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Health Psychology and Clinical Science


Frequently Asked Questions

About the Area and the Program

1. What is Health Psychology?
Health Psychology is concerned with understanding and influencing how biology, behavior, cognitions, emotion and the environment influence health and illness. Health psychologists conduct basic, applied, and translational research into the interactions between human behavior and physical health, seeking to understand the role that biopsychosocial factors play in the etiology, treatment, and prevention of disease.

2. What is Clinical Science?
Clinical science is concerned with the application of basic and translational behavioral and neurobiological science to mechanism-based approaches to psychopathological conditions and associated targeted interventions. This approach actively draws from basic and translational paradigms and increasingly aids in the development of more specified and diversified interventions that are empirically developed and targeted to populations that often do not receive treatment due to financial, cultural, and geographical barriers.

3. What are the benefits of an integrative program?
The integrated approach facilitates a multidisciplinary focus on the discovery and application of scientific knowledge to questions related to physical and mental health, and most importantly, their interaction. Many health psychologists and clinical scientists focus on prevention and intervention through research designed to foster physical and mental health, respectively, and reduce the risk of disease and promote adjustment to illness. This program will focus on biopsychosocial mechanisms of mental and physical disorder as well as developing and testing intervention approaches at both the micro (i.e., individual) and macro (i.e., community) levels. Health psychologists are in demand as the rise in health care costs associated with behavioral factors/unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, alcoholism, and obesity, has made prevention and treatment more critical. Clinical scientists are in demand because of the rising costs of some of the most common mental disorders, including depression, anxiety, and stress disorders. Graduates will be strong candidates for faculty positions in academic psychology departments, medical schools and schools of public health, as well as positions within multidisciplinary clinical and research teams in many medical fields (e.g., oncology, psychiatry).

4. How is this program different from the other clinical programs at the Graduate Center?
Doctoral students in the Health Psychology and Clinical Science training area will receive a thorough grounding in an integrated program of psychological science that encompasses both clinical science and health psychology/behavioral medicine. This approach includes training in current theoretical perspectives, diverse scientific research methods, and the conduct of preventive and intervention trials. The other three clinical psychology programs at the Graduate Center are focused primarily on training scholar practitioners with more emphasis on clinical training, or scientist practitioners with a dual emphasis on clinical practice and research. Students in these programs often choose to pursue careers as practitioners. In contrast, the primary goal of the Health Psychology and Clinical Science program is to train research scientists in the development and application of basic theories and research in psychology to issues of the relationship between physical and mental health, with a focus on how biopsychosocial factors shape health-behavior processes.

5. Who are the faculty?
The HPCS faculty members have strong expertise in clinical science and health psychology, across a number of areas: psychosocial determinants of physical and mental health and illness; stress, coping, and adjustment to chronic illness; suicide and depression; addiction, self and identity in illness; neurobiological bases of emotion function and dysfunction; social-cognitive risk factors for mental disorders; the neurobiology of affect and stress; adherence to treatment; health communication; and health disparities. Within these areas, research training in our program spans diverse populations with regard to gender, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic background. Faculty biographies can be found here.

6. Can I enroll part-time?
This is a full-time program. In addition to coursework, students will be actively involved in research and may have teaching responsibilities. This requires a full time commitment.

7. Can I take all of my classes at night?
Classes are offered at a variety of times throughout the day and evening. However, it is rare that required doctoral courses will be offered in the evening.

8. Can I enroll in the PhD program and work off-site part-time?
No. Doctoral students must be available for courses, colloquia, proseminars, research, and teaching. Pursuing a doctoral is a full-time "job". Your "work" is conducting research and we will aim to provide stipends to all PhD students for this.

9. What type of jobs do students go into after graduation?
Our program is new, and we therefore do not yet have outcome data. Graduates of similar programs are strong candidates for faculty positions in academic psychology departments, medical schools, and schools of public health. Graduates also will be well-positioned to join multidisciplinary clinical and research teams in many medical fields (e.g., oncology, psychiatry). Many health and clinical psychologists focus on prevention through research and clinical interventions designed to foster physical and mental health, and reduce the risk of disease. Others work on evidence-based policy initiatives.

The Curriculum and Training Model

10. What are the curricular requirements for the degree?
The program includes core coursework and intensive supervised research and clinical science practica in laboratory, hospital, and community settings. The description of the curriculum and sample course schedules for students can be found here. In addition to a firm foundation in psychology, we offer strong methodological training. These areas of concentration in the program are supplemented by further expertise among the faculty with physical diseases including cancer, HIV/AIDS, musculoskeletal, and inflammatory bowel disease; psychological conditions such as mood, anxiety, suicidal behavior, and addiction; and experience working with specific populations such as women, GLBT individuals, and racial and ethnic minorities.

11. Will graduate credits transfer?
Subject to a strict review, up to 12 graduate credits taken prior to admissions to the doctoral program at the City University of New York may be applied toward the degree. An evaluation of transfer credits is made on a case-by-case basis before the end of the student's first year in residence by the training area Coordinators.

12. What is the research/clinical balance of the program?
HPCS is a research-focused program that has a goal of developing strong researchers in health psychology and clinical science. Prospective students who wish to pursue a primarily practice-based career or a program with more emphasis on clinical training should consider carefully whether a research-focused program is the right fit and look at the other clinical programs offered by the Graduate Center (Clinical @ City College, Clinical @ John Jay, and Clinical @ Queens College).

