Admissions

General information about graduate study at VCU can be obtained from the VCU Graduate School web site. Application for graduate study in psychology with an emphasis in clinical psychology should be initiated online from the VCU Graduate School admissions page. Please note that there is not a separate application for the program or department. 

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is December 1. 

Admission Requirements and Evaluation Process

Details about admission requirements are available in the VCU Bulletin. It may help you to use our application check-list (updated on 10-17-11).

To be admitted to the counseling psychology program, you will need 18 undergraduate credit hours in psychology, including courses in statistics, experimental and introductory psychology. If you are an exceptionally qualified student, however, some of these prerequisites may be waived. Although a master’s degree is awarded in progress toward the doctoral degree, only students who are seeking the Ph.D. are considered for admission. Students with master's degrees are encouraged to apply. However, if you did not complete a research-based thesis as part of your master's (or if it is not comparable in quality to those produced by VCU students), you must complete another master's degree with thesis in progress toward your doctoral degree.

Applications are reviewed in the early spring for admissions the following fall. Completed applications are evaluated by a three-member admissions committee, with additional input from counseling program faculty members. Recommendations for admission are made to the department chair and the dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences. 

Variables considered when the admissions committee evaluates applications are:

  • academic preparation, including relevant course work and academic performance.
  • other evidence of ability, including scores on the Graduate Record Examination.
  • letters of recommendation.
  • previous professional and personal experience.
  • personal goals.
  • ability to communicate clearly and concisely.
  • fit with the philosophy and goals of the counseling psychology program.

All of the above are considered by the admissions committee. We urge you not to set up an interview with the hope of special consideration as an applicant, although you may wish to visit to help you narrow your choice among potential programs. After applications are reviewed, individual faculty members select one or more applicants for possible admission on the basis of two additional criteria:

  • match with at least one faculty member in research interests.
  • telephone or personal interview.

In recent years we have set up structured group interviews, allowing both prospective graduate students and faculty an opportunity to meet and discuss their mutual interests. Prospective students have found these interview days to be extremely helpful. A formal personal on-site interview is not required prior to final selection. However, before you are offered admission, a telephone interview — at a minimum — will be necessary. 

Decisions are usually made in early to mid-March and offers are extended as soon after the decision as possible. Many candidates who have not visited campus after being placed in the final pool of applicants will, after receiving an offer, visit campus to help with their decision of whether to enter the program.

Faculty Accepting Applications

Faculty members likely accepting a student for the 2016-2017 academic year:

Interview Date

The interview dates will be January 20 and 23.

FAQ

I am curious about the admissions process. Do the faculty members narrow the applicant pool down and then do interviews? If so, when does that take place? Also, if I don't make that interview “cut,” will I be notified at that time? 

We do a first run through the applications and narrow the applicant pool down the best that we can, although it is always a difficult process because we have such a large number of wonderful applicants. We look for students that are strong in a variety of areas and that appear well rounded in their abilities, including having a well-written personal statement. And of course, we seek to find students who are interested in being both a researcher and a practitioner, and who have common research interests that make them a good fit to work with members of our core faculty.

After we narrow down the applicant pool we ask a group of the prospective students to come for interviews at VCU. We conduct the interviews in both individual and group formats. If you don’t happen to make it to the interview cut we will try to notify you; however, because of the great number of applicants it may be hard for us to contact all of our applicants in a timely manner. If you are interested in the status of your application and it is past March 15, you can e-mail us at counspsyc@vcu.edu to find out where you stand and where we are in our process of selecting our final class for the upcoming year. 

Can I come for an interview at VCU prior to submitting my application or before I get invited for the group interviews? 

Because of the large numbers of applications we get each year (approximately 150-200), we are unable to accommodate all of the requests for interviews that we receive. However, we do welcome students to e-mail us at counspsyc@vcu.edu with any questions that they may have. We welcome students who have been offered admission to visit VCU to get a feel for what Richmond life is like and to see our beautiful historic buildings.

Is the VCU Counseling Psychology program more research oriented or more clinically oriented?

1
2
3
4
5
6
7

 

Clinically
oriented
 
Equal
emphasis
 
Research
oriented

 

Can I take classes from any faculty once I am enrolled?

