Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial Organizational Behavior Management


The doctor of philosophy program in Industrial Organizational Behavior Management in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University prepares students for careers in consulting, teaching, research scholarship, and/or leadership roles in training and organizational development.

Program details

 Credit requirements to degree:

  • 30 credit hours of coursework
  • 12 dissertation credit hours

*These credit hours are in addition to the 36 credits counted towards the master's degree

Prerequisites Overview

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

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.

Program requirements

Competency I: Organizational behavior management core (24 credits)

  • PSY 5400: Psychology of Safety. The purpose of this course is to teach students about current research and trends in the psychology of safety. Students review, critically analyze and discuss current trends in safety research, including behavior-based safety, injury/illness prevention and other relevant topics. Students receive training in the application of behavioral principles to solve specific safety problems in organizations through changing behavior and improving performance.
  • PSY 6546: Behavior-Based Instructional Design. This course will cover the basic principles and techniques of effective instruction and training as applied to a wide variety of settings, including K-12 education, higher education and personnel training.
  • PSY 6430: Personnel Selection and Placement. This course is designed to teach students: (1) the legal and professional requirements for personnel selection and placement programs; (2) how to design and conduct job analyses, interviews, and tests that conform to the legal and professional requirements; and (3) how to evaluate the adequacy (the reliability and validity) of personnel selection and placement instruments.
  • PSY 6440: Personnel Training and Development. The course emphasizes the principles of learning as well as techniques and administrative procedures used in the development of human resources at all levels.
  • PSY 6450: Psychology of Work. This course is an advanced course designed to examine human behavior in organizations from a behavioral psychology perspective. Topics covered include: the history of industrial organizational psychology, motivation, performance improvement techniques, compensation, quality, job satisfaction and its relation to productivity, and the ethics of personnel management. Students entering the course are expected to have an understanding of the basic principles of operant and respondent conditioning because these concepts are used to interpret and analyze worker behavior.
  • PSY 6510: Behavioral Systems Analysis. The application of systems analysis concepts to the design of systems which yield behavioral measures of complex social situations.
  • PSY 6520: Systems Analysis Practicum. This course integrates behavior analysis with organizational systems analysis to improve the design and management of human performance systems. Students conduct analyses for organizational clients and work with organizational team members to redesign and/or create new performance systems at the organizational level, the work process level, and the individual job performer level.

Competency II: Behavior analysis core (9 credits)

  • PSY 6100: Conditioning and Learning. This course examines conditioning and learning from the perspective of the experimental analysis of behavior. Emphasis is placed on basic laboratory research procedures and findings.
  • PSY 6166: Conditioning Principles and their Organizational Applications. This course serves as a scholarly introduction to basic and advanced principles of behavior with an emphasis on potential organizational applications. The course will describe the development of a science of behavior and the integration of this science with other natural sciences. Important topics such as the acquisition and maintenance of behavior, assessment and evaluation, and motivational variables will be examined in relation to complex behaviors. The potential relevance of other behavioral research areas to organizational applications will be broadly considered.
  • PSY 6110: Current Research in Experimental Analysis. This course examines basic research areas of current interest to behavior analysts. A central component of the course is detailed consideration of articles published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior.
  • PSY 6760: Skinner's Behaviorism. A consideration of About Behaviorism, Beyond Freedom and Dignity, and Contingencies of Reinforcement, especially as they consider issues of broad scientific, philosophic, and social significance.

Competency III: Research and ethics (12 credits)

  • PSY 6050: Professional and Research Ethics. This course is designed to introduce advanced students of Psychology to many of the standards and contemporary issues affecting professional conduct. The topics to be covered revolve around ethical conduct in practice and research as well as the decision-making foundations for resolving ethical issues. Also addressed will be selected legal issues affecting professional practice.
  • PSY 6080: Research Methods in Applied Behavior Analysis. This advanced course on research methods in behavior analysis addresses research with human and nonhuman subjects, placing an emphasis on applied, human research. Research issues and specific research methods are discussed at philosophical, strategic, and practical levels. Research decisions are placed within the context of the philosophy of science underlying all scientific research endeavors. Topics include: the mission of science; behavioral assessment and measurement; experimental design, with emphasis on single-subject designs; analysis and interpretation of data; dissemination of scientific research; and, ethical issues in research. Students demonstrate their mastery of research issues through the proposal of a research project.
  • PSY 6340: Experimental Design and Analysis I. Topics in this course include statistical decision theory, one factor analysis of variance, multiple comparison procedures, factorial designs, randomized block designs, and basic issues in experimental design.
  • PSY 6350: Correlation and Regression Analysis: An advanced course covering simple correlation methods, inferential methods for one or many correlations (including meta-analysis), interpretation issues (including sampling error, sampling bias, scaling error, measurement error, functional form, cause and homoscedasticity) variants of and alternatives to Pearson correlation, multiple correlation and regression, part and partial correlation, analysis of variance of regression for simple and complex models, model comparison procedures, methods for nonlinear data (including polynomial regression and logistic regression models) and regression diagnostics

Competency IV: Master's thesis (6 credits)

  • PSY 7000: Master’s Thesis. The student completes a research thesis of publishable quality.  A written proposal must be approved in advance by the student's three-person committee and an oral defense of the final written thesis is required.

Competency V: Doctoral dissertation (12 credits)

  • PSY 7300: Doctoral Dissertation. The student completes a research dissertation of publishable quality. A written proposal must be approved in advance by the student's four-person committee (including an external committee member) and an oral defense of the final written dissertation is required. The student must also successfully pass a research-based competency examination prior to the oral defense of the dissertation.

Competency VI: Approved electives (15 credits)

Electives should be approved in advance by the student's advisor. Students may take courses in the Department of Psychology or in other departments. Three to six elective credits should come from practicum experiences (not counted in Competencies I) and nine to twelve elective credits should come from coursework (not counted in Competencies I-V). Potential courses listed below, although alternatives may be acceptable in consultation with graduate advisor:

  • PSY 5470: Practicum—Organizational Performance Improvement
  • PSY 5980: Special Projects in Psychology
  • PSY 5990: Practicum in Psychology
  • PSY 6090: Advanced Seminar in Applied Behavior Analysis Research
  • PSY 6360: Experimental Design and Analysis II
  • PSY 6370: Design and Analysis of Quasi-Experimental and Observational Studies
  • PSY 6470: Seminar: Industrial/Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 6484: Psychological Foundations of Computer-Assisted Instruction
  • PSY 6494: Advanced Instructional Design and Training Practicum
  • PSY 6740: Verbal Behavior
  • PSY 6900: Behavioral Approaches to College Education
  • PSY 6910: College Teaching Practicum
  • PSY 6920: Grant Writing in the Behavioral Sciences
  • PSY 6970: Advanced Topical Studies in Psychology (must have advisor approval)
  • PSY 7100: Independent Research
  • ACTY 6010: Accountancy
  • MGMT 6140: Business Process Management
  • MGMT 6200: Enterprise Requirements Planning System Configuration
  • MGMT 6410: Supply Chain and Process Management
  • MGMT 6500: Managing Change
  • MGMT 6580: International Human Resource Management

Competency VI: Research tools

  • Research methods combination: PSY 6080 and PSY 6110
  • Statistics combination: PSY 6340 and PSY 6350

Competency VII: Professional and scholarly activity

  • Completion of a comprehensive examination or alternative scholarly achievement approved by the dissertation committee. Consult the IOBM handbook and your graduate advisor for details.