Online Psychology Degrees in Virginia

Psychology offers students a variety of challenging and rewarding career options, from counseling patients to developing research-based treatment for mental illness. From an employment perspective, it’s a growing field, with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projecting 14% growth nationwide through 2026. Virginia’s projected growth in clinical, counseling, and school psychologist positions looks even stronger, at 21.5% through 2026. Accredited online psychology degrees in Virginia allow students to explore psychology specialties and careers. Many fields require students to complete at least a master’s degree, while a psychology PhD program in Virginia leads to state licensing in clinical psychology. In addition to numerous educational research centers, Virginia hosts many federal agencies that provide internship and fellowship opportunities, access to the latest research in the field, and job placement opportunities.

Mental Health Initiatives in Virginia

Mental health officials in Virginia are battling an opioid epidemic, which Governor Terry McAuliffe declared a public health emergency in November 2016. Death from opiate overdoses increased 77% from 2011 to 2016. The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Development Services launched a campaign to help residents recognize the signs of addiction and how to dispose of prescription medications safely. The department’s REVIVE! program offers education and training for medical practitioners, first responders, and the public on how to respond to overdose emergencies. The state serves about 6,300 patients through its psychiatric hospital network, while more than 306,000 clients seek services from community clinics and boards. With hospital costs rising, the state launched an initiative to serve more patients through community-based programs. The department operates 40 community services boards helping Virginia residents with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or substance abuse and addiction disorders.

How do I Become a Psychologist in Virginia?

Earning an online psychology degree in Virginia is the first step to becoming a licensed mental health practitioner. Licensed psychologists not only complete rigorous educational demands but also demonstrate their knowledge and skills through supervised internships and a comprehensive professional exam. The Virginia Board of Psychologists governs the licensing of new practitioners in the state and enforces legal and ethical requirements.

Choose the Path That’s Right for you: A career in psychology ultimately begins with a bachelor’s degree, but students seeking licensure must prepare for at least eight years of study to complete a psychology PhD program in Virginia. Many jobs demand at least a master’s degree, which allows for advanced, specialized study. Online programs accredited by reputable regional or national accrediting agencies offer hands-on training opportunities working with licensed counselors and psychologists.

Earn Your Degree: Online psychology degrees from Virginia colleges and universities allow students to complete their education while taking care of work and family commitments. To earn a graduate degree in psychology, applications must take the Graduate Record Exam and provide a personal statement on their career aspirations and specialty. Students can help their applications stand out by recruiting faculty recommendations and being active in student psychology associations. Volunteering with behavioral health agencies provides hands-on experience and demonstrates your commitment to the field. Many doctoral programs take a minimum of four years to complete.

Earn Your License: After completing an online psychology degree, prospective psychologists work in the field under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. Residency programs provide opportunities to evaluate patients, develop treatment plans, and conduct therapy sessions. Students prepare for the Examination in Professional Psychological Practice, a comprehensive exam composed of 225 questions. Applicants apply to the Virginia Board of Psychology to take the exam, typically after completing postgraduate residency requirements.

Psychology Licensing in Virginia

Virginia’s mental health professionals complete educational and supervised practice hours in order to evaluate and treat patients. While a doctoral degree provides the minimum education for a licensed psychologist, many counseling careers only require a master’s degree, including marriage therapists and clinical social workers. Initial licensure lasts for one year. License renewal requires completion of at least 14 hours of continuing education annually. The following chart explains the different careers licensed practitioners in each area may pursue.

Licensed Psychologist

Prerequisites: Applicants must have a doctorate in psychology from an accredited university, complete supervised practicum and internship experiences, and pass the Examination of Psychology Professional Practice.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Clinical Psychologist
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
  • School Psychologist
  • Child Psychologist
  • Forensic Psychologist

Total Fees: $200


Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW)

Prerequisites: Virginia applicants must complete a master’s degree in social work with advanced coursework in clinical areas and 600 hours of hands-on, supervised work experience. Must complete 3,000 hours of post-master’s work under a supervising licensed provider and pass the Association of Social Work Boards Examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Medical Case Manager

Total Fees: $165


Marriage & Family Therapist (MFT)

Prerequisites: Applicants must complete master’s degree from a regionally accredited school in counseling or related area approved by Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs or Council on Accreditation for Marriage and Family Therapy Education. Additionally, applicants must complete a supervised residency and pass the Examination in Marital and Family Therapy.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Marriage Counselor
  • Relationship Therapist
  • Family Therapist

Total Fees: $240


LMHC (Licensed Mental Health Counselor)

