Master’s in Psychology: Health Psychology Emphasis

Master of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology

Offered By: College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Explore Critical Topics in Health Psychology Courses

Health psychology is a multidisciplinary specialization that explores the biological, social and psychological factors that influence people’s behavioral decisions and their impact on health, wellness and illness.1 The Master of Science in Psychology with an Emphasis in Health Psychology at Grand Canyon University can prepare future health psychologists to support individuals in their quest for a physically, mentally and cognitively healthy lifestyle. With an education in health psychology, you will examine the interrelationships of body, mind and spirit as you prepare to enrich the lives of those around you.

Earn Your MS in Psychology at GCU

Offered by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, this master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis in health psychology can enable you to dive into current theories, statistics and data analysis. Apply research-based interventions to inspire healthy behavior changes in diverse communities. This program teaches you how to practice a holistic approach to healthcare as you reflect upon what motivates people to make health-related decisions, how people recover from illnesses and how they cope with chronic conditions.

GCU seeks to graduate students who are skilled communicators and inspired servant leaders. As a GCU student, you are encouraged to apply the Christian perspective to your coursework. There is an emphasis on moral considerations in theory and application, and you are guided in acquiring an ethical framework to implement in your professional practice.

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At GCU, you can dive into timely topics in health psychology online courses. Designed with the needs of working professionals in mind, our MS in Psychology online program connects learners from diverse backgrounds and places to experienced instructors. Benefit from the flexibility of working through course materials from virtually anywhere and engaging in academically stimulating discussions on our interactive e-learning platform. Our students have access to a variety of support resources, including technical support and web-enhanced learning tools.

GCU is pleased to make this master’s in psychology available via an evening schedule. Members of our evening cohorts typically attend one health psychology course per week, gathering together on our campus in Phoenix with other learners to benefit from exposure to a diverse range of perspectives and experiences. Exploring psychology health and wellness on an evening schedule may allow you to fit in higher education around your other obligations.

Health Psychology Course Topics

This master’s degree in psychology is designed to equip you to evaluate the many factors that influence individual and societal health, and to support people to work toward positive change. You will be taught to design and implement policies and programs intended to inspire healthy lifestyle modifications. In a comprehensive range of health psychology courses, you will be expected to acquire the following core competencies:

  • The promotion of health behaviors at the individual and community level, with a focus on prevention programs and the utilization of media
  • The implementation of community-wide change through intervention, prevention and program evaluation
  • Current public policy and the issues and controversies that affect the health psychology field
  • The lifestyle factors that promote health and wellness across the lifespan

Toward the conclusion of this Master of Science in Psychology degree program, you will complete a capstone course. You will explore and present your original research ideas, and examine relevant occupations in order to prepare for a health psychology career.

Career Paths for Graduates With a Health Psychology Focus

Graduates with a master’s in psychology: health psychology emphasis may consider careers that touch upon the interrelated nature of the body, mind and spirit. As a GCU graduate, you can position yourself to pursue positions across a range of settings, including:1

  • Hospitals and other healthcare organizations
  • Private practices
  • Specialty practices
  • Universities
  • Government agencies
  • Corporations

You may also choose to pursue a research-based position. Examples of what qualified health psychologists may do include:

  • Community health: Evaluate the health profile of whole communities and explore risk factors in disease prevalence.
  • Occupational health: Work with corporations to influence workplace policies that encourage and support the health of employees, and explore how jobs may affect the health of employees.
  • Public health: Work within public and governmental health programs to influence public health policies or implement public health awareness campaigns.
  • Clinical health: Help clients understand how behavior and lifestyle choices affect overall health and how to overcome lifestyle issues.

After you complete this master’s in psychology online or on campus, you may choose to pursue a doctoral degree to further enhance your health psychology career qualifications.

Graduate With an Accredited MS in Psychology

Whether you choose to take courses in health psychology online or on campus in the evenings, you can feel confident knowing that GCU’s top priority is to adhere to high academic standards. As an institutionally accredited university, we develop curriculum with the goal of providing quality education across each department. Furthermore, the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) has continually accredited GCU since 1968. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences shares the university’s commitment to upholding the principles and standards established by our accrediting bodies.

Master of Science in Psychology: Health Psychology Emphasis FAQs

Before committing to a particular course of study, it can be helpful to further explore the field and the potential career outcomes. GCU has compiled the following FAQs and answers to guide your decision-making process.

A master’s in psychology with an emphasis in health psychology can be a good fit for you if you’re fascinated by the mental and behavioral factors that influence health and want to help others lead healthier lifestyles. It can also be worth it if you’re interested in having career flexibility, as health psychology professionals can find work in a variety of settings — from hospitals to universities to governmental agencies.2 Additionally, earning a master’s degree can be a good option if you’re thinking of preparing to earn a doctoral degree in psychology to position yourself for possible career advancement.

When considering the landscape of health psychology jobs, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) is the most reliable resource. The BLS does not report job growth data for health psychologists specifically. However, it estimates that job growth for all types of psychologists will increase by 6% from 2022 through 2032, faster than average. This indicates that employers expect to hire about 12,000 new professionals during this time period.3

Earning a master’s in psychology with an emphasis in health psychology online degree from an accredited university helps to ensure you receive a quality education aligned with industry standards. At GCU, your online master’s degree courses are taught by experienced faculty. 

