Industrial Organizational Psychology Ph.D. Programs Guide

Updated August 17, 2022

Industrial-organizational psychology is one of the best-paying specializations available. Learn more about earning a doctorate in the field with this guide.

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A Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology can open pathways to a variety of exciting and lucrative careers. Candidates interested in conducting original research, applying advanced psychological principles to modern business practices, or working in academic settings can expand their academic and employment opportunities by earning an industrial organizational psychology degree.

In the following guide, we look at what it takes to earn this degree from start to finish, including career options and earning potential for graduates. Read on to explore degree requirements, career information, and a collection of valuable resources for prospective psychology doctoral candidates.

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

Doctoral-level industrial organizational psychology graduate programs confer either a Ph.D. or a Psy.D. While both degrees lead to careers as professional psychologists, they differ in focus, course content, and training methods. The Ph.D., or doctor of philosophy, is ideal for research-focused students seeking careers at research institutions and universities. Alternatively, the Psy.D., or doctor of psychology, best serves individuals interested in performing clinical work in a variety of settings.

Ph.D. programs are highly competitive and tend to maintain more rigorous admissions criteria than Psy.D. programs. On average, Ph.D. programs accept approximately 10% fewer students than Psy.D. programs, and usually take one year longer to complete. However, Psy.D. candidates typically receive less financial aid and fewer funded assistantship opportunities than students pursuing a Ph.D.

While data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics demonstrates that professionals with a Psy.D. earn an average of $11,800 more per year than Ph.D.-holders, this figure may be offset by the debt that many Psy.D. students incur while pursuing a degree.

Degree Snapshot

Typical Admission Requirements:
GRE exam, bachelor's or master's degree with relevant coursework, previous internship/work experience.

Time to Completion:
5-7 years

Average Salary:

More information on industrial organizational psychology degrees

Online Psychology Ph.D Programs

Figuring out where to apply? These top, accredited schools offer a variety of online degrees. Consider one of these accredited programs, and discover their value today.

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

There are many benefits to earning a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology. A distinguished credential can position graduates as competitive candidates in today's job market, increase earning potential and allowing degree-holders to pursue specialized roles in psychology and related fields.

  • Industrial organizational psychologists can find employment opportunities in a variety of organizations and workplace settings.
  • The Ph.D. dissertation is a long-form original project that prepares candidates for research-driven work upon graduation.
  • A Ph.D. often leads to higher wages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, doctoral degree-holders earn 46% higher salaries than professionals with a master's degree.
  • The Ph.D. instills the skills needed to pursue hybrid career endeavors that provide opportunities for research, education, and clinical practice.
  • Ph.D.-holders may pursue licensure from state psychology boards.

Example Curriculum

A school's course offerings depend largely on its faculty strengths and research areas, resources, and nationally defined educational standards. As a result, industrial organizational psychology graduate program curricula tend to vary between institutions. However, a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology typically includes the following common components.


Ph.D. students must complete coursework in a variety of areas, including research methods and statistics, ethics and professional issues, clinical practice, and behavioral science. Required courses build on existing knowledge and prepare learners for the next steps toward graduation, such as practicums, dissertations, and internships.


Practicums 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 between schools and programs, and often depend 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 is capable of contributing to their field by conducting meaningful research. While a dissertation committee helps keep candidates on track throughout the process, a dissertation is largely a solitary effort that requires stamina and discipline.


Involving less supervision than practicums, internships are similar to regular jobs. Students pursuing a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology must complete an APA-approved internship that includes two years of full-time training. Depending on your department's common practices, you may complete your internship before or after earning your doctoral degree. Some learners complete their internship requirements during their third year, while others wait until the fifth or sixth year. When in doubt, it is best to follow your dissertation committee's advice.

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 a variety of fields, including human resources, marketing, administration, management, and sales. Armed with a versatile skill set, graduates pursue diverse career paths, working as professional development leaders, talent management specialists, behavioral analysts, HR organizational development specialists, industrial relations specialists, and optimization advisors. Depending on your training and area of specialization, an industrial organizational psychology degree can open doors to many exciting job opportunities.

Average Annual Salary: $109,030, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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.


Most professionals who earn a Ph.D. in industrial organizational psychology must obtain licensure in order to practice. While most states require psychologists to possess licensure, credential guidelines vary between locations. In some states, industrial-organizational psychologists do not need to seek licensure, particularly those working as researchers or educators in the private sector. Regardless of your prospective career path, it is important to understand your state's laws and licensing requirements.

After earning a graduate degree, candidates need to complete a state-mandated number of supervised hours, pass an oral exam conducted by the state board, and pass the examination for professional practice in psychology (EPPP). Exam fees vary, but usually fall between $500-$1,000. Most states require professionals to renew their licenses every two years. Typically, candidates for renewal must complete a certain number of continuing education credits through an approved organization or school and pay a fee.

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 to all.
  • Society of Psychologists in Management SPIM is a membership-based professional society comprised of students, psychologists, and researchers exploring managerial, executive, and consulting roles in the workplace. Members take advantage of career development and mentoring services, an online listserv, and networking opportunities.

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