Health Psychology and Clinical Science

The Ph.D. program in Health Psychology and Clinical Science offers an innovative training approach that reflects highly demanded and growing areas in psychological science. The primary goal of this program is to train outstanding research scientists in the biopsychosocial determinants of physical and mental health and how to design and evaluate interventions to improve the physical and mental health of individuals, families, and communities. The effects of biological, cognitive, and contextual forces are critical to understanding the risk and protective processes that underlie both mental and physical health.

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Training Area Faculty

Doctoral students in  Health Psychology and Clinical Science (HPCS) will receive a thorough training in clinical and health psychology, including current theoretical perspectives, the conduct and evaluation of scientific research methods, and evidence-based prevention and intervention practice across a diverse set of populations. HPCS has a commitment to the interaction between physical and mental health, a focus on health disparities and the influence of sociocultural contexts, and the advancement of health equity from a biopsychosocial perspective.

The program embodies a clinical science model of training in the evidence-based practice of health service psychology.  The program for predoctoral students includes core coursework and intensive supervised research and clinical and health science practica in laboratory, health care, and community settings. The program utilizes a mentorship model in which students will work closely with one or two faculty advisor(s). The faculty has strong expertise in a number of processes relevant to clinical and health psychological science, including: biopsychosocial determinants of physical and mental health and illness; neurobiological bases of emotion function and dysfunction; stress, coping, and adjustment to chronic illness; social-cognitive risk factors for mental disorders and physical illness; adherence to treatment; emotion regulation; health communication; and health disparities.

Beyond 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 specific disorders and diseases including cancer; HIV/AIDS; mood, anxiety, and stress disorders; suicidal behavior; and musculoskeletal diseases, with foci on specific populations such as women, LGBT individuals, and racial and ethnic minorities.

Goals for Student Training

Graduates of the Health Psychology and Clinical Science training program will display knowledge and skills in four areas:

Graduates of the program will be expected to have an in-depth knowledge of clinical science and health psychology. Students will develop expertise in the psychological bases of physical and mental health and illness, including such topics as the biopsychosocial determinants of health and illness, stress and coping processes, how the social, cultural and temporal contexts alter health-behavior processes. They also will develop a broad knowledge of many of the basic areas of psychology (e.g., social psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience) and other related areas (e.g., public health), as these areas interface with clinical science and health psychology. In addition to the mechanics of research design, students will develop the ability to conceptualize research problems in terms of broader theoretical descriptions and explanations as a means to understand physical and mental health-relevant phenomena in more meaningful ways. Students will be expected to develop their professional identity through research experiences, attendance at specialized research conferences, and membership in one or more professional associations, such as the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology, Division 12 (section 3) of the American Psychological Association (APA), Society for Health Psychology (APA Division 38), Society for Behavioral Medicine (SBM), American Psychosomatic Society (APS), and the Association for Psychological Science (APS), among others.

Students will develop advanced research skills, including the ability to understand, integrate, and critically evaluate the literature in the breadth of scientific psychology, and the ability to design, conduct, and analyze empirical research. The program emphasizes the development of laboratory, field and translational research skills, including the conduct of randomized clinical trials and program evaluation. Students are expected to maintain an active research program in collaboration with faculty members throughout their doctoral training so as to enhance the breadth and sophistication of their research skills and to produce new knowledge in one or more specialized areas through directed research experiences and the successful completion of a dissertation.

Students become equipped to competently engage in activities related to health service psychology, including therapeutic intervention, psychological assessment, clinical supervision, teaching and mentoring, and professional consultation. Our program provides exposure to a broad range of client populations through highly structured and supportive practicum experiences in preparation for internship.

Students will develop proficiency in teaching, writing research grants, presenting their work at research conferences, and publishing in professional journals. Many students choose to enter academia when their graduate work is completed so training includes opportunities to garner teaching experience, including a Teaching of Psychology course and teaching at one of the senior colleges. Students will also develop publication and presentation skills through the Proseminar, the Professional Development course, and their individual research experiences.

Clinical Program Accreditation Status

HPCS is now accredited on contingency

HPCS is APA accredited on contingency. Per APA rules, the accreditation will be "on contingency" status until the program has 3 years of program outcome data. The accreditation is retroactive to the site visit (December 2018), and all graduates after that date will graduate from an accredited program.

For inquiries about APA accreditation of clinical psychology training programs, contact:
American Psychological Association (APA) Commission on Accreditation: 750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002,  (202) 336-5979.

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More Information

View more information about the Health Psychology and Clinical Science program:

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2021-2022

Health Psychology and Clinical Science Handbook

Our handbook includes additional program information and is a resource for students.

Review the Handbook