Yes. Each program has their curriculum outlined (see our graduate handbook for details), with specific courses suggested for each semester through the third year of study.

Where can I find a list of classes that are needed to obtain the Ph.D. in counseling psychology from VCU?

Look at the “program details” page on our Web site where we have posted our graduate handbook, which lists all the courses required for the master’s and for the Ph.D. After looking at this you can find course descriptions on the bulletin website.

I can't decide whether to apply to counseling or clinical psychology. Should I apply to both to increase my chances of getting into graduate school?

Rather than choosing a graduate program based on previous academic success and/or likelihood of acceptance, you should think carefully about your career goals and interests. It cannot be emphasized enough how important it is to find a good match between your interests and training needs, and the faculty’s interests and training goals. Remember that choosing a graduate program is much different than choosing an undergraduate program. You will be spending at least five years studying a specialized area, which requires patience and dedication. Working in an area of interest during this time makes it much easier to manage during these years! You may want to check out the below Internet resources to help you with your decision: http://www.bls.gov (and look at the “occupational outlook handbook” link on the left hand side of the page to find info on the differences between counseling and clinical and to find info on the job prospects in the field and the likely salary) or look at http://www.onetcenter.org for other career information.

What is the student make up?

In the Counseling Psychology program we have about 30 students currently enrolled, with recent incoming classes of four students. There are approximately 130 students total in all the Psychology programs at VCU (including counseling, clinical, biological, social and developmental programs.). At least three-quarters of all our students are on campus taking classes, working in research facilities, teaching as adjuncts or conducting their own experiments.

Further questions

If you have any other specific questions that were not addressed on this FAQ, be sure to refer to the FAQs for prospective students page on our Web site where we have compiled a full listing of some of the most frequently asked questions about the graduate psychology programs at VCU. If you have a question that you think should be included on the FAQ, please contact the our Counseling Psychology program assistant.

Profile of Admitted Students

Because developing research and skills in our students require intensive work by our faculty, class size and the number of students admitted are necessarily limited. Approximately 140 applicants have been considered in each of the past few years. However, only about six to eight new students are admitted each year, including a few with master’s degrees. We also have a strong commitment to minority recruitment.

Year
Applied to program
Were offered admission
Enrolled in academic year
2012-2013
186
7
5
2011-2012
175
9
7
2010-2011
143
10
6
2009-2010
137
6
6
2008-2009
155
11
7
2007-2008
132
13
7
2006-2007
156
8
8
2005-2006
154
13
9
2004-2005
143
10
9

There are no minimum GRE scores or GPA requirements, allowing outstanding strengths to compensate for possible weaknesses in your application. Our GRE code number is 5570.

Year
Average GRE - Verbal
Average GRE - Quantitative
Average GPA
2012-2013

old = 610
new = 166

old = 686
new = 154
3.80
2011-2012
540
640
3.70
2010-2011
586
715
3.42
2009-2010
585
626
3.57
2008-2009
588
655
3.71
2007-2008
590
631
3.48
2006-2007
585
680
3.64
2005-2006
515
630
3.20
2004-2005
552
631
3.54
 

 

Academic and Personal Support

Counseling psychology students elect two student delegates each year who attend all counseling program faculty meetings and share one vote in all proceedings. In addition, the Psychology Graduate School Organization represents Department of Psychology graduate students from all five doctoral programs and elects student representatives to serve on various standing departmental committees, on faculty search committees, and on faculty promotion and tenure-review committees.

Minority Support

In line with our commitment to multicultural diversity, ethnic minority students have received substantial support. For example, selected ethnic minority students entering their first year of graduate study have received minority fellowships. We plan to continue to seek this university and state financial support in the future.

Attrition Rates

We have a strong commitment to seeing our students graduate. About 90 percent of those who enter the program receive their Ph.D. Those who leave typically do so to pursue their personal needs and goals. We have, on rare occasions, determined that a student does not meet our expectations for doctoral level training as a result of either skill limitations or personal issues.

Contact the Program Assistant

Rachel  Boutté
Counseling Psychology Graduate program assistant
806 West Franklin Street 
P.O. Box 842018 
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2018 
E-mail: counspsyc@vcu.edu (email is the preferred method of contact)