Graduate Education Guidance

Graduate Education in Psychology

Becoming a professional psychologist requires graduate training leading to careers in research, academia, or clinical psychology.  Traditional research areas include Cognitive, Developmental, Quantitative, Sensory and Systems Neuroscience, and Social Psychology. Persons interested in these areas usually pursue a doctoral degree.  Applied areas include Clinical, Community, Industrial/Organizational, Counseling, Educational Psychology and School Psychology. Careers in these areas are usually possible at the master's or doctoral levels. Graduate programs in Counseling, Educational Psychology, and School Psychology may be offered in Education or Educational Psychology Departments instead of traditional Psychology Departments.

Graduate Program Resources

UVA Psychology Graduate Programs

Graduate Education Outside of Psychology

Psychology majors are not limited to graduate studies in psychology. Some majors use their background to pursue careers in Social Work and Education.  Other students go on to Medical School or Law School. Careful preparation will ensure the proper background.  Review the following helpful resources to learn more:


Letters of Recommendation

Regardless of whether you plan to get a job or go to graduate school following graduation, you probably will find that you need letters of recommendation. Because the majority of lower-level courses in the psychology program are large lecture courses, many students reach their fourth year and find they have not established close relationships with faculty members. No matter how good a student you are, a letter written by an instructor who can only discuss your in-class performance will not be as strong or convincing as a letter written by someone who knows you better. You must plan ahead! Some tips: Take your relationship with your major advisor seriously. Schedule an appointment outside class with an instructor whose class you really enjoy. Sign up for an independent research project. Sign up for smaller psychology classes  so you can begin building relationships with your professors.