Health psychology and general or clinical psychology are similar, yet distinct. Health psychology is a specialty field within the broader psychology umbrella. Both health psychologists and clinical psychologists study psychological or mental health. Health psychologists tend to focus more on research, while clinical psychologists focus on treating individual patients. Because of this, the former often work in teams, while the latter will more often work one-on-one with people.4

In addition, clinical or general psychologists tend to focus on administering therapeutic modalities to help clients reduce unwanted symptoms of mental health disorders. In contrast, health psychologists develop programs and treatment plans to encourage good decision-making for the purpose of supporting physical health. For example, a clinical psychologist might treat someone with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), while a health psychologist might work with people who are trying to quit smoking.4

Health psychologists use psychological science to promote health, prevent illness and improve public health policies. Health psychologists can work in a variety of settings and for many different employers. They can perform a diverse range of tasks, including conducting research, influencing healthcare policy, leading clinical interviews and behavioral assessments, participating in group or individual intervention programs and helping patients understand and cope with a diagnosis. In short, a career in this field can lead to many different opportunities.5

Aspiring health psychologists need a firm grasp of field-specific expertise that they can gain during their years of education and training. For example, they need to know how to conduct clinical assessments, identify underlying factors that influence behavioral choices, develop intervention plans and deliver patient education that focuses on health promotion. Soft skills are important, as well, and these include:6

  • Communication skills
  • Empathy and compassion
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Emotional resilience

Prepare to help make a positive impact on individuals and whole communities as a psychology health and wellness professional. Apply today to earn your MS in Psychology online or on campus in the evenings at GCU.

1 American Psychological Association. (2014, October). Health psychology promotes wellness. American Psychological Association. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2023.

2 Cherry, K., MSEd. (2023, March 1). Studying health psychology and illness. VeryWell Mind. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2023.

3 COVID-19 has adversely affected the global economy and data from 2020 to 2022 may be atypical compared to prior years. Accordingly, data shown is effective September 2023, which can be found here: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Psychologists. Retrieved on Dec. 6, 2023.

4 Schieltz, M. (2017, July 5). Major differences between clinical psychologist & health psychologist. Career Trend. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2023.

5 American Psychological Association. (2014). Pursuing a career in health psychology. American Psychological Association. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2023.

6 Indeed. (2023, March 10). How to become a health psychologist (plus duties and skills). Indeed. Retrieved Dec. 6, 2023.

Total Credits: 36
Online: 8 weeks
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Up to 12 credits or 1/3 of the total program requirements in transfer (whichever is less)
Online: $590 per credit
[Tuition, Fees and Financial Aid]

Cost of Attendance

Course List

36 credits
Degree Requirements:
36 credits

Core Courses

Course Description

This course is designed to prepare students for the graduate learning experience at Grand Canyon University. Students have opportunities to develop and strengthen the skills necessary to succeed as graduate students in the liberal arts. Emphasis is placed on utilizing the tools for graduate success.

Course Description

This course serves as the foundation for advanced graduate study in the field of psychology. Professional skill development, such as critical thinking, scholarly writing, and literature reviewing are covered, as well as contemporary ethical issues in the field of psychology, including issues in research, writing, psychotherapy, forensic psychology, and animal research.

Course Description

This course is a study of social, group, and multicultural factors affecting individual behavior. Attention is given to the development of attitudes, leadership roles, group thinking, sources of conflict, altruism, attraction, effects of competition and cooperation, analysis and evaluation of propaganda techniques, and the influence of mass communication on social awareness and control.

Course Description

This course explores the promotion of health behaviors at the individual and community level. A special focus is on prevention programs and utilization of media to impact health behaviors. Factors contributing to successful prevention programs will be analyzed and program evaluation techniques will be demonstrated. Successful survey design techniques will be introduced and the current trends in health psychology will be explored.

Course Description

This course examines a variety of factors related to wellness and includes a focus on substance use and abuse, nutrition, weight control, diet, exercise and safety. An exploration of lifestyles factors related to promoting health and wellness across the lifespan is assessed as well as effective coaching for health and wellness.

Course Description

This course provides a study of theories of probability, descriptive and inferential analyses of data, and testing of statistical hypotheses. Practical experience is provided in the application of statistical methods. This course requires the use of SPSS software via the Citrix Workspace to complete assignments, please ensure your device is compatible with this software prior to the start of your course.

Course Description

This course emphasizes both the theoretical and applied aspects of experimental design and research methodology at the graduate level, including qualitative, quantitative, and mixed designs. Prerequisite: PSY-520.

Course Description

This course examines the implementation of community-wide change through intervention, prevention, advocacy, outreach, and program evaluation, which moves beyond the individual focus. Students explore foundational competencies for addressing community problems and implementing community psychology practice. A focus is placed on current research related to topics relevant to community psychology.

Course Description

This course examines the future of Health Psychology with an emphasis on understanding current public policy and implementing changes in this sector. Careers related to Health Psychology and issues and controversies that impact the field are investigated.

Course Description

This course prepares students to enter their prospective career and/or continue their education in psychology. Students will explore occupations and leaders in the various psychological fields, formulate and compile their experiences and achievements, and construct a roadmap for success. Original research ideas will be solidified and presented. Prerequisite: PSY-550.


GCU Online Student

Pursue a next-generation education with an online degree from Grand Canyon University. Earn your degree with convenience and flexibility with online courses that let you study anytime, anywhere.

GCU Evening Student

Grand Canyon University’s evening programs cater to the demands of working professionals who prefer an in-person learning environment. Our night classes meet just once per week and offer the interaction and discussion of a typical college classroom.

* Please note that this list may contain programs and courses not presently offered, as availability may vary depending on class size, enrollment and other contributing factors. If you are interested in a program or course listed herein please first contact your University Counselor for the most current information regarding availability.

* Please refer to the Academic Catalog for more information. Programs or courses subject to change.