Online PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Organizational development, training, and coaching are all crucial components to any successful business, which is why the study of the industrial/organizational psychology utilizes psychology methods to better manage a business. Online PhD programs in industrial/organizational psychology provide students with an advanced knowledge about this area of psychology, uncovering how the workplace is affected by attitudes, motivation, and behavior. The online PhD in industrial/organizational psychology program also aims to enhance a student's research skills and knowledge when examining human functions in the workplace. The top online PhD degrees in industrial/organizational psychology situate a student with industry and academic real-world scenarios, which is essential in order to be able to apply psychological theories and concepts in the workplace.

An online industrial/organizational psychology PhD's total completion takes anywhere from 4 to 7 years depending on program of study, enrollment status, and individual progress. Generally, these types of programs require students to complete 64 to 96 credit hours, depending on whether or not one has a master's degree. Along with taking the necessary credit hours, online doctoral programs in industrial/organizational psychology require students to conduct their own research, practice in real businesses, write dissertations, consistently score high on exams, and add to the industrial/organizational psychology canon with original scholarly dissertations.

About Online PhD Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The best online doctoral degrees in industrial/organizational psychology require students to concentrate on the psychological theories as well as the application of those theories in a business. The ability to understand the theories and generate a beneficial report is thoroughly studied in online doctorate degrees in industrial/organizational psychology. Online programs may differ from on-campus programs regarding work load, as online students may experience a greater number of assignments due to the fact that they are not attending classes. It is not uncommon for students to be required to conduct research, submit papers, and participate in discussions on a weekly basis. To get a better idea of what online PhD programs in industrial/organizational psychology would entail, here are a few courses required each year for the program at the University of Phoenix.

Year One:

  • Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology. This course will teach you about the main components of the I/O program including organization development, employee performance, human resource management, and the role of research.
  • Personnel Psychology. In this course you will learn about the different processes used by psychologists to recruit, place, and develop employees, as well as the role they play when it comes to workplace issues and problem behavior.
  • Social Psychology. You will learn about aspects of social psychology in this course such as the social self, group dynamics, inter-group relations, and pro-social behavior.

Year Two:

  • Organizational Theory and Design. You will learn about the classical, neoclassical, and systems theories used to study organizations as well as design issues related to organizational and departmental structure.
  • Personality Theories. In this class you will learn about personality theories such as psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, affective, and humanistic and how they are applied in a work environment. You will also learn about types of personality assessments, utility of instrumentation, and personality disorders.
  • Research Methods and Statistics. You will learn about psychological research design in this class, as well as how to apply it in Industrial/Organizational research for problem solving purposes.

Year Three:

  • Approaches to Research: Quantitative/Qualitative. In this course you will learn about research methodologies and how they can be applied to research questions. You will also learn how to develop problem statements, purpose statements, and hypothesis for the purpose of identifying research topics.
  • Research Constructs and Design. You will learn how to develop a dissertation concept paper and create an initial working draft.
  • Measurement of Constructs. You will learn how to apply aspects of testing and measurement to dissertation issues for the purpose of application to your initial working draft.

Year Four:

  • Research Proposal. In this course you will learn about issues in ethical research and human research training, as well as complete your dissertation proposal.
  • Dissertation. During enrollment in this course you will work with a committee for the purpose of finalizing initial dissertation chapters, submit a research proposal for approval, and collect and analyze data for dissertation.
  • Dissertation Defense. Under the guidance of a mentor, you will conduct an oral defense of your dissertation and prepare your dissertation to submit to the university for approval.

Most online doctorate programs in industrial/organizational psychology require students to pass a comprehensive exam after they have completed all required coursework. These content-based examinations may be written, oral, or both, and require students to utilize their knowledge of psychological concepts and issues to answer questions through the application of relevant theory, principle, and research. Often, examinations cover areas of industrial/organizational psychology such as personnel psychology, organizational psychology, psychometrics, and quantitative methods. The dissertation is an important part of the PhD program as scholarly research is a vital aspect of psychology. Students will examine ethical issues within the field of industrial/organizational psychology and be trained in human subject research. They will also learn how to apply this research in the dissertation process and aspects such as composition, research, analysis, and writing. Students will be required to develop their own original dissertation where they will conduct independent research that will make a significant contribution to the study of industrial/organizational psychology.

Before students begin composing their own dissertation, they will be required to submit a research proposal for approval by the academic review board. A number of required courses will likely be dedicated to the development of the dissertation where students collect data, conduct research, analyze findings, and compose content. Students will also be required to complete an oral defense of their dissertation and finally submit the study to their university for approval. Students' dissertations must be related to topics related to industrial/organizational psychology. Here are a few recent dissertations from students at the University of Minnesota; “Structure, Measurement, and Outcomes of Creativity at Work”; ” Ethical Misconduct of Senior Leaders: Counterproductive Work Behavior at the Top”; and “An Investigation of Workplace Supervisors' Use of Aggressive Humor.”

Value and Criticisms of a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Just like anything else, there are both positives and negatives associated with an online PhD industrial/organizational psychology program. First, one positive element of this particular online PhD program is that virtual instruction makes it easier for students to work while earning a degree. A student receiving an accredited online industrial/organizational psychology doctorate while also being employed is at an advantage in the highly competitive job market. Those who have both professional and academic experience on their resume are more likely to have better employment opportunities come graduation as they have already begun to establish a career path and possess the skills and abilities necessary to succeed in an occupation.

