Research training is an ongoing integral part of the counseling psychology graduate program at VCU, and all students will receive excellent training in scientific and scholarly skills.
In the first year of graduate study, students take four core psychology courses, which expose them to theory, content and methodology of psychology as a science. To further develop their skills as scientists, students enroll in and participate in a research methods course during their first year and are encouraged to be involved in research throughout their graduate programs. In the research course, students are introduced to the basics of and process of conducting and disseminating research in counseling psychology with the goal of initiating a thesis proposal. Students also work with their advisers and on research teams as they contribute toward publication and get their theses underway.
Two research projects are required prior to graduation: one leading to the master’s thesis and another leading to the doctoral dissertation. Students are required to work with a member of the psychology faculty who will act as the student's supervisor for master’s or doctoral research. In addition, students are encouraged to conduct research in collaboration with other faculty members, who themselves are conducting research aimed at scholarly publication. Students are expected to participate with their advisers on research teams on an ongoing basis from the moment they arrive. We aim to help every student publish, at a minimum, one article or chapter by the time he or she graduates, as well as present research at national conferences. We hope that whether the student works primarily as a faculty member or in an applied job after graduation, the student will continue to think and act scientifically.
The counseling program faculty members believe that seeking, administering and completing grants involve critical skills for the 21st-century psychologist. Whether a student aspires to a research or practice setting post-Ph.D., the likelihood will be high that the student must be appropriately entrepreneurial. At the present time, several core counseling faculty members have active grants for research (mostly), service-delivery or training. The variety of types of grant-funded projects provides students with many faculty models for dealing with grants — including seeking grant support, administering the grants and building on established grants. The Department of Psychology offers a course in grant writing in which graduate students often enroll. Stemming from this course, many of our students have submitted grant applications.