James F. Paulson, Graduate Program Director
Overview of the Topical Areas
The program covers current theoretical and practical issues and topics within I-O psychology. The following is a partial list of these areas:
- Job Analysis
- Psychological Testing
- Selection Systems
- Personnel Training
- Human Resource Development
- Human Resource Management
- Occupational Safety and Health
- Work Motivation
- Work-Family Interface
- Career Development
- Job Satisfaction
- Organizational Commitment
- Group and Team Processes
- Organization Development and Change
- Organizational Justice
- New Forms of Work Organization, such as Telework and Virtual Teams
- International Aspects of I-O Psychology
The PhD in Psychology with a concentration in Industrial and Organizational Psychology admits students at two levels: with a master’s degree or with a bachelor’s degree. Degrees held must be in psychology or a related field. Each applicant must submit:
- Official scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE);
- A brief statement outlining personal goals and academic objectives;.
- Three letters of reference, at least two of which are from former college/university teachers or research supervisors;.
- Transcripts of all prior academic work;.
- A sample of recent academic writing (e.g., a paper required in an undergraduate course).Applicants are encouraged to submit a writing sample.
The program requires at least 84 semester hours of credit beyond the bachelor’s degree with at least 48 hours being post-master’s education. Post-master's credits include up to 24 dissertation research credits. For the individual entering with a bachelor’s degree, the general plan of graduate education consists of four phases:
- Course work in general psychology, acquired while working toward the master’s degree;
- Broad education in the general area of I-O psychology;
- Research and professional-practice experience in I-O psychology; and
- Completion of a dissertation representing a significant professional contribution to I-O psychology.
For the individual entering with a master’s degree, a minimum of 48 hours of doctoral-level credits is required, based on a review of the student’s educational background by the faculty and the Ph.D. programs director. The entering student holding a master’s degree must pursue a plan of study identical in spirit to the latter three phases of the student with the bachelor’s degree (see phases listed above).
For the student with a bachelor’s degree, completion of the program requires approximately five years of study. For the student who holds the master’s degree upon entering the Ph.D. program, completion requires approximately three years. A student entering the program with a bachelor’s degree must meet the requirements for the master’s degree in general psychology (i.e., 36 semester hours with appropriate course work). The student is required to complete a core of master’s-level courses with at least a B average. If the GPA falls below 3.0 the student may be placed on probation or suspended from graduate study as specified in the University Catalog. Further, if the student receives a C grade or less they will also be placed on probation; a second C or worse may result in dismissal from the program.
The Ph.D. in Psychology requires at least 84 semester hours of credit beyond the bachelor’s degree or at least 48 semester hours of post-master’s training. Students entering the program with a bachelor’s degree must complete the first phase of the program by meeting the requirements for the master’s degree in Psychology (i.e., 36 semester hours with appropriate course work). For the student with a bachelor’s degree, completion of the program requires approximately four years of study. For the student who holds the master’s degree upon entering the Ph.D. program, completion requires approximately three years. The student is required to complete a core of master’s-level courses with at least a B average. If the GPA falls below 3.0 the student may be placed on probation or suspended from graduate study as specified in the University Catalog. Further, if the student receives a grade of C or lower, they will also be placed on probation; a second C or worse may result in dismissal from the program.
The core courses consist of the following:
|PSYC 713||Research Methods in Psychology||3|
|PSYC 727||Analysis of Variance and Experimental Design||4|
|PSYC 728||Regressional and Correlational Design||4|
|Total Credit Hours||23|
Industrial and Organizational Psychology Concentration
In addition to the core requirements for the PhD in Psychology, the PhD concentration in Industrial/Organizational Psychology requires the following courses:
|PSYC 745/845||Psychometric Theory||3|
|PSYC 750/850||Organizational Psychology||3|
|PSYC 763/863||Personnel Psychology||3|
|Select six of the following:||18|
|Seminar in Professional Aspects of Industrial/Organizational Psychology|
|Occupational Health Psychology|
|Field Research Methods in Organizational Psychology|
|Human Resource Development|
|Psychology of Personnel Selection|
|Advanced Personnel Psychology II|
|Topics in Psychology I|
|Topics in Psychology II|
|Total Credit Hours||27|
Students may be permitted to substitute another course within the Psychology department or from another university department for one or more of the six doctoral-level courses with permission of their guidance committee.
