Best Online PhDs in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Get details on today’s best and most affordable online PhD programs in industrial/organizational psychology. Learn about accreditation, admissions, cost, and career prospects after graduation.

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Kathleen Curtis

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Kathleen Curtis is an American writer currently living in Louisville, Kentucky. She has developed content around education for more than a decade for both domestic and international clients.

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Best Online PhD Programs in I/O Psychology: 2023

As online PhDs in I/O psychology become more widely available, finding the one that meets your educational and professional needs can take time. While you may value the flexibility of a degree above all, others may need a program that’s more affordable. EduMed’s rankings provide information on the top I/O psychology PhDs for 2023 and highlight what you should look for when creating and narrowing down your school list. Review some of the best programs in the field today.

About the ranking


Base Methodology for EduMed’s 2023 Online College Rankings

1. Create List of Eligible Schools and Programs

To be eligible for this ranking, schools were required to meet the following criteria based on government data provided by The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

  • Institutional accreditation from an organization recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
  • At least one program in subject area offered partially or fully online.

2. Assign Weightings

After creating the list of eligible schools, EduMed data scientists assigned weights and ranked schools based on a mix of affordability, support services, and online program availability metrics. Online program availability and overall affordability metrics received the heaviest weightings.

Online Program Availability

  • Number of online programs in subject area reported by school to the U.S. Department of Education.


  • Cost – Relative cost of attendance compared to peer schools on the list. Based on tuition and fees per academic year.
  • Students w/ Institutional Aid – Percentage of students who receive financial aid from the school itself.

Support Services

  • Academic Counseling – Existence of this service on campus or online.
  • Career Placement – Existence of this service on campus or online.

About Our Data

EduMed’s rankings use the latest official data available from The Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). Most recent data pull: July 2022

# School Name Type Cost Online Programs More Details School Information Online Students Academic Counseling Career Placement Students w/Institutional Aid Median Earnings 10yrs After Entry Accreditation
1 Walden UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private for-profit $$$ 1

Walden University, a private for-profit school in Minnesota, offers a fully online PhD in industrial organizational psychology. By diving into the relationships between organizational performance and human behavior, this program gives students the theoretical and practical tools they need to advance their careers.

In addition to this online program’s core curriculum, students can choose between multiple specializations, including consulting psychology, evidence-based coaching, human resource management, and international business. Upon completion, PhD graduates tackle various careers in consulting, data analysis, and various administrative roles.

Prospective students can apply online and must include official academic transcripts. Applicants must hold a master’s degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.

Program Highlights:

Online PhD in Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology

  • Credits: 90
  • Cost: $600/credit
  • Length: 3.5-8 years
  • Mode: online
Implied no
Faculty Ratio
2 Capella UniversityMinneapolis, MN Private for-profit $$$ 1

Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Capella University is a private, for-profit institution that offers a PhD in industrial/organizational psychology that students can complete primarily online. Graduates from this program go on to tackle various careers spanning from consultants to corporate coaches.

Alongside self-guided coursework and research, online students complete in-person intensive residencies. Throughout this 87-credit curriculum, PhD students complete core classes such as principles of industrial/organizational psychology, psychology of leadership, and psychology of motivation and performance. Before graduation, students complete a culminating examination and write, research, and defend a dissertation.

Prospective Capella University PhD students must hold a master’s degree from an accredited college or university. Applicants can apply online and must include official master’s transcripts with a minimum 3.0 cumulative GPA. Capella does not require GRE or GMAT scores for admission into this program.

Program Highlights:

Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

  • Credits: 87
  • Cost: $545/credit
  • Length: varies
  • Mode: online
Implied no
Faculty Ratio

The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

Chicago School

The online PhD in business psychology with an industrial/organizational track offered by the Chicago School of Professional Psychology can be completed in three years if you already hold a master’s degree or five years as a post-baccalaureate. Offered fully online, students engage with courses such as virtual and global leadership, adult development and work, and systems theory. They also complete two internships lasting 300-hours each to build relevant, transferable skills. The faculty internship supervisor works with learners to find a suitable location near their place of residence.

Applicants must supply official transcripts showing completion of prerequisites, resume, and an essay answering two questions. While enrolled, learners need to maintain a “C” grade or better on coursework. To round out the degree, each student writes a comprehensive dissertation. Before enrolling, look over the school’s licensure disclosures to ensure this program meets requirements in your state.

Adler University

Adler University

Adler University’s PhD in industrial and organizational psychology exists fully online, never requiring you to visit the Chicago campus for residencies. Designed to support working students, the university uses a cohort model whereby newly admitted learners start and progress through the program together. The online learning management system, Canvas, makes it possible to engage in video lectures and presentations, contribute to discussion boards, play interactive games, and take part in simulations and role-playing.

The PhD in industrial and organizational psychology requires the completion of 75 credits, 12 of which relate to the dissertation. Mandatory coursework includes studies in advanced talent management and motivation, advanced research methods and design, advanced training and development training, and attitude theory, measurement, and change. To cap off their time at Adler, learners participate in a social justice practicum. Faculty members all possess doctoral qualifications alongside substantial industry experience.

