Graduate FAQ


Application Process

Would you please send me an application and information packet about your program?

Our program information is on our website. Once you get there click on Prospective Graduate Students. You can also submit an on-line application at this site. We no longer send out hard copies of material.

Does the Department of Psychology have a separate application form in addition to the one that the University requires?


Can an application fee be waived?

It is recognized that application fees can become prohibitively expensive and can be waived in special circumstances. If you are interested in applying for a fee waiver, please see  NOTE:  Fee waivers may be requested beginning on September 1 and must be requested no less than one week before the program application deadline of December 1 at 5 p.m. for the December 1 application deadline.

What should I say in my personal statement?

Describe why you want to go to graduate school and what you would do once you are here. Express your excitement about science, and about your plans and ideas on how to become great scientists and citizens of the Department. Explain to the selection committee why you think our Department would be the best place to do your graduate studies. 

What are Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and what should I say in my diversity statement?

What is the Department's deadline for the application?

December 1

How many letters of recommendation do you require?

The Psychology Department requires three (3) letters of recommendation.

Are GRE scores required for admission to the Psychology graduate program at UVA?

No. Starting with the applications for Fall 2021 admissions, the UVA Psychology PhD Programs do not require the general or the subject GRE scores. WE WILL NOT BE COLLECTING ANY INFORMATION RELATED TO GRE EXAM SCORES ON THE APPLICATION. PLEASE DO NOT SUBMIT GRE SCORES TO UVA FOR OUR PROGRAM.

Can I call the Graduate School to inquire about the status of my application?

No, please do not call the Graduate School or the Department for an update of the admissions process. We will not be able to tell you anything until after February 15.

If my application is not complete by the time the Graduate Committee starts the review process, will my application not be considered?

Yes, your application will be considered even if it is not complete. If the committee wants to accept you, then you will receive a call or email alerting you to any materials that are missing.

I applied last year and was denied admission. I will be applying again this year and want to use some of the same materials from my earlier application, is that possible?

Yes, we keep applications for 2 years. If you applied within the last 2 years, just send a letter with your application stating that you are reapplying and would like to use certain documents (tell us what they are) from your previous application.



What is the first step I need to do in order to apply to your graduate program?

The first thing you need to do is think about what you want to study during graduate school or-to put it more precisely-what would you like to be an expert on. There are seven areas of specializations in our PhD Program (1. Clinical, 2. Cognitive, 3. Community, 4. Developmental, 5. Quantitative, 6. Sensory Neuroscience and Behavior, and 7. Social). The selection process runs separately in each area. Please note that all of our programs are research-intensive. If you are interested in a counseling career, our Department might not be the best fit. 
Once you have decided on an area of specialization, the next task is to find a few faculty members you might like to work with. Browse through our faculty pages and find faculty whose research interests you, as compatible interests between you and your future faculty mentor are an important factor in the selection process. Our Department web site offers information on our faculty, and we strongly encourage you to reach out to them prior to application. Contacting the faculty prior to the application indicates your interest and will make you stand out in the applicant pool. In addition, you may get more information on the lab itself, find out about projects that may not be posted on the website, and meet your future colleagues beforehand. This is also an excellent opportunity to find out if the lab plans to accept students that year, if they are not, contacting the faculty beforehand (for free) will save you the application fee. 

When you email a faculty member, briefly introduce yourself and state that you are interested in applying to the lab of the faculty you are writing to. Offer your CV, ask for more details about the lab and current projects, and ask for a chance to talk to the faculty about your application and necessary materials. Having said that, if you do not receive a detailed response, don't be discouraged: some of our programs receive hundreds of applicants each year, and they may not be able to have the time to respond to all pre-application queries.   
When all of this is done, you will be ready to write a convincing personal statement. The faculty themselves may even give you a few tips on writing, but overall explain why you want to go to graduate school and why you think our Department would be a good fit for your interests and future plans. 


Do I have to be a psychology major in order to be accepted into your program?

No, you do not have to have a psychology background in order to apply. However, we will want to know WHY you are applying to Psychology and how your background in other disciplines may enhance your graduate studies in psychology.

What are the requirements for admission to your program?

Application fee
3 letters of recommendation
Unofficial transcripts from previous schools

There are no particular Psychology course requirements. Having prior research experince in fields related to the program you are applying to will enhance your application.

