Most Affordable Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs

Most Affordable Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines organizational psychology as a psychological discipline that analyzes how people behave at work. Organizational psychologists, also known as industrial-organizational psychologists, help employers recruit the best talent, train new employees, and create better work environments. These professionals can positively impact people’s quality of life and their employers’ bottom line.

Most Affordable Online PhD in Organizational Psychology Programs Badge

Individuals who pursue careers in organizational psychology enjoy solving problems, helping others, and fostering interpersonal relationships. Professionals who enter this field can become assistant professors, consultants, or operations managers, depending on their respective doctoral specializations.

A typical Ph.D. in organizational psychology program takes five years for bachelor’s degree-holders to complete. Degree-seekers with their master’s in organizational psychology may need only three years. Fortunately, students can earn an online Ph.D. in organizational psychology without pausing their careers. Continue reading for answers to common questions and information regarding typical courses and program accreditation.

Accredited Online College Programs


Question Answer
What is organizational psychology? Industrial-organizational psychology is a psychology subfield that studies how people act in the workplace. Industrial-organizational psychologists perform research to increase efficiency and increase employee satisfaction.
Is a master’s degree necessary to apply for a doctoral program in organizational psychology? The answer depends on the university. An online Ph.D. in organizational psychology program may offer two tracks: one for students who earned bachelor’s degrees and one for learners with their master’s.
Do you need a license to be an organizational psychologist? Ph.D. in organizational psychology graduates require state-issued licenses to practice. Each state imposes different licensure requirements, and some feature licensure reciprocity agreements.
Do you need a doctoral degree to be an organizational psychologist? Industrial-organizational psychologists must earn a doctorate, as they need it to apply for licensure. Other requirements include supervised work experience.

What Do Organizational Psychologists Do?

Students earning a Ph.D. in organizational psychology can work with academic and career advisors to research and narrow down potential career paths. One popular option includes human resource management. Organizational psychologists in this role use their human behavior expertise to recruit applicants and create training materials. Less common tasks involve remediating disputes or complaints between employees.

Organizational psychologists who are interested in human resources but prefer positions with less human contact can work toward careers as workforce insights analysts. These professionals apply their quantitative and qualitative research skills toward assessing employees’ performance and satisfaction. They use their research findings to make recommendations to senior management.

Outside of human resources, industrial-organizational psychologists can find positions as professional development consultants. Consultants create training programs for their company’s employees. They can also work as an independent contractor who specializes in one or more industries.

Finally, industrial psychologists with a Ph.D. possess the necessary educational experience to become a tenured professor at a college or university. They instruct undergraduates and graduate degree-seekers, perform original research, and write articles and books for publication. Other responsibilities can include leading teams and creating curricula.

Most Affordable Online Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology Programs

The ranking below highlights the most affordable online Ph.D. in organizational psychology programs for 2020. Each blurb details information regarding the program’s popular courses, admission requirements, and additional information that prospective degree-seekers need to make an informed decision. Please use the embedded links to discover contact information and other essential details.

  1. New Mexico State University

    Las Cruces, NM

    A major public college based in Las Cruces, NMSU offers a fully online master of arts in sociology. This 36-credit degree explores the relationship between individuals and society, offering tools to better understand and improve human relationships. The program covers topics such as research design, organizational analysis, the assessment of social change, and diversity management. The curriculum examines a variety of sociological perspectives and includes courses in sex and gender, the sociology of pop culture, sociology of the family, and social issues of the rural Americas. Students complete all courses online, with no campus visits required.

  2. University of Alabama

    Birmingham, AL

    Alabama's flagship public college, UA hosts a variety of distance education programs, including an online master of arts in applied sociology. Comprising 30 credits and nine total courses, this online sociology master's degree includes four required core courses: applied sociological research methods, applied sociological theory, applied sociology, and applied social psychology. Student fulfill remaining credit requirements with several elective courses, including options such as consumer culture and the sociology of death and dying. Degree candidates can also complete an applied sociology practicum that stresses innovation and creativity in professional practice. All students conclude the program with a six-credit, research-based capstone that synthesizes overall program learning.

