The 4+1 terminal Master of Science program in Behavioral Health provides qualified students earning a baccalaureate degree in Psychology from Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana with graduate training in a specialty area of psychology. Behavioral Health is a broad term encompassing our social, emotional, and psychological well-being, which affects how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Students who pursue the M.S. in Behavioral Health are interested in future careers in clinical practice, research, or policy. Students apply to one of two tracks: (1) Applied or (2) General. Students either may pursue the M.S. with an empirical thesis, concentrating in depth on a particular area of Behavioral Health, OR students may pursue the M.S. with a broad training base in Behavioral Health without a thesis. Curricular requirements and admissions criteria are detailed below.
The 4+1 M.S. program in Behavioral Health was developed with two goals in mind: (1) To provide students with training in basic areas in Behavioral Health, and (2) To provide students who wish to improve on their knowledge of psychology with a more in-depth understanding of the major areas of concentration at the graduate level. By the end of the +1 year, students are expected to develop knowledge and skills relevant to a broad range of topics in Behavioral Health directly relevant to future careers in clinical practice, research, or policy.
All students admitted to the 4+1 M.S. program in Behavioral Health will complete a two-semester Health Psychology course series. The primary purpose of the fall lecture course (PSYC 6700 Health Psychology I) is to provide a broad introduction to the study of health psychology by examining how biological, psychological, and social factors interact with and affect the efforts people make in promoting good health and preventing illness, the treatment people receive for medical problems, how effectively people cope with and reduce stress and pain, and the recovery, rehabilitation, and psychosocial adjustment of patients with serious health problems. The purpose of the spring seminar course (PSYC 6710 Health Psychology II) is to delve more deeply into contemporary topics in health psychology with direct relevance to the priorities outlined in recent healthcare reforms.
In addition, all students will complete two graduate statistics and research methods courses: (1) PSYC 6090 Univariate Statistics I (fall semester), and (2) PSYC 6100 Research Methods in Behavioral Health (spring semester). PSYC 6090 is an introductory graduate-level course in applied statistics designed to prepare students to understand statistical results presented in journal articles and research reports, to select and conduct statistical analyses for methodology courses as well as independent research, to interpret the results of these analyses, and to think critically about the use of statistical analyses in studies reported in the media or in scientific journals. [Note: Although the PSYC 6090 requirement for the 4+1 MS in Behavioral Health is waived for students who successfully complete the PSYC 3090-4090 sequence during their undergraduate training, credits do not count toward the graduate degree.] PSYC 6100 is a graduate-level introduction to psychology research methods, with an emphasis on those most relevant to clinical and real-world settings, especially focused on physical or mental health.
Students who pursue the M.S. in Behavioral Health apply to one of two tracks: (1) Applied or (2) General. Both thesis and non-thesis options are possible in the Applied and General Behavioral Health tracks. Please refer to the Course Checklists below for additional details regarding the curriculum for the: (a) Applied thesis track, (b) Applied non-thesis track, (c) General thesis track, and (d) General non-thesis track.
Up to 6 graduate credit hours may count toward both the bachelor’s degree and the master’s degree. Also, up to 6 additional graduate credit hours taken as an overload during undergraduate study (i.e., above the minimum 120 credit hours required to graduate) may be applied toward the M.S. degree. It is expected that students will complete some coursework toward the M.S. (typically two graduate courses) during their senior year. Note: students admitted to the Applied track are encouraged to take PSYC 7400 Developmental Psychopathology during the spring semester of their senior year. In addition, it is expected that students pursuing the thesis option have conducted empirical research as an undergraduate student.
For advice on senior year courses that are appropriate for 4+1 M.S. applicants, please contact Dr. Julie Alvarez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Applied track in Behavioral Health provides students with training in the use of psychological principles and theories from the field of health psychology to overcome problems in real life situations. Specifically, there are three learning objectives for students admitted to the Applied track in Behavioral Health:
In addition to the core courses discussed in the “Core Components of Program” section, students in the Applied track complete three applied courses: PSYC 7400 Developmental Psychopathology (which may be taken either during the spring semester of the senior year or the spring semester of the +1 year) and either the Assessment course sequence (PSYC 7610 Psychological Assessment I and PSYC 7620 Psychological Assessment II) or the Intervention course sequence (PSYC 7630 Behavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention and PSYC 7660 Evidence-Based Interventions for Children and Adolescents). Only students admitted to the Applied track may take the applied courses. Note: Because the applied courses are capped at a small class size, not all students who apply for admission to the Applied track will be accepted into that track. Some students who apply to the Applied track may be offered admission in the General track. Moreover, students who are admitted to the Applied track may not receive their first choice of the Assessment or Intervention course sequence (which will depend each year on the number of students who are admitted to the Applied track).
The thesis option in the Applied Behavioral Health track requires 30 graduate credit hours consisting of eight graduate courses (24 credits) plus the thesis (3 credits of graded PSYC 9980 Master’s Thesis Research each semester). Students electing to pursue the thesis option should have initiated empirical research as an undergraduate student and identified a specific area of research interest. A regular full-time faculty member in Psychology must commit to thesis supervision prior to admission; in some instances, adjunct and research faculty may serve as co-directors.
The non-thesis option in the Applied Behavioral Health track comprises 30 graduate credit hours (10 graduate courses). Students electing to pursue this option desire a broad background in Applied Behavioral Health rather than specialization in a particular research area.
