Dec 13, 2019  
2009-2010 University Catalog 
2009-2010 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Health Psychology MS – Thesis and Non-Thesis

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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 or to begin an entry-level career in 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. USP’s health psychology MS program offers all of the scientific and clinical practice 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 and practice 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 psychopharmacological (drug) interventions.
  • Developing psychological assessment instruments to better measure quality of life and the limits of physical functioning caused by specific physical illnesses.
  • Providing health psychology treatment interventions for cancer patients, persons who smoke, persons who are overweight, and persons who are at risk for heart disease and diabetes.
  • Providing state-of-the-art treatments for persons with severe mental illness.
  • 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 supervised practicum 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, psychosocial interventions, 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. Practicums give students a chance to apply this knowledge in real clinical health psychology settings. Practicums are supervised field-placement experiences that involve face-to-face therapeutic interventions with patients or in-depth health psychology research experiences. A broad range of practicum experiences affords the opportunity for an individualized learning experience.

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 and use empirically based psychological interventions for the prevention and amelioration of health and mental health problems.
  • Understand 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.
  • Understand and act on the values of professional psychology when working with clients and community organizations.
  • 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.
  • Develop insight into their own behavior and mental processes and apply effective strategies for self-management and self-improvement.
  • 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 PhD degree, and the non-thesis track is designed for students aiming to apply to PsyD programs in professional psychology or those students intending to practice at the master’s level. The non-thesis track requires 48 credits of coursework and clinical practicum for graduation, and the thesis track requires 48 credits of coursework for graduation. The non-thesis track includes extra coursework in assessment and practicum. The thesis track differs from the non-thesis track by requiring 12 thesis credits, writing and defending an empirical thesis. It requires fewer practicum credits.

Sample Non-Thesis Track Health Psychology Curriculum Plan

Total Credits: 48

Sample Thesis Track Health Psychology Curriculum Plan

Total Minimum Credits: 48


Claudia Parvanta
BA, MA, PhD (University of Pennsylvania)
Professor of Anthropology
Chair, Department of Social Services
Phone: 215.596.8920

Kelly Allison
BA (University of Notre Dame); MA, PhD (Miami University in Ohio)
Visiting Assistant Professor of Clinical Health Psychology
Phone: 267.295.3158

Joseph V. Lambert
BA, MA, PhD (Temple)
Professor of Psychology
Phone: 215.596.8588

Kenneth Leibowitz
BA (Rutgers); MA (West Virginia University)
Assistant Professor of Communication
Director, Institutional Research
Phone: 215.596.8902

Brad May
BA (Bard College); MA (The New School, NY); PhD (United States International University)
Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology
Phone: 215.596.8517

Stephen T. Moelter
BS (Penn State); MS, PhD (Drexel)
Associate Professor of Psychology
Director, Undergraduate Program in Psychology
Co-Director, Health Psychology Graduate Program

Phone: 215.596.7534

Linda Robinson
BS (Penn State); MS, PhD (Texas Christian)
Assistant Professor of Psychology
Acting Director, Health Psychology Graduate Program
Phone: 215.596.8511

Joseph W. Ruane
BA (St. Charles Borromeo); MA (Temple); PhD (Delaware)
Professor of Sociology and Health Policy
Vice Chair, Department of Social Sciences
Phone: 215.596.8906

Shanaz M. Tejani-Butt
BS, MS (University of Bombay, India); PhD (Medical College of Virginia)
Research Professor of Psychology
Associate Dean, College of Graduate Studies
Phone: 215.596.8594

Ralph M. Turner
BS, MS (Penn State); PhD (Temple)
Professor of Psychology
Phone: 215.895.1136

Mei-Ling Wang
BA (National Taiwan Normal); MA (San Francisco University); PhD (University of Maryland)
Associate Professor of Communication
Phone: 215.895.1155

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