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Human Sciences, M.A.

Program Director: Elizabeth MacDougall, Ph.D.;  (301) 696-3892

The Master of Arts in Human Sciences program offers an interdisciplinary approach to the study of human nature and complexity and the problems of contemporary society.  The goal of the program is to provide a deeper understanding of human experience and the world we live in and to broaden students’ perspectives and understanding of human behavior as they apply to students’ current professional and civic roles.  As such, the goal is to provide existing career enhancement, not to qualify the student to become a professional psychologist or counselor.  The MA program is open to qualified applicants to the Graduate School. 

For admission information, see Graduate Admission and Program Specific Application Requirements

Requirements for the Program

Two routes to the master’s degree in the human sciences are available. They are:

  • 30 credits plus a comprehensive written examination.
  • 36 credits that include a Master's thesis (by permission only, see below).

Course requirements:

Completion of six Human Sciences credits. Students elect any two of the following Human Sciences courses:

  • ECON 551 Foundations of Economics
  • MATH 500 Statistics
  • PHIL 514 The American Intellectual Tradition
  • PSCI 500 Government in Contemporary Society
  • SOC 523 Ethnicity in the United States

Completion of 12 Psychology credits. Students take the following four Psychology courses:

  • PSY 500 Human Development as a Lifelong Process
  • PSY 501 Theories of Personality
  • PSY 505 Social Psychology: A Survey
  • PSY 531 Abnormal Psychology

Completion of 12 elective credits. Students elect any four of the following elective courses:

  • GERO 554 Social Gerontology
  • GERO 555 Psychological Aspects of Aging
  • GERO 556 Health and Aging
  • GERO 599 Special Topics in Gerontology
  • PSY 508 Introduction to Counseling and Helping Skills*
  • PSY 509 Learning and Memory
  • PSY 511 Theories and Principles of Counseling
  • PSY 518 Physiological Psychology
  • PSY 534 Tests and Measurements
  • PSY 556 Behavior Modification
  • PSY 575R Research Literature Review*
  • PSY 590 Teaching Assistantship*
  • PSY 595 Independent Research Project*
  • THAN 520 Introduction to Thanatology
  • THAN 521 Mourning and Principles of Counseling the Bereaved
  • THAN 523 Dying and Principles of Care for the Dying
  • THAN 527 African-American Perspectives in Thanatology
  • THAN 528 Developmental Perspectives in Thanatology
  • THAN 529 Historical and Multicultural Perspectives in Thanatology

* - Not eligible for the comprehensive exam.

Certificate Opportunities:

  • In addition to the MA degree in Human Sciences, students may obtain a Certificate in Thanatology if they choose THAN 520, THAN 521, THAN 523 and THAN 528 as their four elective courses. Students must indicate intent to complete the Certificate in Thanatology on the Human Sciences Degree Candidacy Form. 

NOTE: Note: Course substitutions are not permitted. A student may be exempted from these requirements by petition to the appropriate department. The petition must be in writing and, if approved, written evidence of the exemption must be forwarded to the Graduate School by the program director. The exemption is made a part of the student’s record. When a course is formally exempted, another course must be taken. Exemption does not constitute credit.

A Comprehensive Examination or Master's Thesis: 

  • Comprehensive exam: Students take a comprehensive examination of five completed courses: any three of the four required Psychology courses and any two electives (except starred courses). Students must pass at least four of the five course examinations.
  • Master's Thesis: Students may choose to write a thesis which would require an additional six credits above the 30-credit course requirement. Students with strong statistics and research methodology backgrounds must obtain faculty permission to pursue this option.

Graduates of the Program

Graduates of the versatile M.A. program in Human Sciences have worked in a wide range of areas, including:

  • schools/universities; community health centers
  • alternative health practices; occupational therapy centers
  • government; non-governmental organizations (NGOs)
  • community service organizations; ministry
  • juvenile justice system; social entrepreneurship
  • community organizing; public policy research
  • conflict resolution/mediation; restorative justice
  • international group facilitation; international relief
  • political and social activism; media
  • human resources