COVID-19 Update: LPS staff are available online, in person, or by phone at (215) 898-7326. More Info & Resources >
close alert box button

Courses and Curriculum

Required courses

All students are expected to take five core classes, three elective courses and one dedicated capstone research project to earn the nine c.u. required for the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences.

Course Number Course Title
5010 Behavioral Science: Theory and Application of Experimental Methods
5020 Norms and Nudges
5030 Behavioral Public Policy
5210 Judgments & Decisions
Quantitative unit Based on an evaluation prior to the start of the program, you will be assigned to ONE of the following two courses:
  • BDS 5220 Statistical Reasoning for Behavioral Science (intermediate)
  • BDS 5160 Data Science & Quantitative Modeling (advanced)
599 6760 Capstone Experience Research Project
(Parts I and II in fall and spring, respectively)

The goal of the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences is to equip students with practical tools for applications and a focused academic portfolio. You can select three courses from disciplines and schools across the University in relation to your academic and professional goals. An advisor from the program works with you one-on-one to craft a successful curriculum. 

Elective concentrations include:

  • Public health
  • Psychology/Neuroscience
  • Education policy
  • Social and public policy
  • Economics/Neuroeconomics
  • Sociology/Networks
  • Computational systems
Course Number Course Title
5060 Applied Statistics for Behavioral Science
5090 Applied Game Theory
5000 Introduction to Behavioral and Decision Making (based on availability)

Across private and public sectors, it is increasingly recognized how insights from behavioral science help in solving a variety of problems, optimizing processes, and achieving efficient outcomes. But how is this change taking place? How are businesses using behavioral insights to have a positive impact, and what type of professional from the field are they looking for?

The new Capstone Experience course consists of two semesters where students are invited to engage in a dialogue with industry to understand the landscape of the field of behavioral sciences, and use the tools learned in MBDS courses to tackle specific industry problems.

In the first semester (fall), students will engage in a conversation with industry leaders that will provide them with first-hand knowledge of a) how behavioral science is applied in organizations across several domains, b) why behavioral science insights and tools are becoming increasingly relevant in organizational settings, and c) what MBDS graduates can expect when they finally get to the job market. Students will use these conversations to identify, develop, and focus on their professional goals, helping them to refine their academic plans to support these goals. In the spring, students embark on a Design Challenge, where, in teams, they will have a chance to use instructional and strategic input from these conversations to shape their work.

Students in the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences program are eligible to use electives to complete the Graduate Certificate in Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (SCAN). The four required courses provide a strong foundation in neuroscience for non-scientists, emphasizing the aspects of neuroscience that are most relevant to understanding human behavior. If you are interested in this certificate, please contact penn-scan@sas.upenn.edu.


*Academic credit is defined by the University of Pennsylvania as a course unit (c.u.). A course unit (c.u.) is a general measure of academic work over a period of time, typically a term (semester or summer). A c.u. (or a fraction of a c.u.) represents different types of academic work across different types of academic programs and is the basic unit of progress toward a degree. One c.u. is usually converted to a four-semester-hour course.

Program resources

Explore the range of academic, research, and professional resources available.

Meet the faculty

Learn from the University's most celebrated scholars and the industry's leading minds.

Our social media world