Catalog 2016-2017 
    Jul 20, 2024  
Catalog 2016-2017 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Organizational Psychology

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The organizational psychology programs at CSPP provide master’s and doctoral education that prepares graduates for applied practice that is solidly grounded in the scientific and professional bases of the discipline, recognizing the importance of multi-cultural and international contexts. Our graduates are skilled in a range of organizational psychology competencies, and are prepared to practice them in diverse multicultural and global contexts. Our faculty, students and alumni consult to individuals, groups, and organizations, while contributing to the professional and scholarly literature. Our mission is to enhance individual and team well-being and performance in work settings, and to meet the needs of students seeking the education and skills to make a contribution to society by serving organizations through the values-based fields of organization psychology and development.  Towards this end, the program:

  • Raises public awareness of the value that organizational psychology can bring to an organization
  • Creates opportunities for expanding and developing the field and the presence of organizational psychology
  • Supports and promotes our faculty and students in the study, application, and teaching of the principles, findings, and methods of organizational psychology
  • Provides a strong academic foundation along with applied experience.  Our vision is to develop the whole person so that graduates leave as professional scholar-practitioners.


Our mission is to improve the well-being of individuals, groups, and organizations by training scholar-practitioners in the fields of industrial & organizational psychology, and organization development, preparing them to practice in multicultural and global contexts, providing consulting services, and contributing to the professional and scholarly literature.

Degree Programs

The master’s and doctoral degree programs differ in emphasis across locations, but all stress the importance of combining organizational and social science training, especially directed to improving the performance and welfare of the human side of organizations.  Organizational Psychology programs differ by location and include:

Doctoral Degree

Master’s Degrees

Course Workload

Students enter the programs with their own individual academic and professional backgrounds as well as needs for full-time or part-time programs. Thus, the exact curriculum of the programs regarding content, sequence, and pace of study may vary.

All programs are semester-based and students generally take 6-18 units per semester; the typical full-time course load is 12-16 units. In addition, in the later phases of their programs, students devote 8-40 hours each week to field placement assignments including practica or internships. In the PsyD program, field work, an accumulation of 160 hours, may be completed during the program with the approval and supervision of the Field Placement Director.

The curricula of all Organizational Psychology Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego programs consist of both required and elective coursework. With the approval of their advisor or the Organizational Psychology Program Director, advanced students can choose the elective courses indicated in their program-specific degree requirements (see below) from a number of courses available to doctoral students, including Advanced Seminars in Organizational Psychology (ASOP) and selected clinical and business management courses.

Detailed program descriptions are given in the campus sections that follow. The content of each course is listed by course number in the Course Description section of this catalog. While similar in many respects, programs differ in several areas offering a variety of options: time until completion, formats, number of units, requirements, and location. Different areas of concentration are also offered.

Classes are scheduled in the late afternoons, evenings, and weekends to accommodate student work schedules or other commitments in our Fresno, Los Angeles and San Francisco campuses. Students can also attend all programs on a full-time or part-time basis. Executive format programs are designed as intensive weekend courses and require pre-work assignments, assignments between weekends, and may also include a post-course assignment.  The executive format is designed for the working professional.

There are courses common throughout all the campuses offering degrees in Organizational Psychology. These courses may be taken at any of the campuses and require only a permission form 1) signed by the Program Director of the primary campus; and 2) the program director and faculty member of the receiving campus. All forms are filed at the primary and receiving campus. The courses are as follows:


Credit for Previous Graduate Work

Students with previous graduate work in Organizational Psychology or a closely related field may be eligible for waiver or transfer credit for some required or elective courses in some of the programs based according to the policies of each location and program. Applicants must provide the full syllabi and course description of the prior courses for which they wish to transfer credit together with evidence of satisfactory academic performance in the course (grade of B or higher or the Program Director’s approval) from official transcripts before they begin the program. Transfer credits are approved when a course is evaluated to be substantively equivalent to an Organizational Psychology course offered in the program.  Course credit waiver decisions are made in consultation with the Academic Advisor and Program Director. See individual programs for specific information.

Transfer credit within Alliant programs

Transfer credit into a Master program or Doctorate program from another Alliant program will be determined by the Program Director of the receiving campus. All courses and grades will be reviewed. The following will apply:

  1. Any grade of C+ or below will not be considered a substituted course or a course transferred in previously.
  2. Course must be taken within the last 7 years.
  3. The maximum transfer credits for previous work is 30 units for the Doctorate program.

See individual programs for specific information.

Areas of Study and Training

Concepts and Theories

In Organizational Psychology programs, students learn about organizational and individual behavior, organization theories, group dynamics, human resources, motivation and training supplements, organizational change, leadership, and principles of organization and work design. The academic philosophy underlying our graduate programs is the belief that effective practitioners need to have a strong foundation in theory and behavioral science research to draw upon in their professional work.

