Jonathan Olson

Jonathan Olson, PhD

Jonathan Olson
School of Natural Health Arts & Sciences
Department of Counseling & Health Psychology
Department of Public Health

Current Roles

Dr. Olson is a core faculty member in the School of Natural Health Arts and Sciences. He splits his teaching between the Master of Public Health program and the undergraduate Health Psychology program in the Department of Counseling and Health Psychology.


BA, Psychology, Boston College

MS, Family and Child Development, Auburn University

PhD, Human Development and Family Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Past Experience

While completing his undergraduate and graduate education, Dr. Olson worked in several non-profit agencies that focused on supporting children and adults with developmental disabilities and/or mental illnesses. Upon completion of his graduate degrees, he worked on a variety of projects aimed at supporting children, youth, and families, with a particular emphasis on program planning and evaluation. He worked with a team that helped state-level administrators in Connecticut integrate outcome data on behavioral health programs into policy and program decisions. In addition, he helped revise materials from the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention planning system.

Before coming to Bastyr University, Dr. Olson was a faculty member at Pennsylvania State University. While at Penn State, he worked on a state-wide evaluation of the CTC system and taught undergraduate classes in Human Development and Family Studies as an Assistant Professor at the Altoona campus. Most recently, he has worked on research projects focused on identifying resiliency factors that predict healthy marriages, and predictors of mental health outcomes among active duty members of the U.S. Air Force. He has also worked to help support technical assistance and evaluation efforts of the Children, Youth, and Families at Risk (CYFAR) initiative, which is a USDA funded project.

Classes Taught

Lifespan Development, Infant Development, Research Methods, Social Policy, Program Planning, Social Advocacy, Experimental Psychology, and Biostatistics


Dr. Olson’s research interests have centered on understanding how to promote resiliency among individuals and families that are exposed to specific risk factors. He has applied a risk/resiliency model to understand predictors of mental health outcomes among adolescents and adults. In addition, he has examined predictors of healthy relationship outcomes among married couples. In recent years, some of this work has focused on identifying strategies to promote high-quality implementation of social programs, and he has worked on several large-scale evaluations of prevention programs that target children and adolescents. Dr. Olson enjoys incorporating lessons learned from these experiences into his classes.

On a personal level, he enjoys spending time with his wife and three children. During his free time, he’s usually engaged in some form of outdoor activity such as running, hiking, mountain biking, orienteering, or camping.


An excerpt from Dr. Olson’s philosophy of education: “In my view, to be able to teach, advise, and mentor students is a privilege and an honor. As a university professor, I have the opportunity to contribute to the process of mentoring, guiding, and shaping the intellectual, social, and moral development of students. I believe that university-level teaching has implications that extend far beyond the classroom, and that effective teaching can significantly impact the larger world outside of the university setting. I believe that encouraging the application of knowledge is a critical component of effective teaching. This application can come within the context of a class through service learning, or beyond the classroom in students’ professional and/or personal lives. By calling on learners to apply what they learn, I believe that we not only touch the lives of individual students, but we also can have a positive impact on the larger social environment.”

Jonathan Olson, PhD