What is the study of human behavior?

October 16, 2015

The study of human behavior centers on the relationship between individuals and groups.

It combines elements of psychology and sociology, and provides insights into leadership and management. Specializations include child and adolescent development, family life, aging, eating disorders, and addictions.

In 2010, Capella University launched both a master’s and a doctoral program focused on Studies in Human Behavior.

Capella’s Faculty Chair for Human Behavior and Counseling programs, Dr. Mia Holland, provides insight into the focus of these degree programs and typical career outcomes.

Q. Why were the studies in human behavior programs created?

    A. Studies in Human Behavior advanced degrees prepare people to advocate, lead, and consult in social and behavioral fields. Capella’s programs were developed to fill a gap for students who wanted to acquire expertise in human behavior and leadership but weren’t looking for licensure programs (like counseling) that require steps like internship and practicums.

    People sought the knowledge to help them move into other careers related to the social services, especially for leadership roles. So we added the Master of Science in Human Behavior and the PhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behavior in order to develop leaders who will have a much deeper grasp of human behavior and what drives it.

Q. What will students learn in these programs?

    A. They’ll learn about the theoretical frameworks of both individual and group behavior and the relationship between the two. They’ll also learn about the role of human behavior in leadership roles, both in terms of how leaders can more effectively manage employees and programs, and how different styles of leadership work with different types of people and settings. The programs look at various specializations, such as child and adolescent development, family life, aging, eating disorders, and addictions.

    The programs are multi-disciplinary and draw from many different areas—counseling, psychology, sociology, leadership, advocacy, and consultation. We evaluate and review the curriculum on a consistent basis, adding relevant features, and making sure we’re providing the most up-to-date content. Our instructors all have PhDs, are expert leaders in their fields, and many of them are experienced clinicians as well.

Q. What is the typical background of a human behavior student?

    A. We have students from diverse backgrounds such as health care, mental health care, ministry, business, public health administration, and education. Any career or field that involves working with people can benefit from studies in human behavior. Diverse backgrounds strengthen the program, and students benefit from a diverse learning community.

Q. What career outcomes can graduates expect with these degrees?

    A. At the master’s level, graduates will be qualified for director- and manager-level positions, such as a group home director, academic advising director, learning center manager, or adjunct professor.

    Doctoral graduates can look for executive-level positions in advocacy, research, or consulting, or become faculty members at the college level. With either degree, graduates can work in both the public and private sectors, in business, health care, education, or government. It’s a nice option for people looking to transition from other disciplines into social services, as well.

Q. What are you hearing from graduates of this program?

    A. The program is now five years old and we’ve heard from the first groups of graduates that many have received raises and promotions after attaining their degrees, or have successfully changed job settings. They have more credibility and are viewed as having more expertise and skills.

Q. Is this a program that is likely to see growth?

    A. Yes. It’s already grown quite quickly. We expect continued growth and success, especially as people graduate and see positive outcomes.


Learn more about Capella’sPhD in Advanced Studies in Human Behaviordegree program.

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