Applied Research Skills

Applied research courses provide students with a basic understanding of data analysis procedures including statistics and content analysis as well as other research methods, enabling them to contribute to the profession through applied research and creative program planning. Other courses address both particular content areas and various methods of investigation. Please see the program descriptions that follow in this section of the catalog for detailed information about the applied research activities offered at each location.

For doctoral program students, research training occurs through formal courses in research methodology and design, as well as through the process of designing and completing a supervised dissertation in the PhD programs or an applied doctoral project in the PsyD program. PhD students choose a dissertation topic and create original research studies under faculty supervision.

Professional Skills

Through coursework, team projects, and field-based assignments students learn consulting and intervention techniques appropriate to organizations. Advanced courses and seminars allow students to investigate special interest areas, as well as to develop professional attitudes and an awareness and concern for professional ethics and issues.

Field experiences constitute an important part of most programs. Students in the doctoral programs participate in field placements or internships in business, non-profit and other organizational settings, during one or more years of the program.

Personal Growth

Personal growth is an important factor in sustained professional practice success.  Understanding how we contribute to the success of our clients, our impact on others, and the notion of continuous learning and personal development are essential to successful work in the field of organizational psychology.

Master’s Degree Programs

Organizational Psychology programs at Alliant International University offer master’s degrees that students can attend on a full-time or part-time basis. Students who work full-time, or who are working professionals can choose part-time organizational master’s programs in our Fresno, Los Angeles or San Francisco campuses where classes are offered evenings and/or weekends. Completion of these programs typically will take from one and a half to three years, depending on the program and the student’s schedule. The maximum time limit for completing the master’s degree is three to five years depending on the number of units required and timeframe the program is offered.

Doctoral Programs

Full-time doctoral (PhD) programs typically take four years to complete. In the event that a student needs additional time for completion of their dissertation, they may register for dissertation extension which extends the time allotted for their program.

Additional semesters in the PhD programs will be required for part-time study.  The maximum time limit for completing the doctoral degree is eight years.

The part-time, post-master’s doctoral (PsyD) program in Organization Development takes three years to complete. In the event that a student needs additional time for completion of their dissertation, they may register for dissertation extension which extends the time allotted for their program. The maximum time limit for completing the doctoral PsyD degree is six years.

Dissertation Extension is a flat fee and 3 units. Doctoral programs in Organizational Psychology at Alliant International University begin with entry at the graduate level and lead to the PhD or PsyD through a sequence of courses, seminars, and field experiences integrating theory, research, and practice.

In the first and second years, the programs focus on the theoretical and methodological foundations of the discipline. At this level students also receive training in the specific skills of their field, such as consultation, leadership, human resource management, or psychological/organizational assessment and development.

In the third and fourth years, students typically take advanced coursework and seminars in: organizational studies; motivation; professional, legal, and ethical issues; personnel and human resources development; and other topics. This training is combined with field placements or internships in organizational settings or through our campus-based consulting centers in Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco. Some programs offer half-time placements averaging 15-22 hours per week; others require a one-year full-time placement in the fourth year. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and may, from the employer’s perspective, be considered a regular job. Placements expose participants to the day-to-day issues encountered by psychologists practicing in an organizational setting. Usually in their third year, PhD program students develop their dissertation topic and PsyD students develop an applied doctoral project during their 2nd year of study.

The PsyD in Organization Development is designed as an executive format and includes 160 hours of field work spaced over the 3 years of the program. These units may be completed during the program with the approval of the Field Placement Director. Field work may be accomplished in the student’s work setting or through projects outside the student’s workplace. The Fresno campus does not have a Consulting Center where internships are provided.

Doctoral Requirements

The doctorate is awarded to students who have completed an Organizational Psychology doctoral program, upon satisfactory evaluation by the faculty of the following requirements:

  1. Completion and successful defense of a PhD dissertation or PsyD dissertation/project.
  2. Successful completion of all academic course requirements including any credit for previous graduate work. (See program requirements for details.)
  3. Completion of campus-specific and program-specific doctoral qualifying/comprehensive exams. (See Graduate Student Handbook for details.)
  4. Completion of all field work and internship requirements.

The faculty maintains the traditional academic prerogative to grant degrees based, among other criteria, on their judgment regarding the candidate’s ability to function effectively as a professional at the doctoral level.

Professional Training

All students in an Organizational Psychology doctoral program gain practical experience through supervised field placements or internships available in a variety of settings including corporations, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and consulting firms. Some students may use their own work settings as a placement option, with the approval of the appropriate campus-based Organizational Psychology Program Director, Field Placement Director or Internship Director.

Field placements and/or internships generally occur the third and/or fourth years of study in the PhD programs. The PsyD program field work may be accomplished in the student’s work setting or through projects outside the student’s workplace and may occur at any time over the 3 years of the program. Faculty and/or on-site professionals provide field placement supervision. Students’ field placement experiences are thoroughly integrated with academic coursework.