Note: Students interested in the Applied track must have successfully completed either PSYC 3330 (Abnormal Psychology) or PSYC 3340 (Developmental Psychopathology) prior to applying to the 4+1 Program.
The Behavioral Health General track is for students who wish to increase their knowledge of psychology in a greater number of domains beyond the Applied Behavioral Health area described above, and students in this track will have the opportunity to tailor their curriculum to meet these needs. Specifically, there are two learning objectives for students admitted to the General track in Behavioral Health:
The thesis option in the General Behavioral Health track requires 30 graduate credit hours consisting of eight graduate courses (24 credits) plus the thesis (3 credits of graded PSYC 9980 Master’s Thesis Research each semester). Students electing to pursue the thesis option should have initiated empirical research as an undergraduate student and identified a specific area of research interest. A regular full-time faculty member in Psychology must commit to thesis supervision prior to admission; in some instances, adjunct and research faculty may serve as co-directors.
The non-thesis option in the General Behavioral Health track comprises 30 graduate credit hours (10 graduate courses).
Note: Applications for the 4+1 program in Behavioral Health are accepted only from students pursuing a baccalaureate degree from Tulane University and Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA).
Application Deadline: March 1 of Senior Year
Students at Tulane and XULA working toward the baccalaureate degree in Psychology must apply for admission no later than March 1st of their senior year. Note: Students graduating in May should apply by March 1 for fall admission of the same year, whereas students graduating a semester early (i.e., December graduates) should apply by March 1 for spring admission of the following year.
To be competitive for admission, students should meet the following criteria:
All students admitted to the 4+1 Accelerated M.S. Program in Behavioral Health will be assigned an adviser to assure that each student’s uniquely tailored curriculum satisfies degree requirements, as well as the student’s own academic goals. Thesis Behavioral Health students will be advised by their thesis director. Non-thesis Behavioral Health students will be advised by Dr. Julie Alvarez. The checklists, which highlight the requirements of each track, should be helpful in planning your curriculum with your adviser.
Fall: Psychological Assessment I (PSYC 7610)
This course is the first in a two-semester sequence covering psychological assessment. Consistent with the view of psychological assessment as a dynamic and inherently therapeutic process, students learn to collect test data that provide an integrated view of a human being, with contextual, developmental and historical data, subjective experiences, presenting concerns, signs and symptoms, observational data, and information provided from multiple informants. Information is integrated to provide an understanding of the person evaluated in order to answer referral questions and develop interventions and/or therapeutic plans. Topics include the history of cognitive assessment, theories of intelligence and current issues affecting the field of cognitive assessment. Instruction includes foundational skills for administration, scoring, and interpretation of commonly used cognitive assessment instruments, interviewing skills, assessment of academic functioning, and report writing. Adherence to standardized test administration, and practice consistent with professional ethical principles and codes of conduct are emphasized throughout the course. In addition, client strengths and needs are embedded in an appreciation of diversity relevant to cognitive assessment and education. Students are taught to use self-reflection to understand their own performance and understand their contributions to the processes of conducting effective evaluations.
Spring: Psychological Assessment II (PSYC 7620)
This course is the second in the two-semester sequence covering the basics of psychological assessment of children and youth. This course builds on competencies from 7610 and covers assessment of a range of domains of functioning, including socio-emotional functioning. The focus in this course is on building skills needed to conduct comprehensive school-based evaluations, but content is applicable to assessment of children and youth in clinical settings. Assessment is one of many roles in which psychologists practice as data-based decision makers. Assessment responsibilities demand accountability at a high level of accuracy and competencies need to be highly developed. This course explores the basis of the evaluation process grounded in the ecological developmental perspective, and assumes the evaluation of children and youth yields a “snapshot” of a developing human being. The resulting profile of skills is useful for planning interventions or treatment to promote improved functioning and enhance development.
Fall: Behavioral and Cognitive Behavioral Intervention (PSYC 7630)
This course will provide students with the theoretical and technical foundation necessary to implement behavioral and cognitive behavioral interventions in schools and other settings serving children and adolescents. The course will be equally split between a) behavioral assessment and intervention and b) assessment and intervention in the context of cognitive behavioral therapy. Assessment, case conceptualization, and treatment planning, with attention to treatment fidelity and multicultural competence, will be emphasized throughout. Lastly, students will be expected to critically evaluate behavioral and cognitive behavioral approaches within efficacy, effectiveness, and dissemination and implementation frameworks.
Spring: Evidence-Based Interventions for Children and Adolescents (PSYC 7660)
This course will provide students with the theoretical, empirical, and clinical knowledge to conduct Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and other evidence-based treatments in schools and other settings serving children and adolescents with psychological disorders. Case conceptualization and review of the available research of specific manualized therapies will be emphasized. Students will learn to integrate the best available research with clinical knowledge and to consider client characteristics, culture, and preferences when selecting interventions.
Sam Allouche, M.S., May 2016
PhD Program, School Psychology, LSU, Baton Rouge, LA
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Research Assistant, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, New Orleans, LA
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Jordana Levitt, M.S., May 2019
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Catalina Pacheco, M.S., May 2019
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Caroline Quaid, M.S., May 2015
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Leah Walsh, M.S., August 2018
PhD Program, Clinical Psychology, Fordham University, New York