Coursework in the PhD program covers three primary areas of training: theory, research, and professional practice. In addition, courses focus on multi-cultural and international applications of behavioral science and management related knowledge and skills. Students in the doctoral program first complete 52 units of required coursework and electives in such areas as organizational theory, scientific foundations of organizational psychology, group development, consulting skills, intervention skills, leading/facilitating organization change, as well as research design, and statistical methods applications. After passing the qualifying/comprehensive examination, students continue with advanced coursework that includes some additional required coursework, professional field work training, and completion of their dissertation research. Students’ professional field work training is completed under the supervision of field based professionals and/or faculty, while their design, conduct, and write-up of a research-based dissertation occurs under the guidance of a faculty advisor.
Within the structure of the doctoral curriculum, students have some opportunities to customize their education and training based on their professional career goals through elective coursework, professional fieldwork training, and dissertation research. Students work closely with faculty and the Program Director to determine areas of specific professional and academic focus. The coursework during the first two years of study for full-time students (3 years for part-time students) is intended to develop the foundational competencies required for future professional careers. Elective courses offered provide students with the opportunity to pursue specific areas of professional interest in more depth. Elective courses may also be taken from other Alliant International University graduate programs such as clinical, education, and business. Elective courses are usually offered each semester and during the summer session. The field work experiences and the dissertation research also allow students flexibility to develop expertise and experience in specific areas of professional interest.
Program Learning Objectives - PhD in Organizational Psychology (PhD OP)
All OP Programs
- Knowledge of research design, measurement, and statistical tools appropriate for basic research as well as for applied research in such areas as selection testing, surveys, and program evaluations.
- Ability to understand and critically evaluate the literature in a given area.
- Ability to integrate knowledge of ethical behavior in organizational studies.
- A positive, pro-active and non-judgmental attitude towards diverse cultural and international identities and in their interpersonal and professional interactions.
- Demonstrate an ability to conceptualize and deliver culturally competent professional services in their respective areas to diverse populations.
Additional for PhD OP
- Demonstrated knowledge of and ability to evaluate critically, integrate, and synthesize organizational psychology theories, models, and related literature, as well as apply these appropriately to meet the needs of diverse cultures and international settings.
- Demonstrated ability to apply appropriate organizational and psychological theories, models, and related methodologies for intervening effectively within organizational systems (at the individual, group/team, and enterprise wide levels) in a culturally competent manner consistent with professional ethical guidelines and codes of conduct.
- Knowledge of the philosophical traditions and paradigms of organizational studies research and demonstrated competence in designing and conducting scientific based, ethically consistent and culturally competent research.
- Proficiency in written and oral communication of ideas and conveyance of persuasive arguments to academic, business, and professional audiences.
- A developed self awareness that includes understanding of personal mental models, values, preferences, and style, and demonstrated capacity to build and maintain effective working relationships and affect constructive change in client systems across diverse cultural and international populations and organizational systems.
Coursework in the PhD program covers three primary areas of professional training: theory, research, and professional practice. In addition, courses focus on multi-cultural and international applications of behavioral science and management related knowledge and skills.
Students develop professional practice related skills in organizational psychology and organizational consulting through a variety of professional training experiences including class projects, case studies, in-class simulations, and semester long supervised field work based applied project during the first 52 units or first half of the doctoral program curriculum.
After passing the qualifying exam, students become eligible to take the internship part of the program. The internship is designed to provide students with in-depth supervised professional practice learning experiences. Students take a total of 15 units for their internship over the course of three semesters including a 2-unit seminar course linked to the internship experience. Most internships span three consecutive semesters including the summer session.
Supervised internship/field experiences may occur across a variety of settings including with consulting firms, major corporations, government agencies, and not-for-profit community organizations. Internships may be provided by the program and/or by the students themselves. Internships brought by students need to be vetted by program faculty. Students already working full-time may arrange a supervised field project(s) at their current work setting at the discretion of the OP-SF Internship Faculty Coordinator and Program Director. In most cases, such field work projects will need to be substantively different than the students’ regular work.
Students’ professional field work training is completed under the supervision of field based professionals and/or faculty, while their design, conduct, and write-up of a research-based dissertation occurs under the guidance of a faculty advisor.
Doctoral students are required to independently conceptualize and execute a dissertation research project under faculty supervision. Successful completion of the dissertation demonstrates that the student has learned and is able to apply research-based investigative methods and techniques, has developed in-depth expertise in a specific body of knowledge within the field, and has made a contribution to the that body of knowledge.
