Organizational Behavior Degrees: PhD, Master's & Online Course Info

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What will you learn in an organizational behavior master's degree or Ph.D program? Read about organizational behavior program requirements, the pros and cons of a master's degree or Ph.D and potential careers.
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Study Organizational Behavior: Degrees at a Glance

Organizational behavior is an interdisciplinary field of study that analyzes how individuals and groups affect the mechanics of an organization or company. Because the knowledge and skills involved in this discipline are broad, you may qualify for a diverse range of careers.

In 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) estimated that employment for human resources managers could grow by an average 13% between 2010 and 2020. Management analyst positions were projected to grow a rapid 22% during this decade, and training and development managers may see a 15% growth rate. As for postsecondary professors and researchers, job growth was estimated to be at 17%.

Master's Doctorate
Who is this degree for? People interested in working various human resources, consultant and management positions in a variety of industries Aspiring researchers and professors
Common Career Paths (with approximate mean salary) - Training and development manager ($99,000)*
- Community college professor ($78,000)*
- Human resources manager ($109,000)*
- Management analyst ($88,000)*
- Postsecondary professor or researcher ($74,000)*
Time to Completion 1-2 years full-time 3-5 years full-time
Common Graduation Requirements - About 36-50 credit hours
- Master's thesis/research paper
- Master's exams
- Seminar requirements (in certain cases)
Most (or all) of the master's degree requirements, plus:
- PhD qualifier exams
- Dissertation proposal
-Teaching practicum
- Research papers
Prerequisites -Bachelor's degree
-Graduate test scores
-Resume
Bachelor's or master's degree
-Graduate test scores
Online Availability Yes No

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011 figures).

Master's in Organizational Behavior

A master's degree in organizational management may qualify you for a plethora of careers in various industries, although many positions also require years of experience in the field. Many of these degree programs explain how to use managerial and administrative psychology methods in public policy, government, human resources, corporations, nonprofit organizations and education. You may learn about leadership in the workplace as well as working cooperatively with other employees.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • You may out-qualify bachelor's degree-holding job candidates by earning a master's
  • Some programs offer concentrations so you can customize your education to your career goals
  • Online options are available for this field

Cons

  • In addition to a master's degree, many employers look for candidates with several years of work experience
  • Certain organizational behavior positions only require a bachelor's degree, while others may require a doctorate
  • Earning your master's degree in organizational behavior can be expensive and take a lot of time

Courses and Requirements

Some programs allow you to choose from a selection of concentrations so you can focus your studies on a specific area, such as human resources. You typically start out taking core classes and then move on to electives or concentration courses. Some of your classes may cover topics such as:

  • Behavioral assessment
  • Organizational structure
  • Financial accounting
  • Conflict management
  • Labor relations
  • Interviewing techniques
  • Behavioral coaching and consulting

In addition to coursework, exams and essays, you may also conduct research and write a master's thesis or complete a project on a relevant topic of your choosing.

Online Degree Options

Some schools offer organizational behavior master's programs online in order to accommodate working professionals. In schools where the program isn't offered fully online, hybrid options that allow you to complete certain courses online may be offered. The online program's curriculum is generally comparable to an on-campus program. It's important when seeking an online program to make sure your chosen university or college is accredited.

Stand Out with This Degree

There are several steps that you can take while earning your master's degree to get ahead in the job market. You can earn a number of certifications to help validate your education and expertise, such as the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) qualification. To earn this, you must meet specific professional and educational requirements, complete exams and assignments and become a member of the International Council of Management Consulting Institutes (ICMCI). Additionally, memberships in professional associations, such as ICMCI and the Society for Human Resource Management, can keep you updated on industry developments and provide you with various resources.

Alternative Degrees

If you prefer a more narrowly-focused program than the organizational behavior field, consider earning a master's degree in human resources management. In this program, you learn to find and train qualified employees for companies. One of the important duties of a human resources manager is to recommend ways that employees can keep their skills current, especially as technology continues to advance. For this reason, finding programs with a strong technology aspect that teach topics such as web design and the latest software programs can prove beneficial.

Ph.D in Organizational Behavior

Doctoral programs in organizational behavior are appropriate if you're looking to work in research or university-level teaching. These programs are research intensive and typically combine sociological and psychological concepts. Class sizes are typically very small, and you can expect significant one-on-one time with professors and advisors. If a professor is involved in a similar field of research as you, you could potentially gain experience as a research assistant. Typical research topics may include the group dynamics of board directors, tension-management in organizations and relations between dissimilar groups and individuals.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A Ph.D in this field can open up job opportunities in research and academia
  • May be able to earn tenure as a professor
  • Small class sizes mean more personal attention from faculty

Cons

  • It can be very competitive and stressful to get into a doctoral program in organizational behavior
  • Job searches in academia and research tend to be nationwide or international, so you may have to move
  • Not all university teachers earn tenure and it can be a very trying process

Courses and Requirements

You can expect to have a set of core classes you must complete in addition to writing research papers. Some of the topics you may study in your classes include:

  • Econometric techniques
  • Research methods
  • Microeconomic analysis
  • Statistics

Around the end of the first year, a qualifying exam and/or paper is required to determine whether you may continue on in the program. You must propose a research topic for your dissertation, conduct independent research for the dissertation and defend it at the program's end. Some programs may also require you to participate in a teaching practicum where you spend a portion of time teaching an undergraduate organizational behavior class.

