FAQ for Prospective Students

Are there any resources for financial aid/graduate assistantship available through the school?

Although VCU does not provide graduate assistantships to our Department, we do share with our students (through a student listserv) information about assistantships that become available in other units when we become aware of them. The graduate school may offer some options for graduate assistantship applications for placements across the university: https://graduate.vcu.edu/

We have some small scholarships we collect applications for each fall, those usually are around $2,000 each.

Some students who commit to working for state vocational rehabilitation agencies in the future are eligible for traineeships funded by the Rehabilitation Services Administration; those students agree to an employment "payback" commitment of two years of qualifying employment for every full-time-equivalent year of funding. 

Many of our students use financial aid, such as student loans; information about that is available through https://sfs.vcu.edu/
The majority of our students do work outside of school and  it is really common for our study body to be balancing school and other responsibilities. Over time, we often become aware of opportunities to apply for part-time work as a mental health tech or other supportive positions. Sometimes these jobs come with tuition reimbursement and can be placements for your practicum and internship.

What areas/neighborhoods in Richmond do VCU students primarily live in?

VCU students, including students in our department, live in many places around Richmond, around the country, and sometimes even around the world.  If you're interested in finding off-campus housing, you may find this VCU resource helpful: https://offcampus.vcu.edu/

What are the average class sizes? What role does peer collaboration play in the program?

Average class sizes vary.  For example, practicum and internship classes are quite small, to allow for both small group supervision and individual attention (total students are 12 or less).  Class sizes for other courses vary depending on how many students want to enroll in the on-campus section versus the online section of a course.  But generally, the class size will be around 20 - 35 students.

Peer collaboration is both required for group projects and counseling practice assigned in a class, as well as option. Many students work together through our chapter of the American Rehabilitation Counseling Association (ARCA) and plan events for our student body. 

What are the demographics of the current student body of the program? What are the demographics of the staff?

Our student body is the most diverse in the College of Health Professions.  We have students from a variety of cultural backgrounds, national origins, sexual orientations, and gender identities, races, ages, religions, disability statuses, socio-economic statuses, etc. Similarly, the faculty members include a mix of individuals who differ in each of those areas.

The College of Health Professions and VCU offer many supports for students with diverse identities.

What type of internships do those on the Mental Health Counseling track partake in, and how are those internships assigned?

More information about the concentrations in our major is available through our Concentrations page.

We have a wide array of clinical placements in Richmond and beyond. We value strong collaborative relationships with sites and have a list of around 50 sites in which our students are placed ranging from vocational rehabilitation, substance use, inpatient, outpatient, crisis stabilization, private practice, etc. working with a range of ages from adolescents to older adults. We add new sites each year, however new sites must be vetted by the clinical coordinator to make sure they meet accreditation requirements

Assignment of practicum and internship placements involves collaboration between the student, the Clinical Coordinator, and the fieldwork sites. This process should begin a full year prior to the semester you enroll in your practicum.

Are there any research projects being conducted by the faculty that students have opportunities to participate in?

Absolutely!  Faculty have ongoing research opportunities depending on their current external funding or other endeavors. If you are interested in participating in research, we always suggest reaching out to faculty who have similar interests to you and let them know you would like to get involved. It is possible they may have opportunities that include research, community engagement, or other things! For example, within the past year some students and Dr. Reid have presented together for national conferences and are working together to publish a journal article. Other faculty have also presented and published with students and some faculty may have funding for research support depending on their current research. 

How much does the program cost?  Where can I find tuition and fees information?

Tuition and fees can vary from year to year,  so the best cost estimates you can usually get are for the current year.  The tuition and fees calculator is available through Estimate your tuition and fees - Student Financial Services - Virginia Commonwealth University

Be sure to select the Graduate and Professional Studies link, and from there select "Graduate Master's - MCV campus".  You can then select out-of-state residency, and either full-time or part-time status.  Full-time students enroll for two Fall semesters, two Spring semesters, and two Summer semesters.  Examples of plans of study for such full-time students, as well as for students taking three or four years to complete the program, are available through Recommended Schedules for Fall Admit Students

Who is a good candidate for the accelerated program?

We typically recommend the accelerated option for people who are working part-time or less during the program. Because of the workload of 4 classes per semester plus practicum and internship in the second year, we recommend that people working full-time outside of school do not plan on the accelerated timeline. Practicum and internship placements require anywhere from 12-25 hours per week at a clinical site on top of classes and coursework.

The majority of our students do work outside of school so it is really common for our study body to be balancing school and other responsibilities.

We have students who start with the accelerated program, then either get a job or decide it is too much with the job they have and they slow down. Or the opposite - they start part-time and speed up because their situation changes. We are flexible and help you navigate your schedule and any changes that need to happen. You will have an advisor that will help you.

The soonest graduation date for students that enter in the Fall is August of the next year. Accelerated students complete six semesters, including summers.

How flexible is the course schedule?

The courses listed are only offered in the semester where you see them (eg. fall courses are only offered in fall). Also, there are some courses that are lock step so you have to take theories before techniques, techniques before practicum, and practicum before internship.

Example course schedules can be found here: Recommended Schedules for Fall Admit Students

Your adviser will assist you in creating a course of study that is right for you!

Will this degree count for licensure in another state outside of Virginia?

Distance learning students as well as in-state students may be interested in eventually becoming licensed in other states besides Virginia. The Department cannot guarantee that the current curriculum meets the individual licensure standards of every state.

Students who may seek professional licensure in other states will work together with their advisers to determine requirements so that students will be informed of additional coursework they may need to be eligible for licensure in their preferred state.  A full list of state reciprocity can be found on the provost’s website: Licensure disclosures — Office of the Provost 

Will I be able to find a well-paying job in the area?

Our graduates are qualified for a wide range of jobs in vocational rehabilitation, mental health, private rehabilitation, private industry, outpatient and inpatient, substance use treatment, independent living and health care settings, among others, and such jobs are commonly available in the Richmond area. There currently is an increase in the demand for alumni of our program. Personnel projections for state agencies, as well as for other employers of our graduates, show that a large percentage of the workforce is approaching retirement age. That is good news — not only for a steady supply of new job openings, but also for the opportunities for advancement afforded to alumni interested in future administrative positions. Pay is comparable to other human services fields, but ranges widely. We have a robust group of alumni in Richmond, Virginia, and throughout the country and these networks are important for the recruitment and retention of our graduates in counseling positions!