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Health Psychology Graduate Programs with Career Information

In health psychology programs, students learn about the various multiple factors that influence and impact human health through traditional coursework, research and internships.

Essential Information

Health psychology is the field which studies how health is affected by psychological, behavioral, cultural and other factors, and how psychological approaches can be utilized to enhance health. Those interested in graduate education in this field can pursue a master's or doctoral degree, offered on-campus and online by major colleges and universities. Two-year master's curricula cover theoretical and methodological foundations, psychopathology and assessment, and health promotion. Students can choose to do thesis research or concentrate on clinical practice. Applicants must have a relevant undergraduate degree, pass entrance tests and submit transcripts, Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores and a resume. In the more elaborate Ph.D. programs, students study biology, health and social sciences to develop an understanding of factors that impact health, and to develop treatments and interventions for patient illnesses. Possible specializations include occupational, pediatric school and community-health psychology. Direct experience is gained through internships. A research dissertation must be completed for graduation. Prospective students must have a bachelor's degree in a relevant field and experience in research methods or statistics. Doctoral programs usually take 4-6 years or longer to finish.

  • Program Levels: Master's and doctorate
  • Prerequisites: Acceptable entrance and standardized test scores, submission of a resume and academic transcripts (master's); additional experience in statistics and research methods (doctorate). Both programs require a relevant bachelor's degree.
  • Online Availability: Some programs are available online at both levels
  • Program Specializations: Concentration options include pre-doctoral health psychology and occupational psychology
  • Program Length: 2 years for a master's, 4-6 years or longer for a doctorate
  • Other Requirements: Completion of a research thesis (master's), practicum, and dissertation (doctorate).

Master's in Health Psychology

Coursework in a health psychology master's program can help students learn about group processes, behavioral and cognitive techniques, client care and evaluation programs. Other topics to be explored are:

  • Behavioral epidemiology
  • Behavior change
  • Multivariate statistics
  • Health promotion
  • Behavioral medicine

Ph.D. in Health Psychology

Doctoral health psychology curricula is multi-disciplinary, encompassing social-science, applied science and research methods. In addition to studying interventions, organizational behavior and human measurement methods, topics like the following will be addressed:

  • Human development
  • Social behavior
  • Biological behavior
  • Individuality
  • Cognitive bases of behavior

Popular Career Options

Ph.D. holders are eligible for professional psychologist licensure and research and postsecondary teaching positions. Although master's graduates aren't qualified to work as independent psychologists, other career areas they could step into include:

  • Health counseling
  • Health education
  • Health promotion
  • Health psychology research
  • Community college instruction

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for clinical, counseling and school psychologists (which includes health psychologists) is expected to grow at a rate of 12% over the 2012-2022 decade with a mean salary of $74,030 as of May 2014 (www.bls.gov).

Licensure Information

Licensure requirements to practice psychology vary by state, but education requirements, examinations and a minimum number of supervised experience hours are typical mandates.

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