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Grad School: Sortable I/O Psychology Ph.D. Program Rankings

2014 September 17

Grad School Series: Applying to Graduate School in Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Starting Sophomore Year: Should I get a Ph.D. or Master’s? | How to Get Research Experience
Starting Junior Year: Preparing for the GRE | Getting Recommendations
Starting Senior Year: Where to Apply | Traditional vs. Online Degrees | Personal Statements
Alternative Path: Managing a Career Change to I/O | Pursuing a PhD Post-Master’s
Interviews/Visits: Preparing for Interviews | Going to Interviews
In Graduate School: What to Expect First Year
Rankings/Listings: PhD Program Rankings | Online Programs Listing

Having written my grad school series, one of the most common questions I get is, “Which graduate programs should I apply to?” As I’ve explained on this blog, that’s a complicated question. You should evaluate which schools offer what you want as a student.

Unfortunately, SIOP does not make it easy to directly compare such information across programs. That’s understandable to a degree – much of this information, like research interests, changes frequently. However, every few years, a new set of rankings appears in SIOP’s newsletter, TIP, for some reason still chained to a text-based format, and sometimes to PDF. Why not something a little more modern?

So to fix that, I’ve combined the most recent of several rankings currently available into a searchable, sortable format: US News and World Report’s ranking of I/O psychology programs (woefully incomplete), the most recent evaluations of I/O faculty research productivity as reported by Beiler, Zimmerman, Doerr and Clark (2014), the number of I/O faculty in each program from that same source, and the most recent student satisfaction ratings of I/O PhD programs as reported by Kraiger and Abalos (2004). Those student satisfaction ratings are a bit old (collected in 2002), but they’re the most recent currently available.

These rankings shouldn’t be the only thing you look at when considering a graduate program, but it is something worth paying attention to.

Table column meanings are as follow (1 = highest rank out of up to 40 for all columns except Num Fac, NR = not ranked)):

  1. Num Fac = The number of I/O faculty at the program (not a ranking).
  2. US News = The US News and World Report rank.
  3. Pubs = Rank by number of publications by I/O faculty in any peer-reviewed outlet between 2003 and 2012 from Beiler et al.
  4. IO Pubs = Rank by number of publications by I/O faculty in the “top 10 I/O journals” between 2003 and 2012 from Beiler et al.
  5. SIOP = Rank by number of SIOP presentations by I/O faculty between 2003 and 2012 from Beiler et al.
  6. Prod = Rank by overall productivity index of I/O faculty between 2003 and 2012 from Beiler et al.
  7. Per Cap = Rank by overall productivity index per capita (i.e., split per I/O faculty) between 2003 and 2012 from Beiler et al.
  8. Students = Rank by overall weighted index of student satisfaction across 20 dimensions in 2002 from Kraiger and Abalos.

Note that you can click on the headings to re-sort the rankings (1st – 40th) at will.

ProgramNum FacUS NewsPubsIO PubsSIOPProdPer CapStudents
Michigan State University8113119NR
University of Minnesota5124433NR
University of South Florida84315216NR
University of Central Florida6NR42921625NR
Griffith University7NR532402135NR
Rice University7NR692372811
George Mason University7NR78352110
University of Georgia8NR82742920
Teacher’s College, Columbia University9NR933388387
University of Akron8NR10712632NR
University of North Carolina – Charlotte6NR1110291827NR
University of Calgary4NR123437317NR
Portland State University5NR1319131914NR
Bowling Green State University5314111110817
University of Maryland3NR151391229
University of Waterloo5NR1626363023NR
Old Dominion University5NR1738282720NR
Purdue University5NR185201713NR
The Pennsylvania State University6NR1918101424NR
Georgia Institute of Technology5NR20142713105
Texas A&M University6NR2166918NR
University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign4NR221214116NR
Central Michigan University5NR2322182015NR
Florida Institute of Technology6NR24361935343
Wright State University5NR2520162619NR
Baruch College, CUNY7NR261624223613
North Carolina State University7NR2717212437NR
University of Western Ontario5NR2821262317NR
University of Missouri – St. Louis6NR2928342931NR
Colorado State University4NR30372236114
Florida International University5NR3127252822NR
University of Houston5NR32158151212
Clemson University6NR3339173333NR
Wayne State University8NR3423152539NR
De Paul University5NR3525313426NR
University of Albany, SUNY3NR363030374NR
University of Guelph7NR37353939402
Auburn University3NR384035385NR
Ohio University2NR392433321NR
Illinois Institute of Technology5NR40313240306
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28 Responses leave one →
  1. Vivian L. permalink
    September 18, 2014

    This is amazing! I’ve had so much difficulty trying to find a more comprehensive ranking of the programs. Obviously, there is much more to consider other than the information listed here, but this is tremendously helpful. Thank you!

