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Psychology Schools in Virginia

August 10, 2021 | Staff Writers

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Earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology at a school in Virginia is a great option if you’re looking to improve your job outlook. Several great schools are available for you to attend to become a psychologist in any career path that you decide to take (i.e., forensic psychology, clinical psychology, school psychology, counseling psychology). 

The university that you go to for studying psychology will ultimately depend on your personal preferences and what you hope to study. The psychology program that you end up entering will help you become the best psychologist that you can be. 

So, let’s dive into why you should go to a psychology school in Virginia to earn your bachelor’s degree.  

Why Should You Study Psychology in Virginia? 

Why should you choose to study psychology in Virginia? Virginia is one of the oldest places in the United States, and it offers some of the best opportunities on the eastern seaboard for psychology professionals and majors. 

There are over 60 psychology schools in Virginia alone, which ensures that you’re bound to find the perfect one for you. 

Most of the psychology schools in Virginia are there to train aspiring psychologists for the doctoral degree. They let someone who has a passing interest in psychology know right away whether it’s for them or not.

Reasons to Attend a School in Virginia for Your Psychology Degree

There are several reasons why you should attend school for a psychology degree in Virginia, including: 

There Are a Variety of Careers You Can Enter

Psychology isn’t a one-size-fits-all career. One of the biggest strengths of earning a psychology degree is that there’s a wide variety of career choices available to graduates with a bachelor’s degree. While earning your psychology degree, you can tailor your education to focus on special psychology majors you’re interested in. Some of these majors include: 

Human Factors Psychology

Human factors and engineering psychologists interact with technology and machines. They use psychological science to guide the design of devices, systems, and products that we use every day. They often focus primarily on safety and performance. 

Industrial-Organization Psychology

Industrial-organization psychologists focus on the behavior of employees in the workplace. They apply psychological research methods and principles to improve the work environment, including safety, professional satisfaction, communication, and performance. 

Health Psychology

Health psychologists study how patients handle illnesses, why some people will follow medical advice and others won’t, and the most effective ways to change poor health habits or control pain. They will also develop health care strategies that foster physical and emotional well-being. 

Forensic Psychology

Forensic psychology involves the application of psychological knowledge and methods in both criminal and civil legal questions. It involves assessments, investigations, consultation, research studies, and the implementation and design of treatment programs and expert witness testimonies in the courtroom. 

Sports Psychology

Sports psychology is the study of how psychological factors influence physical activity, exercise, athletic performance, and sports. It also helps athletes use psychology to improve their mental well-being and sports performance. 

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychology is the psychological specialty that provides comprehensive and continual behavioral and mental health care for families and individuals.  

Child and Adolescent Psychology

Child and adolescent psychology focuses on behavioral health in children, particularly their emotional and mental development. 

Psychology Can Help Us Understand Ourselves

As you start to dive deeper into psychology theories, the different approaches to human development, personality, or how culture plays a part in our behavior, we’re forced to look at ourselves and other people. 

Going to school in Virginia for a psychology degree program will make you ask yourself many questions, and they might not always have an answer. But those are the ones that will help drive you to constantly discover and search as you continue your school journey to complete your bachelor’s degree in psychology. 

You’ll Gain a New Understanding of Mental Illness

By studying psychology at a school in Virginia, you’ll learn to tear down the many myths surrounding mental health. You’ll learn to understand the differences between a disease, a disorder, and a syndrome. You’ll come to find that medication doesn’t cure all diseases but rather “treats” them. You’ll also discover the complexity surrounding making a correct diagnosis and the nuances in depression, anxiety, or schizophrenia. 

You’ll Have a Greater Understanding of Human Relationships

Studying psychology isn’t going to make you turn into a psychologically healthier, happier, more successful person. Psychologists also suffer from anxiety and depression, and they aren’t immune to having limitations and small phobias either. 

However, by studying psychology, you’ll better understand what’s happening to you and the people around you. It makes it so you can understand relational dynamics better. It also helps you realize that you can ask for help when you need it or help someone else. 

