University announces first-ever masters degree in 'Happiness Studies,' will cost students $17,700

Centenary University's 'Happiness Studies' program will educated leaders committed to the 'cultivation of wellbeing'

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A New Jersey university is launching what it called the world's first "Master of Arts in Happiness Studies."

Centenary University's program will "explore the implications of happiness for individuals, the workplace, and our broader society," according to the college's announcement. It's set to launch virtually in the fall and will cost students $17,700.

"Whatever profession you identify, there is a place – a very important place for happiness studies – for the science of well-being," Tal Ben Shahar, a happiness expert and the director of the program, told Fox News.

Centenary University, Hackettstown, NJ.

Centenary University, Hackettstown, NJ. (centenaryuniversity.edu)

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University President Bruce Murphy said in his March 18 announcement: "This online, 30-credit graduate degree is an interdisciplinary program designed for leaders who are committed to personal, interpersonal, organizational, and societal happiness. Grounded in science and research, this new degree will study happiness and resilience to prepare graduates to make an impact in a wide range of fields."

Centenary, a private college in Hackettstown, New Jersey, with about 1,100 students, teamed up with the Happiness Studies Academy to create the happiness program. Murphy told Fox News a variety of professionals could benefit from the program, such as human resource employees creating trainings for staff or CEOs incorporating lessons into their organizations.

"We were thrilled when Centenary University President Murphy and his colleagues were willing to take the leap, so to speak, and create and an academic field out of the fields of happiness, which is sorely needed in our world," Ben-Shahar, who co-founded the Happiness Studies Academy, told Fox News.

Centenary University, Hackettstown, New Jersey.

Centenary University, Hackettstown, New Jersey.

The academy's mission "is to lead the happiness revolution by educating leaders who are themselves dedicated to personal, interpersonal and communal flourishing," according to its website.

"When we're talking about happiness, we're talking about cultivating resilience, the ability to deal with hardships, with difficulties, and there's plenty to go around today," Ben-Shahar told Fox News. "Whether you're talking pandemic, whether you're talking war, uncertainty, whether it's on the economic level, the emotional level."

"We need some practical advice, evidence-based advice to help people deal with difficulties," he continued.

The degree will incorporate aspects of various disciplines ranging from psychology, philosophy and neuroscience to finance and business to literature, religion and music.

"This fully online accredited MA in Happiness Studies focuses on educating leaders who are committed to the cultivation of wellbeing in themselves and others, to the fulfillment of society’s potential for both happiness and goodness," the program's website states. "Regardless of your area of interest and action … the rigorous ideas and evidence-based interventions that are part of the MA in Happiness Studies will help you bring out the best in your family, colleagues, clients, students and yourself."

Centenary President Bruce Murphy

Centenary President Bruce Murphy

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Centenary has received 38 applications for the program since it was announced at the March 18 World Happiness Summit in Miami, Murphy told Fox News.

"The degree in happiness studies is relevant for essentially every field of practice," Ben-Shahar said. He said the Happiness Studies Academy receives students from a variety of professions, including lawyers, doctors, therapists, teachers, coaches and managers. 

"I see a lot of opportunity for individuals to be engaged, to take this master's degree program, to get the certification and to go forth and do great things with it," Murphy told Fox News.