Liberty University

Liberty University

Liberty University offers a PhD in psychology with an emphasis in industrial/organizational psychology. This degree can be completed fully online in an average of three years. All told, students must pass 60 credit hours in topics such as organizational behavior and development, psychological research and biblical worldview, and theories and research in industrial/organizational psychology. Each class lasts eight weeks, making it possible to move through material more quickly than a semester-based schedule. Learners may also transfer up to 50% of required credits from a previous program.

Applicants must possess a 3.0 GPA or higher, 12 hours of undergraduate psychology coursework, and departmental approval. They’ll need to submit two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and an application fee. Learners who are current members of the military or veterans receive a discount, paying only $300 per credit. Liberty University’s evangelical Christian beliefs inform every aspect of the institution’s policies, from hiring practices to curriculum.

FAQs About Earning Your PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology Online

Before committing yourself to years of studying – not to mention the financial responsibilities that come with a graduate degree – it’s important to do your research. Learning about factors such as cost, curriculum, career prospects, and faculty can help you make an informed educational decision. Here are key answers to questions that many prospective students ask before pursuing an I/O psychology PhD.

Can you earn an organizational psychology PhD completely online?

Because every online PhD in industrial organizational psychology is different, the answer to this question will vary by school. Some offer fully online programs that never require learners to visit campus. Others host several short residencies that mandate attendance. Regardless of how your chosen school handles the coursework component, all learners enrolled in these programs must participate in one or two practica to build experience in a professional setting. Internship advisors usually work with students to find a suitable business near where they live.

What do you learn in an industrial-organizational psychology program at the PhD level?

No two industrial organizational psychology online doctorate programs are the same, but they should have some similar courses and learning outcomes. As you continue reviewing potential programs, you will get a better sense of these commonalities while also identifying how each program differs. All programs will have some element of study on organizational behavior and mindsets while also emphasizing the development of research methods. Some of the other top learning outcomes include:

  • An in-depth knowledge of industrial organizational psychology’s origins as well as an appreciation for the tasks and responsibilities of professionals in this field.
  • The ability to identify and implement processes and policies that help create a supportive work environment while training leadership on how to use them properly.
  • A full grasp on how human behaviorism informs the discipline and how data can be used in hiring, training, and management practices to create greater employee satisfaction.
  • The ability to appreciate and prioritize the benefits gained, both in terms of company culture and output, by creating and implementing hiring practices that support diversity.
  • Create programs and address workplace issues brought forth in multigenerational groups of staff, with emphasis on conflict management and improved efficiency and effectiveness.

Common Courses in Online I/O Psychology PhD Programs

Leadership and Management

This course examines prevailing theories and systems used in creating effective leaders and managing staff in a caring and informative way. Much of the course focuses on reviewing literature on the topic, but students also perform self-assessments to better understand how they function as leaders.

Understanding Professional Motivations and Attitudes

Many leaders and managers spend their days trying to learn how to improve motivation and attitudes of staff within their companies. This course looks at common strategies for accomplishing these goals while also looking at tools for managing workplace conflict and misbehavior.

Organizational Development

This survey course provides an overview of theories, frameworks, and practice models for both helping organizations develop and guiding them through times of growth and change. Students consider how leadership strategies and approaches can help or hinder development.

Industrial Organizational Consulting

Because many industrial organizational psychologists function in a consultancy role rather than working in-house at a single company, this course explores the tools they will need to be successful in these roles. Learners consider techniques for providing consultative services and how to grow your business.

Research Methods

Usually taken in the first year of studies (with additional classes throughout the degree, research methods provides an overview of the qualitative and quantitative data analysis tools commonly used within industrial organizational psychology. Subjects reviewed in the class include data collection and analysis alongside theories of qualitative methods.

What specializations or concentrations are available in I/O psychology PhD programs?

Industrial organizational psychology, while already a subfield under general psychology, still functions as a large discipline. Because of this, some schools provide additional specializations for students who want to focus their studies in a niche area. We look at a few common options below.

Industrial Psychology

This subdiscipline and specialization focuses on individuals in an organization versus the organization as a whole. Students look at the structure and requirements of individual jobs and how those can be restructured or changed to create greater synergy, productivity, or satisfaction within the overall workforce.

Organizational Psychology

Organizational psychology, unlike industrial, looks at companies and businesses as a whole to assess how it can be improved. Organizational psychologists consider how systems, policies, and procedures contribute to overall goals and the mission of a company.

Human Factors Psychology

Students who select this concentration examine how human factors affect the overall functioning of professional businesses. Taking into consideration the studies of human engineering, ergonomics, and systems management, learners consider how to structure companies in a way that leads to better outcomes.

How long does it take to get a PhD in industrial organizational psychology online?

Before embarking on your path to an online PhD in industrial organizational psychology, it’s worth getting to grips with the various timelines available. On average, most students spend between four to five years completing coursework requirements, practica/internships, and their dissertation. Motivated learners who enroll in an accelerated program may graduate in as few as three years, as may those who already completed credits at a previous institution. Those studying on a part-time basis may need up to seven years to meet all requirements for graduation.

