Psychology Schools and Careers in Virginia
With its proximity to our nation’s capital, a range of federal organizations and national agencies to work for, and a strong employment rate, Virginia may be a great place to start your career in the mental health field.
Psychology is one of the top three majors among bachelor’s degree students in Virginia, and many of the state’s institutions offer well-regarded master’s in psychology and psychology doctoral programs.
How to Become a Psychologist in Virginia
There are a number of steps you must take to become a psychologist in Virginia. Depending on your area of focus, the kind of patients you want to work with, and your professional goals, there are several requirements and qualifications you’ll need to meet. Perhaps the most important is the educational training you’ll receive and specialization that most interests you.
- Complete education requirements: To pursue a career as a psychologist in Virginia, you’ll need to satisfy the state’s education requirements. You must earn a bachelor’s degree first—most often a bachelor’s degree in psychology—though you may earn your undergraduate degree in social work, sociology, or something similar. To become a psychologist you must earn a doctoral degree—either a Ph.D. or Psy.D. Some students may choose to pursue a master’s degree first before continuing on to a doctorate, but in some cases, a master’s degree alone will suffice. Social workers, therapists, marriage and family counselors, and mental health counselors all qualify to practice with a master’s degree.
- Choose a specialization: There are several specializations and concentrations within the field of psychology, and the type of patient you prefer to work with will dictate your education requirements and the topics you’ll study. Each degree level offers a range of specialties to choose from.
- Complete supervised experience: Candidates for psychology licensure must successfully complete an internship accredited through the APA, Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards/National Register of Health Service Psychologists, or one that meets equivalent standards. Certain specialties will require other or additional supervised experience. For example, there is a residency requirement for school or clinical psychologists.
- Get licensed: Virginia requires you to fulfill a number of requirements to receive licensure to practice, including completing your education, taking the state’s licensing board exam, and submitting an application packet for approval.
Virginia Psychology Licensing and Exams
Once you’ve completed your degree, you can apply for your Virginia psychology license. While the state requirements vary based on your specialization, at a minimum, the following steps will be required to earn a Virginia psychology license.
- Marriage and Family Counselors: 3,400 hours of supervised experience with at least 2,000 hours in clinical marriage and family services
- Sex Offender Treatment Providers: 2,000 hours of post-degree clinical experience
- Substance Abuse Counselors: 3,400 hours of supervised experience in substance abuse treatment and at least 2,000 hours of face-to-face contact with clients
- Counselors: 3,400 hours of supervised experience with at least 200 hours of in-person supervision between supervisor and resident
- School or Clinical Psychologists: 1,500 hours of residency with a minimum of two hours of individual supervision each week
Job Growth and Psychologist Salaries in Virginia
|Career||Virginia Median Annual Salary (2018)||Virginia Average Mean Wage Per Hour||% Expected Job Growth (2018-2028)|
|Educational, Guidance, School, and Vocational Counselors||$60,680||$29.17||+18%|
|Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||$73,930||$35.55||+18%|
|Psychologists – All Other||$101,790||$48.94||+13%|
|Licensed Clinical Social Worker||$73,450||$35.31||+12%|
|Marriage and Family Therapist||$49,570||$23.83||+35%|
|Behavioral Disorder, Substance Abuse, and Mental Health Counselor||$46,190||$22.21||+24%|
There are many specialties within the field of psychology, and Virginia recognizes licensure in several. While many specialties require a doctorate degree, some fall under a broader classification of mental health jobs and thus don’t require a doctoral degree to meet state requirements.
Virginia Psychology Spotlight Programs
These are just some of the more well-known psychology departments among Virginia’s many educational institutions:
George Mason University (Fairfax, VA)
GMU is uniquely situated outside of Washington, DC, and its bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in psychology focus on public policy and national defense. The school offers eight concentrations in its B.A. and B.S. programs, with unique areas of study in the M.A. or Ph.D. programs as well. Tuition ranges from $377.50 (in-state students) to $1,355 (out-of-state students).
Liberty University (Lynchburg, VA)
Liberty is a private Christian university offering psychology degrees at every level, in both on-campus and online formats. Online options run the gamut. You’ll find undergraduate programs that include A.A. degrees in general psychology and Christian Counseling on up to a B.S. in Psychology, as well as graduate options that include an M.A. in Applied Psychology, Addiction Counseling, Pastoral Counseling, Clinical Mental Health Counseling, and more. And, of course, there’s the university’s esteemed PhD, which offers the option to focus your studies in one of four critical areas. For those who want the traditional campus experience, residential options include a Bachelor of Science with several specialty tracks, an M.S. in Psychology and an M.A. in Applied I/O Psychology. For students interested in earning an applied doctorate, Liberty’s PsyD in Clinical Psychology program offers a path to both your master’s and doctorate in one comprehensive program. Tuition starts at $23,800 for undergraduates and $545 per credit hour for graduate students.
University of Richmond (Richmond, VA)
The B.S. or B.A. degree in psychology at Richmond provides a foundational education in both the research and clinical components of psychology. Students complete both an internship and research component to graduate, and while the school doesn’t offer a graduate component, the students are prepared for advanced studies upon graduation. Annual tuition for the School of Arts & Sciences starts at $54,690.
University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA)
The psychology program at UVA emphasizes research and offers degrees for both undergraduates and graduate students working toward a Ph.D. The school offers an accelerated M.A. for undergraduates seeking streamlined admission to the graduate program, while Ph.D. students can focus their studies in seven different specialty areas. Tuition for undergraduates ranges from $14,188 a year for in-state students to $48,036 for out-of-state students, while graduate students pay from $18,346 to $30,926, respectively.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Blacksburg, VA)
The psychology department at Virginia Tech gives students flexibility at the undergraduate or Ph.D. level. Undergraduates can pair their major requirements with courses in overlapping departments to allow students the opportunity to double major. The cost per credit hour for resident undergraduates is $475.75, and $1,248.25 for non-residents. Those on the doctoral track (Ph.D. with an M.S. component) have four concentration tracks to choose from, with graduate tuition ranging from $761.25 per credit hour (in-state) to $1,534 (out of state).
Washington and Lee University (Lexington, VA)
W&L recently renamed their psychology department Cognitive and Behavioral Studies to emphasize the importance of both natural and behavioral sciences. Both the B.S. and B.A. degree programs focus on research methodologies with a stronger STEM component for those enrolled in the B.S. program. Tuition and fees for the 2019-2020 school year start at $53,730.
William & Mary (Williamsburg, VA)
The country’s second oldest university, William & Mary offers one of the largest undergraduate programs in psychology, with over 150 graduates completing a B.A. or B.S. each year. In contrast, their M.S. degree program is purposely kept quite small, admitting less than a dozen new students each year and focusing on close collaboration and mentorship between students and faculty. In-state students will pay between $34,794 and $36,554 a year in tuition, while in-state tuition for graduate students is $16,440.
Virginia Psychology Scholarships
If you’re interested in becoming a psychologist in Virginia, there are a range of scholarships available to psychology students across all states, at different degree levels, and with different specialties. Here are our picks for psychology scholarships that are specific to students in Virginia.
Virginia Internships and Fellowships
An internship and fellowship are required components of a doctoral program and many master’s programs in psychology. Here are a few ongoing programs offered to students in Virginia.
You should also check sites like Indeed and LinkedIn for more psychology internship opportunities.
Virginia Psychology Resources
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