By November 1 of the third fall of study for a student entering with a bachelor's degree, or the first fall of study for a student entering with a master's degree, a plan of study must be prepared with the aid and approval of the academic mentor. The plan of study is then given to the Ph.D. programs director for approval. The plan of study outlines the student’s minimum 48 hours of post-master’s education. The student must include a plan to complete at least six of the doctoral-level content courses listed above.
Prior to admission to candidacy (i.e., the beginning of formal work on the doctoral dissertation), each student is required to pass a candidacy exam. A student must pass both the written and oral parts to pass the candidacy examination. The examination may not be reported as passed if there is more than one dissenting vote. A candidacy examination cannot be passed conditionally. A pass on the examination cannot be made contingent upon other factors such as the completion of additional course work, the preparation of extra research projects, and so on. If either part (written or oral) of the candidacy examination is failed, the faculty may permit the student to take it once more at a time mutually satisfactory but within 12 months from the date of the first examination. If either part of the examination is failed, the student may be required by the faculty to retake only that part. The student is allowed two attempts on the candidacy exam. If the student fails the exam twice, they may be asked to leave the program. When determining failure, the faculty considers a complete scheduled exam as one attempt. Failure of one part of the exam on the first attempt (such as the written part), but then failure of a different part of the exam (even the oral part) at the attempt is considered two failures. There are two methods an IO student might use to pass the candidacy exam:
- The student publishes a series of manuscripts (see the IO Guide for details), at least one as first author, in peer-reviewed journals and completes an oral defense based on those manuscripts; or
- The student completes a qualifying examination covering the student’s areas of specialization. The candidate is examined broadly in the areas, not merely in a single aspect of concentration. The examination consists of a written part (12 hours) and an oral part (two hours).
The student must obtain professional practice experiences during the course of graduate education. An internship is one excellent option for meeting this requirement. However, the student can also meet the requirement by active involvement in applied research or consulting activities under the direct supervision of one or more Ph.D. psychologists. The student’s academic mentor establishes the criteria for meeting the professional-practice experience requirement and judges the adequacy of the experiences.
Graduate Student Teaching
Teaching a course is an experience that is worthwhile regardless of the eventual career role(s) that a student envisions, and the experience should be taken seriously for its professional value. Benefits associated with teaching a course include expanding and solidifying knowledge about general and I-O psychology, polishing communication skills, and establishing professional identification. Although there are other ways to acquire these benefits (e.g., presentations at conferences, consulting experiences, organizing and conducting workshops), teaching a course systematically builds these experiences into a student’s plan of study. Moreover, any student who plans an academic career should teach one or more courses in preparation for that career. The student should also recognize that during the course of graduate training, financial support is often provided by the Psychology Department from graduate teaching assistant or adjunct teaching funds. This type of financial support almost always requires that the student be partially or fully responsible for teaching a course.
The doctoral dissertation is a significant and creative research achievement and a significant contribution to knowledge in I-O psychology. An oral examination in defense of the dissertation is required. The aim of the defense is to evaluate the doctoral candidate’s mastery of the methodological and substantive contributions of the completed dissertation.
Laboratory and field research programs are conducted by the I-O faculty on such diverse topics as selection systems, training systems, development and implementation of performance appraisal systems, team performance and assessment, work-family interface, workplace diversity and inclusion, organizational change, occupational safety and health, innovation management, telework, virtual teams, and international I-O issues. Research is supported by a variety of agencies such as the National Science Foundation; National Institutes of Health; National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; the NASA/Langley Research Center; the Virginia Modeling, Analysis and Simulation Center; and the military services. Students are encouraged to become engaged in one of these research programs early in the process of their education.