Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree and Career Guide

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Doctorate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology (PsyD)

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About the Doctor of Psychology in Industrial-Organizational Psychology (PsyD)

Degree Type:

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)


Online, classroom, and hybrid


4–6 years

Total Credits:

At least 70, but varies

Aid Eligible:

Yes, for accredited programs

It’s no secret that workplaces can be rife with dysfunction, from the way employees and managers collaborate to the methods used to conduct business with consumers. But as an industrial-organizational (I/O) psychologist, you can recommend much-needed improvements to help solve these problems using a scientific, research-based approach.

By applying specialized knowledge of organizational development, decision theory, and human performance, I/O psychologists can address a variety of costly issues within a range of organizations. What’s more, due to their valuable expertise, they can often command high salaries.

Interested to learn how to become an industrial-organizational psychologist? Read on to find out more about degree options like the PsyD, requirements for admission, I/O psychology job opportunities, and much more.

What Is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

I/O psychology is the study of human behavior in work settings. I/O psychologists use their knowledge to solve a variety of organizational problems. They work to optimize training and development, coach employees, boost performance, and improve the overall work environment.

Where do I/O psychologists work?

I/O psychologists work in many different types of organizations, including businesses, industrial manufacturers, government agencies, nonprofits, academic institutions, research firms, health organizations, and private practices.

Industrial-organizational psychology jobs can include the following roles:

  • Human resources management
  • Talent acquisition
  • Coaching
  • Management consulting
  • Policy planning
  • Consumer behavior analysis
  • Research analytics
  • Program management
  • Organizational development
  • Labor relations

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Salary

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

National data

Median Salary: $139,280

Projected job growth: 5.9%

10th Percentile: $72,490

25th Percentile: $85,990

75th Percentile: $209,630

90th Percentile: $210,030

Projected job growth: 5.9%

State data

State Median Salary Bottom 10% Top 10%
California $120,940 $80,270 $173,360
Massachusetts $64,790 $64,790 $126,370
Missouri $65,460 $59,030 $122,460
North Carolina $72,760 $53,500 $88,000
Ohio $122,460 $80,430 $127,620
Oregon $73,620 $59,130 $161,540

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) 2022 median salary; projected job growth through 2032. Actual salaries vary depending on location, level of education, years of experience, work environment, and other factors. Salaries may differ even more for those who are self-employed or work part time.

I/O psychology requirements

Licensing requirements for I/O psychologists vary from state to state. According to the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), states often require individuals to:

  • Obtain a PhD or PsyD degree from an accredited university
  • Complete supervised work experience for a certain period of time
  • Earn a qualifying score (usually at least 500 out of 800) on the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
  • Pass an oral exam through their state board

Since specific requirements vary, be sure to check with your state regulatory board to learn what steps you need to take to become licensed.

What Is an I/O Psychology PsyD Degree?

The Doctor of Psychology, or PsyD, is an alternative to a PhD. A PsyD can be a great option if you’d like to focus more on using your scientific knowledge to provide direct psychological services.

PsyD vs. PhD

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), PhDs are the most common degree in the field of psychology and are “intended for students interested in generating new knowledge through scientific research (i.e., setting up experiments, collecting data, applying statistical and analytical techniques) and/or gaining teaching experience.

PsyD degrees, on the other hand, are for students who are “more interested in providing psychological services than conducting disciplinary research. The focus of the PsyD is to train students to engage in careers that apply scientific knowledge of psychology and deliver empirically based service to individuals, groups, and organizations.”

Though different, both PsyD and PhD programs can prepare you to become a licensed I/O psychologistPsyD programs usually take about 4–6 years to complete, whereas PhD programs typically take 5–8 years due to the amount of research involved.

Both types of programs often require an internship of a year or more. In addition, most PhDs require you to complete and defend a dissertation. Though it’s not quite as common, a thesis, dissertation, or equivalent project is part of many PsyD programs as well.

Other industrial-organizational psychology degrees

While the PsyD and PhD are undoubtedly the most common, there are other psychology programs that can lead you to earn your license as an I/O psychologist. One of these options is the Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) in Industrial-Organizational Psychology.

This type of program is designed for individuals who hold senior leadership positions in business administration or human resources. These roles use research and behavioral assessment to build more effective strategic plans and solve practical business problems. The DBA degree can take more than 3 years to complete.

Admission Requirements for a PsyD Program

To qualify for admission, you’ll need a bachelor’s degree at minimum from an accredited institution. Holding a bachelor’s in psychology specifically can help you prepare for postgraduate coursework, though you might be able to gain admission with a different major if you fulfill specific prerequisites.

Many PsyD programs also require you to have a master’s degree in a relevant field. As part of the application process, you’ll likely have to submit transcripts, letters of recommendation, an essay, and a resume. In-person interviews are also very common.

Is there a GPA requirement?

Yes, a grade point average of 3.0 or higher is typically required, however specific criteria vary by institution. Those with a GPA lower than a 3.0 might still be considered if they have strong qualifications in other areas.

