Industrial-Organizational Psychology (PhD)

SPFC faculty
206-281-2091 and 800-601-0603 (toll free)
Marston Hall, first floor
SPFC graduate programs website

About the program

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Industrial-Organizational Psychology (IO) program seeks to develop scholars, professional practitioners, and leaders who will actively engage the community and businesses around them, improving organizations and developing people as part of their jobs.

Graduates of this Industrial-Organizational Psychology program become scholars possessing the necessary tools, theoretical knowledge, and analytical skills to launch their academic or consulting careers. They are practitioners managing change, applying scientific methodologies, and improving the organizations around them; and they are leaders guiding organizations, motivating and building teams, and developing future leaders.

Additionally, the doctorate in Industrial-Organizational Psychology provides you with the training to occupy the same position as master’s graduates. The distinctiveness of the doctoral program is in its additional emphasis on theory, methodology, and research.

This degree prepares you to take on higher-level academic, consulting, and leadership positions.

This doctoral program begins during Autumn Quarter and admits students once a year.

If you have already been granted the MA in Industrial-Organizational Psychology at SPU and wish to pursue this PhD, you must apply to the Industrial-Organizational Psychology doctoral program.


Both programs are designed with a focus on the science and rigor associated with quality degrees in this field along with an equal emphasis on the practice of industrial-organizational psychology.

  • The program curriculum provides you with a strong theoretical foundation for meeting real-world challenges.
  • Field-practicum experiences allow you to design and deliver interventions, conduct research, and develop leaders.
  • A wide variety of electives encourages you to tailor your coursework to meet your individual vocational and professional goals.

The curricula for the doctoral program has been structured according to the guidelines for graduate training in industrial/organizational psychology published by the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), a division of the American Psychological Association.

The curriculum in this Industrial-Organizational Psychology program satisfies the suggested areas of competence for graduates in industrial-organizational psychology, ensuring that you are fulfilling not only the expectations for a doctoral-level education, but also fulfill the expectations of experts working in the field.


The doctoral program is a 168-unit program (134 credits of required coursework and 34 credits of electives) and is designed to be taken over four years/16 quarters, with an integrated research and dissertation sequence. As a full-time doctoral student, you will take 8–14 credits each quarter.

Outside of the required coursework, you may complete electives from a variety of disciplines (Marriage and Family Therapy, Clinical Psychology, Business Administration, Theology, and Education).

The doctoral program begins in autumn. You will complete a master’s level final project and portfolio in the second year and be awarded a master’s degree upon completion of the equivalent MA requirements.

By the summer of year three, as a doctoral student, you are working full time on your dissertation. The fourth year in the program includes full-time dissertation work and professional placement credits. View this sample four-year course sequence for the program.

Admission requirements

For admission to this doctoral program, the following are required:

  • Online application and $75 processing fee
  • Bachelor’s degree, minimum
    • From a regionally accredited institution, with a minimum grade-point average of 3.0 in all undergraduate work.
    • A minimum of one statistics course in business or social science.
    •  Three courses in psychology must be completed (at a regionally accredited institution) prior to admission to the program. One course in business, political science, or sociology (completed at a regionally accredited institution) may be substituted for one of the three required psychology courses.
  •  Graduate record exam (GRE)
    • Administered within five years of the deadline date for application to the program.
    • Combined score of 300 (or 1100 on the older version of the test)on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE is preferred.
    • If you have significant qualifications and exceptional recommendations but fail to meet the GPA or GRE minimum scores, you may still be considered for admission to the doctoral program.
  • Personal statement
    • Demonstrating your writing and grammatical skills.
    • Addressing career objectives, personal qualifications, experience, and other insights as deemed appropriate by you.
    • The rationale for seeking the degree and choosing to attend SPU.
  • Letters of recommendation
    • Three letters with (1) one from a person who has experienced you in a professional setting (i.e., a current or former employer); (2) one academic reference from a former professor or instructor; and (3) one personal recommendation (not a family member).

    International students

    • If English is not your first language, you must take the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and present a minimum score of 600 on the paper-based test, 250 on the computer-based test, or a 100 on the internet-based test.
    • If you are not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you must provide an official confidential statement of financial support covering each year of intended enrollment. This is necessary in order to issue the paperwork for an I-20 immigration form.
    • More information about admission requirements for international graduate students. 


  • December 15

Admission process

The Admissions Committee of the Industrial-Organizational Psychology program will conduct a preliminary screening process. Finalists will be invited to come to campus for personal interviews.

Admission to the doctoral program depends upon recommendation by the IO faculty and approval from the IO program director. The entire process is usually completed within eight weeks after the final deadline date for applications.

Transfer of credits

Students who have taken graduate work at a regionally accredited institution may be allowed to transfer up to 12 quarter credits, and students who have been granted a master’s degree from a regionally accredited university in psychology, organizational psychology, business administration, or a related field may be allowed to transfer up to 30 credits. A maximum of 20 credits may be transferred toward the elective requirement.

You must provide applicable transcripts and/or syllabi for any course you wish to transfer. Each course must be at least 3 graduate quarter credits, equivalent to courses taught in the organizational psychology programs at Seattle Pacific University, and completed within seven years of admission. A minimum grade of “B” will be needed for transfer work. Any transfer-credit petitions should be submitted only after formal admission to the doctoral program.