PhD: Industrial and Organizational Psychology — Qualitative

Doctor of Philosophy in General Psychology: Industrial and Organizational Psychology (Qualitative Research)

Offered By: College of Doctoral Studies

Prepare to Coach and Consult Business Professionals

The PhD in General Psychology: Industrial and Organizational (IO) Psychology degree at Grand Canyon University is designed to teach you how to study human behavior across a number of settings.

This program centers on interpersonal dynamics within organizational frameworks, emphasizing the complex interplay of dynamics in workplace relationships, employee engagement and motivation. You will have the opportunity to gain insights into effective relationship formation and human behaviors, and guiding strategic enhancements in areas like relationship-building, organizational culture and performance.

PhD Degree Holder Shaking Hands of People in School
Get More Information

Loading Form

Earn Your PhD: IO Psychology From GCU

Scholarly research is at the heart of the PhD in General Psychology: Industrial Organizational Psychology online program. As a student, you will evaluate existing research and consider the application and design used to formulate those principles. You will engage in independent research aimed at understanding cognitive processes in the workplace, including memory, reasoning, intelligence, motivation and learning approaches.

A qualitative degree program involves in-depth analysis of non-numeric data like interviews and observations, focusing on understanding how and why people think, believe and behave the way they do. In contrast, a quantitative approach analyzes numeric data using surveys and experiments to find patterns and statistical relationships. If you are analytically inclined and enjoy working with data, consider the quantitative version of this program.

Coursework and Topics Covered in This PhD Program

The PhD in General Psychology: Industrial and Organizational Psychology program includes coursework in the history and theory of general psychology. You will have the opportunity to examine common psychological theories and how they are used to formulate new ideas and practices that can be applied in the workplace.

Designed by the College of Doctoral Studies, coursework in this program will emphasize the following:

  • Industrial-organizational psychologists’ role in organizations
  • Leadership theories and styles tailored to organizational contexts
  • Principles of consulting and coaching for improved organizational performance
  • Methods for employee and manager selection, training, appraisal, organization and supervision
  • Techniques for workplace test selection, administration and interpretation

Studying these topics can help build a strong background in these key areas of IO psychology:

  • Psychology of leadership
  • Social and organizational principles to business and industry
  • Probability, descriptive and inferential analyses of data and statistical testing
  • Principles related to personnel and human resources management
  • Research
Alumni Doctoral Degree Scholarship
Now Available

GCU alumni enrolling in a doctoral program for the first time may be eligible for a $2,000 scholarship.§

I.O. Psychologist Sitting in Office Chair With Notepad Smiling for Camera

Skills You Will Be Taught in This PhD Psychology Program

Gain vital skills for your IO psychology career path, including:

  • Leadership evaluation and development strategies
  • Enhancing organizational culture 
  • Coaching for employee evaluation and culture enhancement
  • Research interpretation and data analysis mastery
  • Business acumen for understanding business dynamics
  • Assessing consumer preferences and market strategies

Throughout the industrial and organizational psychology courses, you will have many resources to support you with your dissertation, including two collaborative in-person residencies. Graduates who intend to pursue licensure will need to complete additional requirements, as this degree alone does not lead to licensure. 

Career Paths for Graduates of This PhD in General Psychology Degree

This degree program is designed to equip you with essential research skills and evidence-based practices for your academic journey in a PhD-level program. As a graduate, you have the opportunity to pursue various career paths, from enhancing your current role to exploring potential opportunities, such as becoming a behavioral expert in the workplace and bringing the methods of psychology to business.

You may also find employment in areas such as:1

  • Consulting
  • Management
  • Healthcare
  • Manufacturing
  • Postsecondary teaching level

$147,420

Median annual wage for industrial-organizational psychologists as of May 20232

Earn Your Psychology Doctoral Degree From an Accredited University

GCU takes pride in its institutional accreditation, ensuring a legacy of delivering excellence in education, including in industrial-organizational psychology. Accredited by the Higher Learning Commission since 1968, GCU and its College of Doctoral Studies remain dedicated to upholding rigorous standards and principles in its educational offerings. 

PhD: Industrial and Organizational Psychology FAQs

Obtaining a PhD in industrial-organizational psychology can be a substantial commitment. Prior to enrolling, it's beneficial to review the FAQs and corresponding answers pertaining to the PhD IO psychology field.

