Explore our PhD in Psychology Health Psychology specialization
This PhD in Psychology specialization focuses on the intersection of psychology and health. Coursework explores health psychology, biopsychology, psychoneuroimmunology, and how to change health behavior.
Automatically waive up to five courses1 if you have earned a master’s degree in a related field,2 shortening your journey to a PhD.
Walden offers a Fast-Track Option. Students can complete their doctorate in less time by taking advantage of this path. With the Fast-Track Option, students take additional courses and begin their dissertation early to expedite their path through the program.
Minimum Degree Requirements
- Doctoral Writing Assessment
- Foundation course (3 cr.)
- Core courses (40 cr.)
- Research courses (20 cr.)
- Specialization courses (20 cr.)
- Completion of Doctoral Dissertation
- Dissertation Support courses (7 cr.)
- Dissertation Writing courses (5 cr. per term for a minimum of four terms; taken continuously until completion)
- Four PhD Residencies (four-day sessions)
Walden students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral program unless they petition for an extension.
In general, students are continuously registered in the dissertation course until they complete their capstone project and it is approved. This usually takes longer than the minimum required terms in the dissertation/doctoral study course shell.
Please refer to Walden’s catalog for more information about degree requirements.
Walden offers a Fast-Track Option. Students can complete their doctorate in less time by taking advantage of this path. With the Fast-Track Option, students take additional courses and begin their dissertation early to expedite their path through the program3.
This sequence represents the minimum time to completion. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-675-1175.
DOCTORAL WRITING ASSESSMENT
Doctoral Writing Assessment
This course is part of Walden's commitment to help prepare students to meet the university's expectations for writing in courses at the doctoral level. In this course, students write a short academic essay that will be scored by a team of writing assessors. Based on the essay score, students will complete or be exempted from additional required writing support needed to meet writing proficiency standards. This required assessment course is free. Students will be enrolled automatically in it at the beginning of their doctoral program.
Foundations for Graduate Study in Psychology
Students in this course are introduced to Walden University and to the requirements for successful participation in an online curriculum. Students work toward building a foundation for academic and professional success as scholar-practitioners and social change agents. They assess the relationship of mission and vision to professional goals, and they develop a program of study, a professional development plan, and strategies for online success. Students also explore resources used throughout the program, such as the online Walden University Library. They engage in course assignments focused on the practical application of professional writing, critical-thinking skills, and the promotion of professional and academic excellence.
Themes and Theories of Psychology
In this course, students are introduced to theories, research, and themes that form the tenets of psychology. Basic theoretical models will be reviewed, including psychodynamic, cognitive, developmental, social learning/socio-cognitive, behaviorist, learning and motivation, systems, biopsychosocial, and gender theories. Theories encompassing diverse populations, including cross-cultural and feminist theories, will also be examined. Students will critically examine the strengths and limitations of these theories and their utility in the field of psychology. Contemporary themes in psychology will be explored, with an emphasis on application of theories designed to effect positive social change.
Students in this course are provided with an advanced overview of human development through the lifespan, including prenatal, childhood, adolescent, adult, and late-adult phases. Students examine and apply basic processes and theories to developmental milestones that occur within these phases of development. They explore factors of heredity and environmental elements on human development, and they consider ethical issues, research considerations, and global perspectives as they assess strategies to promote optimal development. Students also engage in coursework and discussions that highlight themes of diversity and social change.
Culture and Psychology
Culture often has a profound influence on individual beliefs, personality development, and social behavior. Therefore, mental health professionals must have a fundamental understanding of the impact and psychological implications of culture. In this course, students focus on core themes of cross-cultural psychology—specifically, cultures representing different parts of the world and cultural influences on human psychology. Students explore the cultural components, research, and theory of cross-cultural psychology, and they assess the overall impact of culture on the field of psychology around the world. Additionally, they engage in readings and practical assignments to gain a better understanding of human development and the interactions between culture and social behaviors, health, mental health, and mental illnesses.
Teaching of Psychology
Students in this course examine theories, techniques, and issues related to teaching psychology at the college/university level, both online and in person. They focus primarily on teaching skills, developing rapport with students, managing the course, and managing the classroom. Classroom communication and ethical issues relevant to both faculty and students are also covered.
Students in this course examine and receive support for student readiness regarding the use of quantitative and qualitative research approaches. They study research fundamentals, including the distinction between social problems and research problems, the functions of research problems versus research purpose statements, and the role of theory and conceptual framework in informing research. Students examine quantitative and qualitative concepts central to research methods, design, and analysis. They also study how research design, methods, and analyses properly align for both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Students demonstrate their knowledge by creating two research outlines, using quantitative and qualitative approaches, which they develop throughout the course. They determine appropriate conditions for the use of mixed-methods approaches and differentiate between types of mixed-methods research designs. Students engage in pre- and post-assessments of skills and knowledge.
