Health Psychologist Graduate Program Options

Oct 09, 2019

Health psychologists analyze a client's personality and coping mechanisms to see if there is a correlation between this and their physical health. Graduate programs use classes, research and field experiences to train students in this profession.

Essential Information

Individuals interested in the health psychology field often pursue a master's or doctoral degree in the area. These programs are very research based and include opportunities for clinical experiences. Curriculum covers quality of life issues, counseling theory, coping methods, mental and physical health, research methods, social interaction effects, illness effects prevention and resistance to assistance. Both require a related bachelor's degree, passed preliminary psychology courses and the submission of standardized test scores, letters of recommendation and statements of intent for admission. Additionally, a resume or master's degree is necessary to apply at the doctoral level.

Master's in Health Psychology

The master's degree in health psychology requires two years of full-time study which culminates in a thesis presentation. Some institutions require a year of relevant hands-on experience. Students take classes mainly in mental health and conduct research for their thesis. Health psychology master's curriculum is inter-discipline between applied science and psychology. Some possible courses are:

  • Illness and mental health
  • Basics of human biology
  • Research methods and statistics
  • Ethics in health
  • Thesis research

Ph.D in Health Psychology

A Ph.D. can take five to seven years of research and study, ending in a dissertation. Most Ph.D. school work is focused on the student's dissertation research, though institutions often require courses concentrating on mental and physical health. Schools often require students to spend time doing practical work in a clinic or other approved location. Some courses may be:

  • Behavioral nutrition
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Eating disorders and obesity

Popular Careers

Students with master's degrees qualify for jobs as assistants or other positions overseen by a licensed psychologist. In most states, a doctoral degree is required for licensing. Health psychologists are employed mainly by health centers.

Employment Outlook and Salary Info

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment for clinical counseling and school psychologists is predicted to grow at a rate of 15% over 2018-2028. These professionals earned a median salary of $76,990, as of May 2018.

A master's in health psychology will not qualify you for a career as a licensed psychologist, but it will prepare you for a career as an assistant. Students interested in becoming a licensed health psychologist need to have a Ph.D in the field.

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