Organizational psychology is an intellectually stimulating field that can offer opportunities for scholarly inquiry and practical application. With its interdisciplinary nature drawing from psychology, sociology and organizational behavior, it can help provide a rich framework for understanding human behavior within the context of work environments. While the notion of a "good" field can be subjective and contingent upon individual interests and career objectives, organizational psychology offers opportunities for professional growth and societal impact. 

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, top-paying industries for industrial-organizational psychology typically fall within the realm of consulting or executive leadership roles in large corporations, local or state government and research.3 IO psychologists had a median annual wage of $147,420 as of May 2023.2 These positions often require extensive experiences from an advanced degree, such as a master’s or doctoral degree, and have expertise in areas such as statistics, research design and topics specific to understanding the relationships between people and workplaces.4 

The three major fields of industrial organization psychology are:5

  1. Industrial psychology: focuses on job requirements, employee assessment, training and evaluation
  2. Organizational psychology: studies worker satisfaction, motivation, commitment, management, leadership and organizational culture
  3. Human factors psychology: examines how workers interact with tools and equipment and how to design them for safety and health

Choosing to pursue a PhD degree program may be a step toward realizing your professional aspirations. This path can offer opportunities to pursue advanced research, academic positions and roles within organizations and requires a significant amount of time and resources. Evaluating your goals and the field's potential may help lead you to a fulfilling educational journey.

Industrial-organizational psychology applies psychological principles to work settings, addressing human behavior addressing elements of human behavior, like motivation, leadership and team dynamics. IO psychologists typically contribute to areas such as talent management, organizational consulting and HR, aiding organizations in enhancing productivity and employee well-being through evidence-based strategies.6

Take the First Step

If you are eager to learn more about how psychology functions within workplace environments, a degree in industrial organizational psychology may be right for you.

§ MOU-Alumni 2000 Doctoral-July2024: The Alumni Scholarship for Doctoral Programs is only valid for those applicants who submit a complete application and begin a Doctoral program in July 2024. This scholarship cannot be used in conjunction with any other GCU scholarship or awards and only applies to online and evening programs. Please speak to a university counselor for complete details.

1 American Psychological Association. (2013). Pursuing a Career in I/O Psychology. Retrieved on April 12, 2024. 

2 The earnings referenced were reported by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), Industrial-organizational Psychologists as of May 2023, retrieved on May 14, 2024. Due to COVID-19, data from 2020 to 2023 may be atypical compared to prior years. BLS calculates the median using salaries of workers nationwide with varying levels of education and experience. It does not reflect the earnings of GCU graduates as industrial-organizational psychologists, nor does it reflect the earnings of workers in one city or region of the country or a typical entry-level salary. Median income is the statistical midpoint for the range of salaries in a specific occupation. It represents what you would earn if you were paid more money than half the workers in an occupation, and less than half the workers in an occupation. It may give you a basis to estimate what you might earn at some point if you enter this career. Grand Canyon University can make no guarantees on individual graduates’ salaries. Your employability will be determined by numerous factors over which GCU has no control, such as the employer the graduate chooses to apply to, the graduate’s experience level, individual characteristics, skills, etc. against a pool of candidates.

3 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024, April 3). Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2023: 19-3032 Industrial-Organizational psychologists. Occupational Employment and Wage Statistics. Retrieved on April 11, 2024. 

4 U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2024, Feb. 16). How to Become a Psychologist. Occupational Outlook Handbook. Retrieved on April 12, 2024. 

5 PB Pressbooks. (n.d.). Workplace Psychology. Retrieved on April 12, 2024. 

6 American Psychological Association. (2022, May). Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Retrieved on April 12, 2024.

Time to Completion and Dissertation Process

To learn more about time to completion and the dissertation process at GCU, visit our doctoral page.

Course List

Major:
60 credits
Degree Requirements:
60 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course introduces doctoral learners to the principle elements of research, scholarly writing, and effective argumentation. Learners are made aware of the dispositions and expectations of doctoral researchers as well as the University’s overarching values and beliefs regarding research and the responsibility of scholars to contribute new knowledge to their respective fields of study. Learners begin the process of identifying a researchable dissertation topic and are acquainted with appropriate scholarly resources that support the development of the dissertation.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to the critical reading of scholarly qualitative and quantitative literature at the doctoral level. Learners also explore the concept of synthesizing the scholarly literature to identify problems and problem spaces that emerge to form a researchable topic of study. The application of scholarly argumentation from the extant literature to defend the need for a research study is discussed.