Consulting for Organizational Change
Organizational and professional development (OPD) professionals promote and implement organizational change by using fundamental techniques of change management. Students in this course examine and apply these tools, including consulting competencies, approaches, and organizational change models to learn the skills of an OPD consultant. Students explore methods for accelerating individual, group, and organizational performance through consulting, coaching, and change management. They also explore related topics, such as organizational assessment; team development; strategic planning; group dynamics; power, politics, and influence; leadership; and conflict management. Students apply course concepts to the assessment of an organization and the development of strategies to address identified needs for change.
The skills required to assess research and work effectively with stakeholders are among the many proficiencies required of professionals who evaluate and develop programs. In this course, students examine these skill sets as well as the history, theory, and major approaches underlying program evaluation. Students learn how to select appropriate quantitative and/or qualitative models and techniques to perform evaluations, demonstrate program effectiveness, and disseminate results. Additionally, students explore the procedures and techniques involved in offering their evaluation services to a specific group or organization. They also examine strategies to gain stakeholder interest in developing appropriate standards, research progress, and evaluation outcomes. Students acquire practical experience evaluating a program of interest through which they outline organizational structure, identify stakeholders, employ evaluation models, explain steps in planning, and predict possible challenges or stakeholder fears, for which they recommend solutions. (Prerequisite(s): PSYC 8304 and PSYC 8311.)
Choose one course from the following courses:
Students engaging in the research practicum participate as researchers in a project designed and supervised by faculty members. The students receive ethics training and consider ethical implications of research projects. They read literature concerning the project, collect data, analyze and interpret the quantitative and qualitative data that have been collected, and write a final paper on the project.
Students in this course can develop advanced skills necessary to become effective and ethical higher education instructors. They will engage in simulations to practice instructional skills and tasks and will evaluate their instructional and communication skills through practice in video and virtual classroom environments. Substantial reflection and instructor and peer feedback will enhance learning and development of skills. Students will refine the portfolios they developed in the Teaching of Psychology course.
Research Theory, Design, and Methods
In this research course, students are provided with core knowledge and skills for understanding, analyzing, and designing research at the graduate level. Students explore the philosophy of science, the role of theory, and research processes. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods research designs and data collection methods are introduced. The alignment of research components is emphasized. Students also explore ethical and social change implications of designing and conducting research. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills by developing an annotated bibliography. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8401.)
Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
In this research course, students are provided with the opportunity to develop core knowledge and skills for designing and carrying out quantitative research at the doctoral level, including the application of statistical concepts and techniques. Students explore classical common statistical tests, the importance of the logic of inference, and social change implications of conducting quantitative research and producing knowledge. Students approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting appropriate statistical tests for a research design. Students use statistical software to derive statistics from quantitative data and interpret and present results. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 or RSCH 7110 or RSCH 6110, and RESI 8401.)
Advanced Quantitative Reasoning and Analysis
Students in this research course build upon knowledge and skills acquired in the prerequisite quantitative reasoning course and are presented with opportunities to apply them. They are provided with more specialized knowledge and skills for conducting quantitative research at the doctoral level, including understanding multivariate data analysis and applying more advanced statistical concepts, such as factorial ANOVA, mediation, moderation, logistic regression, ANCOVA, and MANOVA. Students explore existing datasets and apply suitable statistical tests to answer research questions with social change implications. In this course, they approach statistics from a problem-solving perspective with emphasis on selecting the appropriate statistical tests for more complex research questions and social problems. Students use statistical software to perform analyses and interpret and present results. They will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by carrying out a quantitative research project. (Prerequisite(s): RSCH 8110 and RESI 8402.)
Advanced Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis
Students build upon the knowledge and skills acquired in RSCH 8310 - Qualitative Reasoning and Analysis. and have experience applying them. Students develop a more sophisticated understanding of the theoretical antecedents and practical applications of eight contemporary qualitative approaches. Students gain experience developing qualitative interview guides, collecting data, and managing the process from transcription through analysis. The unique challenges of confidentiality and ethical issues are explored as well as implications for social change. Students will apply and synthesize their knowledge and skills by developing a qualitative research plan using a topic relevant to their capstone. (Prerequisite(s): RESI 8402.)
An important branch of psychology, known as biopsychology, combines neuroscience with basic psychological models for the purpose of understanding how biology, including the brain and neurotransmitters, influence human behavior. In this course, students examine the structure and functions of the central and peripheral nervous systems and explore the impact of neurobiology, endocrinology, and physiology on human behavior. They examine brain functioning, including neural conduction; effects of neurotransmitters; sensory systems; and mechanisms of attention, memory, perception, and language. Students also explore literature addressing issues related to neuroplasticity and lateralization. Applying knowledge and skills from throughout the course, students develop a final research paper through which they synthesize biopsychology concepts and critically analyze related research.
Changing Health Behavior: Theory and Practice
Students in this course review past and current models of health behavior change, disease prevention, disease management, and relapse prevention. Coverage of health-related issues includes dietary needs, tobacco and drug use, safer sexual practices, and stress management. Students examine behavior change within specific populations (e.g., older adults, those with disability, different races/cultures/ethnicities) and factors that predict or serve as obstacles to lifestyle change and adherence. Additionally, students complete a grant-style proposal for a behavior change program of their design. (Prerequisite(s): PSYC 8745.)
Health psychologists work toward positive physical, psychosocial, and behavioral outcomes for individuals, groups, and organizations. Health psychologists study health behavior in individuals and groups, relationships between patients and providers, how individuals and groups adapt to illness, damaging health behaviors, health cognitions, and many other related issues. In this course, students explore the biopsychosocial and social ecological models of health psychology, among others, as well as behavioral and biomedical theories, using them to study health in individuals and groups. Students examine the effects of psychological, behavioral, and social factors on physical health and wellness. Students also explore key health enhancing and compromising behaviors and how they are connected to chronic health conditions. Through the examination of seminal publications and current literature, students synthesize research on these issues in relation to various chronic health conditions.
Students in this course examine current theory and interdisciplinary (psychological and medical) research associated with psychoneuroimmunology (PNI). Topics include the mind/body interaction, the holistic effects on overall health through modulation of the immune system, and mind/body interventions. Students explore recent advances in medical science that have contributed to the knowledge of biological processes and how the mind can be used as a potent force in modifying the biological mechanisms involved in wellness and illness. (Prerequisite(s): PSYC 6225 or 8226 and PSYC 6748 or 8748.)
COMPLETION OF DOCTORAL CAPSTONE - DISSERTATION PREPARATION COURSES
Dissertation Literature Review Lab
The purpose of this course is to help students prepare to write a well-structured, soundly presented critical literature review. Students taking this course cover topic selection, research analysis, writing, and editing. Upon completing the course, students produce an annotated bibliography and an outline of a literature review using a minimum of 10 self-selected research articles. This course is appropriate for doctoral students who are preparing for their dissertation research.
Writing a Quality Prospectus
This five-credit course is focused specifically on the process of writing the doctoral study prospectus. Students will use their preliminary research plan, developed previously, and develop a problem statement, to be used in the doctoral study. They further refine the problem statement and carry out the planning and the library research that will bring them to the formulation of a doctoral study prospectus. The prospectus is a brief paper, typically 15–20 pages in length, that lays out the background for the problem statement, the problem statement itself, a survey of the relevant literature (typically 25–75 references), and a research, implementation, and evaluation plan for the solution of the problem.
DISSERTATION WRITING COURSES
Doctoral students are provided with the opportunity to integrate their program of study into a research study through which they explore a specific area of interest in this course. Students complete the dissertation with the guidance of a chair and committee members through a learning platform classroom in which weekly participation is required. Students work with their dissertation chair to write the prospectus, complete an approved proposal (the first three chapters of the dissertation), complete an application for Institutional Review Board approval, collect and analyze data, and complete the dissertation. During the final quarter, students prepare the dissertation for final review by the university and conclude with an oral defense of their dissertation. Once students register for PSYC 9000, they are registered each term until successful completion of the dissertation for a minimum of four terms.Students take this course for a minimum of four quarters and are continuously enrolled until completion of their dissertation with final chief academic officer (CAO) approval.To complete a dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the chief academic officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook. (Prerequisite(s): Foundation and core courses and designation of an approved dissertation committee chairperson. Students engaging in a qualitative or mixed-methods dissertation study must also complete PSYC 8310. Students completing a mixed-methods dissertation study are strongly encouraged to also complete PSYC 8320.)
|(5 credits per quarter for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion)|
|VIEW ALL COURSES Less Courses|
Students are continuously enrolled in PSYC 9000 for a minimum of 4 quarters until completion of their dissertation with final Chief Academic Officer (CAO) approval.
To complete a doctoral dissertation, students must obtain the academic approval of several independent evaluators including their committee, the University Research Reviewer, and the Institutional Review Board; pass the Form and Style Review; gain approval at the oral defense stage; and gain final approval by the Chief Academic Officer. Students must also publish their dissertation on ProQuest before their degree is conferred. Learn more about the dissertation process in the Dissertation Guidebook.
8-Year Maximum Timeframe
Students have up to 8 years to complete their doctoral degree requirements. See the policy in the Walden University Student Handbook. Students may petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe, but an extension is not guaranteed.
