Sep 30, 2020  
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin 
2019-2020 Graduate Bulletin [ARCHIVED BULLETIN]

Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Ph.D.

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A doctoral degree in I-O psychology is suitable for those seeking deeper understanding of the principles and methods of fitting people and jobs. Our Ph.D. program follows the scientist-practitioner model of psychological training, incorporating a synergy of theory, research, and practice directed to improving organizational effectiveness and worker well-being. Our doctoral program prepares students for a wide range of employment opportunities in industry, government, and consulting settings, as well as for research and university (i.e., academic) positions.

Program requirements are officially described in the Graduate Student Handbook for the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs in Industrial-Organizational Psychology  at The University of Tulsa. 

Learning Objectives

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial-Organizational Psychology. 

  • Ability to apply theory and methods to help organizations solve people-related problems.
  • Have knowledge of the aims, practices, and strategies of organizations, workgroups, and individual workers to achieve fit.
  • Have knowledge of methods suited to testing the qualities of specific HR-related practices and interventions service organizational aims.
  • Ability to communicate with technical proficiency in terms understandable by lay professionals.
  • Standards of academic, research, and business professionalism.
  • Ability to design and execute research studies independently, addressing questions relevant to organizational interventions involving people.


Admission to the Ph.D. program in I-O psychology is selective, and because of high demand, not all qualified applicants can be admitted. Minimum requirements for admission include:

  • A baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution;
  • An undergraduate grade point average of 3.0 or higher in a 4.0 scale;
  • Satisfactory letters of recommendation;
  • An adequate background in psychology; and
  • Satisfactory test scores on Graduate Record Examination.

Undergraduate course work in I-O psychology, statistics, and research methods is recommended for applicants to the I-O program. Admission to the Ph.D. degree program in I-O psychology is open to applicants who have completed a bachelor’s degree, as well as applicants who have completed a Master’s degree.

Applications for admission to the Ph.D. program in I-O psychology are evaluated once a year for fall semester matriculation. The application deadline for the program is December 15.

Curriculum Requirements

The Ph.D. degree requires completion of 90 credit hours. The first two years of the program are structured to offer key foundational courses (e.g., Survey of I, Research Methods), with subsequent course work, research, and internships tailored to individual needs and interests. A Master’s thesis is not required, but doctoral students lacking a Master’s thesis must complete a pre-candidacy paper, usually in their second year, under faculty supervision. Doctoral students must also complete 200 hours of Fieldwork (i.e., internship; one credit hour), and successfully complete a comprehensive exam consisting of written, quantitative, and oral components, covering all major areas of I-O psychology. The dissertation is the last phase of the doctoral program. It requires formation of a dissertation committee, a proposal defense, data collection, data analysis, write-up, and an oral defense before the committee. Students are not formally admitted to doctoral candidacy until comprehensive exams are completed successfully and the student has passed their dissertation proposal defense. Students entering the doctoral program without a Master’s degree are generally expected to earn the Ph.D. within five years. More time may be needed for those seeking academic positions.

Methods Courses (12 Hours)

General Psychology Courses (12 Hours)

Choose 4 courses from the list below:

General Elective and Research Courses (40-41 Hours)

Ph.D. students must take a minimum of 9 credit hours of elective coursework from available graduate-level psychology courses, graduate courses in other departments, and/or as transfer hours from a previous graduate program. Courses from other departments will require permission of the instructor of record.  A maximum of 12 credit hours may be transferred from a previous program and/or institution pending approval by the Program Director and the Graduate School.

The remainder of the program may include any type of research courses, such as independent study, pre-dissertation, and dissertation research up to a maximum of 32 credit hours.  

Pre-Candidacy Paper and Presentation

All I-O doctoral students must complete a pre-candidacy paper.  Masters’ theses or other independent research projects may be substituted for the pre-candidacy paper at the discretion of the I-O Program Committee.  Research conducted while the student was an undergraduate may not be used to meet this requirement.  Procedures for developing and submitting the pre-candidacy paper are detailed in the Graduate Student Handbook for the M.A. and Ph.D. Programs in Industrial-Organizational Psychology .

Completed pre-candidacy papers are presented at Pre-Candidacy Day, which is held once each academic year (generally in the spring).  Presentations are limited to 15 minutes and are expected to be of professional quality.  Students may not take the I-O comprehensive examination until they have completed the pre-candidacy paper and presentation.

Doctoral Comprehensive Examination

Following the successful completion of the pre-candidacy paper and presentation, doctoral students begin the process of taking the comprehensive exams. 

Stage 1

Stage 1 of the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination mirrors the I-O M.A. comprehensive exam process, including its three components (written, analytic, oral).  Students intending to take the exam must inform the I-O Program Director in writing (e-mail preferred) at least 8 weeks prior to the scheduled date of the exam, which is typically set for early January (before the start of spring semester classes).  Students must be enrolled in the semester in which they take the exam.

All 3 components are completed within a one- to two-week period. 

For students who demonstrate specific skill deficiencies in any part of the exam, including the oral component, additional written remedial questions will be assigned targeting those deficiency areas.  In extreme cases, the student may further be required to retake select courses.  Passing the Stage 1 exam is required before the Stage 2 exam is offered. 

Stage 2

Stage 2 is typically offered one year after Stage 1.  Students intending to take Stage 2 must inform the I-O Program Director in writing (e-mail preferred) at least 8 weeks prior to the scheduled date of the exam.  Students must be enrolled in the semester in which they take the exam.  Stage 2 requires written responses to four questions. Three of those four questions will be in the main topic areas of Industrial Psychology, Organizational Psychology, and Research Methods.  The fourth question covers a student-selected special topic, as identified by the student’s primary research advisor.  The student develops a reading list for the special topic question in collaboration with the primary research advisor. This list is expected to be organized into subsections and must be approved by the I-O Program Committee no later than 4 weeks prior to the scheduled exam date, although 6 weeks prior is preferred to leave time for revisions.

Students failing the Stage 2 exam will be recommended for dismissal from the doctoral program. For students demonstrating skill deficiencies in just select areas on the Stage 2 exam, the I-O Program Committee may assign additional written remedial questions targeting those areas, under a “conditional pass”.

Dissertation Proposal Defense and Admission to Candidacy

Near the beginning of the proposal development, the student and primary research advisor must identify possible committee members from eligible candidates.  The doctoral committee must include the primary research advisor as chair, two additional faculty members from the psychology department, and a faculty member from another department at The University of Tulsa.  All committee members must have Graduate Faculty standing (as verified by the Graduate School).  Additional or replacement readers/members may be requested with the final appointment at the discretion of the Graduate School.  Final approval of all committee members is at the discretion of the Graduate School and must occur before the dissertation proposal defense.

Proposal defenses are generally expected to be scheduled for around the middle of the fall semester of year four, although other times may be considered in light of individual student progress and committee member availability.  Following the successful completion of the student’s proposal defense, the doctoral committee chair formally requests from the Graduate School that the student be admitted to doctoral candidacy.

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