Individuals interested in pursuing a psychology career may want to explore education opportunities in Virginia. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 13.4% of Virginia's children ages 12-17 experienced major depression from 2013-17. Among Virginia's adults, 46.4% suffered from mental illness during those years. These numbers surpass the national rates in both categories and provide rationale for earning a psychology degree and starting a career in Virginia.
This page highlights the best colleges in Virginia for psychology, including education requirements and licensing criteria. Degree-seekers can also examine salary trends and resources for psychologists in the state.
Why Attend Psychology Colleges and Programs in Virginia?
By LearnPsychology.org Staff
The best colleges in Virginia for psychology offer learners a strong foundation. For instance, the state's unemployment rate (2.6%) remains lower than all neighboring states, including North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, and Maryland. Virginia's student loan default rate (9.8%) is also lower than the rate in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina.
Virginia sits high on multiple state rankings from the U.S. News & World Report. The state ranks seventh for education, eighth for fiscal stability, ninth for crime and corrections, ninth for opportunity, and 18th for healthcare and natural environment.
These figures and statistics indicate a safe and prosperous environment to learn and work as a psychologist, particularly since Virginia charges lower in-state tuition than nearby Pennsylvania.
What to Expect in a Virginia Psychology College Program
In 2018, Virginia colleges and universities conferred 5,669 psychology degrees across all levels. This high number of graduates indicates that Virginia colleges for psychology hold experience preparing learners for success.
For psychologist licenses, candidates need a master's or doctorate, depending on the credential. These programs often emphasize research and advanced concepts of development. Graduate students may also complete research projects, theses, dissertations, or fieldwork. Master's degrees for licensure take at least two years to complete. Doctorates that lead to licensure require a minimum of three years.
To prepare for graduate degrees, candidates should consider earning a four-year bachelor's in psychology, which includes major courses, electives, and general education requirements.
Any of these degrees may include specializations, which can influence licensure options. Candidates should check licensure requirements for their career goals and only choose programs that include a necessary focus.
What Courses Are Part of an Online Psychology Degree Program in Virginia?
Curriculum varies across Virginia colleges for psychology. Undergraduate students complete introductory classes while doctoral learners take more advanced courses. The following list highlights some common psychology courses in Virginia.
Introduction to Psychology
Students explore foundational concepts for psychological research and theory. Courses may address neurology and biology as influencing factors on behavior and also cover concepts such as memory, learning, and human development. Bachelor's programs at the best psychology schools in Virginia may require these courses as prerequisites for more advanced classes.
Courses examine how ethnicity and culture can shape behavior, beliefs, and thought processes. Degree-seekers learn to adapt counseling, therapy, and treatment measures to reflect these considerations. Departments may also guide learners on communicating in multicultural settings. Bachelor's and master's programs may include these courses.
Learners study how social settings impact an individual's behavior, thoughts, and speech patterns, and the influence a person can have on groups. Concepts like persuasion, attraction, motivation, and leadership may arise in coursework. These courses typically surface in bachelor's programs at colleges for psychology in Virginia.
Research in Psychology
Courses address all steps for psychological research, such as forming a hypothesis, evaluating sources, analyzing information, and producing results in papers and presentations. Degree-seekers may also study citation techniques and how variables impact experiments. Bachelor's, master's, and doctoral curricula may include these courses.
Theories of Personality
Candidates study historical theories on personality development and evolution throughout life and explore physiological and environmental influences on personality. Classes include current research and address self-value and motivation. Undergraduate and graduate programs may mandate these classes.
Education Requirements to Become a Psychologist in Virginia
Virginia offers three psychologist licenses: clinical, school, and applied. The clinical license calls for a clinical psychology doctorate that takes at least three years to complete and addresses topics in human development, bases of behavior, and assessment. Applicants must also complete an internship. This experience should be approved by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC), the American Psychological Association (APA), or the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB)/National Register of Health Service Psychologists.
Virginia offers three psychologist licenses: clinical, school, and applied.
For the school psychologist license, candidates must complete an internship, preferably approved by the APA, APPIC, or the National Association of School Psychologists. Candidates must also hold a master's in school psychology that requires at least 60 credits and two years of study. Master's coursework must address topics like problem-solving, statistics, and intervention.
The applied psychologist license requires a doctorate in industrial-organizational psychology that takes at least three years to complete. This degree must explore bases of behavior, research, data analysis, and psychological measurement. Applicants for this license do not need to complete an internship.
Virginia also offers similar credentials for marriage and family therapists, professional counselors, and substance abuse treatment practitioners.
Virginia Licensing for Psychologists
Psychologists earn licenses to prove they can deliver relevant and quality care to patients and clients. To ensure this capability, states may insist applicants earn degrees, take exams, and complete fieldwork. The following sections detail requirements for different Virginia psychologist licenses.
Why Get Licensed in Virginia?
To engage in private or independent practice for clinical, school, or applied psychology, candidates in Virginia must hold a license. These careers involve assessing and diagnosing psychological problems. Psychologists also create programs, provide counseling, and offer treatment for psychological concerns.
Volunteers and religious providers, such as rabbis and priests, do not fall under this restriction. Individuals with a school psychologists-limited license can work in public schools. For most advanced psychology practices, however, Virginia mandates a license.
Licensing Criteria for Virginia
The Board of Psychology from the Virginia Department of Health Professions manages licensure in the state. The licensure process varies by credential. Clinical and school psychologists must show evidence of 1,500 hours of supervised experience that is earned in 1-3 years. The applied psychologist license does not call for supervised experience.