Note: Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic, such as tuition and fee increases; transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; writing, research, and editing skills; use of external data for the dissertation; and individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations, caregiving responsibilities, or health issues; leaves of absence; or other personal circumstances.
Tuition and Fees
PhD in Psychology - (related entry)
|Tuition-Coursework||65 quarter credits||$585 per quarter hour for coursework credits||$38,025^|
|Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project||20–125† quarter credits||$585 per quarter hour for dissertation credits||$11,700–$73,125*|
|Technology Fee||$160 per quarter||$1,760–$5,120*|
|Residency Fee||Four Residencies||
$1,375 each (virtual)
$1,475 each (in-person: travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
|(assuming completion in a 3-year timeframe)||(assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)|
PhD in Psychology - (non-related entry)
|Curriculum Component||Requirements||Cost||Total *|
|Tuition-Coursework||90 quarter credits||$585 per quarter hour for coursework credits||$52,650^|
|Tuition-Doctoral Study/Project||20–115† quarter credits||$585 per quarter hour for dissertation credits||$11,700–$67,275*|
|Technology Fee||$160 per quarter||$2,080–$5,120*|
|Residency Fee||Four Residencies||
$1,375 each (virtual)
$1,475 each (travel, lodging and other expenses are additional)
|(assuming completion in a 3-year timeframe)||(assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)|
PhD in Psychology - Fast Track Option
|Curriculum Component||Requirements||Cost||Total *|
|Tuition-Coursework & Dissertation||7 terms||$6,800 per term||$47,600^|
|Tuition-Dissertation||15–115† quarter credits||$585 per quarter hour for dissertation credits||$8,775–$67,275*|
|Technology Fee||$160 per quarter||$1,600–$5,120*|
|Residency Fee||Four Residencies||Included in tuition||$0|
|(assuming completion in a 2.5-year timeframe)||(assuming completion in an 8-year timeframe)|
These are ranges of what a student can expect in terms of time and tuition cost to complete a degree. It does not include other fees, nor is it adjusted for tuition increases over time. Walden faculty has concluded that generally students who do not complete their program in eight years are unlikely to complete and only allow students to exceed that time frame when a student petitions for an extension and provides good reason for the delay and assurances that obstacles to completion can be overcome. Time is calculated using the time allowed for each semester or unit that the student completes. Students are encouraged to work continuously during the program so as not to extend the time needed to complete the degree as work can become stale and students lose focus. Students who earn two grades of “Unsatisfactory,” who repeatedly drop a course before a semester or unit has been completed, or are unable to complete in the eight year time frame, should expect that they may be dismissed from the program. Walden believes that it is in the best interest of a student who is unable to complete the degree in the stated ranges to strongly consider withdrawal or obtaining a lesser degree.
Time to completion and cost are not estimates of individual experience and will vary based on individual factors applicable to the student. Factors may be programmatic or academic such as tuition and fee increases and/or the student’s transfer credits accepted by Walden; program or specialization changes; unsuccessful course completion; credit load per term; writing, research and editing skills; use of external data for their doctoral study/dissertation; and/or individual progress in the program. Other factors may include personal issues such as the student’s employment obligations; care giving responsibilities or health issues; part-time vs. full-time enrollment; leaves of absence; and/or other personal circumstances.
Tuition and fees are subject to change. Books and materials are not included. Students may incur additional costs for remedial writing assistance, if necessary.
^This assumes students successfully complete their coursework on the first attempt.
† Based on a 2.5 to 3-year minimum completion requirement and an 8-year maximum timeframe as outlined in Walden academic policy.
*Tuition and fees will be higher if students petition to extend the 8-year maximum timeframe or choose to take more expensive elective courses.
+Tuition and time to complete may be reduced if transfer credits are accepted, or if you receive grants, scholarships or other tuition discounts. For a personalized estimate of the number of your transfer credits that Walden would accept, call an Enrollment Specialist at 844-642-0198.
Many Walden degree-seeking students—67%—receive some form of financial aid.* Create a customized plan that makes sense for you.
*Source: Walden University’s Office of Financial Aid. Data reports as of 2018.Find Ways to Save
To be considered for this doctoral program, you must have a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in a related field from an accredited school and meet the general admission requirements. All applicants must submit a completed online application and transcripts. More information for international applicants.
Walden has high standards. A disciplined approach to studies is essential.
Linford Pierson PhD in Psychology Graduate
I use everything I learned at Walden on a regular basis, whether in my teaching, research, or clinical practice. My PhD was the linchpin that allowed me to do what I do now.
Timothy Barclay PhD in Psychology Graduate
Walden made it possible for me to pursue my doctoral studies through the flexibility of online learning so I could complete my classes, my residencies, and my studies on my time.
Ricky Gujral PhD in Psychology Graduate