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Master’s Degree Programs in Behavioral Medicine Overview

Majors Overview January 17, 2016

The study of the overall health of a person is behavioral medicine, also known as health psychology. Graduates of the master’s degree program in behavioral medicine can look into careers as a treatment team member in medical settings. They may also look into careers as consultants for individuals seeking assistance in making lifestyle changes. Careers as a mental health team member in a school setting are also available.

Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Behavioral Medicine

A master’s degree program in behavioral medicine is devised to prepare individuals to pursue careers in behavioral or mental health counseling. Admission criteria in the majority of schools offering the program require incoming students to have completed prior courses in psychology or to hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology or another relevant field. Students complete these programs within two years. Students learn about the social, psychological, and biological aspects of behavior and are given a basic knowledge of counseling strategies and theory.

They may opt for a specialization of their preference, such as industrial-organizational psychology. The program emphasizes research methodology, and a thesis must be completed by students. Schools also require enrollees to complete internships.

Graduates may qualify for state licensure as a mental health or another behavioral counselor. Requirements vary by state, but commonly require incoming students to hold a master’s degree, pass an exam and acquire many hours of supervised clinical experience. Many graduates continue their education by earning a doctoral degree that is necessary for licensure for private psychology practice.

Master of Arts (M.A.) Programs in Behavioral Medicine

Enrollees in a Master of Arts (M.A.) in Behavioral Medicine learn principles and theories that encompass a person’s physical, spiritual, emotional, psychological, and social well-being. Enrollees in some programs may be allowed to specialize in a preferred area, including industrial organizational psychology or counseling psychology, to which this knowledge is applicable. A thesis is a requirement before a student can graduate. Internships in suitable environments may also be completed to gain additional practical experience. Graduates can seek careers in consulting and counseling.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology. A bachelor’s degree in a related field may be considered by some schools if the candidate completes prerequisite courses.


Core coursework is devised to give students foundational knowledge of the individual, social, and biological aspects of behavior. Various theories and research related to their concentrations may be available to students who choose a specialization within the degree program. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Psychological disorders
•Advanced statistics in psychology
•Psychological pharmacology
•Health Psychology
•Behavioral economics
•Behavioral Neuroscience
•Drugs and behavior

Job and Wage Outlook

Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists are expected to see a job growth of 11% in an extremely competitive industry, over the 2008 – 2018 decade (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). In May 2014, these professionals brought in an average annual wage of $74,030 (BLS).

Continuing Education, Licensure and Certification Choices

Licensure or certification is compulsory in most states for program graduates seeking counseling careers involving direct patient care; each state may have its separate requirements. Program graduates who seek continuing education may enroll in a doctoral degree program in behavioral medicine. They may also pursue related psychology programs, such as developmental or clinical psychology, and choose health psychology or behavioral medicine as an emphasis.

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