Course Description

This course is designed to familiarize the graduate student with the major schools of thought in psychology and their philosophical origins. The individuals and their personal experiences are examined in depth. The social, economic, and political forces that have influenced the developing discipline of psychology are also examined.

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the nature, origins, and history of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Although not a clinically based course, the course does address the psychoanalytic and psychotherapeutic strategies used to assist individuals with managing personal and inter-personal issues leading to improved mental health.

Course Description

In this course, learners are introduced to key components of qualitative and quantitative research designs and the means to critically appraise the application of research designs as observed in the scholarly literature. The University's core research designs are presented. Consideration is given to the initial selection and defense of a research design to address a problem that emerged from the extant literature.

Course Description

This residency allows learners to continue developing their skills as academic researchers. Learners will have hands-on experience applying quantitative and qualitative design principals to develop the foundational elements for their potential dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-850, RES-825, RES-831, or RCS-831.

Course Description

This course provides an introduction to the sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods employed in qualitative and quantitative research designs. Learners explore the alignment of sampling, data collection, and data analysis methods to the research topic, research questions, and research design. The course positions learners to select qualitative or quantitative designs for their dissertation studies. Prerequisite: RES-831.

Course Description

This course examines the historical and theoretical background of the behavioristic movement and its major works. The course also examines methods and techniques to help teach and learn new behaviors as well as the concepts and strategies to diminish or eliminate unwanted behaviors.

Course Description

This course applies social and organizational methods and principles to business and industry. Topics include human behavior at work; personnel selection, evaluation, and training; motivation and job satisfaction; management philosophies; employee-management relationships; work and equipment design; working conditions, accidents and human errors; and consumer psychology.

Course Description

This course explores the historical roots, theoretical foundations, major works, and guiding philosophy of Humanistic, Transpersonal and Existential (HTE) psychology. This course also examines the different approaches to studying HTE as it relates to human motivation, needs, will, love, and existence in a contemporary world.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore the basic components of GCU qualitative core research designs including descriptive, case study, and phenomenology. The nature of epistemological foundations and the structure of problem statements, purpose statements, research questions, data sources, collection and analysis approaches are discussed in the context of each design.

Course Description

In this course, learners differentiate the epistemological foundations and explore the data trustworthiness, research ethics, and potential for bias in descriptive, case study, and phenomenology research designs. The process of building a rationale for design choice and aligning the research questions, interview questions, problem statement, and purpose statement is addressed. Sources of qualitative data are introduced for each design, and ethical aspects of research are discussed. Prerequisite: RES-841.

Course Description

This course explores methods for accelerating individual, group, and organizational performance through consulting, coaching, and change management.

Course Description

In this residency, learners orally present and defend an expanded design of their preliminary dissertation research from RSD-851. Emphasis is placed on developing the qualitative dissertation. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

This course examines psychological principles related to personnel and human resource management in both physical and virtual work environments. Topics include personnel selection, affirmative action and equal opportunity decision making in selection, design and evaluation of training programs, training methods and management development, performance appraisal, and the work environment.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: RES-871, PSY-885, RSD-883, or RSD-884.

Course Description

In this course, learners explore qualitative data collection techniques and sources of qualitative data in the context of answering the research questions posed by a study. Consideration is given to the recognition of data saturation and the management of data. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs to prepare a written statement of data collection, and management activities. Prerequisite: RES-843.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: PSY-955.

Course Description

In this course, learners focus on the interpretation of qualitative data to produce written research findings, results, and implications. Learners continue to work with their respective dissertation chairs and apply information from this course to move ahead in the dissertation process. Prerequisite: RES-873.

Course Description

In this course, learners apply the skills of the practitioner-scholar. They are self-motivated and committed to reflective practice. They actively seek input from other scholars while continuing to design and/or conduct independent research under the guidance of the dissertation committee. Prerequisite: PSY-960.

Continuation Courses

The course identified above represent the minimum academic course requirements only. Most students will also need to take one or more of the following Research Continuation Courses to complete a dissertation. Research Continuation Courses are 3-credit courses charged at the standard doctoral per credit rate.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-965.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-966 or PSY-966E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-967 or PSY-967E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-968 or PSY-968E; RSD-951.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-969 or PSY-969E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-970 or PSY-970E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-971E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: Prerequisite: PSY-972E.

Course Description

This course emphasizes the finalization of the dissertation and provides learners with individualized support for completing their dissertation journey. Learners continue to work directly with their dissertation chair and committee members based on their individual progress plan for completing their dissertation. Prerequisite: PSY-973E.

GCU Online Student


Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.