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Best Online PhD Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

An online PhD in industrial/organizational psychology provides expertise in organizational development, leadership models, and personnel management. Find out more about the best online colleges that offer this program as well as common courses, available financial aid, and career options.

Top Schools for Online PhD Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

The best schools for earning an online PhD in industrial/organizational psychology have earned regional accreditation and can offer a variety of support services to online students.

1. Keiser University-Ft Lauderdale

Location In-State Tuition & Fees
Fort Lauderdale, FL $28,362

Keiser University's online PhD program in industrial and organizational psychology provides pathways for students with a master's degree and those with an undergraduate degree in psychology or a related behavioral science discipline. Core courses, which are delivered in eight-week lengths, include psychometrics, personnel psychology, organizational psychology, and organizational applications. Online students have access to professional development workshops, resume writing assistance, job interview coaching, and job listings. They can also join various students organizations including the student government and honor society groups. The university is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

2. Touro College

Location In-State Tuition & Fees
New York, NY $12,760

Touro College provides a Doctor of Psychology degree in human and organizational psychology through its online education platform, Touro University Worldwide. The program is 100 percent online and requires no residency. Core courses include cognitive psychology, social psychology, media psychology, and research methods; instructors in these courses are scholar-practitioners who are active in their own professional careers. The school provides a variety of support services to online students including 24/7 technical support, academic advising, and career resources. They also offer tuition discounts to military personnel and their families. Touro University Worldwide has been granted accreditation by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

3. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology at Los Angeles

Location In-State Tuition & Fees
Los Angeles, CA $22,888

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology offers an online PhD program in business psychology with an industrial/organizational track. Students can expect to take courses in systems theory, global leadership, and adult development and work. The school employs the Engaged Professional model of education, which emphasizes social change and community engagement in the practice of psychology, giving students a unique prism through which to view the discipline. Student support services include a 24/7 helpline, academic advising, an online student network, and career development assistance. The Chicago School is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission and has been recognized by the National Council of Schools and Programs of Professional Psychology.

4. Adler University

Location In-State Tuition & Fees
Chicago, IL $37,272

The 75-credit online PhD program in industrial and organizational psychology at Adler University features courses in organizational theory, leadership and management, consulting skills, and task analysis. Courses run for eight weeks and are delivered asynchronously, meaning students can complete coursework when it's convenient for them. Online students have access to the same academic and administrative support staff that cater to on-campus students. The university has been granted accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

All statistics provided by the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition based on 2019-2020 school year

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions.

Overview of Online PhD Programs in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

An online PhD program in industrial and organizational psychology focuses on the study of human behavior in the workplace. Students will learn about the factors that affect people's motivation and engagement, the dynamics of decision-making and leadership, and the structure and process of organizational development. Graduates are expected to gain expertise in employing psychological theories and scientific research principles to address challenges in the workplace.


A master's degree is a common prerequisite for getting into a PhD program in industrial/organizational psychology. Some schools accept a master's in any area of study while others require a graduate degree in psychology, mental health counseling, social work, or other related disciplines. Master's degree holders in a non-psychology discipline may have to take preparatory courses before starting on the standard curriculum. Some universities offer a PhD pathway for applicants with a baccalaureate degree in psychology, but they will have to complete additional graduate credit hours that may include a master's thesis.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should expect to submit official transcripts of completed degree programs, proof of completion of prerequisite courses, GRE scores taken in the last five years, a resume detailing education and professional experience, and letters of recommendation. Some programs may require evidence of English proficiency and a statement of purpose explaining the applicant's academic background and career aspirations. Some schools may waive the GRE scores requirement for students who meet a certain grade point average.

Residency Requirements

While some distance learning doctoral programs in industrial/organizational psychology are fully online and don't require residencies, others include residency requirements in their curriculums. Residency involves students meeting in person with their cohort and professors for workshops, mentoring, and networking opportunities. Some programs require two doctoral residencies. The first one is usually for orientation, development of mentoring relationships, presentation of key concepts in their PhD studies, and initial discussions about their dissertation topics. The second residency is often intended for oral presentation and critique of their academic papers as well as continuing mentorship and consultations on their research interests. In lieu of a residency, some programs may instead require a practicum at a nonprofit organization.

Program Length

Depending on the curriculum, an online PhD in industrial/organizational psychology may take 3-6 years to complete. Some programs provide a maximum time frame of 7-8 years for students to finish their degrees. Time to completion depends on a number of factors such as part-time vs full-time study, acceptance of transfer credits, credit load per term, course completion, and progress of dissertation. In certain cases, students may petition to extend their study beyond the allowed time frame, but this is subject to approval of the department.

Common Courses in Online PhD Programs in I/O Psychology

Doctoral students can expect to take courses like these as part of their online curriculum.

Principles of Industrial/Organizational Psychology

This course provides an overview of the social and organizational theories and methods as applied to business and industrial environments. It discusses the historical background of this branch of psychology as well as other relevant topics like personnel motivation and attitude, training and development, employee-management dynamics, and management philosophies.

Personnel Psychology

This course looks into the concepts of human resource management in various workplace settings. Other topics for discussion may include personnel selection, talent management, assessment of training programs, performance evaluation, succession planning, and issues of equal opportunity and affirmative action in the hiring process.

