Orientation: Psychological well-being among master’s students is seen as a contributing
factor towards having a meaningful, enjoyable and productive experience as a student.
Research purpose: The purpose of this study was to provide a qualitative description of the
psychological well-being experiences of first-year students in a part-time coursework master’s
degree in Industrial and Organisational Psychology (IOP) in order to foster an empathetic
understanding of their experiences.
Motivation for the study: The understanding of their master’s students’ psychological wellbeing
experiences will assist university IOP departments in facilitating the appropriate
psychological containment to students and the optimisation of their resilience towards
meaningfully completing their first year and perhaps also their master’s degree.
Research design, approach and method: Qualitative research was conducted within a
hermeneutic interpretive stance. Data were gathered from a focus group with 10 conveniently
chosen participants. Thematic content analysis provided eight themes, which were interpreted
and linked to the literature on psychological well-being.
Main findings: Student distress caused by job demands leads to languishing and feeling
overwhelmed. In contrast, student eustress resulting from job resources leads to flourishing,
consisting of self-efficacy, locus of control and optimism.
Practical implications: University IOP departments can use the information towards
understanding their master’s students’ psychological well-being experiences, which could
assist in the students’ successful and timeous completion of their studies.
Contribution: The study contributes to the literature on master’s students’ real negative and
positive experiences and psychological well-being, which university departments often deny
or dismiss as idiosyncratic.