Industrial Organizational Behavior Management

The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University offers master of arts and doctoral degree programs in Industrial Organizational Behavior Management Psychology.


The Industrial Organizational Behavior Management (IOBM) graduate programs provide training in the conceptual, basic, and applied foundations of behavior analysis. Students learn to apply behavior analysis to solve specific organizational improvement needs across various applied specialty areas (e.g., personnel training and development, instructional design, productivity and safety improvement, quality enhancement, work process improvement, and organizational systems analysis). The program also exposes students to a broad range of applied areas through coursework, research, and applied experiences. 

Fast facts

Formats: In-person and Hybrid

Credits required: Bachelor's degree with 18 semester hours in psychology. 

*Must include 3 credit hours of statistics.

Minimum GPA: 3.0

GRE: Required for both the MA & PhD programs

Application deadlines:

  • MA & PhD - Dec. 1

 *Late applications will not be considered.

Program recognition

A 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. 

Program overview

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.

The recommended program of study in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University differs for students who enter the program in even numbered fall semesters (2016, 2018, etc.) and odd numbered fall semesters (2017, 2019, etc.) because some required courses are only offered every other spring semester.

Please consult with your advisor on the recommended sequence for completing courses.

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.


Application information

  • How to apply

    The Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University uses the graduate online application process. If you have questions about the application process, contact Amber Hutson, the graduate training administrative assistant.

  • Specific program requirements

    In preparation for applying, the following material will need to be gathered:

    • All official transcripts from any college or university attended.
    • The GRE is required for both the master's and doctoral programs.
      • Minimum scores corresponding to the 50th percentile on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE.
    • Personal Statement (submitted through online application)
    • Curriculum Vitae (submitted through online application)
    • Three letters of recommendation (submitted through online application)
    • Written sample (required only for the clinical program)
    • Supplemental Questions (submitted through online application)
    • For international students, TOEL or IETLS scores.

    Tips for international students.

    International applicant information

  • Preferred qualifications

    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:

    • An undergraduate major in psychology
    • A minimum GPA of 3.0
    • Minimum GRE scores corresponding to the 50th percentile on the verbal and quantitative sections

    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
    • Minimum GRE scores corresponding to the 50th percentile on the verbal and quantitative sections
  • Additional criteria taken into consideration
    • Letters of reference
    • Research activity
    • Work experience
    • Social and professional skills
    • The extent to which the applicant's interests match the program

    Meeting or exceeding these criteria does not guarantee admission to the department or any of its programs.

  • Application deadlines
    • 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.

  • Frequently asked questions

    How students are admitted?

    Students are admitted by the psychology faculty. Many aspects of a student’s background are considered when admissions decisions are made including GRE scores, GPA, letters of reference, research and work experience, social and professional skills, and the extent to which the interests of the applicants match the program’s offerings and strengths.

    What are the average GREs and average GPAs of students who are admitted the program?

    We only require the verbal and quantitative sections of the GREs for the program that require the test. Programs like to see test scores in the top 50th percentile. The average GPA of admitted students (on a 4 point scale) was 3.65.

    Is the psychology GRE subject test required for admission?

    The subject test is not required for any program within the Department of Psychology. 

    I took the GRE more than once. Will you take the best of all my scores?

    Yes. We will take the best GRE score across all tests as long as they were sent to WMU.

    How do letters of recommendations work and how are they submitted?

    Applicants will provide contact information for the letter writer and the application system will send an email request to them directly; everything is requested and submitted online. Applicants do not need to wait until letters have been returned to WMU to submit their application,

    Do I need to list a faculty member on the supplemental application?

    Yes. Applications are reviewed by faculty based on who is applying with them. It is very important that applicants indicate at least one faculty on their supplemental application.

    Will my graduate level credits transfer to WMU from another university?

    Transferring courses from another university is discussed with the faculty advisor before they are submitted to the instructor and department for approval. We do not transfer in courses before applicants have been been admitted.

    Should I visit WMU while applying?

    If you would like to know more about the program and/or interact with faculty members prior to applying, then it is a good idea to visit WMU. However, it is not necessary. During the admissions process, we will contact you and invite you for an interview if you are being considered for admission. It is very important that you attend this interview, if you are invited.

    When will I know if I have been accepted?

    Letters notifying applicants of their status are sent by April 15.

Student life

Learn more about the Western Michigan University IOBM Student life


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.


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