Do you need to take the GRE?

Many programs do require you to provide GRE scores to qualify for admission. What’s considered a good score depends on the institution. Many top psychology grad schools report averages of around 160 out of 170 on the Verbal and Quantitative sections of the GRE, and around a 5 out of 6 on Analytical Writing.

Some PsyD programs require their own school-specific exam in place of the GRE, while others don’t require test scores at all.

Can you get in without a master’s degree?

At certain schools, this is an option. Some universities offer programs that combine master’s and doctoral degree programs, so you can enter with only a bachelor’s degree.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PsyD?

The program length for a PsyD degree is typically 4–6 years. This often includes 4 or more years of full-time academic coursework and a 1-year, full-time internship.

Accelerated programs

Some universities offer combined programs, where you can earn both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in I/O psychology in just 5 years. Other universities combine their master’s and doctoral programs, allowing you to finish your education at a faster pace, saving both time and money.

I/O Psychology PsyD Curriculum

The curriculum for an I/O psychology PsyD program is designed to help you assess human behavior in order to help employers recruit and retain qualified workers, boost productivity, and improve the quality of life for their employees.

Core classes

Coursework often encompasses a variety of interesting topic areas that combine psychological principles with business strategy.

Examples of coursework include:

  • Research Methodology and Design
  • Attitude Theory, Measurement, and Change
  • Psychology of Leadership
  • Human Performance and Work Motivation
  • Strategies for Building Competence
  • Business and Financial Literacy
  • Strategic and Organizational Planning
  • Change Management
  • Psychopathology, Behavioral Assessment, and Interventions
  • Lifespan Development
  • Ethics and Multicultural Issues in Psychology
  • Advanced Inferential Statistics

Are Internships Required?

Most PsyD programs require practicums, an internship, and/or other supervised experience as part of the degree. Industrial-organizational psychology internships are a great opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field and learn what settings appeal to you.

Are There Online PsyD Programs for I/O Psych?

Several online programs are available for I/O psychology degrees, offering students more flexibility and added convenience. Online programs often combine business psychology, statistical analysis, and behavioral sciences with business disciplines. They’re designed to help professionals gain knowledge relevant to consulting, human resources management, and other key leadership roles.

That said, many PsyD programs require an internship or other supervised experience. So even if your coursework is online, it’s likely that you’ll still need to complete these requirements in person.

How to Choose a PsyD Program

There’s no “best” doctoral degree in psychology, but some degree programs may fit your professional goals better than others. When considering different programs, find out what training and coursework they offer and what types of skills you’ll develop along the way. Make sure the program allows you to gain the type of experience and credentials you need for the career you wish to pursue after graduation.

Some programs may offer specializations or concentrations such as consulting psychology, industrial psychology, organizational psychology, leadership development and coaching, or research and evaluation. A concentration or specialization may help you to focus on an area that aligns with your unique interests.

In addition, check to see whether the program is accredited and meets the licensing requirements of your state. Most states require both programs and internships to be accredited by the APA.

Financial Aid for Psychology Majors

Financial aid is available from a variety of sources. You may want to consider several options such as grants, fellowships, work-study programs, private loans, and GRAD PLUS loans. Get started by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Scholarships are also a great way to help fund your education. Popular scholarships for I/O students can be found through the SIOP. Given to 4 students a year, these range from $3,000–$3,500. To qualify, you must currently be in good standing in an I/O psychology doctoral program. Additional scholarships can be applied for through your school, the government, and private organizations.

Does I/O psychology qualify for student loan forgiveness?

Depending on where you decide to work after graduation, it may be possible to participate in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness ProgramThis relieves the remainder of your student loan debt after you’ve made 120 qualifying payments while working full-time for an eligible employer. However, the program is only for individuals who work for qualifying government or nonprofit organizations, and clinical jobs in the private sector are not eligible.

The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students provides a list of other student loan forgiveness programs, such as those available through federal government agencies.

Professional Organizations for I/O Psychologists

Though belonging to a professional organization isn’t necessary, it can be a great way to network, find job opportunities, and stay up to date on advances in the field. Check out these associations:

  • Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology: SIOP is a membership organization for individuals who practice or teach I/O psychology. It offers research publications, conferences and events, a job board, and continuing education resources.
  • American Psychological Association: The APA is the largest professional organization for psychologists in the country. It provides a member magazine and journal, networking events, continuing education opportunities, conferences and conventions, and more.
  • Society for Human Resource Management: SHRM has more than 300,000 members active in the field of HR. It offers webcasts, magazines, newsletters, books, conferences, and seminars.
  • Emotional Intelligence Consortium: The EI Consortium promotes research on emotions and emotional intelligence in the workplace. It also provides best practice guidelines, research partnerships, conferences, and training opportunities.
  • Society of Psychologists in Management: SPIM is an organization for psychologists who hold managerial or executive positions. It publishes an academic journal and offers continuing education opportunities, a membership directory, and networking events.