Getting a Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology – Everything You Need to Know in 2023

By Staff Writer
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A PhD in Organizational Psychology is an advanced, doctorate degree that focuses on the study of human behavior in organizational settings.

It involves the application of psychological theories and research methods to help organizations improve their functioning, effectiveness, and efficiency.

Students pursuing a PhD in Organizational Psychology typically cover topics such as organizational behavior, leadership, motivation, job satisfaction, decision-making, and group dynamics. They also gain expertise in research methodologies, statistical analysis, and data interpretation, which enables them to design and conduct empirical research to address important organizational issues.

Most PhD programs in Organizational Psychology take between 4 to 6 years to complete.

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Why get a PhD in Organizational Psychology?

Expertise and employability

A PhD in Organizational Psychology provides individuals with a deep understanding of human behavior and how it relates to organizational dynamics. This expertise can be applied to a wide range of settings, including business, government, healthcare, and education.

Research opportunities and the chance to make an impact

Earning a PhD in Organizational Psychology enables individuals to conduct original research in the field, which can contribute to the advancement of knowledge and the development of new theories and practices.

Organizational Psychology has the potential to make a significant impact on the workplace, including improving employee satisfaction, productivity, and organizational effectiveness.  You can make a positive difference in the lives of hundreds, thousands or even millions of employees around the world.

Career advancement and earning potential

A PhD in Organizational Psychology can lead to career advancement opportunities in a variety of fields, including academia, consulting, research, and human resources management. Individuals with a PhD in Organizational Psychology command higher salaries and take on more senior leadership roles.

What do you cover in a PhD in Organizational Psychology?

“Getting a PhD in organizational psychology is a grueling and intense experience that requires an immense amount of discipline and motivation. It typically takes four to six years of full-time study and involves a rigorous curriculum that includes advanced coursework in statistics, research methods, and psychology. Students are also expected to complete a dissertation, which is a lengthy and original research project that contributes to the field of organizational psychology. Despite the challenges, earning a PhD in organizational psychology can be a highly rewarding experience, as it provides individuals with the skills and knowledge needed to conduct cutting-edge research and make meaningful contributions to the field.”

Dr. Eduardo Salas, Rice University

Here is an example of a sample curriculum for a PhD program in Organizational Psychology:

Year 1:

  • Foundations of Organizational Psychology
  • Research Methods and Statistics I
  • Psychology of Work and Organizations
  • Leadership Theory and Practice
  • Seminar in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Year 2:

  • Research Methods and Statistics II
  • Motivation and Performance
  • Organizational Culture and Climate
  • Job Analysis and Evaluation
  • Seminar in Organizational Theory and Change

Year 3:

  • Seminar in Personnel Selection and Assessment
  • Training and Development
  • Group Dynamics and Team Effectiveness
  • Advanced Topics in Organizational Psychology
  • Elective Course

Year 4:

  • Seminar in Performance Management
  • Occupational Health Psychology
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods
  • Elective Course
  • Dissertation Research and Proposal Preparation

Year 5:

  • Dissertation Research and Writing
  • Dissertation Defense and Completion

How much does a PhD in Organizational Psychology cost?

The cost of a PhD program in Organizational Psychology will vary considerably.

Generally, PhD programs are funded through a combination of scholarships, grants, and assistantships that cover tuition and provide a stipend for living expenses.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average tuition and fees for graduate programs in Psychology in the US were around $12,500 per year for the 2020-2021 academic year. However, this figure does not include living expenses or other costs associated with pursuing a PhD.

The amount of funding and the requirements for receiving it can vary widely by program, so it’s important to research individual programs to understand their funding opportunities.

What jobs can you do with a PhD in Organizational Psychology?

The obvious answer is that you can go on to become an organizational psychologist. Read our guide to becoming an industrial organizational psychologist or search our job board for available IO psychology jobs.

When many students think of organizational psychology, they think of Wendy Rhoades. Rhoades, played by Maggie Siff, is the psychologist character in the TV show “Billions”. Wendy is a performance coach and in-house therapist at Axe Capital. Wendy has a PhD in Psychology and is a licensed therapist. Her role in the show is to provide advice, support, and counseling to the traders and executives at Axe Capital, helping them to manage the intense pressure and high-stakes environment of the finance industry.

It’s not explicitly stated whether she is an organizational psychologist or not. However, given her role as a performance coach and in-house therapist at a hedge fund, it can be inferred that she has knowledge and expertise in the area of organizational psychology. Her work involves addressing issues such as leadership, communication, teamwork, motivation, and decision-making, which are central topics within organizational psychology. Therefore her work aligns with the principles and practices of organizational psychology.

There are a wealth of career opportunities available to you when you complete your PhD outside of becoming an organizational psychologist.

Here are some potential jobs to consider:

  1. Organizational Development Consultant
  2. Human Resources Director
  3. Talent Management Specialist
  4. Training and Development Manager
  5. Executive Coach
  6. Research Scientist
  7. Professor

How much can you earn with a PhD in Organizational Psychology?

If you hold a PhD in organizational psychology, there is a good chance you can command a high salary and your earning potential over the course of your career will be significantly improved by completing the PhD.

Let’s examine average salaries in the US for some of the job roles above (based on BLS data):

  1. Organizational Development Consultant – $95,000
  2. Human Resources Director – $125,000
  3. Talent Management Specialist – $115,640
  4. Training and Development Manager – $115,640
  5. Executive Coach – $87,000
  6. Research Scientist – $84,000
  7. Professor – $80,370

Organizational psychologists are some of the top earners in the field. The top 10 percent of experienced Industrial Psychologists make more than $192,000 per year. Read our IO Psychologist salary guide for more insights

Best PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs