While a few schools offer Master of Science (M.S.) in Health Psychology or Master of Health Psychology degrees, the most common program in the field is a master's degree in psychology with a concentration in health psychology.
These programs involve advanced studies in the mind-body connection between the brain and illness, disease prevention and chronic illness management. Additionally, students may be allowed to choose between a clinical studies track and a teaching and research track for their curriculum. Prior to graduation, students are often required to fulfill a practicum or internship requirement and/or submit a thesis.
In order to apply, students must hold a bachelor's degree in psychology or a related field. They must also demonstrate their academic abilities through an acceptable undergraduate GPA and GRE scores.
Master's Degree in Health Psychology
In these programs students are taught how to design and evaluate programs that encourage healthy habits, as well as how to use psychology to manage and prevent chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart disease. Students take general psychology classes along with health psychology-specific classes. Possible course titles include:
- Abnormal psychology
- Mental health and wellness
- Intervention techniques
- Biological sources of mental health problems
Popular Career Options
Individuals with a master's degree in psychology or health psychology can find employment in community mental health agencies, hospitals or rehabilitation facilities. Although a doctoral degree is typically a requirement to become a health psychologist, the following jobs are available to graduates with a master's degree in the field:
- Health psychology research assistant
- Social worker
- Community counselor
Employment Outlook and Salary Information
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), counselors, social workers and all other community and social service specialists are projected to see 6% growth in employment opportunities from 2018 to 2028. The mean annual salary for those working as healthcare social workers was $58,470 in May 2018. The BLS stated that community and social service specialists (all other), earned a mean annual salary of $46,050.
Continuing Education Information
While many states allow students with master's degrees to become licensed as counselors, many students continue their education at the doctoral level. Popular doctoral degree programs include the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Health Psychology and Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.), which can prepare graduates to become licensed psychologists with more employment options in both patient care and research settings. Many states require continuing education classes for license holders on an annual basis.
In summary, there are several degree options for students who are interested in health psychology. These programs offer theoretical and practical learning with research opportunities that can prepare students for clinical work or research-based doctoral programs.