Candidates for the clinical or school psychologist license must gain board acceptance for residency locations before beginning supervised experience. This fieldwork must include at least two supervised hours each week. Clinical psychologist applicants may complete at least part of these hours before earning their doctorates.
Applicants for all licenses must complete an application, pay a $200 fee, and acknowledge the state standards for psychology practice. Candidates must also submit a self-query from the National Practitioner Data Bank, which costs $4, and complete the Ethics Attestation form.
How to Get Licensed in Virginia
Candidates for psychologist licenses in Virginia should take ASPPB's Examination for Professional Practice in Psychology (EPPP). This multiple-choice test covers psychological concepts, such as diagnosis, human development, intervention, treatment, and bases of behavior. Test-takers complete 225 questions, but EPPP scores are based on only 175 responses. Applicants must complete the test within four hours and 15 minutes.
Candidates take the EPPP at Pearson VUE centers. ASPPB allows applicants four attempts to pass the EPPP per year. To pass, individuals need scores of 500 and 450 for independent and supervised practice, respectively.
Virginia must approve individuals to take this exam before registration. This approval is based on completion of other licensure criteria.
EPPP registration costs $600. Candidates also pay $88 to reserve a testing appointment. Test-takers must complete the exam within 90 days of paying fees.
License Renewal in Virginia
Psychologist licenses in Virginia remain valid for one year and expire on the last day of June. Renewal requires a minimum of 14 continuing education (CE) hours. As many as seven hours may roll over from the previous licensing period. Under certain circumstances, the board may also extend the renewal deadline or excuse individuals from a portion of CE hours.
Candidates must complete 1.5 CE hours in coursework related to legal or ethical matters. Six CE hours must include learning opportunities in live, interactive settings. Options for CE hours include workshops, courses, seminars, and publication of scholarly pieces.
Virginia Psychologist Salaries and Employment Trends
On average, psychologists in Virginia earned $97,200 in 2018. This salary reflects an increase of nearly $4,000 since 2016. National averages for these positions have also increased, with psychologists averaging $94,650 in 2016 and $95,610 in 2018.
Clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Virginia have experienced a recent decrease in average pay. In particular, these psychologists averaged nearly $4,000 less in 2018 ($80,380) than in 2016 ($84,130). Nationally, clinical, counseling, and school psychologists' average salaries increased from $78,690 in 2016 to $85,340 in 2018.
Virginia psychologists' average wages often surpass national expectations and averages from other states. For instance, West Virginia clinical, counseling, and school psychologists earned under $60,000, on average, in 2018, which is more than $20,000 lower than Virginia's 2018 average.
By 2026, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists in Virginia to grow by 18.2%. All psychologist positions in the state are projected to grow by 13.6%. Both of these projections are higher than expectations for the nation and neighboring states.
Historical Mean Wage for Psychologists
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists in Virginia
Psychologists, All Other in Virginia
Clinical, Counseling, and School Psychologists Nationally
Psychology Programs and Licensing in Virginia Frequently Asked Questions
Should I Get a BA or BS in Psychology?
The APA reports that bachelor of arts (BA) and bachelor of science (BS) programs often require similar coursework and may prepare learners for the same psychology careers. Learners should consider concentrations and fieldwork to determine the option that best aligns with their career goals.
What Is a Good Speciality for Psychology?
A good specialty reflects students' professional goals. For example, a military psychology focus prepares for helping veterans better than a school psychology concentration, while the school focus relates more to positions assisting K-12 students. When Virginia colleges for psychology offer specializations, candidates should choose the option that relates to their intended career.
Do I Need a Bachelor's in Psychology to Get a Master's in Psychology?
Each psychology master's program requires different admission elements. These components typically include a bachelor's, but the best colleges in Virginia for psychology may not specify a major. Acceptable degrees include counseling, communication, or history. Graduate departments may insist candidates with non-psychology degrees complete prerequisite coursework in the field before beginning graduate classes.
What Is the Difference Between a Psy.D. and a Ph.D. in Psychology?
According to the APA, a doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) in psychology prepares for careers in education and scholarly research by prioritizing methodology. A doctor of psychology (Psy.D.) emphasizes practical skills for psychology practice by connecting ideas to practical applications. Both doctorates prepare professionals for licensure.
Are Virginia Psychology Licenses Valid in Other States?
Some states, including Virginia, allow licensed applicants from other states to apply for licensure by endorsement. These processes may require additional steps to ensure applicants fulfill in-state requirements, such as specific exams or coursework. Candidates should consult the board where they wish to practice to see if a Virginia license can lead to local licensure.
Psychology Resources for Virginia
Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists VACP offers the Fall Symposium and Spring Convention where attendees can earn CE hours. Member benefits include consultation opportunities and reduced insurance rates. The website also provides resources on psychological disorders and local organizations that offer psychological services.
The Center for Ethical Practice This group delivers workshops, training, courses, and home-study opportunities on subjects such as retirement and ethics. These experiences may count for CE hours. Site viewers can also access publications on field concepts, such as confidentiality and ethics.
Virginia Academy of School Psychologists VASP provides information about local jobs and internships. The organization also hosts events, including seasonal conferences, regional workshops, and the Annual Children's Mental Health Symposium.
Georgetown Psychology This organization offers career opportunities at its three locations, including McLean, Virginia. Professionals can also browse resources on fears, anxiety, co-parenting, child development, and eating disorders.
The Chas Foundation The group's blog updates readers on advocacy efforts and events that promote mental health awareness, such as Reframe the Shame. The site also lists local resources for mental wellness and offers a directory of nearby providers.