Online Health Psychology Degree Program Options

Get information about online degree programs related to health psychology. Read about program requirements, course topics and degree levels, as well as career information.

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Essential Information

Health psychology is offered fully online but programs are rare. Only a few schools have graduate degree programs in this field that can be completed through distance learning, and master's degree programs are more commonly available than doctoral degree programs. Coursework may include biopsychology, stress and coping, children's health, gerontology and women's health.

Health psychology is often a specialization within a broader psychology degree program. Students complete a set of general psychology courses, like human development, psychology theories, and psychology ethics, along with courses in wellness, nutrition, eating disorders, and alternative medicine.

A bachelor's degree in psychology or biological science is a preferred prerequisite. Master's-level students are usually required to do a practical capstone project or write a thesis, and doctoral students typically complete independent research, a dissertation and comprehensive exams. Graduates from health psychology degree programs may find work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers or public health organizations.

Master's Degree in Health Psychology

An online master's degree program in health psychology is likely to be available as a degree program in psychology with a specialization in health psychology. Programs aim to apply psychological theory toward the improvement of physical and mental health within an organization. Students learn to identify environmental, cultural and institutional factors that can adversely affect mental health and propose changes that eliminate or minimize them. Schools generally require applicants to a master's degree program to have earned a bachelor's degree in psychology or the biological sciences.

Program Information and Requirements

Courses in an online master's degree program in health psychology may be completed entirely online or as a hybrid of online and traditional classroom instruction. Access to readings, lectures, and assignments are handled through a school's website. Interactions between students' instructors are conducted through online forums and e-mail. A master's degree is typically earned in 2-3 years. Personal computers with Internet access are the primary technical requirements to participate in an online program.

List of Common Health Psychology Master's Degree Courses

A master's degree program in health psychology is generally divided into a core courses devoted to psychology, courses devoted to a chosen specialization and a thesis. Some programs may allow students to substitute additional master's level courses in place of a thesis.

Human Development

Theories on adult development and their practical application in a therapeutic setting are this course's primary subject. Topics considered in the course include the effect of cognition, emotion, family dynamics and social interaction on development.

Cultural Diversity

This course reviews the effect mores, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and religion impact individual behavior. The range of cultural practices and variations within cultures are also considered in the course.

Wellness Program

Students in this course learn to design and manage wellness programs within large organizations. The course gives particular emphasis to the effect of business culture, the business mindset, teamwork and group dynamics on health and job performance.

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Doctoral Degree Programs in Health Psychology

Health psychology is one of several specialization students can choose after enrolling in a doctoral degree program in psychology. Programs emphasize current theory on the interdependence of physical and mental health and require students to conduct original research on the subject. Schools offering a health psychology doctoral degree program may accept applicants who only have a bachelor's degree in psychology, provided they can demonstrate familiarity with and mastery of master's degree level content.

Program Information and Requirements

Students in an online doctoral degree program in health psychology may complete most of their coursework online. However, some programs require a brief residency that requires students to spend up to three weeks on campus. All course materials are accessible through a school's website at the convenience of students, but assignments must be finished by set deadlines. Students need a personal computer, Internet connection, and compatible Web browser to participate in an online program. A doctoral degree program is typically completed in 5-7 years.

List of Common Health Psychology Ph.D. Courses

The few years of doctoral programs in health psychology are spent on classroom study. Later years are devoted to researching, writing and defending a dissertation.


The central and peripheral nervous systems are the focus of this course. Students review the function and structure of the body's neural network and the central role it plays in memory, attention, perception and sensory processing.

Social Psychology

Students in this course use theories of social behavior and social cognition to analyze the behavior of individuals in society. Course content considers the interaction of multiple factors, including group dynamics, culture, relationships, attitudes and perceptions.

Advanced Statistics

This course applies advanced multivariate statistical techniques to the analysis of empirical research in psychology and the social sciences. Statistical tools studied include covariance analysis, path analysis, regression, data screening and structural data modeling.

Career Information

Degree holders can find employment assisting with government and business research or providing support to licensed clinical psychologists in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, and other medical facilities. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov) predicts that demand for health psychologists will increase as the implementation of preventive health care plans increases. From 2014 to 2024 employment of psychologists is projected to grow by 19%. According to BLS, as of May 2015, clinical psychologists earned a median salary of $70,580.

Graduates of an online doctoral program in health psychology are qualified to teach at the postsecondary level, provide consultation services to government agencies and businesses on health policy and design and lead health research programs. Although the number of teaching positions is seeing steady growth as the specialty gains wider recognition, the majority of opportunities remain in research.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (www.bls.gov), doctoral degree holders will have stronger employment prospects than master's degree holders, particularly those trained in quantitative research methods.

While graduate degree programs for health psychology do exist, only a few schools offer them fully online. Individuals can more readily specialize in health psychology in conjunction with a broader online psychology degree program.

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