How Do I Get a PhD in Organizational Behavior?

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  • Written By: A. Reed
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 27 May 2018
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Organizational behavior is the scientific study of human behavior in relation to organizations, particularly inside of the workplace in which personality, group dynamics, and motivation are intertwined. The work of someone with a PhD in organizational behavior focuses on teaching and research in the field specifically, as it requires a lot of knowledge and training. Education for a PhD in organizational behavior starts with earning an undergraduate degree, and ends with the completion of graduate school. Research is also a highly significant necessity to compete for entrance into the PhD program.

Obtaining a PhD in organizational behavior generally begins with the completion of a bachelor's degree (BA or BS) in psychology at an accredited institution. During your time working towards the BA, you will need to take a wide variety of courses, many of which directly prepares you for graduate school attendance: statistics, social psychology, and research methods. General education requirements are also necessary in subjects in the humanities and natural sciences, all of which are essential. Maintain above average grades and become involved in related organizations, as getting into graduate school in this field is very competitive. PhD programs in this field commonly admit less than 20 students each year as of 2011.


Sometimes it is possible to get into an doctorate program in organizational behavior without completing a master's degree first, even though it is quite a competitive process. In either case, you will need to take an examination as a part of the graduate school application process and it is a common practice to require letters of recommendation from professors with whom you have become familiar. Study at the master's degree level will include courses in conflict management, outsourcing, and labor relations, while the PhD in organizational behavior includes subjects in advanced statistics, research methods, and human resources management. You will likely be writing a thesis in order to complete the master's degree and a dissertation during your PhD studies, but this could vary depending upon the school.

Earning your PhD in organizational behavior makes it necessary that you become accustomed to participating in research in the field. Do this as early as you can, preferably while still an undergraduate. Both the master's and doctorate programs will have research as a core requirement for getting your degree and you must complete original research. To be able to compete for admission in most PhD programs in psychology, a background in research is required.

There are many choices available to you regarding graduate degree programs in organizational behavior. Frequently, people find the master's of business administration (MBA) and organizational behavior combination attractive, as well as programs that allow for completion of an emphasis area such as in finance or marketing along with the PhD in organizational behavior. At the undergraduate level, you can also opt to complete the bachelor's in organizational behavior instead of a psychology. What you decide to do will depend on your interests and future plans.



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