Online Degree Options

You may be hard-pressed to find online Ph.D programs in this field. Because you're often required to work closely with advisors and professors, an online format may not be conducive to this degree program.

Stand Out with This Degree

You can take a number of paths in order to stand out from fellow doctorate degree-holders in this field. The following are a handful of possibilities:

  • Conduct your research in the latest issues affecting organizational behavior
  • Submit your dissertation to peer-reviewed academic journals
  • Acquire employment where you can gain first-hand experience with your research topic

Alternative Degrees

Since organizational behavior relies on psychological and sociological concepts, you may also be interested in solely studying one of these fields. You can prepare for careers in research and academia in the sociology field, which focuses on people, groups and their behaviors within society. Ph.D programs often have concentrations within the program so you can focus your studies on a specific aspect. With technology playing such as dynamic role in modern society, you may be able to focus your research studies on a technology-related topic.

Many psychology departments offer doctoral programs with a concentration in industrial/organizational psychology. You can use statistical and research methodologies to study work-related problems that are common to people. This program typically doesn't prepare you for clinical positions; rather, you can obtain university-level teaching positions or work in consulting or research. According to the BLS, industrial/organizational psychologists may see a 35% increase in employment as many organizations take advantage of these professionals in order to maximize efficiency, employee retention and overall workplace contentment.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Southern New Hampshire University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA In Human Resource Management
      • International MBA in Human Resources
      • MS in Human Resource Management
      • MS in Organizational Leadership
      • MBA
      • MS in Management
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Ashford University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA - Human Resources Management
      • M.A. - Organizational Management: Organizational Leadership
      • M.A. - Organizational Management
      • MA/Organizational Management - Media Management
      • MBA - Organizational Leadership
      • M.A. - Organizational Management: Human Resources Management
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MSM in Organizational Design and Development
      • MBA: Human Resources
      • Master: Management/Human Resources
      • Master : Business Admin
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. Organizational Leadership
      • M.S. Human Resource Management
      • Master of Business Administration - Executive Management (Virtual Format)
      • Master of Business Administration - No Specialization
  • Online Programs Available
    5. Herzing University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
      • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Mgt. & Human Resources
      • MBA
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Accounting and Human Resources
      • MBA Dual Concentration: Business Mgmt & Project Mgmt.
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Regent University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Law - Human Resources Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Futures Studies
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - HR Management
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Interdisciplanry Studies
      • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Kingdom Business
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Business Admin - General Business
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Accelerated Master of Science in Organizational Leadership
      • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Human Resources Management
      • MBA - Human Resources Management
      • M.A. in Psychology - Industrial Organizational Psychology
      • Master of Business Admin - Accelerated General MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master - Human Resource Management
      • MS - Organizational Leadership
      • MS - Management
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Organizational Growth and Sales
      • MBA: Strategic Human Resource Management
      • MBA
  • Online Programs Available
    10. University of the Rockies

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.A. in Organizational Development & Leadership - Organizational Diversity
      • M.A. in Organizational Development and Leadership
      • M.A. in Psychology - Business Psychology
      • M.A. in Psychology - Career Management & Counseling

Featured Schools

Southern New Hampshire University

  • MBA In Human Resource Management
  • International MBA in Human Resources
  • MS in Human Resource Management

What is your highest level of education?

Ashford University

  • MBA - Human Resources Management
  • M.A. - Organizational Management: Organizational Leadership
  • M.A. - Organizational Management

What is your highest level of education?

Kaplan University

  • MSM in Organizational Design and Development
  • MBA: Human Resources
  • Master: Management/Human Resources

Which subject are you interested in?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • M.A. Organizational Leadership
  • M.S. Human Resource Management
  • Master of Business Administration - Executive Management (Virtual Format)

What is your highest level of education?

Herzing University

  • MBA Dual Concentration: HR & Project Mgmt.
  • MBA Dual Concentration: BS Mgmt. & HR
  • MBA Dual Concentration: Healthcare Mgt. & Human Resources

What is your highest level of education?

Regent University

  • Master of Arts in Law - Human Resources Management
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership - Futures Studies

What is your highest level of education completed?

Northcentral University

  • Master of Business Admin - General Business
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Accelerated Master of Science in Organizational Leadership
  • Master of Science in Organizational Leadership - Human Resources Management

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • Master - Human Resource Management
  • MS - Organizational Leadership
  • MS - Management

What is your highest level of education?