13. What are the available research opportunities for students?
Members of the HPCS faculty have their academic appointments and labs on multiple campuses of the City University of New York (for example, Hunter College, Brooklyn College). HPCS faculty also have numerous collaborations with faculty located at other NYC area universities and medical centers, and doctoral students can develop or become involved in collaborative projects. Current faculty collaborations include the Departments of Urology and Internal Medicine at Mt. Sinai Medical Center, Stony Brook University Cancer Center, Hospital for Special Surgery, Columbia University Medical Center/NYS Psychiatric Institute, NYU Child Study Center, Weill Cornell Medical College, and the NYU Imaging Center.

14. Can one obtain an MPH at the same time?
We encourage interdisciplinary research. Some students may choose to add an extra year to complete an MPH in Public Health. For more information about this program, click here.

15. Does the HPCS program follow a mentor model?
The HPCS program follows a multiple mentor model. The strongest applicants generally have research interests that fit with more than one faculty member within HPCS. All students will be assigned a faculty advisor upon matriculation, who will help them plan their coursework and research experiences. Doctoral students will declare a primary research mentor by the second semester of the program, although this research mentor can change if student interests change in the course of doctoral study.

Clinical Training

16. What client contact will students have?
Unlike practice-oriented programs, the primary goal of this program is to train research scientists. However, externships will be offered that expose students to empirically supported interventions, many conducted within a research context. Client contact may occur in laboratory, hospital, and community settings. While applied psychotherapeutic techniques may be taught and practiced within these contexts, if you are interested in being trained to become a practicing psychotherapist, we encourage you to look into graduate programs specifically designed to train therapists.

17. Is this program accredited by APA?
The program is new, and therefore is not accredited. Although we plan to apply for accreditation, this process typically takes several years per APA guidelines. If you are interested in a more traditional scientist-practitioner model, please look at the other clinical psychology training areas in the PhD program in Psychology. We have designed the clinical path program curriculum to be "accreditation ready", including the establishment of externships and a limited number of assessment and intervention courses. At this time, students completing the PhD will not be graduating from an APA-accredited program.

18. Will graduates of the program be eligible for licensure?
Students who anticipate applying for licensing should familiarize themselves with the regulations governing licensure well ahead of time. Regulations change from year to year, so it is crucial to obtain up-to-date copies of the regulations. For New York State guidelines, please visit the NY Department of Education. Currently, the state requires (1) a Ph.D. or Psy.D. in Psychology from an accredited institution (such as CUNY) and (2) the equivalent of two years of full time work as a psychologist, before candidates are allowed to take the licensure examination. Typically, the year-long internship serves as the first year of this experience, but at least 1 year must take place after the Ph.D. The final decision as to the appropriateness of match between a work experience and educational preparation is made by the Board post-hoc, on the basis of a report by the work supervisor. Nevertheless, if you have doubt as to the appropriateness of a work experience, you are encouraged to consult with the Board. It may take some time to receive a written response, but often questions can be addressed informally by phone.

The Application Process

19. What is the application deadline?
The application deadline is December 1.

20. How do I apply?

The application is completed online. You can go directly to the general admissions page on the Graduate Center's website to begin your application. In general, the following documents will be requested:









  1. Application form, which is available online.
  2. A minimum of two letters of recommendation from faculty members or research supervisors personally acquainted with the applicant's academic achievement. (The email address of your recommenders will be requested as part of the online application form.)
  3. An official transcript from each college or university attended, bearing the seal and/or signature of the appropriately authorized college official.
  4. Scores for the Graduate Record Examination General Test.

21. What are the characteristics of a strong applicant?
We will look at all elements of the application - statement of purpose, research experience, curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, GRE scores, and GPA in the context of the courses taken. The most competitive applicants will have had a strong research background during which they demonstrated their understanding of the process of research. The most competitive applicants also should be able to demonstrate a strong fit with the scientific approach, topical content, and faculty research opportunities within the HPCS program. At a very minimum, students should have taken and earned strong grades in courses on research design, statistics, and several basic areas of psychology (e.g., physiology/neurobiology, social, developmental, abnormal). Competitive applicants also will have very strong undergraduate GPA and GRE scores. Clinical experience is not required for applicants, but some research experience in health psychology and/or clinical science is expected.

22. Can students who are matriculated in other training areas within Psychology conduct research with HPCS faculty?
HPCS faculty can choose to provide research mentorship to doctoral students from other training areas, but there is no guarantee that students admitted to these other programs will have this opportunity. Prospective students who hope to be accepted to one training area and work with a faculty member who is not part of that program should contact the faculty member directly. We advise that you choose a training area to matriculate into based on the curricular requirements of that area and the faculty in that program.

23. Can students apply for the Graduate Center HPCS PhD and the Hunter College MA Clinical and Health Psych Science Program at the same time?
The HPCS doctoral program and the Hunter College MA program are entirely independent programs that are administered by different CUNY entities (i.e., the former is a program of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and has faculty across CUNY campuses, and the latter is a program of Hunter College CUNY). Prospective students may apply for both the Hunter College Clinical and Health Psych Science MA program and the Graduate Center of the City College of the University of New York HPCS doctoral program, but these admissions decisions will be made separately.

24. Do students in the Hunter Clinical and Health Psychological Science MA have priority for admission to the PhD program?
No. Although the programs share a topical focus and some faculty members, and both are dedicated to the goal of training strong researchers in health psychology and clinical science, they are completely independent.

25. How can I learn more about the program?
Please read through our website carefully. At this time, we do not hold a an open house or information session. Many of our faculty present their research at major conferences (APS, APA, SBM, ABCT, SRCD) and it is possible to talk with them there if you are attending. For more information, contact Tracey Revenson or Michael Hoyt, HPCS Area Co-Coordinators. For questions about the admissions process, please contact the Office of Admissions.