Do you have a spring admission?

No, we only accept in the fall.



What is the average GPA for admission?

We do not have a minimum GPA requirement or cut-off for admission. 

I will be in the UVA area in a few weeks and would like to stop by Gilmer Hall to talk to someone about admissions. Can you tell me if someone will be available?

Our faculty would prefer not to meet with students that do not have an application in for admission but will gladly talk to you over the phone or via email.

UVA offers admission as well as historical tours. If interested, please contact our Tour Guide Service at 434-924-3239. 

I applied last year and want to know why my application was denied.

Your application was evaluated along with a great deal of applications from other potential graduate candidates. The admissions committee considers each application and they are then rank ordered according to the type and quality of previous research experience, the quality and merit of the letters of recommendation, and  the suitability of interests with faculty members in a specific area of psychology in our department.  The top-ranking students are then selected for an interview, and then a small number from this group are offered admission. Because we offer financial support for all 5 years of study, we can admit only a limited number of students each year. We do not provide written feedback to applicants due to the sheer volume of applications we receive, but if you are denied one year and wish to reapply in the next cycle, we encourage you to reach out to the faculty in the area you indicated in your application for pointers on how to improve your application materials for the next cycle.

I am an International Student and have been studying in the U.S.; do I still need to take the TOEFL test?

If your first language is not English, you will be required to submit a TOEFL test score. However, if you have or will have received an undergraduate degree from an institution where English is the primary language of instruction, you do not need to submit the TOEFL.

Required score = 600

Required score = 600 paper-based; 250 computer-based.
Take it no later than January.
Admitted students must take VA English Language Proficiency Exam upon arrival.


How many students are accepted each year?

The admission is competitive. We receive close to 500 applications, and about half of these applications target the clinical program. At the end, we accept less than 5% of total applicant pool. As explained above, the admission process considers the fit of the applicant and their research interests with our Department, and is in no way a reflection of applicant’s competencies and qualifications. 

Who should I ask to write letters of recommendation on my behalf?

You should ask the people that know you, your coursework, and/or lab work well to write letters of recommendation on your behalf. These usually include a past advisor, lecturer, etc. The Graduate Committee relies heavily on the letters of recommendation, so take these seriously. Keep in mind that the best letters of recommendation are specific and can offer a glimpse into the applicant’s personality. Make sure to help your recommenders write the letters by providing them with materials about you (CVs, personal statements, etc.). 

Do you require the MAT test to be taken for admission?

No, we do not require the MAT test.

If I have no background in Psychology, what can I do to strengthen my application?

You do not have to have a background in Psychology in order to apply. Our graduate students have a variety of majors, from literature to physics, but they all have one thing in common: strong interest in the science of the brain and the mind. You could take some Psychology courses, but look for other ways to showcase your interest in the science of psychology, such as internships, lab experience, etc.

Can a person be accepted into one area and do research with another faculty member in a different area?

The collaborations across areas are very common. Students may have co-advisors across different areas, but it is expected that student would complete the graduation requirements of the program that they were originally admitted. 

Can a student be accepted into your program as part-time?

No, we do not have a part-time program.



What areas of specialization does your program offer?

We have seven areas of specialization: clinical, cognitive, community, developmental, systems and behavioral neuroscience, quantitative, and social. 

What is the difference between the Department of Psychology's clinical program and the Curry School of Education's clinical program?

The Department of Psychology's clinical program is geared more toward research and teaching, but you can also be licensed to practice.

The Curry School of Education's clinical program is geared more toward practice.

So it depends on what you want to be able to do with your PhD as to which program you would apply.

Do you offer a forensic psychology program or degree?

The Psychology Department at the University of Virginia does not have:

a formal program in law and psychology
a clinical forensic program
a PhD/JD program
With that stated, we do accept students who wish to pursue research in law and psychology through one of the generic areas, usually community, social, or clinical. Our goal is to train methodologically sophisticated psychologists who will focus on research issues of direct relevance to the law. 

What will I be able to do with my Ph.D. degree once I graduate?

