Top Psychology Schools & Graduate Programs in Virginia [2023]

Virginia is an interesting place to study psychology. Not only does the Commonwealth have a wide selection of schools that offer advanced studies in psychology, but there are also many different types of psychology programs you can pick.

From small, private colleges to major universities, Virginia is home to institutions of higher learning that provide an excellent psychology education with renowned faculty and superb research facilities. You can pursue a master’s degree or a doctorate in areas that range from clinical psychology to quantitative psychology to social psychology – and many more!

To help you narrow down the list of possible graduate programs in Virginia, consult this list of excellent psychology programs the state has to offer.

Psychology Graduate Programs in Virginia

The University of Virginia (UVA)

School Information

While the University of Virginia isn’t the oldest institution in the United States, its founder is one of the nation’s most famous citizens – Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson founded the University to advance human knowledge, and the University of Virginia has one of the best reputations for doing so among colleges in the U.S.

For example, UVA ranks third among public national universities, according to US News and World Report. The University also ranks as the best college in Virginia and the best value public college for financial aid.

Students from all over the nation and the world come to UVA to get their education. The school has 17,000 undergraduates on campus in addition to nearly 9,000 graduate students. With 3,000 full-time faculty and 6,500 full-time staff, the University has the means to provide you with individualized attention as you complete your degree.

Program Information

The University of Virginia has many different tracks available for completing a graduate-level program in psychology.

For example, if you are a current UVA psychology undergraduate, you can apply to the Accelerated MA in Research Methods. This program culminates in a Master of Arts, but because of its accelerated platform, you can finish your master’s degree with just one year of study after your undergraduate program.

If you already have a bachelor’s degree from another school, UVA’s psychology department has seven Ph.D-level concentrations from which to choose:

  • Clinical psychology
  • Cognitive psychology
  • Community psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Quantitative psychology
  • Social and Systems psychology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience

In each case, these programs have been designed with research as a central component. With the exception of the clinical psychology track, each specialization prepares you for basic and applied research as well as for a career in academia.

Virginia Tech

School Information

Virginia Tech is in Blacksburg, a beautiful medium-sized city located in western Virginia. This area of Virginia has mountains, rivers, forests, and many other beautiful landscapes that you can explore when you’re not studying on campus.

Though Virginia Tech has an excellent psychology program, it isn’t the only option for getting a sound education. In fact, Virginia Tech has nearly 300 programs for undergraduate and graduate students in eight distinct academic colleges.

One of Virginia Tech’s most important features is its focus on research. The National Science Foundation notes that Virginia Tech is among the top 50 universities for research in the nation. Likewise, it’s among the top five percent of schools for research expenditures. If you want to learn about psychological research, Virginia Tech has the facilities and the money to do so.

Program Information

Virginia Tech’s Department of Psychology offers a doctoral program that prepares you for work in one of four areas: biological psychology, developmental science, I-O psychology, or clinical science. In each case, the terminal degree is a Ph.D.

Depending on the concentration you select, you will spend most of your time conducting research. For example, the biological psychology track focuses on theoretical and empirical work under the mentorship of a psychology faculty member. Conversely, some tracks, like the I-O psychology specialization, use the scientist-practitioner model to prepare you for implementing change in the workplace.

Virginia Tech also offers you the opportunity to earn a Master of Science in psychology on your way to getting your Ph.D. However, this is not offered as a standalone program. You can either apply to the Ph.D. program as an undergraduate and earn your M.S. and Ph.D., or you can apply as a student that already has a master’s degree and complete just the Ph.D. portion of the program.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU)

School Information

Virginia Commonwealth University is a large school (nearly 29,000 students) in Richmond, Virgina. Yet, despite having a large enrollment, VCU boasts a student-to-faculty ratio of just 17:1. It’s easy to have small class sizes when there are almost 2,500 full-time faculty on campus!

While psychology might be your chosen graduate major, VCU offers a robust lineup of other programs – there are more than 140 programs at the master’s and doctoral levels. Twenty-five of those programs are ranked among the top 50 in the nation by US News and World Report, including the clinical psychology program discussed below.

With an annual tuition and fees rate of less than $16,000 for undergraduate studies, VCU is also an affordable option for getting a high-quality education.

Program Information

The graduate degree options at VCU include several tracks that result in a Ph.D. in psychology. You can choose from clinical psychology or counseling psychology, as well as developmental, health, or social psychology. Each track has a distinct set of requirements to graduate.

For example, the clinical psychology track requires about four or five years studying at VCU with another one or two years of pre-doctoral internship after that. The clinical track requires coursework in psychology, research methods, and statistics. You must also complete a master’s thesis and three years or more of clinical practicum.

By contrast, the social psychology track is a four or five-year program that focuses on doctoral research. You will take a breadth of courses that are customized to your specific interest. You will also take part in critical research in social psychology that leads to the potential for publication in peer-reviewed journals. You will earn a Master of Science in psychology on your way to a Ph.D.

Virginia State University (VSU)

School Information

Virginia State University was founded in 1882 in the small town of Ettrick. The campus, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Appomattox River, is home to about 4,300 students, making it a small and intimate learning environment for your graduate studies in psychology.

VSU is a Historically Black College and University and one of just two land-grant colleges in Virginia. Academic programs are offered in six colleges:

  • The College of Agriculture
  • The Reginald F. Lewis College of Business
  • The College of Education
  • The College of Engineering and Technology
  • The College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • The College of Natural and Health Sciences

The University offers degrees at all levels, from bachelor’s to doctorates. This includes the two Master of Science options in psychology discussed below.

Program Information

If you’ve completed a bachelor’s degree program in psychology and want to take the next step in your educational journey, the Master of Science program at Virginia State University is worth a look.

You can choose from one of two tracks: general psychology or clinical psychology. The general psychology concentration is a 33-credit program that takes two years to complete. The first two semesters of the program focus on coursework, while the final two semesters shift to thesis research, writing, and defense. This track is designed for students that wish to conduct research or teach.

Meanwhile, the clinical psychology concentration is a two-year, 45-credit program. In addition to coursework, this track also requires you to complete multiple practicum experiences in clinical psychology.

Additionally, you must complete a thesis before the end of year two. This track is designed for students that want to pursue licensure and practice as a psychologist.

Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Virginia

Virginia requires the following to be eligible for licensure to officially work a psychologist:

  • The first step to getting licensed in Virginia is to get the proper education. The state requires that you have a doctorate for licensure as an Applied Psychologist, Clinical Psychologist, or School Psychologist.
  • There are two options for master’s-level licensure as well: School Psychologist-Limited and Sex Offender Treatment Provider.
  • Provide a Registration of Residency to the Virginia Board of Psychology. This stipulates where your post-graduate supervision will be completed.
  • Complete 1,500 hours of supervised training (either during a doctoral program or in post-doctoral work).
  • Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology. This test is used by many states and Canadian provinces to determine competency for licensure.
  • Once you pass the EPPP exam, you must submit an application to the Virginia Board of Psychology. Various other forms must be submitted as well.

Once you have completed all these requirements and the Board of Psychology deems you worthy of licensure, you will receive your Virginia license in the mail.

You must complete continuing education credits to maintain your licensure. Licenses are up for renewal each year, so 14 hours of continuing education credits must be obtained on a yearly basis.

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