The objective of the health psychology master of science program is to prepare students for successful application to doctoral programs in clinical and health psychology. We recognize that full professional functioning as a licensed psychologist requires the doctoral degree. Many students who obtain undergraduate degrees in psychology, or other social sciences, do not have the prerequisite grades and skills to be accepted into a doctoral program in psychology immediately upon graduation. USciences’ health psychology MS program offers many of the scientific requirements of the first two years of a doctoral psychology program. Other students, however, may not want to pursue the doctoral degree but do want to work in psychology and the healthcare field. For these students, obtaining the master’s degree provides the basic set of qualifications to begin work in research settings.
Specifically, the health psychology MS program prepares students for careers in
- Managing research projects within the fields of
- Mental health (such as studies on the treatment of depression).
- Physical health (such as determining the psychosocial risk factors for cancer or determining what are the best methods for helping people to change their behavior and reduce their risk of contacting AIDS).
- Research and evaluation of health care interventions.
- Directing and managing program evaluation studies that examine the different ways of providing healthcare so that the best method can be chosen and used in the future.
- Conducting psychological and neuropsychological assessments of medical patients in hospital settings, under the direction of a licensed psychologists, to determine whether patients are suitable for certain types of surgery and to help the medical treatment team develop better treatment plans.
Through a combination of coursework and research experiences, students acquire a thorough background in the psychological theory of mental and physical health, research methods, legal and ethical issues, psychological assessment, neuropsychological assessment, cognitive-behavior therapy, the psychological and social bases of physical illness, and appropriate professional behavior in the field of health psychology. Courses emphasize current issues and state-of-the-art research.
Students in the health psychology MS program will:
- Demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, and empirical findings in clinical and health psychology.
- Understand and use empirically sound diagnostic and assessment methods in clinical and health psychology.
- Understand empirically based psychological interventions for the prevention and amelioration of health and mental health problems.
- Understand and apply current research methods and statistical analyses used in clinical and health psychology.
- Understand and apply the principles of ethical conduct in all aspects of professional work in clinical and health psychology.
- Respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes for the betterment of clients and social institutions.
- Emerge from the program with realistic ideas about how to implement their psychological knowledge, skills, and values in occupational pursuits in a variety of healthcare and research settings.
The MS program in health psychology offers both the thesis and non-thesis tracks. The thesis track is intended for students who will pursue a doctoral degree (PhD or PsyD) or want to pursue a career as a research coordinator, and the non-thesis track is designed for students aiming to apply to medical school or public health or other health-related programs. The non-thesis track requires 36 credits of coursework for graduation, and the thesis track requires 40 credits of coursework for graduation. The thesis track differs from the non-thesis track by requiring 10 thesis credits, writing and defending an empirical thesis.
In the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, licensure at the master’s level requires 60 credit hours and specific coursework. Our program is specialized in health psychology and offers a maximum of 40 credit hours; therefore, the MS program’s curriculum is not sufficient for licensure at the master’s level. Students wishing to pursue licensure would need to complete coursework at another institution.