General information about graduate study at VCU can be obtained from the VCU Graduate School website. Application for graduate study in psychology with an emphasis in counseling psychology should be initiated online from the VCU Graduate School admissions page. Please note there is not a separate application for the program or department.
The deadline for applications is December 1.
Admission Requirements and Evaluation Process
Details about admission requirements are available in the VCU Bulletin.
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 counseling program faculty members. Specifically, applications will be reviewed by the faculty member or members whose work is most closely aligned with the applicant's self-described research and clinical interests. Our program uses a mentorship approach to training. A central consideration during the admissions process is the degree of fit between an applicant's research and clinical interests, and those of a particular faculty member. 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. No one will be given special consideration for setting up a pre-application interview. We want to be as fair as possible to all applicants and cannot accommodate pre-interview requests for all given the large volume of applications. Should you have a specific, program-related question not answered by the information on this website, please feel free to email the program assistant at firstname.lastname@example.org or the training director, Suzanne Mazzeo, Ph.D., at email@example.com.
Once all applications are reviewed, selected applicants will be invited for an interview day on campus where they will meet individually with faculty and students and participate in structured group interviews. These experiences enable both prospective graduate students and faculty 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, a telephone interview at a minimum will be necessary.
As early as possible in the fall semester, we will make these interview dates available, along with the names of faculty planning to accept students for the upcoming academic year.
Offers of admission are usually made in early to mid-March. Per the Council of Graduate Schools guidelines, applicants must explicitly state in writing (email is acceptable) whether or not they will accept or reject an offer of admission by no later than April 15th.
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 who are strong in a variety of areas and who 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 to VCU for interviews. We conduct the interviews in both individual and group formats. If you are interested in the status of your application and it is past March 15, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org 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 we receive. However, we do welcome students to email us at email@example.com with any questions 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?
Can I take classes from any faculty member once I am enrolled?
Yes. Each program has its curriculum outlined (see our graduate handbook [PDF]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?
Review the Counseling Psychology Program Details page on our website where we have posted our graduate handbook, which lists all the courses required for the master’s and for the Ph.D. After reviewing, 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 these Internet resources to help inform your decision:
- Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook: Find info on the differences between counseling and clinical psychology, job prospects in the field, likely salary, etc.
- O*NET Resource Center: The O*NET program is the nation's primary source of occupational information.
What is the student makeup?
In the counseling psychology program we have about 30 students currently enrolled, with recent incoming classes of four to five students. There are approximately 130 students total in all the Psychology programs at VCU (including counseling, clinical, health, 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.
If you have any other specific questions that were not addressed on this page, be sure to refer to the FAQs for prospective students page on our website 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 100 applicants have been considered in each of the past few years. However, only about four to five new students are admitted each year, including a few with master’s degrees. The counseling program is committed to the recruitment of students from underrepresented groups, including racial, ethnic and sexual minorities. The program's and department's research focuses on issues of diversity across all of our specialty areas.
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.
- Detailed information on student admissions is available here. [PDF]
Links to VCU Resources
- Graduate School Admissions: Visit this site for general admission requirements and to access the application for graduate programs.
- Application Checklist for Graduate Admissions: Ready to turn in your application? Use this list to make sure your packet is complete.
- International Student Admissions: Visit this site if you are interested in applying to the program and are a non-U.S. citizen and/or non-U.S. resident.
- Office of Financial Aid: Visit this site to find out about financial aid opportunities.
- Student Accounting Department: Visit this site to access information about tuition and fees.
- Degree requirements for the Ph.D. in counseling psychology at VCU
Contact the Program Assistant
806 West Franklin Street
Richmond, Virginia 23284-2018
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (email is the preferred method of contact)