Graduate Programs in Psychology

The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University has a strong behavioral orientation which influences the department's programs.

Master of Arts

The master's program is designed primarily for the student with a bachelor's degree in psychology or related discipline to prepare the individual to assume a professional role in business and industry, a variety of mental health services, or to pursue doctoral training.

Doctor of Philosophy

The Doctor of Philosophy in psychology provides intensive training in behavior analysis and clinical psychology. The Ph.D. is a research degree for persons intending to assume leadership roles in teaching, research and service in a variety of professional and academic institutions.

Applying to graduate school

Tips for getting into graduate school

The psychology graduate programs are designed to provide professional preparation in psychology for persons interested in assuming positions in a range of settings including academic institutions, research, human resource and performance management, mental health service delivery or community service settings. Each of these graduate programs has a pervasive natural science orientation and a strong emphasis in behavior analysis theory, an approach that focuses on the interaction between behavior and the social and physical environment as a primary influence on the acquisition, shaping and maintenance of complex behavior.

Core principles

Each graduate program requires training in a set of core principles that involve behavioral and cognitive-behavioral theory, research methods, systems management, and legal and ethical issues. Building on these core principles, each graduate program focuses on specialized applications and unique techniques for specific applications and settings (e.g., mental health problems, autism, developmental disabilities, performance management in business and school settings, safety and health related behaviors). The programs encourage student involvement in instructional programming, the delivery of service in community agencies and the conduct of laboratory and community-based research.

Committed faculty

Department faculty are committed to quality education for undergraduate and graduate students and engage in continuous assessment activities designed to constantly improve the quality of its instructional programs. The goals of the department are intended to be coordinated with, and be supportive of, the professional and academic mission of Western Michigan University. Program activities are coordinated with various community agencies, providing continual interaction between the department and community settings.

Demonstrating competence

The granting of a graduate degree in psychology by Western Michigan University is not considered a basic right for all students admitted to the program; the degree must be earned by the student. It is incumbent upon each student to demonstrate competence within each required aspect of the curriculum as they acquire the skills to assume a role as a professional psychologist. This challenge goes well beyond passing courses, and the act of matriculating in a program is considered evidence of an agreement to accept this challenge. It is the student's responsibility to demonstrate mastery of each competence required in the student's area of specialty.

Graduate student organizations

The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University offers three different graduate concentrations. Students from those programs can become members of their corresponding registered student organization:

  • Behavioral Analysis Graduate Student Organization
  • Clinical Psychology Graduate Student Organization
  • Industrial Organizational Psychology Graduate Student Organization

In addition, students may join the Society for Performance Management.

  • Careers in psychology You can prepare yourself for a variety of career paths with your graduate degree in psychology and well-planned use of electives. It is important to understand your goals to determine your career choices. Do you want to make a lot of money? Do you want to work with people or gain more education? Expose yourself to what is available at WMU to help you investigate your career options. Use your time to explore options so that you can plan steps toward a career and set goals for yourself.

Get in touch with us

Whether you're interested in enrolling in one of our undergraduate programs, pursuing a graduate degree or just curious about Western Michigan University, we’d love to hear from you.