2024 Best Online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Programs

By Dr. Keith Nickolaus
Updated on December 25, 2023
Ready to start your journey?

If you’re interested in top roles helping today’s industry leaders use insights into human behavior for large-scale workforce management, you may consider getting a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology online.

PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Earning a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology means becoming immersed in theoretical frameworks and the latest research in the field. You may become an expert in the disicpline.

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Your PhD may open doors to well-paid jobs, including exciting opportunities in executive leadership, consulting, or postsecondary teaching. Today there are many options for pursuing industrial organizational psychology doctoral programs online, making your dreams even more accessible.

Online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Programs

Industrial Organizational Psychology meeting with a client

Leaders in the field of industrial and organizational psychology use insights into what makes people tick for defining and advancing best practices in workforce human resources.

For industry leaders with large workforce teams to manage, industrial and organizational psychologists provide critical expertise into some of the most complex areas of labor policy.

Industrial human resources executives rely on research and survey data to discover or improve upon the best practices that will support effective hiring and promotion. They also utilize this information to improve team collaboration incentives and outcomes, reduce employee turnover, and accelerate the development of human and social capital.

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With a doctorate in industrial organizational psychology, you may gain the skills needed to apply research methods in real workforce settings. This is similar to the case with a PhD in child psychology, forensic psychology, or adolescent psychology. You’ll also be trained in how to contribute your own research and how to find and keep pace with new research and emerging best practices.

With this developed expertise, you may qualify for opportunities in senior HR management and policy making roles or leading HR training and development design and implementation. You may also engage in research, advocacy, consulting, or university teaching roles.

Today’s automation-driven changes in workforce dynamics are accelerating workforce professional development needs and increasing the need for effective workforce collaboration. So, the role that organizational psychologists can play may be growing more urgent every day.

Industrial Organizational Psychology Careers & Salaries

Industrial Organizational Psychology Careers & Salaries

With an online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology, you may qualify for important management, consulting, and teaching roles. Getting an online Ph.D. may also open doors to roles in research and policy advocacy, including government careers.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, leaders in IO psychology can qualify for a range of dynamic and well-paid jobs.

Careers Annual Median Salaries
Compensation and Benefits Manager $125,130
Human Resources Manager $121,220
Training and Development Manager $115,640
Industrial-Organizational Psychologist $96,270
Sociologist $86,110
Industrial/Organizational Psychology Professor $78,180
Labor Relations Specialist $73,240
Human Resources Specialist $63,490
Training and Development Specialist $62,700
Survey Researcher $59,870

Experts in IO psychology may help senior executives develop or evaluate all aspects of HR policy, design, and implementation. Senior policymakers in HR management might be charged with applying scientific methods to improving hiring and placement practices.

They may also be tasked with increasing productivity and employee satisfaction and loyalty as well as designing cost-efficient, effective employee evaluation and retention programs.

With an advanced degree in industrial organizational psychology, you should find yourself equipped to follow a number of exciting and diverse career options. In some cases, positions may require additional licensing.

Doctorate in Industrial Organizational Psychology Curriculum

Advancing on what an online bachelors in industrial organizational psychology and an online masters in industrial organizational psychology will provide, online PhD organizational psychology programs help students develop expertise in research methods and analysis.

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They offer courses in the psychological sciences designed for real-world workforce policy and management.

