Study Human Behavior: Master's Degree, PhD & Online Class Info

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What will you learn in a human behavior degree program? Read about degree requirements, the pros and cons of a master's and PhD and potential careers.
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Human Behavior: Degrees at a Glance

The science of human behavior refers to the study of analyzing human conduct and anticipating outcomes. This type of knowledge can be a valuable resource for a career in communications, market research or human resources because understanding human behavior is vital for anyone working closely with other people.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), expects job opportunities for market research analysts to increase 41% during the 2010-2020 decade (www.bls.gov). This growth is attributed to companies and industries becoming increasingly interested in customer behavior and attitudes. Because it is the type of training they receive in their studies, graduates of human behavior degree programs can help these companies learn about what people want and how they will react.

Master's PhD
Who is this degree for? Those who wish to advance in their career or enter a profession studying human behaviorIndividuals who wish to work in research or academia
Common career paths (with approx. mean salary) - Human resources managers ($109,000)*
- Market research analysts ($67,000)*
- Survey researchers ($48,000)*
- Sociologists ($79,000)*
- Anthropologists and archeologists ($59,000)*
- Postsecondary teachers ($75,000)*
Time to completion1 to 5 yearsAbout 4 years
Common graduation requirements - Thesis
- Internship
- Dissertation
- Research project
Prerequisites - Undergraduate degree in social science
- GRE scores
- Professional experience
- Master's degree
- GRE
Online availability YesNo

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (May 2011).

Master's Degree in Human Behavior

A master's degree program in human behavior prepares you for high-level careers in human resources and market research analysis. Alternatively, it allows you to begin a career in sociology or anthropology, in which you study of human behavior and attitudes.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A master's degree can help you advance in your career
  • You may be able to choose an area to research as a student and continue that research upon graduation
  • Internships give you real-world experience and help you decide the type of career you would like to pursue after graduation

Cons

  • Some employers may not require a master's degree, resulting in your competing with jobs with undergraduate degree holders
  • Those without significant work experience may be required to take additional classes, which may prolong graduation
  • Degree does not prepare you for a career in researching human behavior; these jobs usually require a PhD

Courses and Requirements

In addition to completing core and elective courses in human behavior, students in a human behavior master's degree program write a senior paper or conduct a research project. Internships are usually also required. Courses you might take in these programs include:

  • Dynamics of interpersonal relationships
  • Culture and personality
  • Counseling
  • Abnormal psychology
  • Developmental psychology

Online Degree Options

Online master's degree programs in human behavior are available. Students attending online programs complete the same coursework as on-campus students. A senior, or capstone, project is also compulsory, which requires students to work with an instructor on a topic that interests them. Therefore, an online program may include some on-campus attendance requirements.

Stand Out with This Degree

To stand out against your competition, consider completing courses in the psychology of interactive media or other types of technology. Being knowledgeable about how current media technology affects consumers demonstrates that you can include the newest developments when conducting research or analyzing information. This skill may make your resume more attractive to employers.

PhD in Human Behavior

PhD programs that focus on the analysis of human behavior are typically geared towards individuals interested in a career in research or academia. These degree programs build upon the education received in a master's degree program. Students in these programs study human reactions to environments and surroundings.

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • A PhD is required to work as a professor and ultimately receive tenure
  • Funding may be available to pay for your graduate education
  • Collaboration with faculty helps deepen your understanding of human behavior

Cons

  • A PhD is not typically required to work as a sociologist or anthropologist
  • These programs are not widely available; you may need to attend a psychology PhD program and specialize in human behavior
  • The lack of online programs requires you to be on-campus for the majority of the time

Courses and Requirements

During the first years of study, students in these programs complete coursework. Classes commonly taken during this period of time include statistics, applied ergonomic methods, developmental psychology and human factors. Many times, students are able to concentrate on areas such as environmental psychology, human factors or ergonomics. Students must also conduct research and write a dissertation.

Online Degree Options

Online doctoral degree programs in human behavior are unavailable. Being on campus and available during work hours allows you to work closely with instructors and other students.

Stand Out with This Degree

If you are interested in teaching after graduation, consider completing an assistantship during your studies. Having experience teaching students can help your resume stand out to academic employers.

Additionally, you might take a course about the types and use of statistical software commonly relied upon to conduct research in the field. Being familiar with this software can not only help you with your dissertation research, but demonstrates to employers that you are able to use these programs in a work environment.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Kaplan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
      • MS in Psychology
      • Master: Psychology/General Psychology
      • MSPY - Industrial/Organizational Psychology Specialization
      • Master: Psychology/Addictions
      • MS in Educational Psychology
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
      • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors
      • MS in Psychology: General Psychology
      • MS in Psychology: Industrial & Organizational Psychology
      • Master in Christian Counseling
  • Online Programs Available
    3. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS Criminal Justice with Behavior Analysis Specialization
  • San Francisco, CA

    San Francisco State University

  • Online Programs Available
    5. Indiana Wesleyan University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health

Featured Schools

Kaplan University

  • Master: Psychology/Applied Behavioral Analysis
  • MS in Psychology
  • Master: Psychology/General Psychology

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • M.S. Psychology with an Emphasis in Gerontology
  • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology
  • M.S. in Psychology with an Emphasis in Human Factors

What is your highest level of education?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS Criminal Justice with Behavior Analysis Specialization

What is your highest level of education completed?

Indiana Wesleyan University

  • M.S. Nursing - Psychiatric Mental Health

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