Most of our graduates obtain employment in an academic or research setting. Others obtain employment in the private sector. Some have become:

Faculty members at a College or University doing teaching and/or research

Postdocs at various universities/colleges or at the National Institutes of Mental Health (before going into an academic position)
Clinical supervisors at federal or private facilities
Legislative and Federal Affairs Officers at the American Psychological Association
Private Practice
Biostatisticians and Data Analysts

Research scientist in biopharmaceutical industry
Health Research Analysts and Medical Liaisons

Health Consultants
Scientific Consultants
And many, many more.

Our Department promotes individual career development plans for our admitted students and our faculty provides guidance for the post-graduation job applications. UVA Career Center also provides career advising. Students may also take advantage of UVA's PhD Plus program.



What is the total number of current graduate students in your department?

We range from 60-80 full-time PhD students.

Do you offer a sports psychology program?

No, please visit the Curry School of Education.

I am interested in doing a certain type of research; can you tell me if any of your faculty is doing this type of research?

Please visit our website and click on faculty areas of interest. If you see the research you are interested in doing, please contact the faculty member via email.

Does the teaching/internship requirements have to be done at UVA? I currently work at another institution.

Our program is full-time and means that teaching and research related to your thesis must be done under the mentorship of our Department faculty. Graduate projects sometimes involve collaborations with other institutions, but even in those cases, the student’s host institution is UVA.

Will hours from a previously completed Master's degree transfer in as an area of concentration?

Perhaps. The applicant must first be accepted to the program and then request that the master's credit be applied toward the PhD degree.

Does UVA have a joint Ph.D./J.D. program?

UVA does not have a joint Ph.D./J.D. program. The Psychology Department and Law School do have close ties and there are several courses you can take in each that would get you credit in the other but there is no provision for a joint degree.

Can I receive a terminal Master's degree from your program?

When you apply to our program you are applying for the Ph.D. degree, but you may pick up the Master's degree along the way. We have a separate +1 Master’s program that is open to UVA undergraduates exclusively. You can find info on this website:

Does your department have an Internship program in which clinical graduate students can do their practicum?

No, the Department of Psychology does not have an Internship Program. There are two internship programs at UVA:

University Counseling Center (434-924-3751)

Division of Behavioral Medicine and Psychiatry via the web

If I were accepted into your program, would any of my prior courses be transferable?

If you are accepted to UVA, some of your coursework may be transferable for a PhD, but not for getting your Masters.

To get a Masters you need 30 hours of graded courses TAKEN AT UVA and to get a PhD you need 38 hours of graded courses but some can be taken elsewhere (both degrees have other course-specific requirements and milestones). Note that while some PhD students apply to receive their Masters on the way to receiving their PhD, it is not necessary--you may earn your PhD without having your Masters. 



Does your department offer any courses via the Internet?

No - please contact the School of Continuing and Professional Studies. 

Can I take classes in your department if I am not a graduate student?

Non-full time students may take courses through the Psychology Department by contacting the School of Continuing and Professional Studies on the web, or by calling 1-800-346-3882.

May I receive a listing of your graduate courses?

A graduate course is a 5000-level and above. You can obtain a listing of our graduate courses on our Graduate Student information page.

Descriptions of our graduate courses can be also be found via the web at the University Registrar website.

What are the codes that are listed after the course?

S - offered fall and spring semesters
Y - offered at least once every academic year (fall or spring semester)
E - offered when the fall semester occurs in an even year (e.g., 2002-2003)
O - offered when the fall semester occurs in an odd year (e.g., 2001-2002)
SI - offered upon sufficient student interest
IR - offered irregularly
SS - offered during summer session

I need a couple more courses to be licensed in Virginia. Can you tell me whom I should contact?

Please visit the Curry School of Education website.



Do your graduate students receive any financial assistance from your department?

All students admitted in the program are offered a financial support package, consisting of $30,600 ($24,480 academic year and $6,120 summer) stipend for the year plus full tuition and individual health insurance coverage for 5 years pending satisfactory progress in the program which will be paid to you by a combination of teaching assistantships, research assistantships and/or fellowship funds.  Fellowships for graduate study are also available from various government agencies, such as the National Institute of Mental Health and National Science Foundation, as well as from private foundations and associations. Several psychology graduate students have received these awards in recent years.

How much tuition will I pay if I am accepted into your program?

Your tuition is paid in full your first year and pending funding and satisfactory progress in the program, will be paid in full for at least the next four years.