Frequently Asked Questions
What is Health Psychology?
Health Psychology is concerned with understanding and influencing how biology, behavior, cognition, 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.
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.
What is Clinical Science?
Clinical science is a psychological science directed at the promotion of adaptive functioning, the assessment, understanding, amelioration, and prevention of human problems in behavior, affect, cognition or health, and the application of knowledge in ways consistent with scientific evidence. The approach highlights a commitment to rigorous empirical approaches to evaluating the validity and utility of testable hypotheses and to advancing knowledge by this method. HPCS adheres to the principles of clinical science by fostering the training of students who skillfully will produce and apply scientific knowledge, advancing the full range of clinical science research and theory and their integration with other relevant sciences, and facilitating the broad application of clinical science to human problems in responsible and innovative ways.
What are the benefits of an integrated 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).
How is this program different than 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.
Who are the faculty?
HPCS faculty members are researchers who 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 information can be found here.
What type of jobs do students go into after graduation?
Our program is new, and we therefore do not yet have our own 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.
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.
Can I take all of my classes in the evening?
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.
Can I enroll in the program and continue to work off-site?
No. Doctoral students must be available for courses, colloquia, proseminars, research, practica, and teaching. Pursuing a doctoral is a full-time "job".