FAQ

The following is a compilation of frequently asked questions from visitors to our Graduate Forum and other questions that are typically asked during interviews. 

Undergraduate preparation

Do I have to have an undergraduate degree in psychology to apply?

Although a degree in psychology is not required, we do require at least 18 credit hours of undergraduate level psychology courses. Although many students over the years have entered with degrees from English, forestry, philosophy, biology, and engineering, most do have a bachelor’s degree in psychology.

I am currently an undergraduate psychology student looking for advice right now. I know I will pursue a graduate degree in psychology. What kind of classes do I need to complete now?

The best advice for now is to check with the specific program that you are interested in (if you know at this point). Besides, the usual requirement of "core courses," it also is a plus to tailor your courses to fit your interests and supplement that with research experience. Find a professor who is doing work that interests you and volunteer to help. It gives you an honest view of what graduate work is like and it helps strengthen your application. Also worth noting that many of our applicants have 1 or more years of post-baccalaureate research experience.

Will doing an honors thesis help my application?

Yes, an honors thesis is an excellent opportunity to experience the process of scientific research, often similar to what you will be doing in graduate school. Plus, there is the added incentive that your thesis could get published or presented at a national conference, another very helpful line on your vita. However, an honor’s thesis is not a requirement for application and many of our students did not complete an honor’s thesis.

Admissions

I am curious about the graduate admissions process. Do the faculty members narrow down the applicant pool 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, or closer to April 1?

There is a lot of variation in the way that each program handles admissions. I would encourage you to contact the director of the program you have applied to for more information about how your program handles notifying applicants.

Does VCU accept part-time students?

No.

Does VCU offer a terminal master's degree program in psychology?

No. All of our psychology programs are doctoral programs. In some cases, students who have completed the master's degree but did not complete the Ph.D. have withdrawn from the program with a master's degree. Note that the degree is general psychology and not in the specialized area (e.g., clinical, counseling, etc.). However, we do not accept students who are ONLY seeking a master's degree. However, VCU does offer master's degrees in other programs related to the field of psychology:

Does VCU offer deferred admissions?

In most cases, deferment is not an option.

Can you tell me about any online resources for applying to graduate school?

Many resources are available online. The APA Web site offers an excellent resource for getting into graduate school.

GRE Requirement

Is it necessary to take the psychology section of the GRE?

At VCU, the GRE subject test is not required.

What is the program code for forwarding GRE scores to VCU?

5570.

Financial aid/assistantships

Is funding available for new students?

Yes. We guarantee funding for all students in good standing for their first four years in the program and are almost always able to fund all students seeking funding in subsequent years as well. We have a document that describes the funding options located here.

Must I file a financial aid form even though funding is not based on need?

Yes. Filing a financial aid form might gain you additional support that would supplement any award or work commitment. However, filing is not required by the department. Information about financial aid is available online.

What's the tuition at VCU?

The most current tuition rates are posted online here.

Applying with a master's degree

Will having a master's degree upon entering accelerate my completing the program?

Sometimes. You may be able to use some of your MS courses to waive requirements at VCU. Your thesis requirement may also be waived (in some case). However, if you did not complete an empirical master’s thesis on a topic related to psychology, the time saved in the program may be reduced.

Balancing work/family with school

What is a realistic time commitment as far as daily hours, weekends and semester breaks?

This is a difficult question to ask, as all students operate differently. For the first two to three years of the program, you will be enrolled in full course load and will have a 20 hour/week job commitment through your assistantship. That makes for a busy week! Most graduate students do indeed find that they use hours on the weekend for coursework and their own research. Our programs do have breaks between semesters. Most of our students remain working, though, during summer semester.

Are there any students in the psychology graduate program who are married? Is it more difficult to attend graduate school and be married at the same time?

Yes, there are students here who are married. Like many career aspirations, the pressures of graduate school are very tough on relationships. Communication, patience and support are very important during this time so it is a good idea to discuss these issues with your significant other before starting any program. It's definitely a challenge — but don't let that stop you from going to graduate school! The faculty here at VCU is very supportive of the students having a life!

Do you know of any graduate students who have children or who have given birth while in the program? Is it realistic to include both goals in the same time frame?

Although it is different for everyone, it is possible to start a family and go to graduate school at the same time. There are students in the program with children — they just have to be a little more resourceful and creative with time management.

Life in Richmond

What is it like to live in Richmond?

VCU is located in a vibrant urban area with a lot of interesting restaurants and shops. Richmond is a great city in which to live and many students live within a mile or two of campus. There are many fun neighborhoods nearby with great amenities. You can learn more herehere, and here (a very silly one). The cost of living is reasonable, esp. considering our location on the East Coast, near mountains and ocean. In terms of safety, the campus is quite  safe and stays quite busy with students day and night--we have 31,000 students, most of whom live on campus. VCU also offers free rides to students on campus via RamSafe.

Miscellaneous

I can't decide whether to apply to clinical or counseling 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 be 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 four to 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!

Is the general psychology program accredited by the APA?

No, the APA only manages accreditation for non-experimental (clinical and counseling) programs. For more information on accreditation, please see the APA Web site.