Specialized Admissions Requirement
Non Psychology Undergraduate Majors: Students who have not taken and passed an undergraduate level social science statistics course are required to do so before final admission to the Program. Students who have had a non-social science undergraduate major may be required to take 2-3 psychology or related undergraduate level courses prior to admission.
Curriculum and Degree Requirements
The complete doctoral curriculum is 92 units. Students in the doctoral program first complete 52 units of required coursework and electives and then take the qualifying/comprehensive examinations. After passing the qualifying/comprehensive examination, students continue with advanced coursework that includes some additional required coursework, professional field work training, and completion of their dissertation research.
Students may attend the doctoral program either on a full-time or part-time basis. Full time students may complete the doctoral degree within 4-5 years. Part-time students commonly take 5-7 years to complete the Program although the pace of study for part-time students varies depending on their ability to manage the demands of other commitments on their time.
Writing Evaluation: All new students are required to take a diagnostic writing exam during the week of orientation to assess their current writing skills. Students whose skills are identified as requiring improvement are required to take a two-unit seminar in academic and professional writing during the first semester in the Program.
Practice Skills Evaluation: Practice related competencies are evaluated during the consulting skills courses, the 2nd year applied field-work project, and the internship learning experience, using multiple methods. Students receive evaluations from the faculty instructor, field site, and faculty supervisors, based on their demonstration of identified competencies. At completion of the 2nd year applied field work project and upon completion of the internship students are required to present and discuss their work effectively to fellow students and faculty in a colloquium type format.
Qualifying/Comprehensive Exam: All students pursuing the PhD degree are required to pass the qualifying/comprehensive exam after successfully completing 52 units of coursework. See First and Second year coursework listings. This is an essay type exam that is composed of three sub-tests: theory, research methods, and professional practice (which includes a case study analysis and oral presentation component). Students must pass all 3 sub-tests to achieve doctoral candidacy and pursue the 3rd and 4th year curriculum, including dissertation research and internship/field work.
- Students who pass 2 of 3 sub-tests must successfully retake the failed subtest the next time the exam is scheduled (January and August) before they are allowed to enroll in the post-qualifying exam curriculum.
- Students who do not pass a minimum 2 of 3 subtests register for ORG 8993 Research Seminar Supplement for 2 units a semester up to a total of 4 units while their exam retake is pending. ORG 8993 units do not apply toward the 92 units required for doctoral program completion.
- Students may be allowed to retake exam sub-tests up to three times with faculty consent. If a student fails to pass the exam after three attempts, he/she may be dismissed from the doctoral program, but in most cases, will be issued an earned Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology.
Dissertation Research Project: Students begin developing their research ideas and design during the ORG 8990 Research Seminar sequence taken during the 2nd year of study for full time students. All students are required to present and defend their dissertation proposal within 3 semesters after passing the comprehensive/qualifying exam. If a student has already taken the 4 required units for ORG 8990 and has not passed the qualifying exam, or has taken the 7 required units of ORG 8991 Research Seminar: Dissertation Proposal and has not defended their proposal successfully, he/she needs to register for ORG 8993 Dissertation Supplement for 2 units. Students are allowed to register for ORG 8993 for two semesters only. ORG 8993 units do not apply toward the 92 units required for doctoral program completion. Once students complete all required dissertation course units but have not completed the dissertation, they register for Dissertation Extension course units until the dissertation is completed. Dissertation Extension is not allowed for students who have not yet defended successfully their dissertation proposal.
Note: Some 2nd year courses may be offered during the summer session.
Doctoral Candidate Qualifying Exam Administered
All third and fourth year coursework requires successful completion of the qualifying/comprehensive examination.
*Electives: A total of 4 elective units are required. Students are required to complete 2 elective units during the first two years of study as part of the required 52 course units. Two additional elective units are required to be completed during the 3rd and 4th year of study.
A plan for elective courses should be made in consultation with the Program Director and/or other faculty to ensure that this special course of study meets a student’s professional goals. Electives are offered during all academic sessions, but elective topics are subject to change periodically.
Organizational Psychology Program Faculty: San Francisco
Faculty for the PhD in Organizational Psychology program are listed below:
Mary J. Fambrough, PhD, Associate Professor
Kathryn Goldman Schuyler, PhD, Associate Professor
Jyotsna Sanzgiri, PhD, Professor
Rebecca Turner, PhD, Professor
For a detailed description of program faculty background and research interests, please see the alphabetical listing of faculty in the California School of Professional Psychology.