MS in Psychology: Health Psychology Program

The terminal master’s program in health psychology offers training in research and theories relevant to health promotion, stress and its management, the patient in the treatment setting, management of chronic illness, and causes and consequences of health disorders such as coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, AIDS, cancer, and arthritis. The program is appropriate for students planning applied research careers in health settings and for students who plan to later seek doctoral training in psychology or related fields. Current research topics include health disparities, gender and health, aging, health education, patient advocacy and self-care behaviors, the effects of stress and mechanisms of coping with it, risk perception, complementary interventions, and pediatric conditions and pain. Research is conducted in the laboratory as well as in clinical settings and many of the faculty have strong ties to the Milwaukee community.

Curriculum

The program requires 36 credits. Students who have completed, prior to entry into the program, any of the required courses, may substitute other psychology courses numbered 700 and above, preferably selected from the area of health psychology.

The 36 credits of coursework are distributed as follows. (Course substitutions are permissible with the director’s approval):

Credits and Courses

General Psychology Track

Students in the general psychology track must be simultaneously enrolled in the doctoral program. The minimum requirement for the MS is 30 graduate credits of psychology, 24 of which must be earned in formal coursework (excluding practica) and 6 of which must be earned through an acceptable thesis.

Thesis

The student, under the direction of an advisor, must develop an acceptable thesis based on empirical research. The student must pass an oral examination in defense of the thesis.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within three years of initial enrollment.

Specialization in Health Psychology

Health psychology is concerned with the psychological variables that influence physical health and illness. The MS program in health psychology offers training in research and theories relevant to health promotion. The program of study consists of core health psychology coursework, research coursework, psychology breadth coursework, and an optional field placement. Current research topics include gender and health, cancer prevention and health education, reproductive health and STD prevention, patient advocacy and self-care behaviors, the effects of stress and mechanisms of coping with it, and child abuse prevention. Research is conducted in the laboratory as well as in clinical settings, and many members of the faculty have strong ties to the Milwaukee community.

Course of Study

The course of study consists of at least 36 credits, distributed as follows:

Core Health Psychology Courses (12 Credits)
PSYCH 955Seminar in Social Psychology and Health3
Select three of the following:9
Psychology of Race, Ethnicity, and Health
Proseminar in Biological Psychology
Psychophysiology
Current Topics in Psychology: (health-related topic)
Neuropsychology
Behavioral Neuroscience
Seminar in Social Psychology
Seminar in Physiological Psychology
Research Coursework (15 credits)
PSYCH 510Advanced Psychological Statistics3
PSYCH 610Experimental Design3
PSYCH 932Proseminar in Evaluation Research (or an acceptable equivalent course, as determined by area faculty)3
PSYCH 790Masters Research6
Breadth coursework (9 credits)
Select 9 credits in consultation with an advisor9
Total Credits36

The MS specialty in health psychology emphasizes the application of psychological theories to health-related issues. Although students are exposed to theories and applications in coursework, the field placement option offers a further opportunity to learn by doing. Students are encouraged to take at least 3 credits of PSYCH 812 in their area of interest.

Additional Requirements

Advising and the Major Professor

Graduate School and departmental regulations require students to have a major professor to direct their research activities. It is important for students to start their research early in their graduate studies. Admittees are assigned to a major professor they have chosen during the admissions process.

Before the end of the second semester, the student must form an advisory committee of three departmental faculty members, including the student’s major professor. Students are free to change their major professor at any time. The Department also provides a Graduate Program Coordinator, who advises about courses and program requirements and who approves programs of study. The Graduate Program Coordinator is also available to help students who wish to change their major professors to find new ones.

Thesis or Project

The student, under the direction of an advisor, has the option of developing either an acceptable thesis based on empirical research or an acceptable project (a review or theoretical paper). In either case, students must demonstrate their ability to formulate a research idea and pursue independent and original investigation. The student must pass an oral examination in defense of the thesis, but no oral examination is required for a project.

Time Limit

The student must complete all requirements within seven years of initial enrollment.

Model Course Plan

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Year 1 Advanced Psychological Statistics (510) Experimental Design (610)
Seminar in Social Psychology and Health (955) Seminar in Evaluation Research (932)
Core Selection 1 Core Selection 2
Breadth Selection 1 Breadth Selection 2
Year 2 Core Selection 3 Breadth Selection 3
Master’s Research (790) Master’s Research (790)
Field Placement in Psychology (812) Defend Thesis

Thesis or Project

The student, under the direction of an advisor, has the option of developing either a thesis based on empirical research or a project (a review or theoretical paper). If the student chooses the thesis option, he or she must pass an oral defense of the thesis. Part-time study is possible so long as all degree requirements are completed within seven years of initial enrollment.

The Faculty

The health psychology faculty include core faculty (Professors Raymond Fleming, Marcellus Merritt, and Diane Reddy) and affiliated faculty (Professors Shawn Cahill, W. Hobart Davies, Bonnie Klein-Tasman, and Krista Lisdahl.) See the individual faculty bios for more details on their respective research programs. Additionally, other faculty in psychology may serve as advisors.

Future Studies in Health Psychology

Students who have completed undergraduate majors in psychology are encouraged to apply. On satisfactory completion of the master’s degree here, the faculty helps these graduates either pursue doctoral study in other programs or secure employment.

For Further Information

For information about the MS in Psychology: Health Psychology Program, please contact Professor Raymond Fleming (mundo@uwm.edu).