It’s a Great Complement to Other Disciplines

There aren’t many areas of study that complement other disciplines as much as psychology does. You could have a degree in economics, art, anthropology, philology, pharmacy, nursing, medicine, or journalism, and at the same time decide that you want to start a degree in psychology to earn a richer, more complete training. 

Great Job Outlook in Virginia

According to health data from the federal government, about 20 percent of American adults have a diagnosable mental illness; this ranges from depression to bipolar disorder. But only a small percentage of those adults have sought out mental health help. 

However, in Virginia, there are slightly higher percentages of both adults with mental illnesses and those who have sought out help. Clinical psychologists are one group of uniquely qualified professionals to make a big difference in the lives of people dealing with mental illness. 

Employment of psychologists, overall, is projected to grow at a rate of three percent until 2029. This growth rate is about as fast as the average for all other occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. The best job prospects will be available to those who have a doctoral degree in an applied specialty. 

In Virginia, the short-term growth rate of employment is expected to sit at 2.5 percent, which is rapid growth compared to other southern states.

Virginia is overall a great place to work, especially if you want to become an industrial-organization psychologist. Many will earn an average of $90,000 a year, while most other psychology specializations have an annual median wage of about $60,000. 

What Are the Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Virginia? 

 Becoming a licensed psychologist in Virginia means that you’re required to meet the state standards for education, including a minimum of a bachelor’s degree and a doctoral degree. 

After completing the educational requirements to become a licensed psychologist in Virginia, you need to pass the Virginia licensing process. 

Complete 1,500 Hours of Supervised Experience

In Virginia, psychology applicants for licensure must complete 1,500 hours of post-doctoral professional experience under a licensed psychologist’s supervision. Part or all of these hours can be completed as part of your PsyD or Ph.D. degree program, as long the hours obtained during your degree program meet the Virginia Psychology Board requirements, including face-to-face client contact stipulations. 

Before completing your post-doctoral hours, you are required to submit a Registration of Residency form. You can’t start counting hours towards your license until you’ve submitted your Registration of Residency form and received approval from the board. Completing the 1,500 hours can’t take less than 12 months, but you can’t take more than three years to complete. 

Pass the Virginia Licensing Exams

After the board has approved your residency registration and start working on your professional experience, you’ll be eligible to take the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). 

This exam is used across the United States as the official psychology licensing exam. The EPPP is an exam that’s completely computerized and costs $687.50 and consists of 225 multiple-choice questions. The Virginia Licensing Board has their passing score set at 500. 

Once the board has approved you, you have two years to take the exam.

Submit Your Licensing Application to the Board

After you’ve passed the EPPP, you must submit the Licensure by Examination Application form, along with the required $200 fee. You’ll need to submit other important forms that will be specified by the licensing application form along with this form. 

Receive Your License in Virginia

After the board has verified that you have met all the requirements, you’ll receive your license to practice psychology in the state of Virginia. 

Types of Psychology Degrees Available at Virginia Schools

If you’re thinking about earning a psychology degree at a Virginia school, then you should know that there are several different degree options available to you at the undergraduate student and graduate student levels. 

Before you figure out which type of degree you want to earn, it’s important to understand what education level is required to enter your chosen career path. 

Here are the different types of psychology degrees available at Virginia schools. 

Associate Degree

An associate psychology degree is an undergraduate-level degree option that typically takes two years to complete. This option is usually offered at community colleges, where many students then transfer to state universities to complete a bachelor’s degree. 

To be quite honest, there aren’t many jobs available with an associate degree. Most of the entry-level psychology jobs require a bachelor’s degree at minimum. A possible job option with an associate degree in psychology is that of a psychiatric technician at a state mental hospital.

Bachelor’s Degree

A psychology bachelor’s degree is another undergraduate-level degree that will typically take four years to finish. You can choose between a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree at many universities. 

Having a bachelor’s degree offers a limited selection of entry-level career options, although more job opportunities open with a graduate degree. 

Some of the more common jobs for people who earn a bachelor’s degree include rehabilitation specialists, career counselors, psychiatric technicians, and case managers. 

