Doctorate Degrees in Industrial Organization Psychology
Industrial Organizational Psychology PhD Programs prepare students to apply psychology expertise to workplace settings and issues. Courses may discuss a broad range of issues. Examples include fostering healthy workplace environments, increasing productivity, improving morale, what constitutes effective training and professional development, psychology research methods, and the essentials of organizational behavior. Unlike some other types of psychology doctoral programs, IO Psychology doctorates may not be considered entry-level. These programs either be applied—meaning the program is designed to encourage use in the field or in clinical settings—or research focused. While in most cases, applying students would need to demonstrate a relevant academic background (e.g. a masters in psychology), professional experience might not always be required.
IO Psychology PhD Program FormatsWhen choosing your preferred occupational psychology PhD program, one important part of that decision is the delivery format and how it fits into your life, non-academic responsibilities, and learning styles. While a spectrum of options may be available, the two basic formats are as follows.
- Online PhD Programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology: Online programs deliver most or all courses using online learning modules. Beyond that, delivery format could vary considerably, ranging from video conferencing and streamed lectures to asynchronous instruction. Online IO Psych programs have the benefit of being somewhat flexible, accessible from any compatible internet-enabled device. As such, these programs may be attractive to students who prefer to study independently, as well as those balancing their doctoral study with an ongoing career.
- On Campus IO Psychology Doctoral Programs: Earning your PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology on campus may have a few unique benefits. For one, studying on a graduate school campus means that, as a student, you’d have access to the personal support of your program. For example, you might collaborate with your fellow psychology students, develop relationships with your faculty and peers, and become a part of your campus community. On campus doctoral programs may be offered either full or part time, and may also offer flexible scheduling and some online learning.
Types of IO Psychology Doctoral ProgramsIndustrial Organizational Psychology Doctoral Programs generally confer one of two types of degrees upon successful completion. While individual schools may vary, the type of degree earned often reflects the nature of the curriculum and the types of skills honed by it.
- PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology: The broader category of the two, IO Psychology PhD programs are often—though not always—research focused. In other words, they tend to help to prepare students to perform scholarly research regarding industrial organizational psychology, to inform its application in the field. Some other programs may still be professional in nature, however, helping experienced non-clinical professionals develop leadership, management and organizational skills.
- PsyD in Industrial Organizational Psychology: In most cases, PsyD Programs (which stands for Doctor of Psychology) are clinical. That means they tend to focus on applied psychology, and may be designed to support students in seeking or maintaining certification or licensure. As such, these programs are less likely to focus on research, and more likely to focus on how one might use that research in the workplace.
What to Expect in Industrial Organizational Psychology PhD ProgramsIndustrial Organizational Psychology PhD Programs focus on the psychology of the workplace. Depending on the school, these programs may go by any of several names, including occupational psychology. Like other branches of psychology, organizational psychology PhD programs may take any of several approaches to the material. These include programs centered on research and scholarship, clinical psychology practice, and organizational leadership roles. These approaches are reflected in the training model and the curriculum.
Industrial Organizational Psychology PhD Program Training ModelsIndustrial organizational psychology PhD programs, like other psychology programs, might adhere to one of a two basic training models. While both of these share essential concepts—such as the value of empirical study and research-based practices—how they go about it tends to vary, as do the typical paths of students graduating from such programs.
- The Scientist-Practitioner Model is also known as the Boulder Model. Many Industrial-Organizational Psychology programs fall in this category. The goal of Scientist-Practitioner programs is twofold: to help clinical or practicing psychologists use research to inform their practice, and to help research scientists guide their work according to the needs and reality of clinical practice. As such, these types of programs often enable students to gain experience in both areas.
- The Practitioner-Scholar Model, sometimes called the Vail model, is more stringently focused on clinical practice. Programs adhering to these models often confer a PsyD rather than a PhD. The goal is to help current and aspiring psychologists understand and utilize empirical research to guide their practice in the field.
Example Industrial Organizational Psychology PhD CurriculumIO Psychology Doctoral Programs often build on prior related education. Often, this would be a masters degree in organizational psychology or another related field, and in some cases practical experience. As such, the courses you attend in a doctoral program are typically advanced and build off a certain amount of presumed expertise. In most cases, the curriculum would made up of research methods; psychology concepts, theories and knowledge; clinical practice, and administrative skills for the workplace. The amount of time spent on each may vary by training model or school preference. Below are 13 examples of the types of courses you’re likely to encounter in IO Psych doctoral programs.