What do I need to get into an online I/O psychology PhD program?

As with other components, the admission requirements for an online PhD in industrial organizational psychology are set by individual schools and can vary substantially. Doctorate programs, in general, tend to be highly competitive, as most departments only accept a few students each year. Some of the components you’ll likely be required to submit as part of the application process include:

  • Official transcripts demonstrating a minimum GPA and evidence of completing all prerequisites
  • GRE or GMAT scores
  • Professional and academic letters of recommendation
  • Statement of purpose
  • Faculty member interview

How much does an online organizational psychology PhD program cost?

The cost of online PhD in industrial organizational psychology programs varies substantially based on several factors. In-state tuition is almost always cheaper than out-of-state or private school fees, while the amount of time taken to graduate is also a factor. Many schools charge semester-based fees that can quickly add up. Lastly, financial aid also plays a big role. Learners who secure scholarships, grants, and other types of support can dramatically offset the final price tag.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Total Credits: 60 credits


Capella University

Capella University

PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Total Credits: 104 credits


Northcentral University

Northcentral University

PhD-B.A. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Total Credits: 60 credits


Funding Your Online I/O Psychology PhD

Given that the cost of higher education continues to rise each year, lining up funding before starting a degree can make or break your experience. If you’re not sure where to start, that’s okay. The following section looks at the different types of financial aid available.

1 Scholarships & Grants

Pursuing scholarships and grants is a great decision given that these types of funding don’t need to be repaid. Many universities and psychology departments offer scholarships and grants, as do government agencies, professional associations, and grantmaking foundations.

2 Student Loans

Student loans offered by the federal government offer fixed interest funding that can help bridge the gap between available funds and cost of attendance. These should usually be your last option given that both the principal and accrued interest require repayment.

3 Other Options

At the graduate level, it’s not uncommon to find research and teaching assistantships offered by schools. While highly competitive, they often provide tuition remission and/or a stipend. Internships and fellowships sometimes also offer funding in exchange for work on a project. These are also quite competitive, so it’s best to start your search early. Lastly, some students qualify for federal work-study funds that allow them to work at the school in exchange for funding.

Learn the ins and outs of financial aid for your online PhD in I/O psychology.

Reviewing Accreditation for PhD I/O Psychology Degrees

Finding an accredited online PhD in industrial organizational psychology is incredibly important given that licensure boards, hiring managers, and admissions panels all look for this detail when making decisions about your future. Accreditation divides into two types, institutional and programmatic. You’ll likely come across both national and regional accreditation when looking at schools as a whole and should select contenders that hold regional accreditation. This signals a more rigorous vetting process than national.

The American Psychological Association doesn’t accredit industrial organizational psychology programs at this time, making institutional accreditation all the more important. You can use the U.S. Department of Education’s Database of Accredited Postsecondary Institutions and Programs to research potential schools.

Career Opportunities for Industrial Organizational Psychology PhDs

Plenty of career opportunities can be found after you graduate. Because industrial-organizational psychology spans so many different industries and employer types, take time to consider the type of setting that works best with your professional and financial needs.

Industrial Organizational Psychology PhDs

What can I do with PhD in industrial/organizational psychology?

Once you graduate from a PhD in industrial organizational psychology, your career prospects look good. While some alumni decide to work in consultancy roles, partnering with a bevy of clients to troubleshoot lingering organizational issues, others decide to work in-house at a single company. Others decide to use their talents and knowledge of human resources issues to help improve staffing.

As a doctorate holder, you also qualify for several high-level academic and research roles. If you want to study the trends and data involved in organizational development, working for a think tank or other research facility may best suit your needs. If you like the thought of helping the next generation of industrial organizational psychologists learn about the discipline, consider pursuing a job as a university professor.

industrial-organizational psychology
industrial-organizational psychology mobile

How much can you earn with a PhD degree in industrial/organizational psychology?

Graduating from an online PhD in industrial organizational psychology puts you on the path to earning a substantial salary, though actual figures vary based on your chosen career. Have a look at the table below to get a better understanding of what to expect in terms of pay.

Career Median National Annual Salary (2019) 10th Percentile 90th Percentile
Human Resources Manager $116,720 $68,300 $205,720
Management Consultant $85,260 $49,700 $154,310
University Professor $79,540 $40,480 $174,960

Do I need professional certification or a state license to work as an industrial organizational psychologist or similar roles?

Some but not all states require industrial organizational psychologists to receive and hold licensure when practicing. Attaining a license often requires the candidate to hold an accredited PhD or PsyD, complete supervised experience, pass the EPP exam, and pass any state-level examinations. You should check with your local state board of psychology to learn about the specific steps in your area.

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology also regularly shares updates in the field, including licensure and continuing education requirements. Certification is not typically required, but it can help you stand out from other job-seekers and demonstrate knowledge in a particular area of the discipline.