An online Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology can go a long way to help students who are already working in this diverse and growing field. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is predicting that this subfield of psychology will grow faster than average through 2026. Professionals with doctorates, in particular, are also in demand from various employers around the world, including multinational companies.

But for students who are already working in the field, the question becomes, how can they manage to get a terminal degree while still working full-time. The answer comes in the form of online and hybrid degree programs, all delivered by regionally accredited universities who understand that flexibility is paramount in the education of graduate applicants. This ranking discusses 10 of the most affordable programs, all of which pave the way forward to a substantial career in organizational psychology.


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This ranking was created using information found publicly on the National Center for Education Statistics’ College Navigator database. Combing through statistics such as retention rates, student satisfaction, gainful employment disclosures, and online fees, an initial pool of 90 schools were considered. This final ranking of the top 10 most affordable Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology was then chosen based on in-state graduate tuition rates and are listed in descending order.

Ranking Low-cost Online Organizational Psychology PhD Programs

10. Walden University

Minneapolis, MN

Online Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $12,075


Walden University confers a cheap online org psych Ph.D. in the form of the Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. This hybrid degree divides a student’s time up between face-to-face intensives and online, asynchronous courses. Students will also learn from highly respected professors, most of which have terminal degrees in industrial and organizational psychology. Students are also offered eight different specializations within the degree itself, including human resource management, international business, and forensic consulting. This degree requires 110 quarter credits and four four-day residencies on campus. Sample courses include Leadership and Leader Development, Consulting for Organizational Change, and Psychological Motivation at Work.

9. Northcentral University

Northcentral University - Online Ph.D in Organizational Psychology

San Diego, CA

Online Ph.D in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $10,368


Northcentral University is home to a fantastic Ph.D. organizational psychology online degree program. This program is designed for professionals who wish to move into the private sector as consultants or work with the government to help produce viable workplace regulations and policies. This is an online program that is built for full-time professionals that need flexibility when it comes to their education. The degree requires 60 credit hours of coursework, which can be completed in four years; students have up to seven years to complete the requirement. Along with coursework, graduate applicants can expect to complete a dissertation and a research project. Sample courses include Human Development and Functioning, Social Psychology, and History and Systems of Psychology.

8. University of Akron

Akron, OH

Online Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $10,270


The University of Akron confers a scientist-practitioner based Ph.D. organizational psychology online degree. This is a degree that is designed for students who wish to take on research and academic positions after they have graduated from the program. The Ph.D. at U Akron is built on the idea that applied learning is the best way to learn more about the field. While there are some residency requirements, these are generally taken care of in the form of workshops during summer intensives. Students will be expected to complete a minimum of 60 credit hours of coursework, one research program, and a dissertation for graduation. Sample courses include Structural Equation Modeling, Social-Cognitive Psychology, and Organizational Change and Transformation.

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6. University of Houston

Houston, TX

Online Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $9,519


Students interested in an organizational psychology online Ph.D. degree will be happy to find that the University of Houston provides such a degree. This hybrid program provides students with the necessary education and work experience expected by most employers. This program focuses primarily on statistics, research, and methodology, creating a degree that is perfect for research-focused I/O psychologists. Students will find that the majority of their residency and coursework requirements will be completed in the first two years, while the last two years of the degree focus on research projects, a work placement, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Personnel Psychology, Foundations of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, and Biological Bases of Behavior.

5. Louisiana Tech University

Ruston, Louisiana

Online Ph.D. in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $9,117


There is an incredible opportunity to earn an organizational psychology online Ph.D from Louisiana Tech University. This doctorate focuses on industrial and organizational psychology, including research and analysis, and therefore is perfect for professionals who wish to become researchers and academics. The program, which generally requires around four years of full-time study for completion, accepts students and provides them with an assistantship and a stipend. This degree requires at least 75 credit hours of coursework; students who take on the Organizational Leadership or Psychological Assessment concentrations may require more coursework. Research projects and a dissertation are also necessary to complete this degree. Sample courses include Organizational Consulting, Leadership and Decision Making, and Job Analysis and Performance Appraisal.

4. University of Louisiana at Monroe

Monroe, Louisiana

Online Doctor of Philosophy in Systemic Studies

Tuition: $8,284


While not technically an organizational psychology doctorate online degree, it is nevertheless an important degree to consider for I/O professionals. This degree focuses change, both within the psychology field and in society in general. It is a great degree for any type of psychologist who wishes to focus their career on systemic change. It is a cohort degree that does have some residency requirements, although most courses can be completed online. This doctorate requires 60 credit hours of coursework, including a research program and a dissertation. Sample courses include The Art of Creative Transformation, Qualitative and Ethnographic Research, and Issues and problems: Systemic and MFT Research.

3. University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, Nebraska

Online Ph.D in Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $7,204


A fantastic organizational psychology doctorate online degree is conferred by the University of Nebraska at Omaha. This hybrid program carries a residency requirement of two work placements of varying lengths. This is a professional degree that prepares students for a long career as an I/O psychologist and introduces them to advanced research concepts and real-world experience. This degree requires at least 54 credit hours and can only accept students with a master’s in industrial and organizational psychology. Students will also need to complete two work placements, research, and a dissertation. Sample courses include Leadership Theories and Research, Industrial Motivation and Morale, and Theory of Measurement and Design.

