PhD in I-O Psychology


Tara Behrend lecturing in front of a class of I-O psychology students sitting at a table


The Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial-Organizational (I-O) Psychology delves into areas including personnel selection, training and development, work motivation and leadership. Working closely with advisors, PhD students often win awards for their research, and many present each year at conferences held by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology and the Academy of Management.

Dr. C Lab

Dr. Y Lab

Professor David Costanza’s SHOP Lab conducts research on hard organizational problems. Hard problems are ones that defy simple solutions, where theoretical support or existing models are lacking, whose study requires complex data sets, that use advanced methods and statistics, and in general are hard to figure out. Graduate and undergraduate research assistants work in the SHOP Lab on projects including high-potential leadership (what is potential anyway?), generations and generational differences (hard to study something that doesn’t exist), the impact of leadership on organizational outcomes (the connection is distal at best), and career paths (modeling individual, cohort, organizational, and macro factors simultaneously affecting individual career outcomes). For info on SHOP, contact [email protected].

Dr. Yisheng Peng’s Stress & Occupational Health Across the Lifespan (SOHAL) Lab generally examines stress and occupational health issues across the lifespan. His first line of research focuses on aging and older workers issues, such as risky and protective factors of older workers’ occupational health, late career development, family caregiving, etc. His second line of research focuses on the impacts of social work environment (e.g., workplace mistreatment, emotional labor) on employees’ well-being and work outcomes. Graduate and undergraduate research assistants work on projects including college student workers (e.g., health behaviors, career development), ostracism/isolation, and proactive work behaviors. For more info, contact [email protected].

The I-O Psychology Program is designed in accordance with guidelines established by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP; Division 14, APA). Graduates leave prepared for roles in academia, government agencies, consulting firms and the private sector.

For prospective applicants: In general, individuals applying to the IO Program should have GREs in the 50th percentile or higher, UGPAs of 3.0+, meaningful research experience (research assistantships, honors thesis, presentations and/or publications, etc.), and interest areas that match those of the faculty. Admitted students' scores are usually notably higher. We evaluate all candidates holistically, looking at their entire application before making admissions decisions. Further information about IO Programs, standards and requirements is available on the SIOP website.

From Classroom to Career

A group of four students in business suits smiling at a conference

Real-World Applications

Employers of all sizes seek industrial-organizational psychologists who can help guide organizational change. This work might include:

  • Conducting research on employee retention and turnover
  • Improving products through strategic customer surveys and feedback
  • Advising leaders and team as they think through difficult decisions or craft company philosophy around topics such as diversity and inclusion

Office of Personnel Management.


Many students also choose to pursue optional internships in the Washington, D.C., area. The department has ties to many local and national organizations, providing plenty of internship opportunities. Past internship employers include:

  • Army Research Institute
  • Federal Management Partners
  • Fors Marsh Group
  • ICF
  • Mariott
  • Personnel Decision Research Institutes
  • U.S. Office of Personnel Management
  • The World Bank

"I was able to earn trust from co-workers because of my subject matter expertise in the I/O area and basic research methodology. The program also really set me up for success [with] opportunities such as my fellowship at the Army Research Institute."

Kaitlin Thomas

PhD ’17, I-O Psychology


I-O Research in Action




Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Graduate Programs.

The following requirements must be fulfilled: 72 credits, including 42 credits in required courses, 12 credits in elective courses, and 18 credits in dissertation research.

DNSC 6274Statistical Modeling and Analysis
DNSC 6275Advanced Statistical Modeling and Analysis
DNSC 6276Exploratory and Multivariate Data Analysis
ORSC 8261Research Methods in Organizational Sciences
PSYC 8231Development of Psychometric Instruments
Industrial/organizational psychology core
ORSC 6212Current Issues in Personnel Testing and Selection
ORSC 6214Personnel Training and Performance Appraisal Systems
ORSC 6297Special Topics
PSYC 8243Seminar: Psychology of Leadership in Organizations
PSYC 8245Seminar: Organizational Behavior
PSYC 8260Psychology of Work Group Development
PSYC 8291Theories of Organizational Behavior
Psychology breadth
One course from the following:
PSYC 8253Social Cognition *
PSYC 8254Social Influence *
PSYC 8255Attitudes and Attitude Change *
One course from the following:
PSYC 8203Experimental Foundations of Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition *
PSYC 8204Experimental Foundations of Psychology: Biological Basis of Behavior *
12 credits in elective courses selected from the following:
ECON 6219Managerial Economics
ORSC 6209Management Systems
ORSC 6216Theories and Management of Planned Change
ORSC 6217Productivity and Human Performance
ORSC 6241Strategic Management and Policy Formation
ORSC 6242Organizational Communication and Conflict Management
ORSC 6246Comparative Management
ORSC 6248Strategic Human Resource Planning
PSYC 8203Experimental Foundations of Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition *
PSYC 8204Experimental Foundations of Psychology: Biological Basis of Behavior *
PSYC 8211Community Psychology I *
PSYC 8253Social Cognition *
PSYC 8254Social Influence *
PSYC 8255Attitudes and Attitude Change *
PSYC 8256Introduction to Survey Research
PSYC 8257Current Topics in Social Psychology
STAT 2118Regression Analysis
STAT 3119Analysis of Variance
PSYC 8998Advanced Reading and Research (taken for 3 credits)
PSYC 8999Dissertation Research (taken for 15 credits)
*Can be used as an elective only if it is not chosen to fulfill the breadth requirement.
** The list of electives is not exhaustive. At least 3 credits must be taken in a course outside of the PSYC designation.