On the other hand, there are also negative effects that virtual instruction can have on the independent learner. Considering that industrial/organizational psychology is based predominantly on real-life scenarios, an online program may not provide students with the hand-on experience that they need to fully grasp important concepts. Additionally, psychological workplace research is saturated with scenarios based on real life where research skills are sharpened while students apply psychological assessments in PhD programs in industrial/organizational psychology. Students who are solely pursuing an online education and therefore are not participating in a more social educational environment may miss out on the in-person benefits that only learning within group and conducting research in an actual lab can provide.

Application & Admission Requirements

Admission into an accredited program for an industrial/organizational psychology doctorate degree online can be highly competitive and applicants must meet rigorous admission requirements to ensure they have the skills and abilities necessary to successfully earn a doctorate. Along with a completed graduate application, applicants will have to submit their official undergraduate and graduate transcripts in order to verify previous education, coursework, and GPA. A master's degree is normally required for those interested in enrolling in an industrial/organizational psychology PhD programs online.

A student’s bachelor's or master's degree should be in one of the following areas: Bachelor in Psychology; Master in Psychology; or Master in industrial/organizational psychology. GPA requirements will vary depending on program, although most PhD programs have high standards and a minimum of 3.5 or higher is common. Even though there may be no formal requirements when it comes to previous coursework, it is highly beneficial for applicants to have undergraduate experience in introductory courses concerning statistics, research methods, social psychology, and organizational psychology. Research experience is also highly valuable, especially in the area of industrial/organizational psychology. Applicants will also likely be required to submit GRE scores, letters of recommendation, and a personal statement detailing professional career goals.

Career Options & Job Market

An online industrial/organizational psychology PhD opens a student to a diverse range of careers, such as business consultation, academic research, human factors, worker productivity, and human-computer interaction. Earning an online doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology can qualify someone to work in consulting within an assortment of industries, a government position, or in the academic arena to research for a college or university. Distinguished research skills and application methods are in demand by both industries and academics to improve their operations. Online doctorate programs in industrial/organizational psychology can lead to a variety of job titles including: Human Practice Manager, Professor, Research Consultant/Senior Research Consultant, Behavioral Analyst, and Selection Systems Manager.

Also, a top online PhD in industrial/organizational psychology grants a graduate prestige over other job seekers in a highly competitive job market. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of psychologists is projected to increase 12 percent by 2018. More specifically, the employment of industrial/organizational psychologists is expected to increase by 26 percent, as there is a growing demand for psychologists to improve worker productivity and employee retention.

Where to Find Information

How to Get Funding

The cost of an online doctorate in industrial/organizational psychology can widely vary depending on institution of higher education. For example, the PhD in industrial/ organizational psychology program at Capella University charges students $470 per credit resulting in average tuition cost of $2,550 per quarter. As Capella's program consists of 120 quarter credits students are looking at a total program cost of $56,400. While tuition prices at the University of Phoenix can differ depending on location, in general those enrolled in a doctoral psychology program are charged $770 per credit and an electronic materials fee of $125 per course. Overall, this adds up to tuition of $75,460 and fees of $4,083 with total cost of program equaling $79,543. But before you decide that the cost of a doctoral program is simply too high, you should know there are many ways to get funding for your educational endeavors.

  • American Psychological Association. Dedicated to advancing the field of psychology, the APA and affiliate organizations offer a variety of grants, scholarships, and awards to those interested in enrolling in programs concerning the psychological practice and research. Here you can search for funding according to award topic area, recipient type, sponsor types, and award type.
  • SIOP Graduate Student Scholarships. The Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology offers scholarships to graduate students involved in doctoral study in industrial/organizational psychology. These scholarships are purposed to aid students in funding their dissertation work and are awarded on an annual basis.
  • Human Resources Research Organization Professional Development Programs. Each year this organization offers the Meredith P. Crawford Fellowship in I-O Psychology to a doctoral student who excels in research and wishes to advance the human resources field.

Essential Advice

  • Begin participating in research opportunities as an undergraduate student. This can often be accomplished through independent research projects, honors theses, and independent study credits with faculty members. Not only will this experience be a valuable asset on your graduate school application, it will also allow you to get to build relationships with faculty and graduate students. Having working relationships with faculty members is sure to pay off come time to submit letters of recommendation. Those members who have seen your academic performance and research skills first hand are sure to produce strong and detailed letters. Participating in research also gives you the opportunity to work with graduate students who can provide you with information concerning life as a doctoral student.
  • Gain some experience within a corporate environment before enrolling in an online PhD industrial/organizational psychology program. It's important to understand how the business world functions, learn about employee roles, and observe social interactions in the workplace. Once you have a working knowledge of real life situations and corporate structure you will be better able to apply it in clinical research.
  • Find a specialization within the industrial/organizational psychology field so that you will be knowledgeable of a research area when it comes time to choose a dissertation topic. Common specializations to consider include consumer psychology, business consultation, human factors, worker productivity, organizational behavior, and human-computer interaction.