Doctoral Program: Psychology
Graduate study in Health Psychology has a strong research focus on behavioral risk factors that impact health, such as stress, at-risk sexual practices, drug use, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, noncompliance with treatment regimens, etc.
The program focuses on health service provisions disparities and research in minority communities examining psychological disorders and diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity, and sexually transmitted infections. Our program also promotes effective health education and planning for those communities.
The Doctoral program in Health Psychology has two specialized areas of study: Clinical Health and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS). The Clinical Health specialization prepares students to work in applied settings, such as hospitals, physical rehabilitation settings, outpatient clinics, and other health services settings as members of multidisciplinary teams. The BCHS specialization will prepare students to conduct research and to develop/implement community interventions. Both areas of study emphasize research, grant-writing, and offer instructional opportunities.
Psychology Department Doctoral Manual of Program Policies and Procedures
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
Graduate study in Health Psychology has a strong research focus on behavioral risk factors that impact health, such as stress, at-risk sexual practices, drug use, sedentary lifestyles, smoking, noncompliance with treatment regimens, etc. This program focuses on health service provision disparities in minority communities for diseases such as mental health, cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, and hypertension, as well as effective health promotion education and planning for those communities. The doctoral program in Health Psychology has two specialized areas of study: Clinical Health; and Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS). The Clinical Health specialization will prepare students to work in applied settings, such as hospitals, physical rehabilitation settings, outpatient clinics, and other health services settings as members of multidisciplinary teams. The BCHS specialization will train students to conduct research and to develop and implement community interventions. Both areas of study will emphasize research and grant-writing, as well as offer opportunities for students to develop teaching skills.
To be considered for admission to the Health Psychology Doctoral Program, a student must:
- Have a minimum graduate grade point average of 3.00 on a scale of 4.0. Applicants with post baccalaureate work, including those with Master’s degrees, must have a minimum graduate GPA of 3.5.
- Have a combined minimum GRE verbal and quantitative test score of 297 (1000 on the old scale). The GRE is required for all applicants, including those with a Master’s degrees.
- Complete a supplemental application (located on the psychology department’s website).
- Submit a written personal statement (not to exceed three pages, double spaced) that describes your personal background, academic experience and future goals (professional and educational);
- Submit official transcripts for all undergraduate and graduate course work;
- Submit three current letters of recommendation from professors, employers, and other professionals qualified to assess the applicant’s ability to complete doctoral studies. At least two letters should be from professors and/or psychologists.
Completion of the Ph.D. Health Psychology Clinical Health area of study requires 96 credit hours. This includes 45 credit hours of core courses (including thesis and dissertation credits), 45 credit hours in clinical health psychology (including 12 credits of clinical health practica), and 6 credit hours of electives. Completion of the Ph.D. Health Psychology Behavioral and Community Health Sciences area of study requires 76 credit hours. This includes 45 credit hours of core courses (including thesis and dissertation credits), 31 credit hours in the community health science area (including 4 credits of community health psychology practica).
Clinical Health Area of Study – The Clinical Health area of study compliments the department’s current Master’s Program in Clinical Psychology. This area of study focuses on understanding how biological, behavioral, and social factors influence health and illness. Graduates of the program are expected to demonstrate the following competencies:
- Demonstrate understanding in the breadth of psychology, its history of thought and development, its research methods, and its applications according to the American Psychological Association’s program accreditation requirements. (Students will be exposed to courses in the following areas: biological, cognitive and affective, and social aspects of behavior; history and systems of psychology; psychological measurement; research methodology; and techniques of data analysis.)
- Demonstrate knowledge in clinical and health psychology in the following areas: individual differences in behavior; human development; dysfunctional behavior or psychopathology; and professional standards and ethics.
- Complete psychological assessments to assist in the diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of physical illness and psychological disorders.
- Develop psychotherapeutic interventions to cope with physical and mental illness and to promote healthy lifestyles.
- Identify meaningful research questions in clinical health psychology, design research studies incorporating a biopsychosocial model to address those research questions, and implement research to advance the field of psychology in the area of health and illness.
- Provide clinical services in medical, community, and other health settings.
Behavioral and Community Health Sciences (BCHS) Area of Study – The BCHS area of study focuses on research in the areas of health promotion and disease prevention by examining related psychological, social, emotional and behavioral factors in physical and mental health. This area of study includes a strong emphasis on research in social conditions such as cultural influences, family relationships and social support. Areas of interest include health systems and services, health policy and community based research and services. Graduates of the program are expected to demonstrate the following competencies:
Conduct psychological, behavioral and community research to advance the understanding of behavioral and physiological response to illness, healthy attitudes, beliefs and behaviors related to wellness (in areas such as HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular health, obesity, stress and coping, diabetes, etc.)
Analyze social/ behavioral and public health theory, concepts and methods to conduct complex health programs
Develop and implement community-based research and interventions based on community needs
Build coalitions in a variety of community and academic settings
Analyze current policy needs and legislative processes as a tool to advancing programs, health interventions, and positive health outcomes
Develop individual, community and structural collaborative efforts for health interventions at multiple tiers
Assess community needs, services and considerations for professional health services
Provide services to local communities, including cost-effectiveness studies, evaluation methods, and other needed assistance and expertise
Those admitted with a master’s degree will undergo a credit audit to determine which of their credits will be accepted. All required courses at the 600 level or above will have to be completed at VSU. If an applicant with a master’s degree completed a program with a non-thesis option, they will be required to complete a thesis-level project during their first year. The course titles for the Health Psychology curriculum are listed below. A sample course sequence and complete descriptions for all the courses in the graduate inventory can be found in Appendix A. All courses have been approved by the appropriate VSU curriculum committees.