Accredited Child Psychology Graduate Programs in Virginia [2024 Guide]

Last Updated: May 28, 2024

Virginia has breathtaking mountains, pristine beaches, vibrant cities, and idyllic rural areas. And in each corner of the state are high-quality colleges and universities of all shapes and sizes.

Not only does Virginia offer the advantage of having dozens of popular psychology schools to choose from, but its institutions of higher learning also offer a diverse range of child psychology graduate programs. Whether you want to specialize in school psychology, developmental psychology, clinical psychology, or something in between, you will find the program to fit your goals in Virginia.

The most challenging part of picking a child psychology graduate program might be narrowing the field of possibilities down to a manageable list. This guide does that for you with some of the excellent options.

best child psychology education in Virginia

Child Psychology Graduate Programs in Virginia

Listed below are some of the popular schools offering child psychology graduate programs in Virginia:

  • Virginia Commonwealth University
  • Capella University
  • Radford University
  • University of Virginia
  • Liberty University
  • Southern New Hampshire University
  • Grand Canyon University

Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Commonwealth University was founded in 1838 as a medical college. While the school has greatly expanded its degree offerings over the years, its initial mission – to ensure the well-being of students, faculty, staff, and community members – lives on.

As a student at VCU, you’re encouraged to take part in volunteerism and civic engagement. You’re also encouraged to conduct research that helps generate new knowledge that can improve the lives of others.

With more than 28,000 students, VCU is one of the larger schools in the state. With that size comes many advantages for you as a student, not the least of which is having more than 140 master’s degrees and doctoral programs to choose from. Better still, more than two-dozen graduate programs at VCU are ranked in the top 50 in the nation by U.S. News and World Report.

Child Psychology Program Information

VCU’s Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology offers a Clinical Child Psychology Concentration that adheres to the scientist-practitioner model of training. Not only will you have the opportunity to conduct research with the department’s faculty, but you will also take part in experiential training that prepares you to be a highly competent psychology practitioner.

This program, which is accredited by the American Psychological Association, emphasizes the following outcomes:

  • Developing competence in conducting scientific research
  • Delivering clinical services to children and adolescents
  • Providing culturally-competent services
  • Understanding developmental psychopathology
  • Treating underserved youth

You will proceed through the program in a systemic fashion, first gaining a general understanding of child and family therapy, then having opportunities to practice your skills in clinical settings.

Your training in pediatric psychology will take place in classroom and seminar settings, traditional clinical child mental health clinics, and community-based externships, to name a few.

You can expect to spend about five years in this program conducting the necessary academic work to prepare for the one-year predoctoral internship. Your academic work must be completed at the VCU campus, though the one-year internship can be completed at an APA-approved site off-campus.

You can apply to this program online by filling out a graduate application for admission. Admissions requirements include the following:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited college or university with at least 18 hours of undergraduate work in psychology
  • Provide transcripts showing superior academic potential
  • Submit three letters of recommendation
  • Select students will be asked to participate in an in-person interview

Radford University

Radford University was founded in 1910 as the Virginia State Normal and Industrial School for Women. By the 1920s, the school transitioned to a teacher’s college, which it remained for more than 50 years. A couple of name changes later, and Radford University was born. Though its beginnings were in industrial education for women, today, Radford is a comprehensive doctoral-granting institution.

As a student at Radford, you will study at a campus with beautiful architecture, many green spaces, and lots of amenities for students. You can join one of dozens of student organizations, from honor societies to community service-focused clubs to team sports.

There are also many different majors to choose from at the undergraduate and graduate levels, including the school psychology specialist program discussed below.

Child Psychology Program Information

Radford’s School Psychology program culminates with an Educational Specialist degree or Ed.S. This program began in the 1960s and has a long tradition of producing top-notch school psychologists.

Since this is a professional degree, you will need less time than a traditional doctoral program to complete it – you will get your master’s degree and the Ed.S. in just three years. The master’s degree is conferred after completing the first 34 credits, or one year, of the program. Completing all 73 credits in the program results in the Ed.S.

Some of the courses you will take include the following:

  • Child Behavioral Assessment and Intervention
  • Advanced Cognitive and Psychoeducational Assessment
  • Methodology and Program Evaluation in Psychology
  • Mental Health Intervention/Prevention
  • Assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorders

You must also complete a year-long internship, during which time you will get real-world experience working as a school psychologist under the supervision of an experienced school psychologist.

