Recently, I came across a document listing approximately 358 colleges and universities of HBCUs, Tribal CUs, and Hispanic Institutions (serving underrepresented students). Out of these colleges, none had a program in the field of Industrial Organizational Psychology (I-O Psyc). The I-O Psyc program is established in approximately 139-colleges/universities in America and Canada (serving predominantly white institutions). My question is, "What is the process or criteria by which institutions decide to adopt or establish a field of study?" It is peculiar to me that this particular field of psychology, which is noted in U.S. News Report as one of the fast-growing fields in the country, is not established at any of the institutions serving underrepresented students. Is there a book discussing this process?

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    I don't have an answer of the how, but the why in this case is that HCBUs are small and therefore have a limited number of programs that they can offer. – StrongBad Feb 9 '16 at 19:27

Obviously it depends on an institution's specific policies.

I expect in most cases, starting a program like this would start with the faculty in an existing department; probably a psychology department in this case. The faculty would come up with a program they believe would be beneficial, and identify the resources they would need in order to offer it (additional course offerings, new faculty hiring to get the necessary expertise, new or reassigned faculty lines if necessary, lab resources, external grant funding, etc). They would write syllabi for any new proposed courses, create a description of the program for the college's catalog, and specify the requirements for the degree (which courses are required, which electives could be taken by students, etc). The department's faculty might need to vote on the proposal before submitting it for further review.

The proposal would then be reviewed by various groups and administrators within the university, who would weigh its academic suitability, impact on existing programs, probable demand, financial costs, tangible and intangible benefits to the institution and/or society, availability of resources, and so on. Usually the new program would need final approval by a dean and/or a provost.

There are many possible obstacles to creating a new program. In your example, if a department doesn't currently have any faculty specializing in I-O psychology, they would have to hire them. This might be done by replacing retiring faculty who have other specialties, but this can be politically touchy, as faculty groups in other subspecialties might feel that they are losing needed resources. It can also be done by creating new faculty lines, but this is a major long-term financial commitment for the university, and such a proposal has to compete for resources with other departments who may be proposing new programs of their own. It may be hard to justify the need to higher administration, particularly as the institution cannot necessarily be confident as to how many students will be attracted to the program (and to what extent this may simply "cannnibalize" demand from other programs within the institution).

So there is a very long road between recognizing that a program might be desirable, and actually having one.

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    Excellent answer. Being in the middle of doing exactly this where I am... another consideration that comes up is Other Departments' Turf. Imagine that Psych wants to do I-O Psych, but Business is all "HEY NO THAT'S BUSINESS, IT'S OUR TURF." Psych may be blocked even if Business has zero plans to implement the program itself. – D.Salo Feb 10 '16 at 0:58
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    @D.Salo and related, if you can find strong connections with a more —how shall we say?— profitable department for a new program, it can be a good thing for a smaller/service department. Half-and-half hires are decently common for those smaller/niche programs. – user0721090601 Feb 10 '16 at 1:45

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