Jul 14, 2024  
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 
Graduate Catalog | 2023-2024 Previous Edition

Health Psychology, Ph.D.

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Health Psychology is dedicated to conducting basic and applied research examining the contribution of biological, psychological, behavioral, social, cultural, and environmental factors to health and illness.

Health Psychology builds from principles and theories of other areas of psychology, biology, health, and social sciences. Health psychologists are concerned with promotion and maintenance of health, the prevention and treatment of illness across the lifespan, and improvement of systems that promote and maintain health.

A particular emphasis of the Health Psychology program is on the development, implementation, and evaluation of prevention and treatment interventions that involve multiple disciplines. The program has links with other colleges, departments, and programs in the University including the College of Health and Human Services, College of Education, and the Gerontology Program which allows students to select health courses across disciplines.

The Health Psychology doctoral program at UNC Charlotte offers students an opportunity to obtain their Ph. D. in Health Psychology in one of three concentrations: General, Clinical, or Community.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are expected to have a minimum of 18 credit hours of coursework in psychology, including Introductory Psychology and Research Methods, coursework in undergraduate statistics, excellent scores on the GRE Exam, and an excellent academic track record as demonstrated by undergraduate or graduate grade point averages.

Additionally, students who succeed in the Health Psychology program are hardworking, competent, disciplined scholars with interests in the science of Health Psychology and other health-related fields.  Students must demonstrate intellectual curiosity and a passion for the science of psychology.  It is important for student applicants to determine if their professional interests are well matched to the expertise of our faculty members.

Documents to be Submitted for Application for Admission

Applicants are expected to complete an application online to the Graduate School. The application also must include transcripts of all completed academic work, an official score on the GRE exam, three letters of reference from persons, preferably psychologists, who can speak to the applicant’s promise as a doctoral student, a two page statement of professional goals and research interests, and a current resume or CV. International students must submit official TOEFL or IELTS test scores. Minimum score required for the TOEFL: of at least 557 on the written test or 83 on the computer-based test. Minimum overall band score required for the IELTS is 6.5. All tests must be taken within the last two years.

Admission Assessment

Admissions reviews are conducted by faculty in each concentration.  The deadline for all application materials is November 15.  Review of applications typically occurs in January, interviews in February, and admissions offers typically made in March.

Degree Requirements

For the General and Community concentrations, 75 and 78 credit hours (post-baccalaureate), respectively, are required.  All coursework taken at UNC Charlotte that counts toward the Ph.D. is at the 6000 level or above.  The majority of the coursework is at the 8000 level.  For the Clinical Health concentration, which enables students to become eligible for licensure as a Health Services Provider, 85 credit hours (post-baccalaureate) are required. 

Each concentration’s curriculum has 5 major components:

  1. Core Health Psychology
  2. Research Methodology and Analytics
  3. Concentration (General, Clinical, or Community)
  4. Interdisciplinary Content
  5. Electives

Specific requirements within each component vary by concentration.  

General Concentration (72 credit hours)

Research Methodology and Analytics Courses (27 credit hours)

Elective Courses (9 credit hours)

Select three courses from the following:

Clinical Concentration (85 credit hours)

Concentration Courses (43 credit hours)

Community Concentration (78 credit hours)

Research Methodology and Analytics Courses (18 credit hours)


****A total of 6 credit hours of practicum are required.

Degree Total = 72-85 Credit Hours

Grade Requirements

Graduate students must have a 3.0 GPA in the courses on their degree plan of study in order to graduate.  More than two grades of C or one U results in termination from the program.

Plan of Study

Students develop a plan of study with their advising committees.

Graduate Course Requirements

Doctoral courses are numbered at the 8000 level.

The curriculum has 4 major curricular components:

  1. Core Health Psychology
  2. Research
  3. Interdisciplinary Content
  4. Concentration (General, Clinical, or Community)

Specific requirements within each component vary by concentration. Specifics can be found in the graduate handbook of the program.

Student Advising

Students are assigned an advisor before the first semester. Students in consultation with the advisor create an advising committee constituted by three health psychology faculty. The student meets with the committee regularly for issues of professional development and guidance in the program. Students may change advisors with permission of the Program Director.

Other Requirements

  • Master’s thesis or second year research project
  • Written comprehensive project prior to beginning dissertation research
  • Dissertation
  • Year-long, pre-doctoral internship (Clinical concentration students only)

Time Limits for Completion

Students are admitted for full-time study only. Students entering the doctoral program post-baccalaureate must complete their degree, including the dissertation, within nine years. Full-time students must meet benchmark requirements each year to maintain their status as a doctoral student. Part-time students also must meet benchmark requirements that occur approximately every two years. These benchmarks are intended to help students achieve their goal of completing the doctorate in a timely manner.  See the Health Psychology Student Handbook for a detailed description of the timeline for completing programmatic milestones.

The graduate school has specific requirements that students should be familiar with. Please see the relevant sections of this Catalog for specific details.

Second Year Project

The second year project is meant to immerse students in a practical research experience that will help them develop skills to conduct independent research projects.  Students are expected to develop and carryout this project under close supervision from their primary academic advisor.  A manuscript that follows the format of typical empirical articles in psychology and should be turned into the student’s primary advisor and members of their advisory committee.

Comprehensive (Qualifying) Project

Qualifying projects are meant to demonstrate broad competence as a scholar in the disciplines of Health Psychology, interdisciplinary health, and the concentration-specific discipline (General, Clinical, or Community).  The Comprehensive Project results in a practical product that demonstrates integration of knowledge from these three areas.  In addition, it provides an opportunity to strengthen and develop a student’s skills, as specified by their advisory committee.  Projects are identified via a collaborative process, involving the student and their committee. The Comprehensive Project acts as the gateway into the 4th year and dissertation.  Students must pass their Comprehensive Project successfully to continue in the program.

Each student’s advisory committee, in consultation with the Program Director, tailors the content and format of the Comprehensive Project with attention to the student’s professional goals.  The Comprehensive Project process includes three main components: written project, brief integrative paper, and oral presentation.

Students must complete their second year research projects prior to proposing the comprehensive project, must have at least a 3.0 GPA, must not be on probation, and must have removed any conditions placed upon them at the time at admission. Comprehensive Projects should be in process no later than the third academic year in the program. Comprehensive Projects must be completed successfully before students may rise to doctoral candidacy and propose their dissertation project

Doctoral Committee

The doctoral committee is formed after successful completion of the qualifying project. The student must complete the graduate student petition to create the committee. The committee must include at least three members of the health psychology faculty as well as the Graduate School-appointed Graduate Faculty representative.


The dissertation must be successfully proposed and defended before being undertaken. The major advisor directly supervises the student on the dissertation project with support from the dissertation committee. See Graduate School policies regarding dissertations. Additional information regarding the dissertation project can be found in the Health Psychology Student Handbook.

Application for Degree

Each student should make application for their degree by completing the online Application for Degree through Banner Self Service no later than the filing date specified in the University Academic Calendar.

Research Opportunities

Students in health psychology are expected to engage in collaborative and independent research activities. Many opportunities are available through the program, including experience in qualitative and quantitative research methods. Many Health Psychology faculty members engage in grant funded research and opportunities exist for research assistantships.

Transfer Credit

The maximum amount of transfer credit that a Ph.D. student may count towards a doctorate is 30 credit hours.  The student’s advising committee recommends transfer credits that are consistent with the student’s program of study to the Graduate School for approval.

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