  2. September 18, 2014

    Thanks, Richard! This puts things in a much richer context than they’ve existed until now.

  3. Bo A. permalink
    September 22, 2014

    Hey Richard, I love this. However, I notice there are only 40 programs included. SIOP’s searchable database yields approximately 60 (or a few more) when filtering via PhD programs only versus Master’s programs. I understand that the publications and rankings cited to create this table only usually include about 20-40 programs, but this might deter people from applying to non-listed programs. Even though these tabled items are important, someone with a perfect research interest match might not apply to a school assumed to be “bottom-20.” It might be worthwhile to include all PhD programs, and maybe someday Master’s programs if data becomes available (I know some of the cited studies did review Master’s programs). If you ever end up developing your own measure of I/O programs, let me know, because I want to help. 🙂 And a note to anyone reading: US News Rankings are based on people’s subjective opinions (i.e. they ask people “Which program is the best?” and tally the score).

  4. Vivian L. permalink
    September 25, 2014

    Hi Richard,

    I am currently an undergraduate student, but am looking to transfer from my community college by next fall. Similar to high school students who look at grad school rankings for each major, I’ve been focusing on schools that either have an OB/HRM or other close fields similar to I/O. Do you think that this is not that important? Also, what is your opinion on attending the same school for undergrad as graduate program? It seems intuitive that it would help, because you can get to actually work with the faculty and possibly even volunteer in their lab, which will boost your chances.

    Lastly, I wanted to ask about how different HRM or OBM or OB programs that are in the Business Schools instead of Psychology compare in terms of I/O? If I want to work in industry, will either suffice? Thank you so much!

    • September 25, 2014

      If you can get direct research experience in organizational science specifically (I/O or OBHRM), that is certainly better than not getting such experience.

      It is extremely difficult, more so than for most graduate school applications, to enter a PhD program at the same school you completed your undergraduate. The reason is that at the doctoral level, you want to be exposed to multiple ways of thinking, and attending the same school can be interpreted as either 1) you don’t want to challenge yourself or 2) you couldn’t get in anywhere else. Some faculty take students from their own institution anyway, but it is relatively uncommon – and rather disparaging referred to as “institutional incest.” Either way, it is potentially harmful to your career long-term, so I would not recommend it.

      Note that this is not necessarily true for Master’s. A Bachelor’s and Master’s from the same institution is not that unusual. If you end up pursuing a PhD though, you’d want to do it somewhere else.

      OBHRM programs in business schools are intended to train academics. So if you want to be on the business school faculty somewhere, either is probably fine. If you want to be a practitioner, I’d avoid business schools. There is a fair amount of discussion on this point in the comments of this article:

  5. Jayne Tegge permalink
    February 27, 2015


    I have been reading your blog as I am a new employee working in the SIOP office. I appreciate your insights and they have helped me to understand the academic side of I-O psychology a bit more as that is not my background. However, I was a little skeptical of some of your statistics regarding presentations by faculty members at the SIOP conferences. Just to take BGSU as an example: your table indicates that BGSU faculty had 11 presentations between 2003 and 2012. I don’t know where you got those statistics, but I did a quick check and that number falls far short! In 2010 alone, BGSU faculty members made 12 presentations at SIOP; in 2011 they gave 17 presentations and in 2012 another 12 presentations. I’m taking all of your statistics with a grain of salt, therefore and recommend that others do likewise at this point.


    • February 27, 2015

      If you actually read my article, you will notice that the rankings here come primarily from two articles published in TIP, which is a SIOP publication. The numbers are rankings, not counts. This should be quite obvious given that each column has numbers 1-40 with no repeats. I would recommend you conduct a bit more research before representing SIOP so poorly on the Internet and to its membership. Or at least read posts before you comment on them.