While many students participate in two years of half-time (15-22 hours per week) placements, in some programs students obtain one-year full-time or half-time internships that take place throughout the United States or sometimes abroad. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

All students enrolled in an Organizational Psychology doctoral program at the Los Angeles and San Diego campuses participate in two years of half-time or one year of full-time internships/field placements after passing the Comprehensive Exams. Master’s students enrolled in the Organizational Psychology program complete a semester of practicum during the last year of their program.

The Master’s degree in Organization Behavior does not require a field placement or internship and is designed to assist in career enhancement and to broaden the thinking and knowledge base of those somewhat established in their careers.

Comprehensive Exams in Doctoral Programs

Preparation for the comprehensive exams may be achieved through previous coursework, courses taken at Alliant International University or other institutions, or independent study and self-guided reading.

In the PhD program, the comprehensive exam is typically taken at the beginning of the third year. This exam is offered twice a year (August and January). Students can’t continue with dissertation (except ORG8990: Dissertation 1) before passing this exam.

In the post master’s PsyD program, the students take an essay and oral Comprehensive Exam that measures competency in both written and oral articulation of subject matter.    The comprehensive exam is typically taken at the end of the first year.  Students are granted doctoral candidacy and may begin their dissertation after passing this exam.

A Competency Exam is required after completion of the MAOB program for those wishing to continue their education by applying to the post master’s doctoral PsyD program. If students pass the competency exam and are admitted to the PsyD program, they will complete doctoral level courses and take the comprehensive exam for doctoral candidacy.

A Competency Exam is required after completion of the MAOB program for those wishing to continue their education by applying to the doctoral PsyD program. If they pass the competency exam and are admitted to the PsyD program, they may transfer in credit for previous work..

PhD Dissertations

Candidates for a PhD degree in Organizational Psychology at Alliant International University are required to complete a dissertation, which is an original research project conceived and executed under the close supervision of faculty. Completion of this requirement demonstrates that the student has learned investigative techniques, has made a contribution to knowledge, and has developed skills that will prove useful in assuming a professional role.

A dissertation committee, composed of a chairperson and two or more other members, helps each student to develop the dissertation proposal, reads and passes on the credibility of the final dissertation, and administers and evaluates the student’s oral examination at the end of the process. Specific instructions regarding the dissertation requirements are available at each campus location.

Each doctoral student is responsible for enlisting an Organizational Psychology core faculty member to serve as the dissertation committee chairperson. Other members of the committee consist of core faculty, or as approved at the program/campus level, adjunct faculty or other doctoral-level professionals with special expertise in the dissertation subject area. All members of the dissertation committee must hold earned doctorates in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Organizational Behavior, Organization Development, or closely related fields. Use of non-core faculty members in PhD dissertation or PsyD applied project committee roles requires approval by the Program Director.

Some students finish their dissertations by the end of the final year of their coursework. Others, however, continue dissertation work beyond completion of their coursework. Extensions may be granted to students demonstrating sufficient need and continued progress toward completion of the dissertation. The maximum time limit for completing the doctoral degree is 8 years. Students who have not completed a dissertation within the required dissertation sequence are required to register for campus-specified doctoral extension units and pay the appropriate tuition. Detailed guidelines concerning dissertation extensions are available from each campus.

PsyD Doctoral Projects

Students in an Organizational Psychology PsyD program complete a PsyD applied doctoral project. The PsyD project is a major applied undertaking that involves integrating theory and practice and culminates in a written dissertation. In contrast to the PhD dissertation, which is characterized by a focus on research and adding new knowledge to the field, the PsyD dissertation project is intended to evaluate effective practice in organizational consultation or other applied research settings. Exceptions to complete dissertations using Quantitative, Qualitative or Mixed Methods Research may be granted with the approval of the student’s Chair.

Organizational Consulting Centers (Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco)


The CSPP Organizational Psychology programs in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco sponsor consulting centers so that our Organizational Psychology students graduate with practical experience that puts them head and shoulders above graduates of other programs. They offer consulting services to businesses and organizations in the private and public sectors and draw upon the expertise and interests of our faculty and students. The consulting project teams are staffed and led by students and faculty. These projects allow students to begin honing their consulting skills at a very early stage of their graduate careers or for experienced professionals to develop additional skill sets. Students who are selected to assist with such projects gain hands-on experience working closely with a faculty member or one of our local consultant affiliates in performing work such as restructuring organizations, team building, culture realignment, leadership development, or coaching services.  Projects range from well-structured engagements that call on skills that students already have to advanced engagements that require sophistication and diplomacy, sometimes working at high levels in large organizations. Most of the projects deal with issues of performance effectiveness and efficiency of individuals, departments, and entire organizations.  The type and number of projects vary from year to year and by campus because they depend on the initiative, creativity, personal contacts, and available time of students and faculty who enjoy these types of challenges.

Participation in consulting projects is not required, but is recommended.

More information about the Consulting Centers can be found on the website ( by contacting

Dr. Jonathan Troper, the Los Angeles Center for Innovation and Change Director, at

Dr. Jennifer Konkin, Organizational Consulting Center Director, at;

Dr. Cyrell Williams, the San Francisco Organizational Consulting Center Director,

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