  3. South Dakota State University

    Brookings, SD

    The largest and oldest public college in South Dakota, SDSU hosts an assortment of online programs, including a unique master of science in sociology – community development. This interdisciplinary degree applies the principles of sociology to practices of community development, training students to address economic, cultural, social, and environmental challenges in communities. Offering a flexible modular course format, the fully online sociology master's degree caters to the needs of working students, making it easy to complete coursework alongside personal and professional obligations. The program includes four unique emphasis areas: working with Native communities, building economic capacity, natural resource management, and nonprofit management.

  4. Ohio University

    Athens, OH

    Based in Athens, Ohio University offers a unique, fully online master of social sciences degree. Geared toward teachers and public administrators, the program emphasizes both social science content and teaching methods, enabling graduates to teach dual enrollment courses that count for both high school and college credit. This interdisciplinary degree covers social science topics from five main perspectives: history, geography, political science, anthropology, and gender and sexuality studies. Courses use a fully online, asynchronous format that enables students to complete coursework at their own pace. At the end of the program, all candidates must complete a proctored final exam at an approved testing center.

  5. Morehead State University

    Morehead, KY

    Based in Morehead, Kentucky, MSU offers a master of arts in sociology with four concentrations: criminology, chemical dependency, interdisciplinary social sciences, and general sociology. Each track requires a total of 30 credits, split between 15 credits of core courses and 15 credits of concentration courses. The 15-credit masters in sociology online core includes five courses: quantitative research for social sciences, globalization, social thought and theory, quantitative research methods, and proseminar in social science. Each concentration track offers a different selection of electives, and most tracks include both thesis and non-thesis completion options. Candidates complete either a six-credit research thesis or an additional two elective courses.

Salary Outlook for Organizational Psychologists

An organizational psychologist’s salary depends on multiple factors, such as job title, years of professional experience, and geographical location. The latter plays a vital role, as more populous states with larger metropolitan areas offer the highest salaries. However, industrial-organizational psychologists who earn less but reside in rural areas can attain an excellent quality of life.

Organizational psychologists-in-training should also consider the relationship between salary and industry. The private sector may offer a higher salary than the public sector, and an industry’s growth or decline also affects what employers offer job applicants.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California, Virginia, and Maryland employ the largest number of industrial-organizational psychologists. Finally, professionals who live in California and Pennsylvania enjoy the highest pay.

Bottom 10% Median Annual Salary Top 10%
$51,080 $92,880 $197,700

Source: BLS

Licensure for Organizational Psychology

Psychologists need state licensure to practice, and each state goes by slightly different requirements. In California, the nation’s most populous state, candidates must pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology Exam and the California Psychology Law and Ethics Exam. Candidates take an ethics exam to prove their competency with relevant state laws.

Other licensure steps include passing a criminal background check and attaining supervised work experience; many doctoral programs allow degree-seekers to start obtaining supervised work experience while earning their degrees. After candidates complete each step, they can apply with their state’s board of psychology.

After industrial-organizational psychologists earn licensure, they must renew it. Renewal requirements include completing continuing education credits from an approved provider. California asks that licensed psychologists renew their license every two years and complete 36 hours of continuing education courses. At least nine hours must take place in person and not online. A state can also mandate which continuing education courses psychologists take, such as suicide prevention and ethics.

Courses in Organizational Psychology

Ph.D. in organizational psychology courses vary by program but instill a similar set of analytical, research, writing, and communication skills. Learners hone these and other skills by writing essays, performing original research, and crafting a dissertation. The dissertation process involves defending the dissertation in front of a faculty advisor and other professors.

The following five courses convey industrial-organizational psychology expertise. Not all programs offer these exact courses, and academic requirements can differ, depending on the university. Please contact a university’s psychology department to gain the latest information about its online Ph.D. in organizational psychology courses.