Master’s Degree

A master’s degree in psychology is a graduate-level degree that typically takes two to three years to complete beyond your bachelor’s degree. Like with a bachelor’s degree, students can choose between a Master of Science (M.S.) or a Master of Arts (MA) in psychology. 

There are more jobs available at the master’s degree level than at the bachelor’s degree level. A few jobs that people can hold with a master’s degree include human resources manager, child protection worker, behavioral counselor, alcohol and drug specialist, and social services manager. 

Ph.D.

A Doctor of Philosophy in psychology or a Ph.D. in psychology is a doctoral-level program that can take four to six years of graduate study to finish. The Ph.D. degree does take on a more research-based approach but does include both applied and theoretical training. 

There are a wide variety of specialty areas for you to choose from when you do a Ph.D. in psychology. Which path you choose will depend on what you want to do after you graduate, for example, if you want to work in either clinical psychology or counseling psychology. 

If you’re interested in working in an applied, research, or teaching area, you might decide to go with a Ph.D. in psychology in a specialty like experimental, industrial-organization, developmental, or social psychology. 

Doctor of Psychology (Psy.D.)

The Psy.D. was created as an alternative to the traditional research-oriented Ph.D. Psy.D. programs are more focused on professional practice. Those who earn a Psy.D. in counseling psychology or clinical psychology and pass the licensing exams are qualified to treat and diagnose mental disorders, provide psychotherapy, and conduct psychological tests. 

The Psy.D. degree takes about four to seven years to finish. 

Psychology Internship Programs for Schools in Virginia

As a psychology intern who’s enrolled in an academic program, you’ll typically perform clinicals under a licensed psychologist’s supervision. The specifications of each psychology internship will vary depending on the program you’re taking part in. But in the role of an intern, you must meet the standards set forth by the American Psychology Association (APA).

During the internship, you’ll work on developing a variety of skills to help you provide psychological care to your patients by practicing therapy sessions, taking assessments, and performing research. 

You’ll work closely with your internship supervisor to make sure that you’re developing the necessary skills expected of students at your level of education. Your psychology internship program can provide you with academic credit depending on which university in Virginia you attend and the doctoral-level program that you’re pursuing. 

Top Schools in Virginia with Psychology Programs

Psychology is a very popular major, and Virginia is the 6th most popular state for those pursuing a psychology degree to attend university. But because there are so many options for psychology schools in Virginia, it can be difficult to find the right one for you. In this section of the article, we’re going to talk about the top schools in Virginia with psychology programs. 

University of Virginia – Main Campus

Every psychology student looking to pursue a degree in psychology needs to look at the University of Virginia – Main Campus. This university is a large public school located in Charlottesville’s suburb and is considered one of the best universities to get your psychology degree. 

They offer students the chance to earn their bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and doctoral degree at the University of Virginia – Main Campus. 

College of William and Mary

The College of William and Mary is a medium-sized public school located in Williamsburg, Virginia. This college ranks 4th out of 48 colleges for overall quality in Virginia. There are 160 students enrolled at the College of William and Mary, and it is considered one of the most popular colleges to earn a psychology degree. 

George Mason University

George Mason University is considered to be one of the finest schools in the United States for psychology. It’s a huge public school located in Fairfax, Virginia. There are around 488 undergraduate psychology students enrolled at GMU. 

University of Richmond

If you want to study psychology in Virginia, the University of Richmond is probably one of your top choices. It’s a small private, not-for-profit school located in the city of the University of Richmond, Virginia. 

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University is located in Richmond, Virginia, and is a fairly large public university. Around 556 undergraduates study for a psychology degree at this university, making this one of the more popular schools to attend in Virginia. 

