Industrial Organizational Behavior Management

Graduate students smilingA premier program, ranked 18 in the Top 25 Campus Based Industrial-Organizational Psychology Degree Programs 2020. According to U.S. News and World Report Best Jobs rankings for 2020, Industrial Psychologist held the second highest ranking for Best Science Jobs. Furthermore, the Industrial Organizational Behavior Management program at Western Michigan University is well-known for its long-standing commitment to Organizational Behavior Management (OBM) and evidence-based environmental-change strategies. With over 40 years of history in applying behavior analysis to workplace settings, the M.A. program is the longest running program anywhere dedicated specifically to OBM. In 2014, WMU became the first school to offer an ongoing Ph.D. focused on OBM. 

Several current and past faculty members have won awards from the Organizational Behavior Management Network, a professional network dedicated to OBM, including awards for Outstanding Contribution (1993, 1995, 2007, 2018), Lifetime Achievement (2012, 2017), Scholarly Impact (2016), and Innovative Research (2020). According to a recent analysis (Sleiman et al., 2020) of the Journal of Organizational Behavior Management (JOBM), the flagship journal in OBM, WMU faculty and alumni are consistently among the most prolific and most cited. 6 of the 10 most cited authors in JOBM were current and past faculty members or alumni of the graduate program at WMU. The same analysis found that Western Michigan University had the most publications of any university across the entire history of JOBM, more than double the second most prolific institution. 

Students enrolled in both the M.A. and Ph.D. programs get extensive applied experiences with a variety of companies ranging from local small businesses to Fortune 500 companies. Alumni of the program are routinely employed in jobs that involve personnel training and development, instructional design, productivity and safety improvement, quality enhancement, work process improvement, and organizational systems analysis. 

The M.A. program requires the completion of 36 credit hours and the Ph.D. program requires 78 credit hours. The conceptual basis of the program is behavior analysis. Thus, evidence-based environmental-change strategies are emphasized throughout the curriculum. The I/OBM graduate programs adhere to a mentorship model in which graduate students are assigned to work under specific faculty members. The faculty members are partially determined by the rank ordered list of preferences by students on their application form.

There are two M.A. options in the program:

  • The practicum option prepares students to enter the work force when they graduate and requires a minimum of six credit hours of practicum.
  • The thesis option prepares students for doctoral training and requires students to conduct a six-credit hour research study.

If you are admitted into one option and want to switch to the other option after admission, your faculty advisor must approve that change.

M.A. eligibility

  • A bachelor's degree with a minimum of 18 credit hours in psychology, which must include three credit hours of statistics.
  • Preferred qualifications:
  • Other criteria taken into consideration include letters of reference, research activity, work experience, social and professional skills, and the extent to which the applicant's interests match the program.

Ph.D. eligibility

  • Students without M.A. degrees are strongly encouraged to apply to the M.A. program before entering the Ph.D. program.
  • Preferred qualifications:
    • Related graduate degrees in psychology
    • A minimum GPA of 3.0
    • GRE information
  • Other criteria taken into consideration include letters of reference, research activity, work experience, social and professional skills, and the extent to which the applicant's interests match the program.

Financial support

Opportunities are available for graduate assistantships and fellowships both within the department and the University. Students are encouraged to discuss these opportunities with their faculty advisor and apply for fellowships with the Graduate College (Thurgood Marshall Award or King/Chavez/Parks Fellowship for underrepresented groups). While financial support is available, funding is not guaranteed. To learn more on the cost of attending graduate school, see financial information.

After graduation

For over five years, 100 percent of our master's and doctoral graduates have secured relevant jobs. They are employed in human resource, performance management, process improvement and environmental safety departments in business, industry, medical settings and human service settings, and in consulting firms and instructional design consulting firms.


Meet the Industrial Organizational Behavior Management faculty.


The IOBM Graduate Training Handbook (updated February 2021) describes the relevant policies, procedures, expectations, and requirements for graduate training in the Industrial Organizational Behavior Management Program with the Department of Psychology. Students are responsible for knowing the contents of this Handbook.

How to apply

Admission is offered for the fall semester only. Applications are due Dec. 1. All application materials are due by the deadline. Late applications will not be considered.

Students interested in the IOBM Ph.D. program are strongly encouraged to first complete either the M.A. IOBM degree at WMU or a relevant M.A. degree from another university before applying to the Ph.D. program.

application information


For more information on the industrial organizational behavior management program, contact Dr. Heather McGee.