New Master’s Degree in Psychology Explores Big Data

Azusa Pacific University launches the new Master of Science in Psychology in fall 2016. This program offers students a unique education centered on research and data analytics, a field commonly referred to as “big data.” A one-year, 36-unit intensive course of study, APU’s M.S. in Psychology offers a built-in JMP/SAS Joint Certificate in Research and Data Analytical Methods.

The program prepares students for careers as data scientists. Data scientists play an increasingly important role in business, technology, government, healthcare, and education industries. As the amount of raw data continues to multiply exponentially in the digital era, companies need individuals who can interpret and utilize data structures. Industries use such information about consumer behavior, business transactions, and service models to improve their products and services, but can do so only if they have employees with the know-how to analyze it.

The need for data analytics experts is skyrocketing, far outpacing the supply. This makes a degree in this discipline extremely valuable in two ways. Students who earn this degree enjoy high levels of income potential and employability, and advance corporations whose products and research benefit consumers in the United States. As Harvard Business Review points out, the modern market is an ocean of data that can be an overwhelming obstacle, or a utility for progress. Successful navigation requires individuals to make discoveries and use them wisely.

Kathryn Ecklund, Ph.D., chair and professor of APU’s Department of Psychology, stresses the significance of the new M.S. in Psychology program. “​Most U.S.-based big data analytics programs are housed ​in math and engineering departments. APU's program, with a joint certification in SAS data analytics, is the only one that draws upon the study of psychology to apply such data analytic methods,” said Ecklund. “While traditional psychological research models continue to glean valuable information, the study of large data sets enables researchers to discover and employ human behavioral information in new ways. Big data analytics alters the process of discovery for behavioral scientists. It moves the focus from theory-driven data collection toward data-driven insights that form solid conceptual understandings of human behavior.”

Work in this field creates opportunities to improve communities by understanding human interactions. Combining research analytic skills with the science of psychology, graduates from this program at APU will be well suited to move into government, health care, and social welfare organizations. Graduates of the program will also be well prepared for doctoral studies in a variety of psychological and allied professional research programs.

A Psychology Research Forum discussing the new M.S. in Psychology program will be held Friday, April 22, 2016, from12-1 p.m., in Wynn Academic Center, room 2. For more information, contact the Department of Psychology at (626) 815-6000, Ext. 2420.