Health psychology is a discipline at the intersection of psychology and medicine. Its goal is to conduct scientific research around questions such as: Do psychosocial characteristics contribute to the development and progression of medical illness? What are the mechanisms through which this occurs? How does medical illness affect the well-being of patients and their families? The primary aim of this graduate program is to train research scientists in the use of basic theories and methods in Health Psychology. Students are expected to pursue the goals of research excellence, effective teaching, and scholarly breadth. Towards fulfilling these goals, graduate students engage in research from the outset of the program, first by working under the close supervision of an advisor and then by assuming a more independent role as specific research interests are formulated. This program does not provide clinical or practical training in Health Psychology; it is intended for students seeking careers in research and teaching only.


The Health Psychology graduate program employs an "apprenticeship" model of research training. Each student is selected for his/her compatibility of research interests with a particular faculty member. The program is designed to expose students to health psychology research early in their graduate training and to equip them with the skills necessary for conducting their own high-quality research.

Graduate courses in the areas of health psychology are offered on a continuing basis (see below) and more specialized seminars are offered as well. Students are expected to take advantage of departmental courses and seminars in related interest areas such as social/personality, biological, clinical, cognitive, and developmental. In addition, students can take advantage of a number of courses in other departments, such as Health Care and Epidemiology, as relevant to their area of specialization within health psychology. All students are required to complete a one-year sequence in statistics within psychology, plus one additional advanced statistics course either within psychology or an external course relevant to their research interests.

Survey of health psychology, PSYC 501 (Instructor: DeLongis). To be taken by all M.A. students in the program, preferably in the first year.

Research methods in health psychology, PSYC 502(Instructor: Chen). To be taken by all M.A. students in the program, preferably in the first year.

Biological bases of health psychology, PSYC 503 (Instructor: Miller). To be taken preferably during the M.A program.

Special topics courses in health psychology, PSYC 504 (Instructors: DeLongis, Miller, Chen). Special topics course offerings include: Social Relationships and Health, Psychoneuroimmunology, Pediatric Health Psychology, Stress and Coping, and Health Behaviours.

External courses in allied health fields (e.g., Health Care and Epidemiology, Immunology, Anatomy, Biology, etc.), to be selected in conjunction with their advisory committee.

Most students in Health Psychology take four courses (12 credits) in their first year of graduate studies: two 3-credit courses in statistics and 6 credits of health psychology coursework selected in consultation with their Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee comprises the student's research supervisor and two additional faculty members chosen to assist in the student's academic development. In their second year, students take one or more courses per term and present their M.A. thesis research at a departmental conference ("Psychfest") held each May. As part of the Ph.D. requirements, students must successfully complete a minimum of two further courses in health psychology, two breadth courses offered by other areas of the department, and a comprehensive examination. The Health Psychology comprehensive requirement consists of either: (1) a Psychological Bulletin-type paper that comprehensively reviews an area of research (this typically serves as the basis for the student's Ph.D. thesis research) or (2) a CIHR-style grant proposal related to the student's program of research. All students attend a Health Psychology "brown bag" Seminar, and give at least one research talk per year, for as long as they are in the program. Graduate students are encouraged to attend, and present papers at international scientific meetings such as the Society for Behavioral Medicine, American Psychosomatic Society, Canadian Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society, Western Psychological Association, and European Health Psychology Association.


Faculty and students in the Health Psychology Area have access to modern and well equipped research facilities housed in the D.T. Kenny (Psychology) Building. These laboratory spaces have been designed specifically to accommodate studies on a wide variety of topics in health psychology.


Frances Chen (Assistant Professor), Ph.D. Stanford University, 2009

Anita DeLongis (Associate Professor), Ph.D. University of California-Berkeley, 1985

Todd Handy (Associate Professor), Ph.D. U. California-Davis, 1998 

Christiane Hoppmann (Assistant Professor), Ph.D. Free University of Berlin, 2004 


Jeremy Biesanz (Assistant Professor), Ph.D. Arizona State University, 1999

Liisa Galea (Professor), Ph.D. University of Western Ontario, 1994

Steven Heine (Professor), Ph.D. UBC, 1996

Darrin Lehman (Professor), Ph.D. University of Michigan, 1985

Wolfgang Linden (Professor), Ph.D. McGill University, 1981

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