does this course apply to the real world or to my student’s place of employment?” 

Aaron and Heather Antanavica are the husband-and-wife duo who teach IOP classes and have implemented these strategies in their own careers and businesses.  

Aaron described IO Psychology as, “’Workplace psychology,’ which applies many major psychological theories and concepts in the context of work. IO Psychology practitioners explore workplace dynamics, leadership, effective team building, navigating conflict and change, motivation and morale, among many other topics in an effort to make employees and organizations as successful as possible.” 

IO Psychology is a growing field in corporations as it focuses on the health and effectiveness of workers. Students pursuing this field can use their degrees in careers such as research, human resources, talent acquisition, and organizational development to name a few. The broadness of the degree means that it is applicable for many different careers.  

Aaron’s background includes various roles in organizational effectiveness and human resources. Whether helping the development of individuals or leading large-scale corporate transformations, Aaron brings his passion of IO Psychology to the classroom.  

“I believe that the focus on psychological wellness is a change that will have lasting impacts on the way employees are treated in the workplace. Over the last few years, many organizations have begun to speak more openly and frequently about the importance of mental health and have explored what new and different resources can be brought to the table to best support employees when they might need it,” Aaron explained about the importance of IO Psychology, especially in a world of workplace changes, “Through the course of the pandemic, employees have also demonstrated that mental health needs to be prioritized and supported by their employers. Employee expectations have shifted meaningfully, and I don’t believe that the focus on mental health in the workplace is a trend that will fade.” 

Heather established herself as a professor at Anna Maria College, a year before her husband joined her as faculty. Prior to teaching, Heather was a human resources and talent acquisition specialist who switched careers and became a mental health counselor. Heather became fascinated with IO Psychology during her undergraduate and graduate studies.  

The pandemic has forever changed corporations and the way people conduct business. Hybrid/remote options, mental health struggles, and a focus on employees are some of the outcomes that came out of the international crisis. As businesses try new and creative solutions in their workplaces, IO Psychology has risen in demand. 

“Where change in the workplace is normally gradual and deliberate, the COVID-19 pandemic brought about forced and immediate change. What we didn’t realize early on is that this swift and unprecedented change would cause a tectonic shift in the foundations of organizations around the world,” Heather said, “We now recognize that organizational change management professionals can offer a great deal of value that affects the bottom line.” 

This is not the first time that Heather and Aaron have worked together, a decade ago they both owned and operated a store and e-commerce business, meaning that they also understand the perspective from a business owner’s point of view as well. Heather said that while her and her husband have vastly different working styles, they “balance each other” out.  

Heather and Aaron do not believe that the skyrocketing demand for IO Psychology is not just a trend that will fade away. Instead, IO Psychology is here to stay and students with this degree will be leaders in a world where the workplace is radically evolving.  

“I believe that we’re going to see a palpable divide between organizations that prioritize employee wellness and those who resist it. Many people are realizing that they no longer need to suffer in toxic work environments, so they leave, and organizations that prioritize the wellbeing of their employees attract that talent,” Heather said about the demand of IO Psychology, “I truly believe that the decision to prioritize employee wellbeing will continue to be a sink or swim choice for organizations for the foreseeable future.” 

For more information about the IO Psychology graduate degree visit: