Psychology, sociology, political science, economics, management, and education are all very different disciplines in terms of their aims, their areas of focus, and the kinds of careers they would seem to suggest. But each relies on one of the central tenets of the behavioral sciences — the idea that there are well-defined research procedures, quantitative assessment procedures, and qualitative measurement practices that must be used to rationally support and justify any theory, premise, and/or policy initiative. This is the scientific part of studying human behavior, whether it relates to emotional well-being, social status, voting preferences, consumer decisions, workplace satisfaction, or learning outcomes. And these are the arenas in which the skills and knowledge that come with a master’s in evaluation, research and measurement are vital and very much in demand.
Admitted, the terms evaluation, research and measurement don’t create a particularly warm, inviting, or exciting picture on first glance. The same goes for the titles of the dozens of scholarly journals listed by the American Psychological Association that are devoted to the field of assessment, evaluation, measurement, psychometrics, and statistics, from The American Journal of Evaluation and The British Journal of Mathematical and Statistical Psychology, to The Journal of Educational Measurement and The Journal of Quantitative Measurement in Sports. But, the ideas and the philosophy behind evaluation, research and measurement have gradually gained a fairly strong and colorful foothold in the popular imagination, whether it’s through the work of the behavioral economists Stephen J. Dubner and Steven Levitt around the concept of Freakonomics, or through the spread of the Sabermetric thinking behind Bill James’ Moneyball and the use of new advanced metrics modeling to analyze other sports, both in the professional and fantasy arenas. And we wouldn’t have any of the increasingly reliable polling data that has become an area of intense fascination in American life if it weren’t for experts trained in evaluation, research and measurement.
Master’s in Evaluation, Research and Measurement Concepts
- Business metrics
- Program and project evaluation
- Project management
- Qualitative and quantitative research methods
- Assess organizational performance, structure and strategic processes
- Human development
- Psychopathology in the workplace
- Current issues within program or organizational evaluation, research and measurement
- Develop a healthy workplace culture
- Stress management
- Human diversity and issues related to multicultural environments
- Statistics and research evaluation
- Professional ethics and law
- Performance gaps and solution development
- Organizational consulting practices
Benefits of Earning a Master’s in Evaluation, Research and Measurement
Increasingly, there are few fields and even fewer sectors of the economy that don’t rely in some way on the tools of evaluation, research and measurement. Just as the theories of psychology have permeated our culture, coloring our understanding of why people think and behave the way they do in school and in the workplace, at home and on the job, in crowds and on their own, online and in the supermarket, the methodologies behind qualitative and quantitative research methods have created a demand for evidence-based and evidence-driven strategies in healthcare, education, sports, technology, and marketing, as well as in the traditional social sciences of sociology, psychology, and political science. A master’s degree in evaluation, research and measurement offers a promising pathway into all of these fields, and has potential applications in any area of human endeavor in which there is a need for policies and decisions driven by data rather than instinct and guesswork. It may be true that the digital age has reinvigorated a utopian enthusiasm for data and analysis, but there is also ample evidence that advanced metrics and assessment strategies lead to better results, whether its in grade-school education or fantasy football drafting, urban planning, or website design.
What to Expect in an Evaluation, Research and Measurement Master’s Program
Digital technology and computing power have had a massive impact on what can be done in the field of evaluation, research and measurement, and what is already being accomplished. The terrain is certainly shifting, and academic programs are working to keep pace with these changes. But, just as statistics isn’t a new course requirement for psych and sociology majors, evaluation, research and measurement is not a new discipline. The American Psychological Association has a specific division dedicated to the field, formerly known as the Division of Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics, now known simply as Division 5 (Quantitative and Qualitative Methods). It draws together, in the words of its own mission statement, “specialists in the areas of evaluation, measurement, assessment and statistics,” and currently includes over 2,000 members from the fields of “educational psychology, psychometrics, industrial-organizational psychology, and individual assessment.”
The tools of evaluation include research design, statistical analysis, and behavioral assessment, and are central to many areas of study, from psychology and sociology, to education and business management. Indeed, master’s degree programs in evaluation, research and measurement may be housed in departments of psychology, education, human services and/or development, and can go by slightly different variations on the ERM (evaluation/research/measurement) formula, from a master’s in measurement and evaluation, to a master’s in applied statistics. What they share is a core area of academic inquiry and a course of study that is generally designed to be completed in roughly two years, often but not always capped off by a supervised independent research project of some kind.
The specific classes that are part of a master’s in evaluation, research and measurement will vary from program to program, and school to school. But the chart below offers an overview of the topics and subjects that are typically covered in these degree programs:
Metrics for qualitative assessment of human behavior using the theories and principles of psychology
Using personality tests and statistical theory to measure human performance and other behavioral factors
Survey Research Methods
Designing, implementing, and analyzing surveys and polls to collect and generate reliable data
Policy and Program Evaluation in Social Services
Applying various assessment and measurement tools to the evaluation of programs in health, human services, education, and other areas of public policy
Advanced Statistical Analysis
Using multivariate analytical techniques, linear regression models, and other advance techniques in statistics
Longitudinal Data Analysis
Designing, collecting, and analyzing data for long-term studies of behavior
Using data from multiple studies in a scientific manner to create new data sets
Degrees and Specializations in Evaluation, Research and Measurement
Evaluation, research and management is more than just a multi-disciplinary pursuit; it’s the very definition of a cross-disciplinary field that cuts across a broad range of academic areas of study and professional pursuits. Schools of education, psychology, human development and human services may all offer master’s programs in evaluation, research and measurement. And it’s not uncommon for evaluation, research and measurement to be an area of specialization within a larger graduate program in education or educational psychology. Further specialization within the major tends to the take the form of elective courses. So, for example, a school may offer coursework in healthcare policy evaluation, educational research and teaching effectiveness assessment techniques, or data analytics in the social services. Classes like these, and other elective coursework, can help students tailor their degree toward the type of career they are interested in pursuing.
There are also several different types of degrees available in the field of evaluation, research and measurement at the graduate level. These include a master of arts (MA), master of science (MS), and the master of education (MEd). These are largely considered to be equivalent degrees, so the key is to sort through programs based on the focus of the curriculum and options it offers. Students interested in applying data analytics in the realm of education may gravitate toward an MEd program, while those more interested in psychological research may have more luck with an MS or MA degree.
Careers in Evaluation, Research and Measurement
It would be difficult to overestimate the number of fields and career options that are open to students graduating with a master’s in evaluation, research and measurement. Indeed, there probably isn’t an area of professional specialization in which qualitative and/or quantitative assessment methodologies aren’t being used or developed for future use. As the American Statistical Association points out in its online career center, “One advantage of working in statistics is that you can combine your interest with almost any other field in science, technology, or business.”
In education, new federal initiatives like the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 have created a increased demand for better testing and assessment of teachers and students in our public school system. In healthcare, the Affordable Care Act and its implicit mission to make healthcare less costly and more accessible has put pressure on hospitals, insurers, and others in the field to use data to increase efficiency and deliver better services and outcomes. And, in the private sector, businesses are ever more aware of the importance of marketing, branding, and measuring the psychological aspects of consumer behavior.
So, while it’s difficult to narrow the career options in evaluation, research and measurement down to just one or two options, much less a few larger sectors of the economy, there are certain data- and assessment-driven fields in which graduates of master’s degree programs in evaluation, research and measurement are likely to find employment. The chart below uses the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), which itself employs statisticians and data analysts, to provide an overview of job outlook and salary in several of these occupations:
|Occupation||Median Annual Wage in 2014||Job Growth through 2024|
|Market Research Analysts||$61,290||19%|
|Elementary, Middle, and High School Principals||$89,540||6%|
|Medical and Health Service Managers||$92,810||17%|
|Social and Community Service Managers||$62,740||10%|
Licensing and Certifications in Evaluation, Research and Measurement
There are no specific licensure or certification standards necessary to work in the field of evaluation, research and measurement. A master’s in evaluation, research and measurement; a master’s in statistics and/or statistical analysis; or any of the other equivalent MA, MS, and MEd degrees detailed above are typically sufficient for employment. However, it may be necessary to gain licensure or certification in psychology or education in order to work in those professions as a researcher. This varies from state to state, and depends largely on the specific position being sought.