Human sciences bachelor's and master's degree programs provide instruction in human behavior, human development, and social services. Students may choose to specialize in a certain field. Many colleges and universities house departments of human sciences that offer a variety of programs through which aspiring human services assistants, educators, counselors, nutritionists and administrators can study the interactions, experiences, systems and structures of human beings. Programs are usually offered at the bachelor's and master's degree levels and pull from various disciplines, including humanities, social sciences and economics.
A human sciences major will take courses in child and family studies, food and nutrition, and consumer science. Potential coursework includes early childhood development, adolescent issues, nutrition, public policy, food toxicology and research methods. Programs may require a thesis or research project for successful completion.
Bachelor's Degree in Human Sciences
Undergraduate programs in child and family studies focus on early childhood development, family relationships, marital relations, societal problems, human interaction and other topics. Students are prepared for social work careers dealing with children, adults and families in public or private family advocacy organizations and human service agencies. Taking four years to complete, a bachelor's degree program typically requires a high school diploma or equivalent for admission. The curriculum pulls heavily from the field of human development with courses in family relationships, early childhood development and adolescent issues. Students explore recent research and theories governing intrapersonal, interpersonal and societal interactions.
Bachelor's degree programs in food and nutrition, or nutritional science explore the scientific aspects of food and the relationship of nutrition to human development and behavior. Graduates are prepared for careers with the food industry, health education organizations, government agencies and healthcare organizations. The curriculum pulls from various disciplines, including nutrition, food science, biology, physics and organic chemistry. Students may study nutrition in growth and development, metabolism and food safety and quality.
Bachelor's degree programs in consumer sciences train graduates to provide education to youth and families in the areas of resource management, healthy living and relationship management. Many programs incorporate teacher training so that graduates are prepared to become licensed teachers upon graduation. Students take courses in education as well as nutrition, human development and human science. Courses for bachelor's degrees in human science might include:
- Human development
- Public policy
- Family economics
- Basic nutrition
- Educational psychology
- Family interactions
Master's Degree in Human Science
Master's degree programs in child and family studies take a research-based approach to the study of early childhood and human interaction within families. Most programs require a research project or thesis. Students are prepared for careers in the human services as well as research and academic careers at colleges or universities. A bachelor's degree is required for admission. Programs often allow students to select an area of specialization, such as family policy, individual development, life span studies, gerontology and relationship processes.
Master's degree programs in food and nutrition focus on research and the in-depth study of the science of nutrition. Programs require students to complete a thesis or research project. Prior coursework in organic chemistry, physics, nutrition, biochemistry and anatomy may be required. Students learn about food science, nutrition, human science and the effects of nutrition on humans at various phases in their lifespan.
Human sciences master's degree programs in consumer science are similar to bachelor's programs in that they often focus on training students to become educators in the consumer sciences. Some programs allow students to specialize in an area such as dietary studies or health promotion. Students in master's programs are usually required to complete a research project or thesis. Coursework may vary depending on the specialization, but topics might include:
- Theories of human development
- Family theory
- Family and interpersonal dynamics
- Issues in human development
- Nutrition and disease
- Curriculum and program planning
Popular Career Options
Students who earn a master's degree in child and family studies can find a variety of social work-related opportunities. Career opportunities are available in research and teaching, including job titles such as human sciences professor, child advocate, grief counselor and youth outreach coordinator. Graduates with a degree in food and nutrition can pursue a wide variety of career options as dieticians, nutritionists, food research technicians and educators. While most programs are designed to train educators in the field of consumer sciences, graduates may be prepared for a number of additional job opportunities in social services and social services administration. Job titles for human science degrees also might include:
- Social services program director
- Human services coordinator
- Child welfare worker
- Program developer
- Family advocate
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
The median annual salary for all community and social service occupations was $42,010 in 2015, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). This included counselors, social workers, social and human services assistants, community and social service specialists and health educators. The BLS predicted a 10% job growth for occupations within community and social services from 2014-2024 because employment is expected to grow at a faster than average rate for most of these occupations.
A human science degree in food and nutrition can lead to a variety of careers; nutritionist is one option. The BLS states that nutritionists earned a median annual salary of $57,910 in 2015 and may enjoy faster-than-average growth in the job market. Health education is another option. Health educators earned a median annual wage of $51,960 in 2015 and can expect faster-than-average employment growth. Food technologists earned a median salary of $65,840 in 2015 and are projected to see average employment growth from 2014-2024.
Many students who study consumer sciences enter the teaching profession at the secondary or high school level. The BLS predicts average job growth for high school teachers during the 2014-2024 time period. The median annual salary for secondary school teachers in 2015 was $57,200.
Some occupations in the food and nutrition industry require licensure. Nutritionists and dietitians are required to be licensed or to receive certification in many states, although requirements vary. They may also choose to become registered dietitians with the Commissions on Dietetic Registration of the American Dietetic Association. Health educators may pursue voluntary certification as a Certified Health Education Specialist with the National Commission of Health Education Credentialing, Inc.
Students who complete consumer science programs and become licensed teachers will need to complete continuing education courses in order to maintain certification. All states require secondary school teachers in public schools to obtain a teacher's license. Licensing requirements generally include completion of a bachelor's degree program with a teacher-training program, a period of student teaching and passing a competency exam.
There are many different options and specializations in bachelor's and master's degrees available to those who wish to major in human sciences.