Tests and Measurements

This course focuses on the types of psychological tests employed in organizational settings. Students will learn about how these instruments are developed, administered, and interpreted as well as the ethical and legal concerns surrounding them. Discussions will also tackle various psychometric theories used in designing and evaluating these tests.

Psychology of Leadership

This course explores different leadership theories and models including various factors that can affect leadership and change. Students will look into the function of leadership in accomplishing group objectives and the best leadership practices in implementing organizational innovation.


In this course, students will tackle codes of ethics in the field of psychology. Ethical issues in research, psychotherapy, assessment, consulting, and forensic psychology are examined. Students will also delve into various philosophical theories and worldviews that shape ethical standards.


This course introduces fundamental statistical concepts that are useful for understanding how statistical methods are used in psychology. Topics for discussion will include descriptive statistics, theories of probability, inferential statistical analysis, and testing of hypotheses.

Research Methods

This course outlines the basics of qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-method research strategies. Students will examine the advantages and limitations of these approaches as well as how each one can be utilized in a scientific study. Research courses like this one are designed to train students for their doctoral dissertation.

Accreditation of Online Schools and Programs

Colleges and universities seek accreditation to validate their capability to provide high-quality academic training. Accreditation is also a requirement for gaining access to federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation are tasked with recognizing qualified organizations that can grant accreditation to schools and programs.

Regional Accreditation

Schools that receive regional accreditation are often not-for-profit and state-owned institutions with an academic focus. Credits earned in these schools can be more easily accepted at other colleges. There are six regional accrediting organizations that each operate in specific parts of the country.

National Accreditation

National accreditation is mostly granted to religious or for-profit schools. These institutions primarily offer career-based, technical, or vocational training, although credits earned can typically only be transferred to other nationally accredited colleges. National accrediting agencies can evaluate schools all over the country.

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic or specialized accreditation focuses on specific academic departments and disciplines within an institution. Specialized accrediting agencies evaluate programs in business, engineering, medicine, law, and over 90 other fields of study.

Financial Aid for Online PhD Students

Online doctoral students have access to various forms of funding for their studies. Below are a few of the most common.

FAFSA Requirements

The first step in applying for financial aid is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). By completing a FAFSA, students will be able to see the types of federal financial aid that are available to them. The basic requirements for a FAFSA form include a social security number, driver's license, federal tax returns, records of untaxed income, and information on investments and other assets.

Scholarships and Grants

While federal grants are generally awarded to undergraduate students only, doctoral students can still avail themselves of scholarships provided by their colleges as well as privately funded grants. Some schools offer scholarships based on GPA, military service, volunteer experience, and community service. Other colleges provide grants to new students or to their alumni. Students may also find scholarships through professional organizations in their chosen disciplines.

Federal Work-Study

Graduate students with financial need may apply for part-time jobs through the Federal Work-Study program to pay for school. They will be paid at least the federal minimum wage while working for their school or off-campus in a government agency or nonprofit organization. The program is available to both full-time and part-time students.

Student Loans

Doctoral students may also take advantage of federal student loans to fund their studies. The Direct Unsubsidized Loan provides up to $20,500 per year, while the Direct PLUS Loan can cover remaining costs that are not funded by other financial aid. Students can also apply for a Direct Consolidation Loan, which combines multiple federal student loans into one loan with a fixed interest rate. Private loans are also an option, but they are often more expensive compared to federal loans.

Salary and Career Options for PhD in I/O Psychology Graduates

Graduates of PhD programs in industrial/organizational psychology can pursue careers in human resources management, organizational development, and academic work, among others.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

Industrial-organizational psychologists apply psychological concepts and research methods to boost productivity and improve morale in the workplace. They also provide assistance in policy planning and organizational development.

Management Analyst

Management analysts look into a company's operations and develop strategies to increase productivity and enhance efficiency. They examine financial data, talk to personnel, and submit their recommendations to management.

Human Resources Manager

Human resources managers are in charge of an organization's recruitment and hiring process as well as payroll and employee benefits. They also handle talent management, labor disputes, and disciplinary issues.

Training and Development Manager

Training and development managers evaluate an organization's training needs, design and implement training programs, and manage a team of program developers and instructors. They also assess a program's effectiveness and ensure that training methods are appropriate and relevant.


College professors are responsible for providing students with academic training in their field of study. They develop lesson and curriculum plans, evaluate students' progress, and give guidance on how students can best attain their academic goals.

Occupations Median Annual Salary (May 2019)* Projected Job Growth (2018-2028)*
Industrial-Organizational Psychologists $92,880 13%
Management Analyst $85,260 14%
Human Resources Manager $116,720 7%
Training and Development Manager $113,350 8%
Psychology Professor $76,620 12%

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Certification and Licensure for I/O Psychology Professionals

Most states require a license for psychologists, although there are some that allow an exemption for industrial/organizational psychologists. I/O professionals who work in private organizations, government agencies, and academics may be exempt from licensure. Specific requirements for obtaining a license differ by state but they usually include a doctoral degree, supervised experience by a licensed psychologist, a qualifying score on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology, and passing a state-administered oral exam. Because licensure guidelines vary by state, an I/O psychologist licensed in one state may need to obtain another license if they transfer to another state.