Adult Development and Work

Organizational psychologists must understand how individuals develop in their career, how managers make decisions, and how companies foster talent. Topics in this introductory course include educational systems, the importance of leisure and work-life balance, and techniques employers use to effectively and accurately rate their employees’ performance.

Systems Theory

Systems theory explores the similarities between biological and industrial systems. Coursework covers how teams create products based on different inputs, how feedback plays a role, and individuals’ various functions within a group. Learners leave the course with a deeper understanding of and appreciation for each person’s contribution to their employer’s success.

Virtual and Global Leadership

Organizational psychologists should know how the rise in virtual working environments affects productivity and teamwork dynamics. In class, degree-seekers learn how to motivate employees, troubleshoot issues that arise when team members live in different time zones and locations, and facilitate multicultural communication. Additionally, virtual and global leadership can help learners attain employment at a multinational corporation with offices worldwide.

Ethics and Standards

Ethics and standards introduces learners to concepts they need to pass their state’s ethics exam. Students learn how to perform research on people, work with ethnically and racially diverse populations, and navigate the legal system. Learning outcomes include the ability to apply ethical principles in different workplace settings.

Doctoral Dissertation

Degree-seekers start the dissertation process after completing core coursework and passing a qualifying exam. The dissertation process involves choosing a topic with a dissertation advisor’s assistance, performing research, and writing the dissertation. Research and writing can take two or more years, depending on the research topic and whether students learn full or part time.

Scholarships for Organizational Psychology Students

A doctoral degree represents a significant financial investment. Fortunately, online Ph.D. in organizational psychology degree-seekers can explore multiple scholarship and fellowship opportunities. The following awards represent just some for which students may qualify. Please use the embedded links to learn more about application requirements and deadlines.

George C. Thornton, III Graduate Scholarship
Who Can Apply: The George C. Thornton, III Graduate Scholarship awards funding to doctoral degree-seekers who possess a master’s in organizational psychology. Applicants submit a summary of their master’s thesis and one recommendation letter.
Amount: $3,000

Goldstein and Schneider Scholarships by the Macey Fund
Who Can Apply: Organizational psychology doctoral students part of a racial minority can apply. Other application requirements include an approved dissertation plan, dissertation research summary, resume, and nomination letter.
Amount: $3,000

Leslie W. Joyce and Paul W. Thayer Graduate Fellowship in Industrial-Organizational Psychology
Who Can Apply: This competitive fellowship awards funding to doctoral students who receive a nomination from their university. Application materials include official transcripts, a summary of the applicant’s master’s thesis, and a resume.
Amount: $10,000

SIOP Graduate Student Scholarships
Who Can Apply: Ph.D. in organizational psychology degree-seekers working on their dissertation can apply. Applicants submit a dissertation summary, two-page resume, and nomination from their program’s director.
Amount: $3,000-$3,500

Rains Wallace Dissertation Award
Who Can Apply: The S. Rains Wallace Dissertation Award provides funding to postdocs who applied creative research methods during their dissertation research. Applicants submit a maximum 30-page paper that summarizes their dissertation research.
Amount: $1,000

Accreditation in Organizational Psychology

When researching Ph.D. in organizational psychology programs, ensure that they possess regional accreditation. The United States’ six regional accreditation agencies evaluate whether colleges and universities provide a rigorous educational experience, one that aligns with what schools advertise to prospective degree-seekers. Regional accreditation plays such an essential role in higher education that employers may not consider applicants who graduated from nonaccredited schools.

Prospective online learners should also determine whether a university earned national accreditation from the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). DEAC representatives compare a school’s on-campus programs with its online degrees. If the latter boasts the same learning outcomes, the school receives DEAC accreditation.

Lastly, future industrial-organizational psychologists should only consider universities that possess programmatic accreditation from the APA. APA professionals determine whether a Ph.D. program uses the most up-to-date clinical best practices and adequately prepares learners for their future career. Additionally, some states require that licensure candidates earn their Ph.D. degrees from APA-accredited institutions.

Accredited Online College Programs

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