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MBDS Industry Affiliates

The Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) program at the University of Pennsylvania is a training ground for the next generation of applied behavioral scientists. We look for opportunities to partner with industry to shape programs by creating specific skill-focused workshops or lectures that aim to open new perspectives and job opportunities to our students.

Our top priority is to identify industry partners eager to work with our students on Design Challenges and capstone projects, especially if they can be tied to internship opportunities. We also look for partners who can help shape hands-on skill-building workshops and activities to leverage our students' knowledge and interests.

What makes the MBDS program unique is the practical approach to behavioral and decisions sciences, always with an eye in industry applications and scalability. What makes our students unique to your organization is their diverse background, interdisciplinary approach, and eagerness to provide real-life solutions to industry challenges.

2019 MBDS cohort

Percentage of international students, representing 22 countries
Percentage of students matriculating directly from the workforce
Number of undergraduate majors represented
Percentage of women enrolled in this STEM graduate program

There are many ways to collaborate with the MBDS program. As an Industry Affiliate, you can:

Our goal with the Design Challenges is to drive collaboration between student groups and Industry Affiliates who, together, integrate cutting edge knowledge into real-life problems. Design Challenges highlight students’ training and diverse skillsets in behavioral economics, decision sciences, network analysis, and public policy by connecting behavioral insights to industry questions in an immersive and actionable format.

Join us for our 3rd MBDS Design Challenge—Spring 2021. Submit a proposal today »

Read more about 2nd MBDS Design Challenge—Spring 2020 »

The capstone is an independent study where students use behavioral insights to showcase their decision science skillsets in a culminating project. These projects are formatted with the client around a practical real-world problem. Students propose recommendations that are evidence-based, similar to a consultancy project.

The Behavioral Science Consulting course, taught by Zarak Khan, allows students to work directly with Industry Affiliates to better understand applied behavioral science and relevant frameworks, build their portfolio of work experience, and strengthen our student and alumni network. Skills emphasized are client management, teamwork, oral and written communication, and behavioral research and design.

Industry Affiliates can provide institutional support and sponsor the Norms and Behavioral Change (NoBeC) Conference, which brings together researchers studying the relationships between social norms and behavioral change. This conference invites researchers and practitioners working at the intersection of social norms and behavioral changes and its applications in economics, psychology, political science, public health, and other adjacent fields.

As an Industry Affiliate, you have unique opportunities to share your expertise and individual research areas and focus with our students. Your organization can offer internships and employment opportunities to students, or you can provide case studies and data sets to be used in our courses. We welcome specialists on your team to join one of our classes as guest speakers; lead a lecture on a relevant topic in an Action Design Meetup; or conduct one of our professional development workshops.

contact Us

Contact us

For more information, or to partner with MBDS on any of these opportunities, send an email to Daniella Diniz at with the subject line “MBDS Industry Affiliate program.” We will schedule time to discuss your plans and questions and explore your interest in becoming an MBDS Industry Affiliate.

If you’re interested in joining us for our 3rd MBDS Design Challenge—Spring 2021, you can submit a proposal to the MBDS team.

Frequently Asked Questions

The MBDS program selects design challenge proposals and makes the capstone project proposals available to students who then make their selections. In either case, your organization receives professional advice, recommendations, and research at no cost. Get more details on the Design Challenges and capstone projects:

How does a Design Challenge work?

We invite our Industry Affiliates to format questions that address an internal business or client need. The questions should involve how behavioral science or behavioral insights may aid decision-making or foster positive behavioral change.

The questions are presented to our students who select which challenges they want to participate in (students may participate in more than one challenge). Through the course of six weeks, students and the client have three-to-four interactions to ensure teams clearly understand the question and parameters as well as the client’s needs and expectations. At the end of this period, a final presentation is scheduled between clients and students, facilitated by the MBDS program team. The final presentation, delivered as a slide-deck or brief report, offers behavioral science insights related to the initial question.

Join us for our 3rd MBDS Design Challenge—Spring 2021. Submit a proposal today »

Read more about 2nd MBDS Design Challenge—Spring 2020 »

The new final capstone research project is an independent study experience that may work as a paid/unpaid internship/externship where students and clients work together in a behavioral and decision sciences project through the period of one semester (fall, spring, or summer).

How does it work? 

  • Industry partners submit ideas/real-life problems they would like to see addressed through behavioral/decision science insights
  • The MBDS team receives all ideas and makes them available to students
  • Students choose clients and ideas based on their skill-sets and professional goals from a profile list provided and are grouped by the MBDS team
  • During that semester, clients and students have 3-4 touch-points, and at the end of the process, students submit a narrated slide-deck presentation along with deliverables proposed (e.g., works cited, frameworks utilized, executive summary, etc) to the MBDS program

By working with students on a capstone project, clients have a unique opportunity to identify top talent and gain behavioral insights from a single member of the MBDS program.

Costs and time commitment: At this time, there is no direct cost for being a client in our MBDS capstone project. We do encourage clients to offer paid opportunities to compensate students' time and efforts whenever possible. Unpaid capstone students are expected to work 5-10 hours per week negotiated at the onset of the project; paid capstone students are expected to work a maximum of 15-20 hours per week, knowing that some of those hours may be non-capstone related and assisting other roles/functions for the client. Everyone should expect to devote about 5-10 hours a week to direct capstone research, writing, interviewing, etc.

2019-2020 MBDS Industry Affiliates

capitol one
irrational labs
pattern health