Online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology

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Industrial Organizational Psych Doctorate

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Professionals in the industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology field apply psychological insights to motivate employees and address workplace issues. I-O psychologists often help with organizational processes such as hiring and training.

These professionals can work in various industries, including management, marketing, and human resources. Many graduates with a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology become licensed psychologists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), I-O psychologists earn a median annual salary of $92,880. The BLS projects employment for psychologists to increase 3% from 2019-2029.

This page explores common benefits of earning an industrial-organizational doctorate degree, along with common program requirements and careers for graduates.

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I-O Psychology PhD Questions


  • How long is a Ph.D. program?

    Most Ph.D. programs require about 60 credits and take 4-6 years to complete. However, accelerated programs may require less time. Program length depends on factors including program structure and practicum and dissertation requirements. This, of course, is in addition to an undergrad I-O degree or general psychology degree program as well as a master’s degree.


  • What can I do with a Ph.D in industrial-organizational psychology?

    An industrial-organizational psychology degree can lead to various careers, including psychologist, human resources manager, organizational development specialist, and behavior analyst.


  • Do industrial-organizational psychologists make good money?

    According to BLS data, psychologists earn a median salary of $80,370 per year. However, I-O psychologists working in industry often earn higher salaries.


  • Where do industrial-organizational psychologists work?

    Professionals in the field can work for nonprofits. Others secure positions in industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, information technology, and education.


Why Get a Degree in Industrial Organizational Psychology?

Earning a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology can lead to many professional benefits. Students typically develop niche expertise and access professional networking opportunities. Graduates often benefit from diverse career prospects and increased earning potential. According to March 2021 PayScale data, professionals with a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology earn an average salary of $103,980 per year.

Degree-seekers develop specialized knowledge of human behavior and organizational development, which graduates can use to select, hire, train, and motivate employees. Doctorate-holders can apply these insights to careers as talent management specialists, professional development leaders, optimization advisors, and psychology professors.

Ph.D. students may qualify for fellowships, which typically award tuition remission and a stipend in exchange for teaching or research work.

How Much Does an Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Cost?

The cost of earning a degree varies based on factors including location, school, program, and financial aid eligibility. According to data from the College Board, the average cost of in-state tuition at public four-year schools was $10,560 for the 2020-21 academic year. Out-of-state tuition rates and tuition at private schools often costs more than twice that figure.

Learners searching for the most affordable industrial-organizational psychology degree often choose public in-state institutions. Ph.D. students may also qualify for research or teaching fellowships that include tuition remission and a stipend. Additionally, learners can apply for scholarships, federal grants, and loans to offset the cost of earning a degree.

Some schools offer in-state tuition rates to all online students, regardless of residency. Distance learning can also minimize or eliminate costs associated with housing and commuting. Many online students continue working while pursuing their doctorate.

Calculating the Cost of a College Degree

To estimate the cost of a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology, prospective learners can consult this college affordability calculator. Users enter current financial information, such as cost of living and income, along with estimates regarding financial aid and expenses. The affordability calculator uses this information to generate an estimate for the user’s educational costs.

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How Much Do Industrial-Organizational Psychology Majors Make?

According to PayScale salary data from March 2021, industrial-organizational psychology doctorate-holders earn an average salary of $103,980 per year. Many graduates of doctoral programs in the field become licensed I-O psychologists, who earn a median annual salary of $92,880, according to the BLS. Graduates can also work as consultants, managers, human resources professionals, and training and development experts.

Salaries vary considerably based on employer, industry, and employee credentials. According to BLS data, training and development specialists earn a median annual salary of $61,210, while training and development managers earn a median salary of $113,350 per year. After gaining professional experience, doctorate-holders often pursue high-paying careers in consulting and management. Graduates can also become human resources managers, who earn a median salary of $116,720 per year.

Courses in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Industrial psychology Ph.D. programs typically require about 60 credits. Learners take core courses in areas such as research methods, leadership, and personnel psychology. Ph.D. students often specialize in a field such as organizational development and management, performance assessment and recognition, hiring and recruitment, or talent development and training.

Ph.D. students also complete a dissertation, which requires advanced research, analysis, and writing skills. While curricula vary by Ph.D. program, doctoral students in the field often complete the following courses.

This core course explores the applications of social psychology theory and research to industrial challenges. Learners prepare to address issues related to group dynamics, hiring, morale, and workplace communication. Students learn how to increase organizational effectiveness by improving the understanding and treatment of employees. This course is ideal for current and aspiring managers.

An increasingly important topic in today’s world, this course focuses on strategies and practices for motivating and overseeing virtual teams. Participants explore challenges specific to virtual and international settings. Topics include leadership, scheduling, motivation, and communication.

Ph.D. programs typically culminate in a dissertation, an original and heavily researched project that students complete and defend before graduating. Ph.D. students receive guidance, feedback, and approval from a committee of faculty advisors. However, learners complete dissertation research and writing largely independently. A dissertation can take several years to finish.

Licensure for Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

A Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology meets or exceeds degree requirements for most professions in the field. However, candidates for psychology licensure must often fulfill additional criteria set by their state’s board. Graduates of I-O psychology programs can also pursue professional credentials that align with particular career paths, such as consulting.

Licensed Psychologist


Most states require practicing industrial-organizational psychologists to hold licensure. To sit for the licensure examination, candidates need a Psy.D. or Ph.D. in psychology and 1,500-6,000 supervised experience hours. Licensure candidates must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and some states require a jurisprudence exam.

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Board Certified Specialist in Organizational and Business Consulting


The American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology administers this certification for I-O, human factor, and consulting psychology professionals. Candidates must demonstrate competency in at least three areas through relevant internship experience, postdoctoral experience, continuing education, or an oral examination.

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Certified Employee Assistance Professional


The International Employee Assistance Professionals Association administers this certification. Candidates need at least 1,000 hours of work experience in an employee-assistance setting, completed over at least one year. Applicants must also complete an ethics course and orientation, along with professional development hours in three knowledge domains.

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Scholarships for Industrial Organizational Psychology

Undergraduate and graduate students can apply for scholarships based on academic merit, financial need, and identity. Scholarships are often competitive, with various funding amounts. These awards do not require repayment. The list below features a few scholarships for graduate students pursuing an industrial-organizational psychology degree.

  • Leslie W. Joyce and Paul W. Thayer Graduate Fellowship in I-O Psychology

    Who Can Apply: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology awards this scholarship to student affiliates. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to the field through professional experience or a personal statement. Candidates must be pursuing a Ph.D. with a specialization in selection, placement, training, or development.

    Amount: $10,000 annually for up to two years

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  • George C. Thornton III Graduate Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology offers this scholarship to doctoral students who embody a scientist-practitioner approach to organizational psychology. Candidates must be a student affiliate and hold an I-O psychology master’s degree. Candidates must be enrolled in an approved Ph.D. program and demonstrate achievement in the field.

    Amount: $3,000

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  • Benjamin Schneider Scholarship

    Who Can Apply: Full-time Ph.D. students from ethnic minority backgrounds can apply for this scholarship from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Applicants must attend a regionally accredited school and have an approved dissertation plan. This scholarship helps alleviate dissertation-completion expenses. Individuals who have already defended their dissertation cannot qualify for this award.

    Amount: $3,000

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Online PhD in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

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