  6. Jayne Tegge permalink
    February 27, 2015

    Thanks for clearing that up for me. I am certainly not trying to represent SIOP poorly. The way I read the chart, it just seemed strange to me. As I said, I-O psychology was not my field of study and definitely not statistics. I’m just an office worker learning O-J-T and trying to get things straight in my head so I know how to help the many students who contact me regularly with these types of questions. As an aside I really was glad to read your very reasonable comments on the online schools vs. brick and mortar because so, so many people want to know our opinions about this and we can’t offer advice or opinions either way. Thanks again.

  7. Cata permalink
    September 6, 2015


    Thank you for this very useful information, it surely provides some level of detail in addition to the typical charts.
    Concerning your SIOP column, as the reader above, I was a bit confused by the numbers. But then I saw your reply-these are rankings. This makes perfect sense, but could you also modify this in your text? There, the column description reads: “SIOP = The number of SIOP presentations by I/O faculty between 2003 and 2012.”

    • September 6, 2015

      This is already stated in the line immediately preceding the list: “Table column meanings are as follow (1 = highest rank out of up to 40 for all columns except Num Fac, NR = not ranked)):”

      Also the page is titled “Rankings,” and the word “Rank” appears about half a dozen times.

      I am not sure why this is so tricky for a few people, but I have regardless added the word rank ten more times. I’m confident this is as clear as it can get.

  8. Chuck Patton permalink
    October 19, 2015

    I am glad to have found your blog which has answered a lot of questions that I have had on pursuing a degree in I/O. From your list I did not see the programs concerning Virginia Tech, Austin Peay State or Appalachian State. What are your thoughts on these program?

    Thanks much,

    • October 19, 2015

      I don’t know much about those specific schools, but any PhD program not on that list was ranked below 40th. That doesn’t mean they are bad schools, necessarily, but it means their ranking was quite low for some reason. Low publications, low presentations, low something. If you’re considering a program not on this list, I would suggest you look at the stats available and try to figure out why, along with whether or not that reason matters to you.

  9. Chuck Patton permalink
    October 19, 2015

    Thanks much for the input Dr. Landers. I shall check out that info!!.

  10. NAVEEN permalink
    October 29, 2015

    Hi, I was wondering if you have a list for MA programs in I/O


  11. NAVEEN permalink
    October 30, 2015

    What do you look for in searching a Masters program. Location, overall prestige, etc. ?

    • October 31, 2015

      Well you should look for whatever it is you value! I would recommend however that you value your job prospects most. To that end, you could contact current grad students and ask them how confident they are that they will get a job after graduation and where they think it is likely to be. Most programs have existing relationships with particular geographic areas, e.g., because ODU tends to send our PhD students into the DC area, a lot of orgs in the DC area tend to value ODU graduates. The same is true of Master’s programs, but are often more locally directed. If you want to live in a particular region, I’d recommend primarily but not exclusively targeting Master’s programs in that region, that you are likely to get into, and that have above a 90% placement rate for jobs.

  12. Patricia permalink
    March 8, 2016

    Dear Dr. Landers,

    I have been accepted to the Teachers College Social-Organizational PhD program. I am having difficulty figuring out if a more traditional I/O program would be a better fit for me. I was wondering if you had any insight about the TC program.

    How much of an impact does going to a program that places less emphasis on the “I” side and has little representation at the SIOP conference have on outcomes like career paths for students? I’m ultimately interested in doing applied consulting work.

    Thank you!

    • March 8, 2016

      I’m afraid I don’t have any info on it, and I would not share it here even if I did. 🙂 But I will say that in general, low representation at SIOP means faculty are either less active conducting research within IO or less active conducting research in general. Split programs (i.e., social-org) often have that issue. I will give you the same advice I usually give – you need to contact some current students, preferably some just about to go on the job market, and ask them how they’re feeling about it.

    • Roop permalink
      August 4, 2016

      Hi Patricia,

      I am an aspirant of teacher’s college s-o course and would like to know(I.e. if you are comfortable sharing) about your GRE scores and what all mattered while during the admit?

  13. Vivi permalink
    July 19, 2016

    Dr. Landers,

    Thank you so much for your suggestions about recommendation letter and all the instructions, which is very helpful.