How to Apply to a Psychology School in Virginia

For the most part, applying for a psychology school in Virginia is going to go through the same steps like the ones listed below: 

Choose a Career Path

To get started, you need to pick a career path to focus on before applying to the psychology school in Virginia. There are several specialties in psychology, but not every school offers all of them. Some paths that you can take include: 

  • Sports psychology
  • School psychology and counseling
  • Industrial-organization psychology
  • Forensic psychology
  • Educational psychology
  • Counseling psychology
  • Clinical psychology
  • General psychology

To help you decide which path is right for you, you can try to volunteer in a few different areas to get an idea of which specialty is right for you. 

Pick a Degree

The second step you need to take is choosing the exact level of degree you’ll need for your career path. You can take three primary paths in psychology graduate school – master’s, specialist, or doctoral degree. 

The degree you earn will depend on your goals but remember that you’re almost always required to earn a doctoral degree to become a licensed psychologist. 

Find the Best Graduate School Program for You

After you’ve figured out which specialty and type of degree you want or need, it’s time to start looking at psychology school programs. This process can be extremely overwhelming, especially when you consider that there are over 60 psychology schools in Virginia alone. 

The program that you go with should fit your needs and goals, but also consider these things: 

Accreditation

The program you go with must be accredited. Going to an accredited program means that the education you’re paying for meets the quality standards outlined in the field. If you attend a school that’s not accredited, you could risk not qualifying for federal financial aid, and you won’t be allowed to earn your license. 

Online vs In-Class Programs

Deciding if you want to attend your classes online or in-person is important. There’s virtually no difference in the education you’ll receive, so the choice ultimately lies with your learning needs and lifestyle. Earning an online psychology degree is the same as earning an in-person psychology degree. 

Meet or Exceed Admission Requirements

Once you’ve decided on the schools that you want to apply to, you’ll need to make sure that you’re meeting their admission requirements. Different schools and programs require different things, but some things are generally standard: 

  • A good GPA: GPA requirements will vary depending on the school, but most schools look for at least a 3.0. 
  • Good scores on the GRE: Some programs don’t require you to submit scores on the GRE, but many do. So, you need to make sure that you’re meeting your school’s requirements for the GRE. 
  • Essay(s): Most schools require you to send an essay or essays with your application. This will most likely be about your professional aspirations or past experiences with the psychology field. 
  • Letters of Recommendation: Some schools ask for letters of recommendation, at least two of them. These need to be from people who can speak on your ability to succeed in the psychology program, such as work supervisors or undergraduate professors. 

There will be other requirements specific to the school and psychology program that you’re applying for, so be aware of those. 

Help Your Application Stand Out

Along with meeting the standard requirements, there are some other things that you can do to make your psychology school application stand out. For instance, you could volunteer in the mental health field to not only give you experience that will help you decide what you want to study but will also look good on your application. 

You’ll stand out even more if you get some research experience and write a compelling statement of purpose. If you have the opportunity to work in a lab setting, you can prove that you have an understanding of research documentation and methodology to show that you’re committed to psychology and also to provide you with academic experience. 

Final Thoughts

Going to school for psychology in Virginia can open many doors when it comes to your professional life. Virginia is one of the best states to go to school for psychology and work as a psychologist because of all the job opportunities, job growth, and psychology schools. 

There are several reasons why you should study psychology in Virginia, including the fact that it can open the door to more career paths (i.e., forensic psychology and clinical psychology). You get to choose which path you take, and because of this, you can tailor your education to match your educational and professional wants and needs. 

With over 60 psychology schools to choose from in Virginia, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best. That’s why we talked about the best psychology schools in Virginia that you can attend. The best being the University of Virginia – Main Campus and George Mason University. 

There are so many things that you can do to prepare to apply for psychology school in Virginia. You can start by figuring out which career path you want to follow and then figuring out what psychology school is the best for you. After doing this, you can figure out the admission requirements so you can start preparing your application.

One of the best things you can do to get your application to stand out is to volunteer in the mental health field or a lab-setting, so you gain valuable experience that no one else has. This not only shows the school that you’re dedicated to psychology but that you’re willing to start working towards being the best psychologist you can be. 

Find the program that’s right for you

Whether you’re trying to start your career or make a big change, we can help you find the perfect school to help you reach your goals.

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BestValueSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
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