- Psychology Theory & Practice
- Quantitative Design & Analysis for Psychology Research
- Multivariate Statistics
- Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
- Principles of Industrial Organizational Psychology
- Psychology of Leadership
- IO Psychology Practices in Personnel Management and Human Resources
- Program Evaluation
- Business Practices for Psychologists
- Testing and Assessment in the Workplace
- Group Dynamics
- Psychology of Motivation
- Organizational Development
Additional RequirementsIn addition to required and elective coursework, earning a PhD in industrial organizational psychology is likely to have a few other requirements. These often take place toward the end of the program and act as a final prerequisite for graduation. Specific graduation projects and exams are likely to vary by program. That said, here’s a breakdown of the types of things you might see.
- Doctoral Dissertation: A doctoral dissertation is a lengthy original research project. Unlike a master’s thesis, which typically demonstrates fluency with current and historical research in the field, a dissertation generally aims to contribute new thoughts, ideas and evidence to help advance the field of industrial-organizational psychology. Often, a dissertation involves presenting and defending one’s findings, in addition to writing the paper itself.
- Residency or Other Field Experience: Especially if you’re attending a program focused on professional practice, field experience might be an important element. This could be a residency, if your program is focused on clinical practice, or something similar to an internship. In some cases, field experience might be required in conjunction with a final project, like a capstone.
- Capstone Project: At the doctoral level, a capstone project might be somewhat less common than a dissertation. However, some programs—professionally focused ones in particular—might still use it. In many cases, capstones are research-oriented like dissertations. The primary difference between the two is that a capstone often aims to demonstrate specific skills as they might be applied in the field—investigating and proposing a solution to a real-life issue in the workplace, for example.
- Culmination Exam: In addition to a project or presentation, some programs may also require students to pass a final culmination exam, demonstrating their knowledge and understanding of all the concepts and skills covered throughout the program.
IO Psychology Program AccreditationWhile accreditation is often seen as an important factor in choosing psychology doctoral programs, the APA only accredits clinical, counseling, and school psychology programs. That means that programmatic accreditation is not typically available for industrial-organizational psychology doctoral programs. Instead, industrial organizational psychology students might choose to apply to doctoral programs offered by regionally or nationally accredited universities.
How to Apply to an IO Psychology Doctoral ProgramThe prerequisites to apply to an industrial organizational psychology PhD program may vary considerably, depending on the target students, the goal of the program, the individual school, and other factors. That said, below are some of the elements you might need.
- Master’s Degree from an Accredited Institution: Some institutions may require you to have earned a masters in a related field (e.g. IO Psychology). Others might be open to students from all different fields, provided they can demonstrate relevant practical and academic experience.
- Transcripts Reflecting a Minimum 3.0 GPA: Many IO psychology doctoral programs require a minimum GPA to be considered for their programs. This figure may vary considerably, depending how competitive the school is. A minimum GPA of 3.0 could be a reliable rule of thumb to start with. However, make sure you follow up with the specific programs you’re interested in to find out about their GPA requirements.
- GRE or GMAT scores: Some doctoral programs may ask to see GRE or GMAT scores in an application package. Some programs may have minimum scores they’re looking for, whereas others might be more flexible.
- Professional Resume with Relevant Experience: Some doctoral programs may ask to see an up-to-date resume, potentially with professional references. This generally is used to indicate relevant professional experience, which the program’s curriculum may build from.
- Research Experience: Because the majority of industrial organizational psychology PhD programs are research-oriented, you may have to demonstrate prior research experience. For some schools, this might be something as straightforward as a sample of your work (such as your master’s thesis).
PhD Industrial Organizational Psychology Salary & Career InfoIndustrial organizational psychologists may occupy a variety of unique roles. Unlike clinical psychologists, they often operate in corporate or workplace settings, using their knowledge of psychology research and practice to help an origination function effectively and to encourage employee satisfaction. Some example careers that might be sought by Industrial Organizational Psychology PhDs include:
- Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $92,880 (2019 Median Annual Salary per BLS)
- Training and Development Manager: $113,350 (2019 Median Annual Salary per BLS)
- Top Executive: $104,690 (2019 Median Annual Salary per BLS)
- Management Consultant: $85,260 (2016 Median Annual Salary per BLS)
- Postsecondary Teachers: $79,540 (2019 Median Annual Salary per BLS)
Certification & LicensurePsychology licensure is not always a concern for industrial-organizational psychologists, as many professional roles may not require it. However, if clinical licensure is something you’re interested in, make sure to follow up with your school of choice to learn more. Licensure requirements typically vary by state.
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