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

Michael Hayden II

Michael Hayden II
Senior Manager at Newristics

Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences, University of Pennsylvania ‘19
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Studio Art, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee ‘18

When Michael Hayden II (Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences ’19) was completing his undergraduate degrees in psychology and studio art, he knew he wanted to apply psychology in a professional setting and began researching graduate programs that married psychology and business perspectives. When he encountered the Master of Behavioral and Decision Sciences (MBDS) at Penn in its inaugural year, Michael saw the new program as an opportunity to dive into an emerging discipline. “Behavioral science is a burgeoning field, but when you’re going to graduate school, you want to understand exactly what that is going to entail. I wanted to make sure that the program was established, and that it was going to help me continue to advance my interests,” he explains. “Penn is a tremendous institution, and it helped to know that they would be continually updating and improving the program every year based on student feedback and industry needs.”

Michael joined the MBDS program in its second cohort and quickly identified an interest in marketing research—through his own wide-ranging reading of behavioral science research, as well as exposure to professional applications delivered by alumni and experts in the field. “The program had professional development sessions and guest speakers, which I really appreciated,” he recalls. “Behavioral science is a newer field, and there are a lot of different directions you can take it, so it helped me to take a look at different career paths in specific terms.” Michael augmented his core curriculum with electives in marketing strategy and technology, data and analysis for marketing decisions, risk analysis, and network analysis from the Wharton School and the School of Arts and Sciences. “What attracted me to the program was this interdisciplinary aspect, and knowing that we could take electives based on our personal interests outside of the core courses,” he says. “That felt like a really great way to not only tie in the psychology aspect that I was interested in, but also other aspects that can complement it.”

For his capstone project, Michael analyzed the heuristics modeling used by Newristics, a company that applies behavioral science and machine learning to test marketing messages and make them more persuasive. Now a senior manager at Newristics, Michael has had the opportunity to grow his career quickly and engage directly with clients while developing his experience in market research. “It’s a very collaborative company, very tight-knit,” he says. “We walked through a very specific two-year plan for my performance.”

Michael also remains very engaged with the MBDS program and their matriculating classes, providing professional insights and opportunities for applied experience whenever possible. “Newristics has actually been a client for a couple of the design challenges. For many students who might be a little lighter on professional experience, the design challenge is a great way for them to talk about how they break down a challenge and use behavioral science to come up with a novel solution,” says Michael. “We’ve also hosted a capstone and established an internship track.” The benefits go two ways, he explains: for a growing company, mentoring behavioral science students is a great way to recruit future talent. “There’s not an extremely strong, established pipeline in the field at large,” he says. “I researched companies tirelessly, and I knew many students in the program really struggled to find roles in which to establish themselves. It’s something that I wanted to be able to go back to the MBDS program and help with.”

“The program is going to fly by,” he adds. “If you don’t have one path set when you start, that’s okay, but you should have a good understanding of the next steps you can take after the program, and the classes you can take that will get you there.”

Program contacts

Our Associate Director can help you plan your path through the Master of Behavior and Decision Sciences degree.

Course descriptions

See the courses and electives available to master's students.

Center for Social Norms and Behavioral Dynamics

Led by MBDS Founding Director Cristina Bicchieri, this newly formed research center aims to support positive behaviors on a global scale.