    I’m a junior student now, major in Applied Psychology and minor in Human Resource Management. I got interested in IO Psychology through a summer course called Organizational Psychology in UCLA, and I really want to pursue a Ph.D degree in IO. My overall GPA is 3.65. I had two year research experience in cognitive psychology, because our university doesn’t have a lot of IO psychologist. I had an international conference article in vision science area with my mentor. I also had own open publication in my own country in personality psychology area, only with an abstract in English. Right now, I joined an IO psychologist’s research team, but I think it’s a little late for my application this autumn. My GRE score (325) is not very high.

    I haven’t decide my specialization yet. But I want to apply to some good-ranking universities, do you think that I’ll have a good chance to be admitted? Or do you have any suggestion for me to increase this possibility?

    Thanks a lot.


    • July 19, 2016

      Percentiles matters more than actual score for GREs, but as long as you are above 70th on both, you have a competitive score. It sounds like you are doing all the right sorts of things, so you should have a fairly competitive application assuming your letters and personal statement are equally well-prepared. But remember that “competitive application” just means your main roadblock is luck, so be sure to apply to many programs.

  14. KNoelle permalink
    September 7, 2016

    Been following your blog for over a year..thanks so much as we all benefit from this…best blog ever.

    I have made many offbeat decisions based on fear of debt and need for program time flexibility, and want to reiterate your advice that the school choice is key.
    I left an I/O online program as it was a PsyD degree but focused on research- since being online did not allow the PhD status. I felt this was an odd situation, but the courses were good and the school had a name for itself in the medical field which gave it some credibility outwardly.

    Fast forward…I am now finishing a clinical PsyD, but since it is also online and not APA there are more limits than I originally knew about, with some states and Canada changing licensure rules. I realize I/O is not a licensure avenue but since some people, like me, waffle between choices I thought I would share.

    As you have said before, a PhD is best for academics who want to teach in most fields, but even a Master’s from a reputable non-profit seems better than a PsyD from an unknown you agree?

    As a full time teacher and sole provider of self, online education does meet a need, so I cannot say it was a terrible choice.
    If I was just starting out and in my 20-30s I would do things differently!
    Overall it seems that education and luck factors are enhanced by personal drive and developing meaningful work/relationships that will impact job-seeking.

    • September 7, 2016

      Yes, I would absolutely agree with that, in terms of skills gained, employability, and also future income. A PhD in I/O is also best for people who want to practice I/O psychology, not just a teaching career, but a strong Master’s program will also enable practice with a few key differences that I have described elsewhere. A weak Master’s program is much worse – many students come out without knowing much practicable about I/O psychology; those students tend to end up in HR careers that they could have entered without going to grad school at all.

      I’m sorry to hear you had a bad experience down the online PsyD path. I’ve given testimony before about the viability of online PhDs and PsyDs, but it looks like this is unlikely to change for a while. There are many forces within APA that have a monetary interest in preventing online PhDs from sitting for licensure exams. We’re experiencing a similar problem with online therapy, as well. There is also still a lot of resistance to PsyD’s in general, to be honest, but that ship has sailed. It is all quite unfortunate, in my opinion.

  15. Kerrie permalink
    November 6, 2017

    Hi, your blog has made me change my mind on many things and convinced me to not stay at an online school, but wanted to see if you thought my goals were realistic. I was a teacher for 17 years. I also have adjunct experience for the last 6. I have my Masters in Education. Last year I left the classroom for a position in an e-learning company and started to get my PhD in Education/e-learning at an online university. I realized that I really enjoy not being in the k-12 classroom environment and started looking into other career opportunities if I do not go the university route. I started looking into corporate training and other option and discovered i/o psychology.

    I’ve thought about switching from education to a psychology degree since being an undergraduate, but because of additional classes I would be required to take if I made the move, I never did. The feeling has not gone away. I love that I/o psychology could lead me to either a corporate position or university. I am very interested in behavior, motivation, and job satisfaction. I also have the background in education and e-learning.

    I started a PhD program last year. I absolutely love it. I enjoy learning, never felt so mentally stimulated, and feel like I am finally doing something for myself (I have two children). I’ve decided to switch to an i/o psychology program. After reading your blog, and some other sites, I am thinking about applying to some of the in-person programs near me.