Prerequisites: Complete a master’s degree in counseling or related area from an accredited university. The curriculum must include a supervised internship of at least 600 hours with 240 hours of client contact. Applicants complete a supervised residency at least two years in length and pass the National Clinical Mental Health Counselors Examination.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental Health Counselor
  • Addiction Counselor
  • Substance Abuse Counselor

Total Fees: $240


National Certified Counselor (NCC)

Prerequisites: The National Board of Certified Counselors offers voluntary certification to licensed mental health providers. Applicants must have completed a master’s degree in counseling or a related subject, complete postgraduate counseling supervision, 3,000 hours of postgraduate counseling work, adhere to the NBCC Code of Ethics, and pass either the National Counselor Examination for Licensure and Certification or the National Clinical Mental Health Counseling Examinations.

Careers Available With This License:

  • Mental Health Counselor
  • School Counselor
  • Addiction Counselor

Total Fees: Cost varies

Psychology Internships and Fellowships in Virginia

The Virginia Board of Psychology and accrediting agencies require accredited programs to offer hands-on learning experiences. Internships are positions where students work under the supervision of a licensed psychologist. These opportunities typically last about one year; a stipend may or may not be provided to help cover a student’s living expenses. Fellowships may involve a work component or an honorary financial award to help defray costs for travel or research projects. Applicants must show experience in volunteer work or complete an interview with a selection board.

  • Southwest Virginia Psychology Doctoral Internship Consortium: The Southwest Virginia Psychology Doctoral Internship Consortium provides training in essential psychology skills. The consortium includes Stone Mountain Health Services and Radford University Student Counseling Services. Stone Mountain offers mental health services in rural Southwest Virginia through 11 clinics. Radford University serves students and employees of the school and consults with the surrounding community.
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School Clinical Psychology Internship: Located in Norfolk, Eastern Virginia Medical School’s Clinical Psychology Internship allows doctoral students to gain experience in clinical practice and research activities. The internship lasts one year, with rotations available in inpatient and outpatient care, eating disorders, geriatric integrated care psychology, and child, adolescent, or adult neuropsychology.
  • University of Virginia Postdoctoral Fellowships in Medical Psychology: The University of Virginia at Charlottesville offers postdoctoral fellowships in medical psychology through the School of Medicine. Fellowships specialize in behavioral psychology, forensic psychology, and neuropsychology. Applicants must have completed a doctorate in clinical psychology and a predoctoral internship. Fellows may work at the Behavioral Medicine Center in Charlottesville or Western State Hospital in Staunton.

Psychology Careers in Virginia

Virginia anticipates about 90 new job openings each year in the areas of clinical, counseling, and school psychology, with an overall career growth rate of 21.5% projected through 2026. Clinical psychologists may treat patients from all demographics and age groups or specialize in a particular age group or disorder. Forensic psychology offers the highest salary potential, and Virginia hosts numerous local, state, and federal agencies seeking this specialty. Forensic psychologists assist law enforcement agencies or the judicial system in criminal and civil cases. These practitioners may evaluate defendants claiming a mental illness in their defense or develop treatment and rehabilitation plans for youthful offenders.

How Much do Psychologists Make in Virginia?

From forensic psychologists working with federal law enforcement agencies to clinical psychologists treating patients in private practice, Virginia offers psychology graduates several careers where they can earn a good salary. The average mean wage in the state is $84,130, compared to the national mean salary of $80,640. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the Staunton-Waynesboro metropolitan area offers the highest annual mean wage in the nation at $114,940 for clinical, counseling, and school psychologists.

 EmploymentHourly Mean WageAnnual Mean Wage
Virginia2,340$40.45$84,130
United States122,310$38.77$80,640

Source: BLS

Mental Health Service Providers in Virginia

To become a licensed psychologist in Virginia, graduates must complete up to three years of supervised clinical practice. Mental health centers and providers offer these internship and residency opportunities, allowing students to gain valuable experience and mentoring relationships with psychology veterans. Many of the health centers work with diverse populations, helping graduates learn how to assist patients struggling with a variety of issues. Health centers also provide employment opportunities once students complete their licensing requirements.

  • Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services: The Virginia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services operates medical centers, psychiatric hospitals serving children and geriatric patients, and a center for behavioral rehabilitation. Virginia provides community-based mental health services through its network of 40 Community Services Boards, which provides initial patient evaluation, referral, and outpatient continuing care.
  • Stone Mountain Health Services: Stone Mountain Health Services operates a network of 11 rural health clinics in Southwest Virginia. The clinics provide mental health services through psychiatric nurse practitioners, licensed psychologists, and social workers. The organization’s behavioral health program garnered recognition from the Virginia Rural Health Association in 2015 for “Best Practices in Rural Health Award.”
  • Behavioral Health Services of Virginia: Behavioral Health Services of Virginia provides community-based mental health services for at-risk youth up to age 20. Services consist of crisis stabilization, in-home care, behavior management, individual and family counseling, and anger management. The agency serves Spotsylvania and Glen Allen.
  • Hampton VA Medical Center: Hampton VA Medical Center provides specialized mental health services to U.S. veterans. Mental health services include treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, emotional and relationship problems, self-harming behaviors, stress due to medical problems or pain, and vocational issues. The facility also operates outreach programs for homeless veterans.
  • Centra Mental Health Services: Centra Mental Health Services in Lynchburg provides inpatient behavioral and mental health care for adults, children, and geriatric patients. The agency serves clients with developmental disorders and autism through the specialized clinic, and addiction and recovery services through the Pathways Treatment Center.

Mental Health Research Centers in Virginia

Virginia universities and state and federal agencies continue to evaluate the cause of mental illness and developmental disabilities through comprehensive research projects. Many of these schools focus on veterans mental health concerns or forensic psychology. With the nation’s capital close by, public policy research helps connect scientists with lawmakers to develop interventions in areas such as opioid addiction.

  • Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center: Hunter Holmes McGuire VA Medical Center, located in Richmond, operates four research studies related to mental health, including posttraumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, post-deployment mental health, military service and alcohol preference, and relationship deployment experiences. The center works with researchers to identify best practices that help inform public policy decisions.
  • University of Virginia School of Medicine: The University of Virginia’s School of Medicine operates research centers in public health sciences, including the Center for Addiction and Prevention Research and Mental Health Policy Research Program. The Center for Addiction and Prevention Research studies populations vulnerable to substance abuse, such as military personnel and residents of rural Appalachia. The study seeks effective interventions to fight the opioid epidemic. The Mental Health Policy Research Program provides opportunities for collaboration between the psychiatric, health science, and law departments.
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, offers laboratory research in areas of addiction and neuroscience. Clinical research includes studies in mood and anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse. The Mood Disorders Institute launched in 1992 and has completed more than 50 clinical trials involving mood and anxiety disorders and women’s mental health issues.

Professional Organizations for Mental Health Professionals

Professional associations provide student and practicing psychologists opportunities to learn from others in their field and build networks to call on for consultations and referrals. Many organizations offer access to job listings. Recognition programs provide learning opportunities and a chance to stand out from others in the field. Virginia’s Board of Psychology requires licensed psychologists to complete at least 14 hours of continuing education each year, and these professional associations provide access to ongoing training opportunities, often at reduced rates.

  • Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists: The Virginia Academy of Clinical Psychologists develops ethical standards and coordinates ongoing educational opportunities for clinical psychologists across the state. Members enjoy networking at local events throughout the state and a twice-annual conference. Regional affiliates include the Northern Virginia Clinical Psychologists, the Richmond Academy of Clinical Psychologists, and the Tidewater Academy of Clinical Psychologists. Students may join at a discounted rate.
  • Virginia Association for Psychological Science: The Virginia Association for Psychological Science encourages the practice of psychology as an interdisciplinary and applied science. The association provides opportunities for members to share the latest information on advancement in research and treatment. Students receive free membership if enrolled in undergraduate or graduate programs.
  • Virginia Academy of School Psychologists: The Virginia Academy of School Psychologists provides professional networking opportunities and a chance for members to share best practices in the field. A job board helps school psychologists find openings and internships. Regional workshops and bi-annual state conferences provide opportunities for continuing education and professional recognition. Students may join at reduced fees.

Scholarships for Online Psychology Programs in Virginia

Hayes E. Willis Scholarship

Awarded by The Community Foundation, the Hayes E. Willis Memorial Scholarship Program honors Dr. Willis as a teacher and physician. Applicants must be African American students graduating from a public high school in Portsmouth or Richmond, Virginia. The award considers financial need, community service, and school participation. Students must be planning to pursue a career in science, medicine, or healthcare.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 2
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must have at least a B average and an SAT score of 1100. The scholarship committee requests a written essay.


Special Agent Stephen Palmer Shaw Scholarship

The Virginia Beach chapter of the National Alliance of the Mentally Ill offers this scholarship to graduating seniors of Virginia Beach City Public Schools. The award honors Special Agent Stephen Palmer Shaw who died during a tactical training assignment in 2013. Students must demonstrate a passion for helping others achieve mental wellness.

