Health Psychology (HP) Ph.D.

The Health Psychology (HP) Ph.D. program at ODU began in 2004. At that time it was named Applied Experimental Psychology and its focus then, as now, was in advanced training in psychological science and its application. Over time we realized that the majority of faculty members conducted research in areas related to Health, although their focus may include a developmental, cognitive, experimental, or quantitative perspective.


Health Psychology uses research and psychological principles to solve real-world health problems. It promotes the development and application of knowledge to improve systems, communication, decision making, community settings, and living environments. Research is funded by both federal and non‑federal agencies, such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF), among others. Health Psychology is defined broadly and research areas at ODU include:

  • Alcohol/drug abuse and risky health behaviors in young adults
  • Mental health disorders and substance abuse in families and intimate partner violence
  • Identity formation and its impact on psychosocial functioning and risky health behavior
  • Cultural stressors and adaptation among ethnic/racial minority youth
  • Child/family development from contemplation through the first decade of change
  • Public health/injury in the context of roadway safety
  • Faculty well-being and motivation and perceptions of academia
  • Applied statistics/analytics, statistical computing, Bayesian methods, and psychometric theory

Education Philosophy

Health Psychology at ODU embraces the philosophy that the student‑faculty interaction plays an essential role in the learning process and extends educational, research, and social opportunities to students. Accessible faculty members encourage students to combine a breadth of coursework with research and practicum experiences as the basis for their degree. ODU is a small university with a personal feel, but has the research opportunities often found at larger universities.

Students are actively involved in research throughout their time in the program and thrive afterwards. They have opportunities to be involved in the entire range of research activities including preparation of grant proposals, research design, data collection and analysis, and dissemination of results. Students frequently present their research at national and international conferences and publish in professional journals. Health Psychology students are well prepared to pursue a career in a variety of settings. In fact, Health Psychology graduates work in academic, industry, government, and non‑profit sectors.

We welcome your interest. Please browse around to see if Health Psychology at ODU is right for you.