  • Introduction to IO Psychology: This course is a survey of the principles underlying psychological investigation and theory, including competing theories of organizational behaviors and dynamics.
  • Organizational Behavior: You’ll learn about the personal, interpersonal, cultural, and structural dynamics that influence behaviors in large organizations.
  • Theories of Organizations and Organizational Development: You’ll learn how insights into organizational behavior support competing theories of organizational structures and development. You’ll also receive insights for designing effective workforce systems and policies.
  • Leadership Competencies: You’ll learn about the relational, ethical, and cultural challenges leaders face in effectively managing, supporting, and developing human and social capital in large organizations and complex systems.
  • Personality Theory and Research: You’ll develop your knowledge of personality dynamics from a range of perspectives: biological, cultural, psychological, and social-interpersonal.
  • Team Theory and Team Development: This course is an exploration of the psychological and interpersonal dynamics that impact team development, including effective collaboration, knowledge sharing, goal setting, motivation, productivity, and achievement.
  • Psychometric Testing Theory and Test Construction: You’ll study the principles of psychometric testing and test design, with attention to assumptions, reliability, and ethics.
  • Recruiting, Development, and Retention Management: You’ll learn practical applications of IO psychology theory for core pillars of workforce policy and management as well as for design and implementation of effective hiring, development, promotion, and retention policies.
  • Research Methods: You’ll learn a variety of psychological researching and surveying methods as well as ethical parameters for using them.
  • Statistical Methods: You’ll learn advanced techniques for gathering, constructing, and evaluating complex data sets and for interpreting data from different kinds of survey constructs.

Courses will vary by program, but your online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology is a deep dive into fundamentals of psychological theory and testing. You’ll study how to best utilize these fundamentals in the design and assessment of policies and practices supporting effective human resource management.

Admissions Requirements

Doctorate in Industrial Organizational Psychology student studying online

Admissions to an online PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program will often require that you’ve completed an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related field. Some may also require work-related experience or completion of a masters degree.

In most cases, to apply for your online doctoral program in IO psychology, you will need:

  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree
  • A satisfactory college GPA
  • GRE or GMAT test scores, if required
  • Letters of recommendation

Many online IO psychology PhD programs strive to make the application process as quick and convenient as possible. School admissions officers are both knowledgeable and helpful if you need assistance.


PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Accreditation

Doctoral programs need to deliver high-quality instruction in advanced practices, research, and methods.

Regional accreditation helps ensure you’re getting a good return on your investment in terms of faculty qualifications, online programs, and other academic resources that can support your learning and advanced research work.

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Earning your doctorate from an accredited online program can help ensure that your achievements will be honored by other institutions and by prospective employers. Organizations such as the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) can help you learn more about accreditation and identifying accredited schools.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Financial Aid

If you are committed to earning an advanced degree, like a PhD in IO Psychology, there are many financial aid options available to qualifying students to help you achieve your goals.

Common forms of need-based financial aid include student loan programs, grants, and scholarships. If you’re already working in your field, you may qualify for workforce incentives of employer-based tuition assistance.

Many organizations also offer merit-based scholarships that you may qualify for. If you’re anticipating need-based financial aid, you may start by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

What Can You Do with a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology?

Industrial Organizational Psychologist with a client

A Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology should qualify you for a range of high-level positions in a variety of professional roles and settings.

Careers you may be equipped to pursue include human resources manager or specialist, training and development specialist, senior psychologist or research psychologist, and postsecondary teacher.

Working in industrial and organizational psychology roles may also qualify you for opportunities in the business sector, in health care, in consulting, and in government.

Roles and areas of concentration you may want to consider include organizational policy and development, workforce training implementation, workplace testing and assessment, personnel management and evaluation, leadership development, and teamwork dynamics.

If you’re interested in research, teaching, and advocacy, you may find interesting job opportunities in higher education, consulting, and labor relations policy development.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology?

PhD in Industrial/Organizational Psychology student studying online

Getting an advanced degree requires coursework as well as time for researching and writing a dissertation or for doing a research-related practicum. So, an online doctoral degree will typically require about 3 to 5 years.

How long it takes to get a PhD can vary by school and program. Some online programs offer more accelerated study timelines. For example, if you follow an 8 week semester and stay continuously enrolled year-round, you may be able to finish in less time.

By the same token, online programs offer lots of flexibility. If you plan to keep working or need to balance school with other commitments, this kind of flexible study schedule is likely to increase the time it takes you to finish your online PhD.

What Is the Difference Between a PhD in Industrial vs. Organizational Psychology?

Industrial and organizational psychologists help develop policies, systems, and interventions related to human capital.

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A PhD in Industrial Psychology focuses on establishing effective systems that can be applied at scale across large work forces. Such systems include:

  • Recruitment
  • Selection
  • Classification
  • Compensation
  • Performance Appraisal
  • Training

Organizational psychology focuses on applying results-oriented workplace structures and practices.