    As a first generation college student in my family (let alone Masters or PhD), I’ve never had much guidance in that area. At 41, do you think it’s unrealistic for someone like me to apply to a Teachers College, NYU, UConn, or Baruch type school?

    My undergrad gpa was 3.6, Masters 3.9, and currently a 3.85 in my current PhD program. I am also a member of an international honors society for Education. I would have to take my current e-learning classes and put towards a post grad certificate and re-take my gre’s since it’s been many years. I figured if I am going to spend the time and money on an online PhD, that might hinder me in the end, I may as well apply to these schools and make my time spent worthwhile.

    Do you think it’s an unrealistic goal? My Masters is not in psychology. Applying to a top tier school is uncharted territory for me. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    • November 8, 2017

      I don’t think age directly matters very much in the PhD application process; there are plenty of people going into PhD programs into their 50s, and I once met a woman who was pushing 70. Where it gets tricky is: 1) In-person highly-ranked PhD programs typically require somewhere between 40 and 80 hours per week of effort. So that may not be attainable given family/work commitments. Part time is typically not permitted. 2) There is a greater expectation that you’ve really fully explored your career choices. So for example, if I saw an applicant that had already been in a PhD program, I’d want to see what that person published in that PhD program to get a sense of their caliber as a researcher. If they had not published anything, I’d wonder why.

      Most in-person PhDs, including the ones you’ve listed, don’t accept any transfer credits whatsoever, and some require you complete Master’s-level courses in their institution before you are allowed to take PhD courses, even if you already have a Master’s. So you should be aware of that too, and balance it against your career goals. See this page. On the bright side, high-quality in-person PhD programs are free. So there’s that too.

  16. Jo Chen permalink
    February 4, 2018

    Dr. Landers,

    Thank you for all the comprehensive information! I’ve read all your responses and learned a lot.

    Appreciating your professional experience, I want to ask for more advice.

    I am a sophomore at a state university now. My first major is Communication-Public Relation, and I add Psychology-Business as my second major after taking an I/O intro course. I think I’m more interested in I/O psychology now, so I plan to apply for a Ph.D. in I/O psychology in my senior year.

    Since I choose the psychology major a little late, I will try to catch up with research experience in the last 2 years. All I have now is that I am in a middle school mentor program with my psychology professor this semester. I have some conference experience, but not directly in psych field. And I have an overall GPA of 3.86, while 4.0 in my psychology major.

    I think my Comm experience help me a lot in developing my writing skills. I also enrolled in many business and econ courses to gain my understanding of management. I have different stats courses and research methods courses. I am bilingual and I have intern experience in different countries. However, I think I lack in I/O psychology research experience, which is very important to my career plan.

    May I ask for advice about how to prepare myself better on I/O psychology Ph.D. programs? Am I too late for research experience? Should I do more internships or on-campus researched with my professors? Can I add internship courses as my experience in my application?

    Will U.S. universities take psychology research experience in other countries seriously? Or I should only focus on American ones?

    Is it possible for me to apply for summer psychology programs in high-ranking universities next year? Especially in which I want to apply?

    What is more, may I ask which are the most useful Statistic software? I may take those courses during summer, and I want to learn them in advance since I am not a computer man.

    Thank you very much for your time and patience! Looking forward to your response, sir.


    • February 4, 2018

      Any research experience in psychology is better than none; the main issue is that you’ll need to explain in your statement why you have a career trajectory that suddenly turns sideways, and how they know that you know that I/O really is what you want to do, and that you’re prepared to do it. There are a lot of ways to get to that point, and it sounds like you’re thinking through the right options. For a PhD program, I would suggest research over internships, but both would be better. You will want experience in an in-person psychology laboratory; that is the best way for the faculty to get to know you, which will make it more likely they will include you on further conference submissions and potentially manuscripts, which is the best option. Research experience is research experience, as long as you’re in psych, wherever you get it. If REU programs are available to you, you’ll definitely want to apply to them; that is a significant leg up for most students.

      As for statistics, in a PhD program you’ll need to learn the approaches inside and out. So hopefully you are very comfortable with mathematics and statistics, using a computer or otherwise. We did a significant amount of by-hand computation. Frankly, all software is pretty easy once you actually understand the underlying concepts, so I would not worry about it too much at this point. SPSS is still very common, although R is gaining ground. SAS is also around. I would not bother with Minitab if you have a choice in the matter.

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