Why get a doctorate in I-O psychology?
Have you completed your master’s degree in industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology and want to boost your career and salary profile? The next step to consider may be a doctorate degree. A doctorate in I-O psychology can improve your expertise and knowledge of the discipline, which can expand your career options into academia and research, management, administration and policy making.
Industrial-organizational psychology is predicted to be the fastest-growing psychology specialization with an anticipated 13% growth until 2028. As such, the competition for job opportunities will intensify, with professionals holding a doctoral degree becoming the preferred candidates for vacant positions.
There is a vast range of career opportunities within the field of I-O psychology including:
- external consultant
- chief human resource officer
- vice president of talent management
- college professor
The highest paying sector within the field is in scientific research and development services, where qualified and experienced professionals earn up to $149,780 annually. Those with a doctoral degree have most opportunities and highest salaries available to them.
The main job responsibility of industrial-organizational psychologists is to apply psychological theory to organizations. These responsibilities vary according to the organization, although professionals are typically tasked to improve productivity and create efficient workflow processes.
The 2 types of industrial-organizational doctoral degrees are the (Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and the Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D).
A Ph.D. is recommended for graduates interested in working in health or medical settings or teaching at colleges and universities. A Ph.D. offers a broader range of job opportunities and generally can be completed in 5-7 years.
A Psy.D. is a professional degree that focuses on clinical practice and prepares graduates for a more applied workplace, like government or private industry. A Psy.D. can be completed within the same timeframe as a Ph.D. . Your career goals should inform the degree type you choose.
About the degree
To apply to an I-O Ph.D. or Psy.D. program, schools typically require:
- minimum GPA of 3.0
- letter(s) of recommendation
- personal essay
- academic transcripts
- Minimum of a bachelor’s degree, preferably with psychology major
A master’s degree isn’t always required to apply as some doctoral programs cover both master’s and Ph.D. programs. Typically for these programs, applicants will need to have majored in psychology in their undergraduate studies. It may also be possible to transfer credit from previous degrees, although this will be at the discretion of the school.
Students can enrol in an I-O psychology doctoral program on a part-time or full-time basis. Some schools have the option of an online program or an on-campus program. You may also find hybrid options that combine on-campus and online learning. Studying part-time or online can give you the chance to continue working and to fulfill personal and family responsibilities.
Paying for the degree
A doctoral program is an expensive and timely commitment that often does not allow the flexibility for paid employment opportunities. To offset the financial burden, some universities offer doctoral students paid teaching or research assistantships that can include a stipend, tuition and health insurance. All applicants should visit the financial office at their chosen school to research what financial support is available. Similarly, students should be familiar with the information on the Federal Student Aid website.
The median annual cost of tuition for a doctoral degree ranges from $11,000-$34,000 depending on whether you are attending as an in-state or out-of-state student, and whether the institution is public or private.
Coursework for s Ph.D. in I-O
Coursework for a Ph.D. and a Psy.D. in I-O psychology differ to a large extent.
This course can give students an understanding of psychometric principles related to psychological assessment. This includes reviewing statistics, test development, reliability, and validity.
Research methods in industrial-organizational psychology
Students are trained in applying scientific methods to investigate issues relevant to businesses, individuals, and society.
Organizational development and leadership
This course encompasses theory and research relevant to implementing change to individuals, groups, and organizations to improve their effectiveness.
Statistical methods and data analysis
This course trains students in various statistical techniques used to analyze data.
Students are taught the skills needed to assess, interpret and communicate characteristics of individuals within the work environment.
Not all industrial-organizational psychology Ph.D. programs require internships, but it is recommended that students take any available opportunity to gain practical skills within the field.
Core Psy.D coursework typically includes::
Attitude theory, measurement, and change
This course teaches students how attitudes develop, change and are related to behavior.
Ethics, diversity and international issues
This course trains students to be sensitive to a diverse audience and guides the development of the interpersonal skills needed to work in a multicultural environment. In addition, students are taught relevant ethical guidelines for research.
Students learn about the limitations and capabilities of skilled human behavior, with an emphasis on the impact of human interaction with various tools, tasks, and environments.
This course can provide students with a deep understanding of the theories and research on work motivation, and the knowledge on how to influence this motivation.
This course trains students in the scientific methods used to collect, collate, and understand data on individuals, society, and business issues.
Most Psy.D. industrial-organizational psychology programs require practicums, internships, or supervision from a licensed psychologist as part of the degree program.
Accreditation and licensure
To have your degree recognized by many employers or academic institutions, it will need to be from an accredited program and university. This can be checked on the school or faculty website.
Most states require practicing industrial-organizational psychologists to be licensed. The specifics and requirements differ by state, but prerequisites include:
- Ph.D. or Psy.D from an accredited university
- A period of supervision by a licensed psychologist
- Passing the EPPP (Exam for Professional Practice in Psychology) exam with a qualifying score
- Passing a state board oral exam (this is no longer required for California)
For more information on licensure, visit SIOP Licensure Policy.
Obtaining a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology can lead to the following careers.
In I-O psychology, a doctorate is the highest degree level available. Should you find that your interest lies in business and administration after earning your doctorate, you could consider pursuing a degree as a Doctor of Business Administration in I-O psychology.
This degree intersects theory and research and its application to individuals in managerial roles. It is inclined towards human resources professionals.