Online PhD Programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs are a flexible alternative for industrial and organizational psychology professionals to enhance their skills and knowledge outside the traditional classroom.

PhD in Organizational Psychology Online

These programs may leverage prior education and experience in the field, and focus on advanced psychology research methods and analysis, and how the resulting data might be used to inform strategic leadership decisions.

why earn a doctorate in IO psychology - online phd in organizational psychology information

Earning a doctorate in IO Psychology online, you might focus on a wide range of topics, depending on your program of choice, experience, and your selected research area. Some example areas of interest include workplace dynamics, productivity, employee morale, training and development, organizational behavior, and more. Programs may also go by several different names, including doctorate in business psychology programs, and occupational psychology doctorate programs.

Why Choose an Online PhD in Organizational Psychology?

Earning your PhD in industrial organizational psychology online could be the flexible option you need to balance your studies and an ongoing career. Students could access courses in an online course module from their own compatible computer, laptop or other internet-enabled device, provided there is a stable connection. That means coursework could be completed on the go in convenient times and places. That means you wouldn’t necessarily need to give up or scale back on your career to continue your studies.

Plus, attending an online PhD in organizational psychology program alongside your career means you could put those lessons into practice right away. This could potentially help to contextualize learning and support your professional efforts throughout the duration of your doctoral program.

Bear in mind, however, that not all online programs are 100% online. Some requirements may need to be completed in person. This could include presenting and defending a doctoral dissertation or field work.

Types of Online Industrial Organizational Psychology Doctorates

Several different types of online occupational psychology doctorate programs may be available for you to consider. They may confer one of several different degree types. In some cases, the differences between degrees may be nominal, or inconsistent between individual programs. However, generally speaking, the type of degree issued by a program is reflective of the types of skills prioritized by the curriculum, and/or the experience of the students who enroll.

Three potential types of IO psychology doctorates include:

  • PhD Organizational Psychology Online: This may be one of the most common program types you encounter. Organizational Psychology PhD programs are often research-oriented, focusing on scholarship and psychology research methodology. However, some PhD programs, by contrast, may still be professional in nature and focus on application of research data in the field.
  • Online IO Psychology PsyD Programs: Somewhat less commonly offered in IO psychology than other related fields, PsyD programs are typically clinical in nature. In Organizational Psychology, these programs may also focus on application of research findings in a workplace environment to achieve certain goal (e.g. improved morale, increased productivity).
  • Online DBA in Industrial Organizational Psychology: Considered the doctoral equivalent of an MBA, Industrial Organizational Psychology DBA programs generally place more emphasis on management, leadership and other business skills. In this case, programs may cover IO psychology research methods and analysis, so as to enable leaders to make organizational decisions backed by psychology research.

Remember that these and other degree types potentially offered by online industrial organizational psychology graduate programs may vary on an individual basis. To learn more about a specific program or degree, contact the school in question.

Training Models in PhD Industrial Organizational Psychology Online Programs

Some Online Organizational Psychology PhD Programs design their curricula around a psychology training model. These models are, in essence, approaches to graduate-level psychology education that emphasize specific skill sets for certain applications in the field. As such, understanding the similarities differences between them could be helpful in evaluating potential programs. Not all IO Psychology Programs may adhere to these models, but they may still be a useful mechanism to understand the types of doctoral programs that might be available.

  • The Scientist Practitioner Model: This model focuses on the relationship between psychology research and application, and may be useful both for professional IO psychologists and researchers alike. These programs prepare organizational psychology researchers to rely on issued of concern in practical application to guide their research questions, and practitioners to lean on research findings to inform their own work. Another name for this is the Boulder Model.
  • The Practitioner-Scholar Model: This type of program typically emphasizes application over the research process. While these programs are likely to still cover research methodology, the goal is to develop sufficient fluency to apply those findings in a practical way—e.g. to launch a research-backed project to increase employee satisfaction or productivity. This is also called The Vail Model.

Not all online industrial organizational psychology programs align with a formal training model. For example, some may instead emphasize leadership and decision-making to guide an organization, informed by psychology research and practice. Or they might focus on a specific aspect of industrial-organizational psychology in detail.

To learn more about a specific online IO psychology program’s approach, contact the school in question.

Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Curriculum

Online PhD Programs in Industrial Organizational Psychology center on psychology research methodologies as applied to workplace settings. There are a few different ways they might approach this, but in a general sense, programs generally cover how to conduct different types of psychology research so as to understand workplace culture, identify problems and potential resolutions for them. The specific courses you could take are likely to depend on the degree type and/or training model, as well as individual program preference.

Example Courses

Online IO Psychology Doctoral Programs typically offer courses in psychology theory and practice, business and leadership skills, and research methods and analysis. Often, students have prior education and experience in the field or in related areas. In fact, some doctoral programs may only admit students with relevant prior education and/or professional experience. As a result, these courses may leverage this as a foundation to build upon.

Below are some examples of course topics you might be able to study in an online organizational psychology PhD program.

  • Principles of I/O Psychology
  • Psychology of Personality
  • Social Psychology
  • Ethics & Multicultural Issues in Psychology
  • Quantitative Design & Analysis
  • Statistics
  • Quantitative Methods in Psychology Research
  • IO Psychology Practices in Human Resources Management
  • Professional Development
  • Business Ethics & Policy

Additional Program Requirements

Of course, online PhD programs in industrial organizational psychology aren’t all coursework. There may be a few other program requirements that take place outside the online classroom. Most of these are likely to occur near the end of a program as a prerequisite to graduate, and would be completed at least partially on your own.

Specific graduation requirements can vary greatly between schools, but below, we’ve listed the basics of what you might look out for.

  • Doctoral Dissertation: This element is common throughout doctoral programs even in other fields. In essence, a dissertation is a PhD candidate’s first major contribution to their field. It’s an original research project that aims to provide new knowledge or a new perspective to help advance Industrial Organizational Psychology as a whole. Typically, you’d have to propose your topic and then present and defend your findings. Even if you’re studying online, you might still need to do this on campus.
  • Capstone Project: This would usually be the equivalent of a dissertation in a professional program. Capstone projects are often intended to mirror the type of work one might do in the field. In IO Psychology, this might still be a research project similar to a dissertation. In some cases, capstone projects might be completed in conjunction with field experience.
  • Field Experience: While not all online organizational psychology PhD program may require field experience, such as an internship, some may. This may especially be the case if it’s a professional or applied industrial psychology program, rather than one focused primarily on research and scholarship. In an online program, students may need to do more legwork to organize these opportunities themselves in their own communities.
  • Exam: Some doctoral programs may require PhD candidates to sit for a final cumulative exam prior to graduation. This element may be required in addition to or in place of other graduation requirements.

Preparing to Apply to PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs

Each online PhD in organizational psychology program may have unique prerequisites to apply, depending on the goals of that program, how competitive it is, and the types of students they want to attract. Here are a few things you’ll probably want to look for on those application requirements as you prepare.

  • Degree Requirements: Online IO Psychology Doctorate Programs typically require applicants to hold a master’s degree from an accredited institution. In many cases, that degree must be in a relevant field—such as a Master's in Industrial Organizational Psychology, or something similar.
  • Transcripts & GPA Requirements: GPA requirements may vary significantly between schools, and some may not issue them at all. That said, a reliable starting point for potential applicants could be a 3.0. Additionally, most programs require you to submit official transcripts. In some cases (especially if they didn’t require you to hold a degree in a related field), they may look for successful completion of specific courses at the undergraduate or master’s level.
  • Test Scores: Some online occupational psychology doctorate programs may ask to see your graduate entrance exam scores—typically either a GRE or GMAT. Some schools may have minimum score requirements, and others might not ask for them at all.
  • Resume Requirements: Because Industrial Organizational Psychology is inherently focused on the workplace, some online doctoral programs may ask to see your professional resume. The duration and nature of required experience may vary by school and program.
  • Research Experience: Some online IO psychology doctoral programs may look for prior experience in research roles. In some cases, your master’s thesis could be sufficient for this. Others might have a preference for applicants who have had roles assisting research teams.

Each online program you apply to may have different expectations and priorities regarding the above requirements, and may have other prerequisites not covered here. If you have any questions about the requirements to apply for a particular program, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask.

Potential Industrial and Organizational Psychology Career Paths

As an industrial organizational psychologist, you might be able to occupy an array of diverse roles within an organization. Whether you’re working formally as a psychologist, or using your knowledge of psychology to help guide your leadership, you might leverage the skills you honed in your doctoral program

A few examples of positions someone who earned an online PhD in organizational psychology may be interested in include:

  • IO Psychology Professor: $75,430 (2016 Median Annual Salary) i
  • Management Consultant: $81,330 (2016 Median Annual Salary) ii
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist: $82,750 (2016 Median Annual Salary) iii
  • Training and Development Manager: $105,830 (2016 Median Annual Salary) iv
  • Top Executive: $103,950 (2016 Median Annual Salary) v

Find Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs

Let help you find your preferred online PhD in industrial organizational psychology programs! Review the sponsored listings here and click on “Request Info” to read more and get in touch. If you want to narrow your options down more, you can select your preferred program location using the menu.


Sources: [i] | [ii] | [iii] | [iv] | [v]

  • Offering two quality, competency-based online learning formats: FlexPath & GuidedPath
  • Online degrees in business, counseling, education, health administration, human services, information technology, nursing, public health, psychology and social work.
  • 97% of alumni agree FlexPath provided the flexibility they needed to pursue their degree (Alumni Outcomes Survey 2017)
Find Schools