Comparative Psychology Degree Program Overviews

Oct 09, 2019

A bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree in psychology is a common pathway into a career in comparative psychology. These programs study the differences and similarities in human and animal behavior.

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Essential Information

Most bachelor's programs in psychology touch on comparative psychology, but it's rarely the focus of the program. Comparative psychology is sometimes offered as a concentration in psychology master's programs. Similarly, aspiring psychologists, research scientists and university professors can focus on comparative psychology at the doctoral level through dissertation research and traditional coursework.

A high school diploma or equivalent is required for admittance into the bachelor's program. A bachelor's degree including work in statistics and experimental psychology will be needed to begin the master's program. Admission to the doctoral program will require an appropriate master's degree. This program typically requires 45-60 hours of upper-tier coursework in addition to previously completed master's degree credits in the field.

Bachelor of Science in Psychology

A comprehensive baccalaureate program in psychology introduces students to concepts in comparative psychology and animal science. These programs usually focus on core principles in psychology, and students must often complete a series of electives that provide an overview of how psychological theories are used in the study of human and animal behavior. Classes emphasize fundamental psychological theories and their relationship to human behaviors and that of other species. The following are some possible subjects covered in the curriculum:

  • Introduction to psychology
  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Statistics
  • Psychological research design

Master of Science in Psychology with Comparative Psychology Concentration

Master's degree candidates observe the behavior of human and animals in the field and laboratory. They research the mechanisms, social development, and evolution of humans and non-humans. Areas of focus may include the following:

  • Statistical analysis
  • Cognitive processes and experience
  • Ontogeny

Ph.D. in Psychology with Comparative Psychology Concentration

Doctoral degree programs generally provide the highest level of study and research in the field of comparative psychology and animal science. Classes consist of advanced studies in specialized research in areas including development and testing of hypotheses, observing animal or human participants and analyzing data. Course subjects include the following:

  • Animal cognition
  • Teaching methods
  • Advanced studies in animal behavior
  • Human operant behavior
  • Survey of physiological and comparative psychology

Employment and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that employment of all kinds of psychologists was expected to grow by 19%, from 2014-2024. Employment opportunities were expected to be the brightest for candidates with a doctoral degree in a specialty field within psychology. Although the BLS does not provide salary information for comparative psychologists in particular, it did indicate that psychologists working outside of clinical, counseling, school, and industrial-organizational fields earned an average salary of $93,050 per year in May 2015.

Additionally, job applicants holding a Ph.D. are generally qualified to seek advanced positions in teaching and research. In May 2018, the BLS reported that psychology teachers instructing in postsecondary educational institutions earned an average of $88,490 per year. The employment of all kinds of postsecondary teachers, including psychology professors, was projected to grow about 11% between 2018 and 2028 by the BLS; however, many of the job openings will be for part-time or non-tenured positions, according to the BLS.

Comparative psychologists study the differences between human and animal behavior. While comparative psychology may not be available as a specific major, it is available as a concentration at a bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree level.

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