Admission to this program requires that you have a 3.0 GPA or higher for your undergraduate studies. Your undergraduate degree doesn’t have to be in psychology, but you must have at least 18 credits of undergraduate coursework in psychology. Additionally, you must submit the following:

  • A graduate school application
  • GRE scores
  • A resume
  • A personal statement
  • Three letters of reference
  • Undergraduate transcripts

Select students will also be invited to participate in a personal interview.

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia was founded in 1819 by Thomas Jefferson. The purpose of the university then, as it is now, is to advance knowledge and help create a citizenry that is informed and educated. UVA has achieved this mission well through the years, as evidenced by continuously being ranked as one of the best public schools in the nation.

UVA is a large school with more than 25,000 students. The majority of students are undergraduates, but there is a large contingent of graduate students, too – more than 8,000. And though UVA is a state school, it attracts students from around the nation and the globe. As such, the UVA campus is highly diverse, which only adds to the experience you will have as a student.

Child Psychology Program Information

UVA’s Clinical and School Psychology Ph.D. program is unique in that you get combined training in clinical psychology and school psychology. It is one of just 14 combined programs accredited by the APA and is the only such program that blends clinical and school psychology.

As a result of your training, you will be uniquely positioned to provide clinical psychology services in a school setting, though your skills will be applicable to a host of work environments. This includes hospitals, community mental health, medical centers, and primary health care practices, to name a few.

This 72-credit program is a full-time residential experience that requires about five years to complete, including a one-year clinical psychology internship. You will learn within the scientist-practitioner model and have ample opportunities to conduct psychological research and gain relevant clinical experience.

Upon completing this degree, you will be eligible for licensure as a clinical psychologist in Virginia as well as certification as a school psychologist. You can also opt to be singularly licensed in clinical psychology.

You must apply to UVA as a graduate student to enroll in this program. Admissions requirements are as follows:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree or higher from an accredited institution
  • Participate in a personal interview
  • Provide relevant test scores as determined by the department
  • Meet necessary professional experience requirements as determined by the department
  • Provide a personal statement
  • Submit official college transcripts
  • Provide two letters of recommendation

Liberty University

What was once a small religious school in central Virginia, Liberty University has become one of the largest colleges in the United States. Liberty was founded as a private school in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1971 with a smattering of students and faculty. But as time passed and the school gained a reputation for solid academics, the student body began to grow.

In 1985, Liberty began a distance education program that greatly expanded its footprint. Today, there are more than 130,000 students on campus and online.

A school of this size has the advantage of offering a plethora of degree programs. The university has over 700 degrees and programs, more than 450 of which are offered online. Despite the school’s large size, you will take undergraduate classes with an average of just 17-18 students. Classes are even smaller at the graduate level.

Child Psychology Program Information

The Master of Arts in Applied Psychology from Liberty University offers a specialization in developmental psychology that prepares you for working with children in counseling settings. The program requires just 36 credits to graduate, which you can complete in as little as 1.5 years.

This is a fully online program, so you can enjoy a greater level of flexibility in completing your courses. Additional flexibility is provided by the course format – each class is accelerated and takes just eight weeks to complete. Some of the classes you’ll take include:

  • Developmental Psychology
  • Intervention and Behavioral Support
  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Developmental Neuropsychology

Liberty allows you to transfer up to 50 percent of the required credits to graduate, so if you have taken some of the required courses already, you can reduce the time you need to complete the degree. And, once you graduate, you will have the skills needed to work in a variety of settings.

You can apply to this program anytime online. To do so, you must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution and have a 2.5 GPA or higher. You must also submit official college transcripts.

Child Psychology Work Opportunities in Virginia

The work opportunities in the field of child psychology you have before you depend on a number of factors, not the least of which is the type of degree you earn.

For example, if you earn a non-licensure master’s degree, your options might be to work in non-clinical settings, such as for a government agency like the Virginia Department of Social Services. If, however, you have a master’s degree or higher and are licensed, your employment opportunities will be much broader.

As a licensed child psychologist, you might work in private practice, schools, hospitals, or community mental health, to name a few options.

With a specialist degree or a doctorate, your employment opportunities in Virginia are even more broad. Doctoral-level child psychologists might work in research, academia, or in clinical settings.

Some doctoral-trained child psychologists work as consultants, too. For example, you might work on a contract basis with a private elementary school to help staff create developmentally-appropriate programs for students.

In other words, child psychology is an extremely diverse field of study. And with job opportunities that are equally diverse, you can tailor your educational and occupational experiences to your specific strengths and interests.

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