Autism-related master's program coming to metro Detroit

contact: Joel R. Krauss
| WMU News
Photo of WMU-MetroDetroit's campus

Photo of WMU-MetroDetroit's campus

KALAMAZOO, Mich.--An internationally known graduate program for individuals who work with people with autism and other developmental disabilities will be offered in metropolitan Detroit starting in 2015.

At the start of the upcoming spring semester, which begins in Jan. 12, the WMU Department of Psychology will begin offering its 36-credit-hour Master of Arts in psychology-behavior analysis at WMU-MetroDetroit, the University's regional location in Royal Oak.

The master's degree in psychology-behavior analysis is designed to produce qualified, engaged professionals and to move forward the fields of autism therapy and research. The degree is ideal for those with bachelor's degrees in psychology or related disciplines who seek certification or meaningful careers working with people with developmental disabilities.

The program is accredited by the Association for Behavior Analysis International, has been approved by the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and satisfies the educational requirements for becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Recent legislation in Michigan has mandated that insurance companies cover behavior analytic services for children with autism. However, only Board Certified Behavior Analyst providers are allowed to bill for these services. By bringing its top-notch graduate degree to the metro Detroit area, WMU is helping to meet the growing need for certified professionals.

Big year for psychology department

"This has been a momentous year for the psychology department at WMU," says Dr. Stephanie Peterson, chair of the department. "We've been recognized as a leader in the field of autism and have received several grants to further our work on autism. Expanding our behavior analysis degree into metro Detroit is a continuation of the growth we've been experiencing."

WMU's Department of Psychology was awarded a $500,000 grant in February from the Michigan Department of Community Health to improve services related to autism. Its biggest 2014 grant came later in the year when the state awarded the department $4 million to boost autism research and professional training initiatives. Offering the behavior analysis master's program to metro Detroit is one way WMU will fulfill the requirements of that grant.

"We're excited to bring this internationally known master's degree to the Detroit area," says Dr. Dawn Gaymer, associate provost of Extended University Programs. "WMU has been widely recognized for its work with autism in recent years. We're fortunate and pleased to extend that hard work, bringing the leadership and resources of one of Michigan's five research institutions to metro Detroit."

For more information about the program, contact Stephanie Peterson at or (269) 387-4479.

About WMU-MetroDetroit

The WMU-MetroDetroit office is located on Woodward Avenue in Royal Oak. Face-to-face classes are held in a variety of locations across the Metro Detroit area. In addition to the master's program in behavior analysis, it offers a bachelor's degree in university studies, master's degree in organizational learning and performance, and Graduate Certificate in Alcohol and Drug Abuse.

About Western Michigan University

Western Michigan University is a national research university enrolling nearly 24,000 students from across the United States and 100 other countries. Founded in 1903, it is a learner-centered, discovery-driven and globally engaged public university that offers more than 250 degree programs, including 30 at the doctoral level.

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching classifies WMU among America's just over 200 research universities. In addition, U.S. News & World Report consistently lists WMU as one of the nation's top public universities in its annual ranking of the nation's 4,000 colleges and universities.

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