Industrial-Organizational Psychology Ph.D. Programs Guide | (2024)

Are you considering a doctoral degree in psychology? You may be interested in learning about a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology.

I-O psychologists focus on how employees behave at work. They aim to improve the work environment, including employee performance, satisfaction, and safety in the workplace.

Explore degree requirements, career information, and valuable resources for prospective psychology doctoral candidates.

Popular Online Psychology Doctoral Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Why Get a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

Industrial-organizational psychologists can find employment opportunities in many different organizations and workplace settings. A Ph.D. prepares you to pursue research, academic, and consultancy roles. You may also pursue licensure from state psychology boards.

A Ph.D. often leads to higher wages. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the median pay for psychologists is $92,740 annually. In comparison, Industrial-organizational psychologists earn a median annual salary of $147,420 nationwide. The top 90% earn $151,880 yearly, according to the BLS.

Example Curriculum

A school's course offerings can depend on its faculty, research focus, and resources. As a result, I-O psychology graduate degree program courses tend to vary between institutions.

However, a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology typically includes the following common components.


Ph.D. students must complete graduate I-O psychology coursework in a variety of areas, including research methods and statistics, ethics and professional issues, and behavioral science. Required courses build on existing knowledge and prepare learners for the next steps toward graduation, like practic*ms, dissertations, and internships.


Practic*ms allow students to observe professionals working in their field and specialty area. Students often act as observer-participants and help with daily activities as their supervisors deem appropriate.

Practicum-related conditions and graduation requirements vary among schools and programs, often depending on candidates' experience levels. Many students begin practicum work in their second year of study.


Most Ph.D. programs expect candidates to produce a dissertation or an extensive written document based on original ideas and research. A dissertation demonstrates that the student has mastered advanced concepts and can contribute to their field by conducting meaningful research.

While a dissertation committee helps keep candidates on track throughout the process, a dissertation is a solitary effort requiring stamina and discipline.


Involving less supervision than practic*ms, internships are similar to regular jobs. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology must often complete an internship.

Some learners complete their internship requirements during their third year, while others wait until the fifth or sixth year. Contact the program's dissertation advisor or committee if you have any questions about internships.

What Can You Do With a Ph.D. in Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

Psychologists with a Ph.D. in industrial-organizational psychology apply their specialized knowledge to several fields, including:

  • Human resources
  • Marketing
  • Administration
  • Management
  • Sales
  • Post-secondary education
  • Research

Armed with a versatile skill set, graduates can pursue diverse career paths working as:

  • Professional development leaders
  • Talent management specialists
  • Behavioral analysts
  • HR organizational development specialists
  • Industrial relations specialists
  • Optimization advisors
  • Professors
  • Research Psychologist
  • Consultants

Depending on your training and area of specialization, an industrial-organizational psychology degree can open doors to many exciting job opportunities.

Average Annual Salary
Source: BLS

Where Do Industrial-Organizational Psychologists Work?

These professionals work in locations such as corporate offices, businesses, research organizations, marketing firms, consulting firms, human resources departments, and universities.

Earning a Ph.D. vs. a Psy.D.

Doctoral programs in industrial-organizational psychology confer either a Ph.D. or a doctor of psychology (Psy.D.). These programs differ in focus, course content, and training methods.

The Ph.D. is ideal for research-focused students seeking careers at research institutions and universities. The Psy.D. best serves those interested in working with organizations.

The primary difference between a Ph.D. and Psy.D. in psychology is that a Ph.D. focuses on psychology theories and research, while a Psy.D. emphasizes practical skills in working with clients.

A Ph.D. program's admission requirements usually include:

  • A master's degree

  • A high GPA (e.g., 3.6 or 3.7)

  • High GRE scores (e.g., 302 on the revised GRE test)

  • Essays, interviews, and letters of recommendation

The program length for Ph.D. programs is usually between 5-8 years. Coursework includes a focus on teaching and research methods and statistics. Regarding financial aid for psychology students, Ph.D. programs will likely waive tuition and offer a stipend for research assistance and teaching endeavors.

Psy.D. admission requirements commonly include:

  • A master's degree

  • A minimum 3.0 GPA

  • Verbal GRE score of 150 or higher; quantitative GRE score of 141 or higher

  • Letters of recommendation, essays, and interviews

A Psy.D. or Ph.D. program takes about 4-6 years to complete. Coursework includes a focus on applying psychology in practice with groups and individuals.

Many Psy.D. programs don't waive tuition or pay a stipend. Psy.D. students typically accumulate more debt than those who attend Ph.D. programs.

Learn more about industrial-organizational psychology degrees.

Licensure and Board Certification

Most states require licensure to practice as an I-O psychologist, but the requirements differ among states. Check the state's licensing board for specific requirements.

The American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology, an American Board of Professional Psychology member, offers an I-O psychology board certification. Certification is optional for industrial-organizational psychologists to practice, but each state has different requirements. The steps to getting certified include:

  • Earn a doctoral degree, such as a Psy.D., from a program accredited by the American Psychology Association (APA).
  • Complete the mandatory APA-accredited internship/work experience hours.
  • Hold a license to practice as a psychologist.
  • Submit a practice sample.
  • Pass an oral examination.

Professional Organizations

Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology

SIOP members enjoy access to online research publications, business resources, job listings, and fellowship opportunities. SIOP's website features a special section for students, which lists resources like internship and entry-level job openings, training program information, and career development workshop opportunities.

Emotional Intelligence Consortium

Founded in 1996, the Consortium strives to uphold high standards of practice for professionals studying emotional intelligence in the workplace. While students and professionals may apply for membership, applicants must demonstrate a record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals. However, the Consortium's online resources, including personal training sessions and networking events, are freely accessible.

Society of Psychologists in Leadership

SPL is a membership-based professional society of students, psychologists, and researchers exploring managerial, executive, and consulting roles in the workplace. Members can participate in career development and mentoring services, conferences, and networking opportunities.

Page last reviewed on February 23, 2024

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Industrial-Organizational Psychology Ph.D. Programs Guide | (2024)
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