Along with leading the country in per-capita defense spending and being home to the CIA, the Defense Department, and dozens of other governmental agencies, Virginia has the fourth largest technology sector in the US, up-and-coming vineyards, and one of the best and most competitive public university system in the fifty states.
Not surprisingly, the Commonwealth of Virginia is a good place to study and practice psychology:
- It ranks as one of the top fifteen states for employment of psychologists, according to the latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- As of May 2015, there were 2,460 clinical, counseling, and school psychologists practicing professionally in Virginia, with an average annual salary of $77,570.
- The DC metropolitan area, which encompasses large parts of Northern Virginia, including Arlington and Alexandria, had the eighth largest concentration of psychologists employed, with 1,530 and an average annual income of $88,730.
- The metropolitan area with the highest average annual salary in the entire US — $114,480 — happens to be located in Virginia, the Staunton/Waynesboro area.
|Lynchburg, VA||Marriage and Family Therapists||40||$38,770|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||Psychologists, All Other||120||$95,970|
|Winchester, VA-WV||Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||50||$76,360|
|Lynchburg, VA||Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||80||$66,190|
|Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News, VA-NC||Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists||540||$85,340|
2019 Occupational Employment Statistics and 2018-28 Employment Projections, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS.gov.
There are ten psychology doctoral programs in Virginia that are approved by the National Register of Health Service Psychologists and fully accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA). Five programs have additional approval from the National Association of School Psychologists. Virginia also ranked eighth in the National Center for Education Statistics list of states with the most undergraduate degrees conferred in psychology during the 2011-2012 academic year, and ninth in terms of master’s degree in psychology, with 4,018 and 1,144 respectively.
Virginia psychology licensing requirements
As in the rest of the US, psychologists are licensed in Virginia by a state board. The Virginia Board of Psychology requires applicants to have a minimum of a doctoral degree from a program that is accredited regionally or by the APA to qualify for licensure. These program are required to meet certain standards. For example, the training must include three hours each of cognitive psychology, social psychology, the biological basis of behavior, quantitative data analysis, professional standards and ethics, psychological assessment, and research methodologies. And there are slight differences for school psychologists. So, it’s helpful for those aiming to practice psychology in the Commonwealth to receive their training from one of the psychology schools and colleges in Virginia. Additional licensing requirements are as follows:
- A doctoral degree in clinical, counseling, or school psychology from a regionally accredited school or a program approved by the APA.
- Completion of 3,000 hours of supervised professional experience, half of which (1,500 hours) can be in the form of a doctoral internship, the rest of which must be completed as part of a post-doctoral residency.
- Pass the Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP)
Professional psychologists in Virginia must renew their licenses annually. The primary requirement for renewal is 14 hours of continuing education, including 1.5 hours devoted to professional ethics. The Virginia Board of Psychology allows for relatively easy online licensure renewals.
Featured psychology schools in Virginia
The top five psychology schools in Virginia, according to the latest rankings from U.S. News & World Report, are listed below:
University of Virginia
Three US presidents — Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe — were on the original governing board of the UVA, back when it was established in the 1819. And it’s one of the only American universities officially designated as a World Heritage Site. UVA’s Department of Psychology is also one of the best in the country. Along with its undergraduate major in psychology, it offers seven areas of specialization for doctoral research and training: clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, community psychology, developmental psychology, quantitative psychology, sensory and systems neuroscience, and social psychology. The Curry School of Education at UVA also has a separate doctoral track for clinical and school psychology.
- Department: University of Virginia Department of Psychology and Curry School of Education
- Location: Charlottesville, Virginia
- Online options: UVA’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies has several degree programs, but psychology is not among them.
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Better known simply as Virginia Tech, or just Tech, the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is the Commonwealth’s preeminent research school, with seven major institutes for advances study. These include the Fralin Life Science Institute, the Institute for Critical Technology and Applied Science, and the Institute for Society, Culture, and Environment. The Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech has three state-of-the-art laboratories dedicated to undergraduate and graduate teaching and research, and offers doctoral concentrations in clinical science, developmental science, industrial/organizational psychology, and biological psychology. The university’s School of Education also offers a PhD in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in educational psychology.
- Department: Virginia Tech Department of Psychology and School of Education
- Location: Blacksburg, Virginia
- Online options: Virginia Tech does offer a number of online master’s degree and certificate programs, but not in the field of psychology.
Virginia Commonwealth University
VCU emerged in 1800s as a medical college, and remains a preeminent institution for research and training in healthcare and psychology. The school’s psychology department puts a strong emphasis on health psychology and behavioral medicine, and in prevention science, including community-, school- and family-focused interventions. Along with an undergraduate major in psychology, VCU has four basic tracks for doctoral training and research: clinical psychology, counseling psychology, health psychology, and a general psychology with sub-specialties in developmental and social psychology. The School of Education at VCU also has an educational psychology track for PhD students.
- Department: VCU Psychology Department and School of Education
- Location: Richmond, Virginia
- Online options: In addition to its campus-based programs, VCU offers online degrees in a number of fields related to psychology, including MS degrees in addiction studies, patient counseling, and professional counseling.
George Mason University
UVA and Virginia Tech rank second and third next to GMU in terms of sheer size. The Virginia university named for one of the lesser-known luminaries among the original founding fathers, is the largest public research institution of higher education in the Commonwealth. Housed in GMU’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, the Department of Psychology emphasizes a focus on the application of research to practical problem solving in families, schools, industry, and government. The school has five distinct tracks for doctoral students: applied developmental psychology; clinical psychology; cognitive and behavioral neuroscience; human factors/applied cognition; and industrial/organizational psychology. There are also master’s degree options, including school psychology, and an accelerated master’s in psychology, which confers a BA/BS and an MA on a five year schedule.
- Department: George Mason University Department of Psychology
- Location: Fairfax, Virginia
- Online options: In addition to its campus-based degree program, GMU has several psychology-related certificates available through online instruction, including graduate certificates in applied behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorder, and gerontology.
James Madison University
Named for the fourth President of the United States, and one of the better known founding fathers, JMU was a women’s college until 1966, when it became a full-service, coeducational public research university. JMU’s School of Psychology includes both BA and BS degree options for undergraduates; master’s degree programs in counseling psychology, school psychology, and psychological sciences; and doctorates in combined and integrated clinical psychology, counseling psychology, school psychology, and assessment and measurement.
- Department: James Madison University School of Psychology
- Location: Harrisonburg, Virginia
- Online options: JMU’s online degree offerings include graduate certificates in the psychology-related specializations of autism spectrum disorder, higher education assessment, and speech language pathology.