The organizational psychologist helps business leaders incentivize positive employee growth, increase motivation, and activate shared and collaborative decision-making across all levels of the organization with designs that impact:

  • Socialization
  • Motivation
  • Occupational Stress
  • Leadership
  • Group Performance
  • Organizational Development

Depending on your interests and academic concentration, you may focus more on science-based human resource policy management, or you may have more interest in the personal, psycho-dynamic factors that influence workplace culture.

What Is the Difference Between a PhD in Organizational Development vs. Industrial Organizational Psychology?

Training and Development Manager meeting with colleagues

With an online doctorate in industrial organizational psychology, you should find yourself well positioned to pursue jobs in organizational development. Leaders in organizational development are usually more focused on change-based initiatives and organizational transformation.

Experts in organizational development help organizations assess impediments to organizational innovation, adapt to environment changes, or achieve specific goals for improving key aspects of organizational culture or for carrying out organizational transformation.

Organizational development specialists or consultants may also serve as leadership coaches or leadership recruiters, helping organizations define and develop leadership competencies aligned with specific organizational change initiatives.

Is a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Worth It?

University Professor teaching college students

Yes, a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, life, physical, and social science jobs are set to grow at 5% over the next 10 years, faster than the average for all occupations.

Common IO psychology careers in this field for those with advanced degrees include human resources manager, development and training specialist, organizational development specialist or consultant, and university professor.

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Today’s business leaders are increasingly aware of the valuable role that human capital plays in organizational productivity and innovation.

With your online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology, you should be equipped to help organizations implement or design evidence-based policies and practices to improve human resource efficiencies on a large scale.

With a concentration in organizational psychology or organizational development, you can help both successful and struggling organizations drive improvements to workplace culture, helping them confront new challenges or meet new goals.

Universities Offering Online PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Adler University

Adler University campus

Adler University’s social justice-driven PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program teaches students to analyze and understand scientific research and become socially responsible organizational experts.

Graduates often find work in nonprofit organizations, corporate enterprises, consulting firms, and the public sector, maximizing human potential and shaping the culture of these organizations.

Adler University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

Students enrolled in the PhD in Psychology program at Capella University can select the industrial and organizational psychology concentration in order to learn about consultation ethics, leadership theories, and practical methods for promoting positive workplace change.

Required courses include consultation psychology, psychology of leadership, program evaluation, and world analysis and selection.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Keiser University

Keiser University campus

The PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program from Keiser University is a research-based, online program that helps students prepare for active leadership positions within various organizations.

Most of the core coursework can be completed online, but students will be required to take part in two on-campus residencies before graduation.

Keiser University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University campus

National University offers a PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial Organizational Psychology. Strong emphasis is placed on learning about team processes, the structure of organizational development, small group theory, and the dynamics of leadership and management.

The program requires the completion of 20 courses and typically takes 4 years to complete.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology campus

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers a PhD in Business Psychology with an optional industrial and organizational psychology track. It’s only for full-time students, and it takes between 3 and 5 years to finish. Courses in the curriculum include systems theory, adult development and work, and virtual and global leadership.

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission.

Getting Your PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Online

Getting Your PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Online

A PhD in IO Psychology may open doors to an exciting mix of jobs in senior HR management, organizational development or organizational leadership consulting, workforce recruitment and training, or postsecondary teaching.

Many of these positions combine academic research and the implementation of powerful policies and solutions to drive organizational productivity or transformation.

If you want to gain expertise in this intriguing area of critical leadership practice, then enrolling in an online industrial organizational psychology doctorate program could be a beneficial move. You can even start your PhD journey today by exploring accredited online degrees in psychology to find the one that best fits your study preferences and career goals.

Ready to start your journey?
Keith has a Ph.D. and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of California - Berkeley and a B.A. in Literature from the University of California - Santa Cruz. A retired educator, Keith lives in Berkeley and researches and writes about trends in education leadership, innovation, and policy.