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1. The Graduate Center CUNY

New York City, NY

Online Ph.D in Industrial Organizational Psychology

Tuition: $6,330


One of the best online Ph.D. in organizational psychology degrees comes from the Graduate Center at the City University of New York. This degree prepares I/O psychologists for careers that are only available with a terminal degree. A hybrid program that sees students take short residencies on campus in New York, this program delivers an incredible interdisciplinary curriculum that focuses on research and development in the field. Students will need to complete 60 credit hours of coursework, a thesis, a qualifying exam, and a dissertation in order to qualify for graduation. Sample courses include Ethical and Legal Issues for Psychologists, Cognitive Psychology, and Psychometric Methods.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the Career Options for an Online Doctorate in Organizational Psychology Degree?

A Doctorate in Organizational Psychology is a very specific degree. Many who take on the program already have a pathway towards becoming I/O, or industrial/organizational, psychologists, which is a type of professional who works with companies to increase workplace efficiency, among other things. It is an uncommon career, but it is growing in demand.

Another career option is that of an academic or a researcher. While these positions are available separately, most I/O psychologists tend to work as professors who do research for their university. This is an academic profession that is focused on research and education. It can lead to a tenured professor track or as a lead researcher for the government or major corporations.

It is also possible for I/O psychologists to create their own careers. Many open their own consulting firms, freelancing for companies who may have specific issues they need to be addressed. They can also work as freelance writers for major publications, write books on the topic, serve as conference speakers, or build their own organization to teach other professionals about the necessity of I/O psychology in the workplace.

What is the Salary Expectation for an Organizational Psychologist?

Like many doctoral students, the question of salary can loom large in the mind. I/O psychology is a small but growing field, and many wonder if earning a doctorate can actually affect how high a salary becomes.

In the case of researchers and academics, the salary can range from between $81,000 to $100,000 a year. This range is based on the fact that most researchers and professors work within public and private research institutes, colleges, and universities. Those who work in private institutions make more than those who work at public universities and for the government.

I/O psychologists who work in the business sector and as consultants have a starting salary of $80,000. However, over time and with more experience, it is possible for these same professionals to make up to $250,000 a year. This salary can depend on bonuses and other forms of compensation.

As always, students must research their area of residence to see what salaries look like around them. Salaries tend to be higher in metropolitan areas but are more competitive; rural areas provide more employment opportunities and a lower cost of living.

What are the Various Disciplines of Organizational Psychology?

Organizational psychology is an applied discipline, meaning that it takes from seemingly disparate disciplines in order to educate professionals. Students who are already familiar with the field will know what the field focuses on, but others may not.

This field relies on research, statistics, math, science, technology, psychology, management, and behavior. Some in the field may also work in the business sector, meaning they also need to understand branding, marketing, human resources, and business as a general discipline. Researchers and academics, alternatively, focus on history, theory, and analysis.

Is a Master’s Degree Necessary to Apply for a Doctoral Program in Organizational Psychology?

Schools vary on when they will accept doctoral candidates that do not have a master’s degree in psychology. While it is rare that an undergraduate student would skip a graduate degree and move straight into doctoral work, it does happen, and so it’s important to go over the options a student has.

Some programs will not consider any student that does not have a master’s degree in psychology. A few schools will go one step further and not admit students who don’t have a graduate degree in organizational psychology. This is because these programs are built to provide a pathway to licensure and therefore builds on top of education that is already taught at the graduate level.

Other programs will accept students who do not have a graduate degree, so long as their undergraduate degree and previous work experience is in the realm of psychology. Students will some experience in organizational psychology are preferred, but acceptance is on a case-by-case basis.

There are some schools, such as a few in the ranking above, that not only accept students without a graduate degree, but provide a pathway towards earning their master’s while in the doctoral program. This is sometimes referred to as a “concurrent degree plan,” meaning that a master’s degree is conferred first while the student continues their education towards earning a doctoral degree. These schools are prized by many I/O psychologists, because it keeps them in the same department at the same school during their graduate education.

Students must do their own research to find out the requirements for admission to a particular program. Those guidelines will clearly state if a student needs to have a graduate degree or not or, in some cases, whether a school will consider an applicant without a graduate degree.

Is Licensure Necessary for Doctorate Students?

Most students will be aware that licensure for industrial-organizational psychologists comes after obtaining a doctorate degree as well as passing the EPPP, the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. It is a long road to earn licensure as an I/O psychologist, which is the very reason so many professionals in the field choose to pursue a doctoral degree.

Doctoral graduates nearly always sit for the EPPP after obtaining their doctoral degree. This is because it is a mark of excellence among these psychologists and enables them to practice their specialty in the field in their state. It also distinguishes them from other employees who have yet to earn their doctorate.

Professionals without licensure are generally not employed by major corporations and they are also barred from using the title “Psychologist” in their name. In fact, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology discusses the various restrictions for each state in the country when it comes to the field.

In short, all students who take on this degree should expect to sit for licensure once they have graduated. It is not only a good choice professionally, but it also is the capstone reward for a long educational pathway.

Organizational psychology is an important part of the workplace, probably more so now than ever. With technology changing the way Americans do business, it is critical to understand how communication, psychology, and behavior can have an impact on the workplace. With the help of the GSH staff, this ranking highlights the best programs in the discipline, demonstrating how important the field is to the month/year atmosphere of the workplace. These top online Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology degrees will help even the most ambitious professional find a new career and strengthen their positions as experts in the field.

GSH Staff

March 2018

This concludes our ranking of the Top Ten Most Affordable Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs for 2018.