  • Amount Offered: $2,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: April 1
  • Eligibility Requirements: Complete the application, submit transcripts, and write a 500-word essay.


John Neasmith Dickinson Award

The Dickinson Award supports research projects for senior undergraduate students in psychology at the University of Richmond. Students must apply during their junior year. A Richmond College student, Dickinson died in 1976. His friends and family established the award to honor his memory and recognize students with a passion for psychological research. The department presents two awards each year.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applicants must submit senior research proposals during their junior year.


Pierluigi Antonio Menna Scholarship in Psychology

Undergraduate students majoring in psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University may apply for this scholarship. The application requires a 500-word essay on how the scholarship will benefit the student’s career goals.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: February 28
  • Eligibility Requirements: Minimum 3.0 GPA.


Elizabeth A. Fries Scholarship in Psychology

Dr. Elizabeth A. Fries, who passed away in 2005, spent much of her research career developing methods to reduce cancer-causing behavior and promoting good health practices. She taught at Virginia Commonwealth University and served as co-director of cancer control at the VCU Massey Cancer Center. Female doctoral students at VCU may apply for the award.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: February 28
  • Eligibility Requirements: Application packets should include a curriculum vitae detailing research, teaching, and service activities, and a 500-word personal statement explaining how funds will be used.


Melvin V. Lubman Scholarship

Melvin V. Lubman taught industrial psychology at Virginia Commonwealth University, working to improve highway and transportation safety. Undergraduate students majoring in psychology may apply for the memorial scholarship. Applicants should exhibit high academic achievement and be employed full- or part-time while attending college. Recipients may renew the scholarship, provided they remain in good academic standing.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: February 15
  • Eligibility Requirements: Applications must contain a 500-word essay and a letter of recommendation from a faculty member outside the department of psychology. Students must be employed full- or part-time while enrolled in college.


Kathleen and Holton List Merit Scholarship

Psychology majors entering Virginia Commonwealth University as freshmen may apply for this memorial award established by alumnae Dr. Margaret L. Duvall. Students may renew the scholarship for three additional years, provided they make satisfactory academic progress.

  • Amount Offered: Varies
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Open to incoming freshmen majoring in psychology.


Candice M. Ruff Memorial Scholarship

Third- and fourth-year undergraduate psychology students at the University of Virginia may apply for the Candice M. Ruff Memorial Scholarship. The award honors the late Ruff, who graduated from the school in 1996 with a double major in psychology and Spanish. Applicants must demonstrate community service, contribution to the university, and Christian leadership.

  • Amount Offered: $10,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 23
  • Eligibility Requirements: Students must have at least a 3.0 GPA and be majoring in psychology, Spanish, or religious studies. The application includes several discussion questions related to spiritual development, Christian leadership, and service to the community.


Jerry Homzie Memorial Scholarship

The department of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville offers the $1,000 Jerry Homzie Memorial Scholarship. The non-renewable award is one of several scholarship funds administered by the school’s alumni association.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: TBA
  • Eligibility Requirements: Must be an undergraduate studying psychology at the University of Virginia


Virginia School Counselor Association Scholarship

The Virginia School Counselor Association invites graduating high school seniors to apply for this annual scholarship. The committee evaluates 500-word essays on school counselors who have impacted the student’s academic or emotional development. The counselor must be certified and a member of the association for the essay to be considered.

  • Amount Offered: $1,000
  • Scholarship Deadline: March 17
  • Eligibility Requirements: Minimum 3.0 GPA. Subject of student essay must be a member of the association.

Accreditation for Online Psychology Programs in Virginia

Schools often hold two types of accreditation: institutional accreditation and specialized program accreditation. Institutional accreditation agencies evaluate the overall quality of degree programs offered, ensuring adequate facilities and a rigorous curriculum. Granted by national or regional associations, institutional accreditation can help ensure that students do not lose credits when transferring between colleges. The Southern Association of Schools and Colleges accredits general academic psychology programs in Virginia.

In addition to national and regional accreditation, many career preparation programs seek specialized accreditation from industry organizations. The American Psychological Association (APA) evaluates doctorate programs in clinical, counseling, and school psychology as well as predoctoral internships and postdoctoral residency programs. Master’s in psychology online Virginia programs may earn accreditation from organizations such as the National Association of School Psychologists or recognized counseling organizations, including the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Program Database of Online Psychology Programs in Virginia

Whether obtaining a bachelor’s or graduate degree, prospective students should pursue schools that offer opportunities for hands-on learning through internships, volunteering, or mentoring. Accredited online psychology degrees Virginia are included in the following database to help students find the school that best suits their career goals.