Graduate Programs in Applied Health Behavior Research

Health Behavior Research is a multidisciplinary field that applies psychology, public health, behavioral medicine, communication science, and statistics to promote health and prevent disease.

The Master of Science (MS) in Applied Health Behavior Research (AHBR) focuses on the skills required for the design, management, and evaluation of health behavior programs and research studies involving human participants. Our students and graduates are engaged in research in academic, clinical, and community settings.

What Is Applied Health Behavior Research?

Health Behavior Research is a multidisciplinary field that applies psychology, public health, behavioral medicine, communication science, and statistics to promote health and prevent disease.

Applied research seeks to solve practical, real-world problems through innovative interventions, and has immediate and practical use in clinical and community settings. By definition, Applied Health Behavior Research is a transdisciplinary science; it seeks to implement and evaluate effective interventions into standard practice in clinical and community settings to improve health outcomes.

Health behaviors are important components of medical care and clinical research. Key examples include: chronic disease self-management, patient adherence, healthcare avoidance, and doctor-patient communication. Few medical breakthroughs have any impact on population health unless patients and physicians also address relevant health behaviors. Medicines must be taken as directed, preventive screenings must be arranged and completed on a schedule, and lifestyle modifications (e.g., weight loss, exercise, tobacco cessation) may be prescribed to improve some clinical outcomes (e.g., obesity, joint pain, chronic diseases).


Please note: The following application instructions and requirements are for Fall 2019 admission. The application for Spring, Summer, and Fall 2020 will open in September 2019 with a new online application process. Requirements will change slightly for the new application cycle. Please contact for more information.

Application Deadline: Year-round, rolling admissions

Program Start Date: Flexible. Fall semester recommended for part-time; Summer semester recommended for fill-time

Application Requirements for Fall 2019 (Master of Science and Graduate Certificate):

  1. Completed Application Form
  2. Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  3. Official Transcripts– Required for all undergraduate credit received.
  4. Application Fee–$35.00, non-refundable, payable to Washington University in St. Louis. Currently, checks and cash are accepted.
  5. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation–Letters should be provided by instructors or professional associates who can speak to the applicant’s ability to succeed in graduate study. Each recommender should explain how he/she knows the applicant and speak to the applicant’s intellectual ability and relevant accomplishments. It is recommended that at least two of the letters be submitted by an instructor, advisor, and/or supervisor.
  6. Personal Statement–One page, 12-point font with one 1 inch margins.
    • Explain specific interests with regard to the field of health behavior and health promotion. Specific health topics and/or research methods of interest should be addressed.
    • Describe any past work or other experience that has impacted the decision to pursue graduate study in health behavior research.
    • Discuss future plans and how obtaining the MS or Graduate Certificate will impact their career trajectory and/or influence future professional endeavors.

Open Enrollment Application Requirements

Submitting Application Materials

All application materials must be submitted via email or mail to the following address:

Applied Health Behavior Research Program
Attn: Laura Peer
Washington University School of Medicine
Clinical Research Training Center
Campus Box 8051
660 South Euclid Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63110

Flexible Program Options to Fit Your Schedule and Budget

The 33-credit Master of Science degree program provides a practical opportunity to cultivate new skills for career engagement and advancement. Students gain a wider perspective of how health behaviors impact medical care and clinical outcomes through coursework, exemplary instructors, and classmates with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. Two program options are available:

Graduate Certificate & Open Enrollment for Single Classes

The Graduate Certificate in Health Behavior Planning and Evaluation is a 15 credit program featuring a curriculum focused on key applied and theoretical concepts in health behavior, as well as the processes needed for managing program development and evaluation activities in clinical and community settings.

Open Enrollment allows up to 6 hours (2 classes) of coursework for individuals who want to take courses as non-degree seeking students. Credits earned through the Open Enrollment option will count toward degree completion if students apply to the certificate or a master’s degree program later.

Marisel Ponton

(Health Behavior Research Concentration, Part Time)
Health Information Release Services Clerk
Faculty Practice Plan, Washington University School of Medicine

I entered the program because I’m planning to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology. I knew I needed more experience in research and the AHBR program provides the bridge needed between undergrad and medical school or a doctoral program. I’ve learned a lot and am more confident that I have the knowledge and experience necessary to be accepted into an advanced clinical psychology program.

Read more student experiences »

Course Descriptions

All classes are held on the Washington University School of Medicine campus in the late afternoon or early evening. See the AHBR Course Descriptions page for more details and syllabi.

Tuition Assistance

Washington University employees may be eligible for a 50% Tuition Assistance Benefit after one year of full time employment. The AHBR program offers additional tuition assistance to all degree-seeking students. More details

Learn More

We are happy to answer any questions you may have about tuition assistance, course requirements, admissions details, or any other aspect of the Graduate Programs in Applied Health Behavior Research. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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