Doctoral Programs in Organizational Psychology: An Overview

Although organizational psychology is not usually offered as a Ph.D., you can enroll in a similar program. Find out what you will learn in these programs and what you can do with your degree.

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Essential Information

Organizational psychology is most often studied in conjunction with industrial psychology, and the discipline of industrial-organizational psychology may also be known as work or business psychology. The most common degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology. In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree and submit a resume.

Students in these programs learn to work with organizations and human resources departments to promote the well-being and success of employees and employers. They learn to identify problematic or opportunistic situations within work systems and design and implement solutions. They are also trained to balance organizational structures and goals with employees' abilities, responsibilities, needs and career aspirations. Over the course of these programs, they must pass written and oral comprehensive exams, complete fieldwork assignments, fulfill an internship requirement, conduct independent research, and defend a final dissertation.

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Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial and Organizational Psychology Degree Program

In these programs, students learn about human attitudes and behaviors in the workplace. Students can expect to study psychological theories, the history of I/O psychology, contemporary I/O practices and research methods. They also learn study techniques for improving work productivity and streamlining leadership changes. Through hands-on experience, students acquire a wide range of skills, including professional conduct, administration, employee assessment, hiring, training, consultation, conflict resolution and organizational planning. Common course topics include:

  • Appraising human performance
  • Personality theory
  • Job analysis and placement
  • Leadership and motivation
  • Teamwork dynamics
  • Workplace stress

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

Graduates can find employment in government agencies, industries, research institutes, consulting firms, academic institutions or non-profit organizations. They may choose careers in academia, market research, human resources management, consulting, management, or education. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of industrial-organizational psychologists was expected to increase 19% between 2014 and 2024. The median annual wage for I/O psychologists was $77,350 in May 2015, according to the BLS (

Overall, Ph.D. programs in I/O psychology combine psychology studies with business management training. After graduation, students can pursue employment in industry or academia.

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