With a diverse student body of about 24,000 and a 150-acre urban campus in the capitol city of Richmond, Virginia Commonwealth University offers a student experience that's never short on things to do. As a public research university, VCU offers an academic experience that's certainly not lacking in opportunities for engaged students to learn through collaboration, community service and real-life problem-solving. One of the larger and most respected departments at VCU is its Department of Psychology, a department built on research and focused on the community, offering a bachelor's and four doctoral programs in psychology.
VCU was founded in 1838 as the medical division of nearby Hampden-Sydney College. By 1854 it had become an independent medical college, and still enjoys a strong reputation for its medical center. Today, VCU offers over 170 degree programs through its 13 departments and schools, and is considered a leading urban research university.
Virginia Commonwealth University Accreditation Details
The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has fully accredited Virginia Commonwealth University to confer bachelor's, master's, doctoral and first professional degrees. In addition, VCU's programs in clinical and counseling psychology have been accredited by the American Psychological Association.
Virginia Commonwealth University Application Requirements
Admissions requirements may vary from one semester or academic year to the next, so interested students are advised to check with VCU's admissions office or web site before submitting applications. That said, here are some general facts and tips for preparing your application to VCU:
- The final deadline for freshman applicants planning to begin their studies in the fall semester is January 15. For undergraduate transfer applicants, the recommended deadline for most programs is March 15.
- Undergraduate students must apply online using VCU's electronic application.
- Prospective undergraduate students should submit all required application materials by December 1 to receive full consideration for scholarships.
- Freshman applicants will need to submit high school transcripts, SAT and/or ACT scores, an essay and at least one letter of recommendation. A minimum of 20 completed high school units is required for admission.
- For transfer admissions, priority consideration is given to students who have completed at least 30 credits of college work. Transfer applicants should have a GPA of at least 2.5 for all coursework attempted at their previous institution. Those under the age of 22, and those who have completed fewer than 30 credits of college coursework, will need to submit SAT or ACT scores in addition to college transcripts.
- Along with the electronic graduate application, graduate degree candidates will need to submit a personal statement, three reference letters and official transcripts from every college attended.
- VCU's department of psychology also requires graduate candidates to submit GRE scores. A department interview may also be requested.
- Graduate programs in the department of psychology require, at minimum, 18 semester hours in undergraduate psychology coursework.
- The department of psychology begins screening applications as early as January 1, and begins making offers of admission at the beginning of April.
Tuition and Financial Aid
For the 2016-2017 academic year, full-time undergraduate tuition at VCU is $13,170 for in-state students and $32,327 for out-of-state students. For students living on campus, room and board costs approximately $9,919.
Students who apply for the fall semester are eligible for a range of scholarships, awarded based upon academic achievement. Leadership experience, artistic talent and community service may also be considered. The scholarships are renewable each year, provided that the student maintains full-time enrollment and a GPA of at least 3.3. The majority of these scholarships go to freshman applicants, with a limited number awarded to transfer students coming from Virginia community colleges.
Undergraduate scholarships include the Presidential Scholarship, covering full tuition plus room and board for four years. The average high school GPA for Presidential Scholarship recipients is 4.66. A variety of other, smaller awards offered by VCU may cover tuition and fees or provide room and board allowances.
Undergraduate applicants are also encouraged to fill out the FAFSA to be considered for federal student aid including loans, grants and on-campus work study.
For residents of Virginia, full-time graduate study at VCU costs $12,779 as of 2016. Tuition for non-resident graduate students is $24,627.
Each year, VCU awards a limited number of fellowships and graduate assistantships to master's and doctoral students. These may cover tuition and fees for a specified number of credits, and may also provide a living stipend. Some psychology doctoral students receive funding for their community clinic placements during their fourth year of study. On-campus employment opportunities for graduate students provide another possible source of financing, and allow students to work around their class schedules more easily. Finally, grad students may choose to apply for need-based aid such as loans.
Psychology and Counseling Degree Programs at Virginia Commonwealth University
Two of the distinguishing features at the heart of VCU's Department of Psychology are collaborative research and community impact. The department is organized by research specialty, so professors can readily collaborate with one another – regardless of whether they are members of different programs. In fact, psychology research at VCU frequently spans across programs and even departments. Not only that, faculty collaboration with students is also common. Thanks in part to this research-based structure, the VCU Department of Psychology is widely esteemed as one of the best in the nation for health, behavioral and preventative psychology.
The end goal of much of the psychology research that takes place at VCU is intervention in and betterment of the local community first, and then society as a whole. The Department of Psychology espouses the scientist-practitioner model – a model that guides psychologists to conduct research toward a practical benefit, while employing that research to help them better treat their patients. Recent research projects have included substance abuse, tobacco use and violence prevention programs for youth and adults in the Richmond area.
Learning and leadership opportunities for undergraduate students in the department of psychology include the Psi Chi honors society and the Black Psychology Student Association. Advanced graduate students learn hands-on while helping the community by working with faculty supervisors to provide interventions and counseling at Richmond's Center for Psychological Services and Development.
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Students in the undergraduate psychology program can choose to complete either the standard curriculum or select one of four concentrations: life science, applied psychology, urban psychology or the pre-graduate school concentration. Students in the standard curriculum track take electives in a broader range of topics, and are required to take at least one class in development, physiological, social and applied psychology. All students must complete an intro to psychology class and a statistical applications class, and at least 30 credits total in psychology.
Graduate students in the Department of Psychology pursue a Doctor of Philosophy of degree in one of four areas of study: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, health psychology and general psychology. The general psychology track has two possible concentrations: developmental psychology or social psychology. Virginia Commonwealth University awards candidates a master's degree as they progress toward the doctoral degree, but the Department of Psychology only offers admission to students who intend to complete the Ph.D.