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Information for Prospective Students


Psychology at Virginia Tech

Psychology is one of eight academic departments comprising the College of Science, and one of the largest majors in the university. Our department offers students a broad and contemporary view of the field of psychology, with an emphasis placed on research and the methods by which it is carried out.

Switching Into or Adding the Major (updated on 1/17/19)

Please note that the Department of Psychology adheres to the 'senior rule,' which is stated in the Undergraduate Catalog as "Undergraduate students must be enrolled in their major(s) [and minor(s)] of choice prior to the beginning of their senior year, or by the time they have 30 semester hours to complete before their graduation."  This means that if you have already earned 90 credits in a major that requires 120, you may not add or switch into our major.

Major CHANGES are now processed through HokieSpa, three times per year (see Even though the major changes are approved online, you still must attend one of three New Majors Sessions (listed below), to learn about the major and have a faculty adviser assigned to you. Please fill out THIS BRIEF SURVEY at least 24 hours prior to the session you choose; also please print out a Degree Audit to bring to the session.

If you would like to add psychology as a second major, you need to attend one of the three New Majors Sessions (listed below), to learn about the major and fill out some brief paperwork. Please fill out THIS BRIEF SURVEY at least 24 hours prior to the session you choose; also please print out a Degree Audit to bring to the session.

Ordering and printing out a Degree Audit (DARS) through Hokie Spa. Please read this brief PDF file, ordering_dars.pdf ,  for instructions on ordering a DARS for psychology.  Slightly outdated instructions for ordering DARS are also available at . Please make sure your DARS printout has ALL SECTIONS OPEN so we can see all of your courses (click on the words Open All Sections, in blue font, at the top-left of your DARS).

There will be three New Majors Sessions, all taking place during the last week of January. Specific times and locations are as follows…

  • Monday, January 28,  8:30 – 9:45 am,  209 Williams
  • Wednesday, January 30,  10 – 11 am,  334 Williams
  • Thursday, January 31,  5:15 – 6:30 pm,  320 Williams


The Major

Complete information on the academic requirements for psychology majors can be found in the Handbook for Psychology Majors. The three courses that all majors must complete are Introductory Psychology, Psychology of Learning, and Principles of Psychology Research. All other requirements are based on a menu system, where the student is allowed to choose among several options. See the Undergraduate Psychology Course Catalog for brief descriptions of our undergraduate courses.

In addition to completing the course requirements, students are strongly encouraged to gain research experience in one of our labs. Many upperclassmen join research labs for one or more semesters, and earn course credit for their work. They gain invaluable practical experience that can give them an advantage in competing for graduate school openings or jobs. To read about the various research groups in our department, click on the Research / Labs link located on the left side of this page.

Careers in Psychology

In the first year after graduation, about 35% of our students attend graduate or professional schools. Many others work for a brief time, then return to school to obtain an advanced degree. Psychologists holding masters or doctoral degrees work in a wide variety of fields, such as:

  • Counseling
  • Research
  • Health care
  • Higher education
  • School or business administration

Psychology graduates who do not seek advanced degrees might begin a career in:

  • Social work
  • Teaching
  • Child care
  • Law enforcement
  • Business

Advice on Finding a Career

In a survey completed by the class of 2005, 25% of our psychology graduates wish they had learned more about career options sooner, and 27% wish they had learned about graduate schools earlier. It is never too early to start thinking about what you might want to do after college, and how your coursework and experiences in school will affect your options later.

While you are considering schools and possible majors, look for information about careers, and the support that the university or department offers through academic advising and career services centers. You can also find sound, easy-to-follow, practical advice in books such as The Psychology Major's Handbook, by Tara L. Kuther, and The Psychology Major : Career Options and Strategies for Success (3rd Edition) by Eric Landrum and Stephen F. Davis.

During your first several semesters of college, you might want to consider whether your career goals are relevant to multiple disciplines; perhaps a double-major, or an academic minor, would benefit you. As you get closer to graduation and more confident about career goals, it will help you greatly to find relevant work experience through internships, volunteer work, or research with faculty and graduate students. While in college, it is in your best interests to use all of the advising resources available. The Psychology Department at Virginia Tech has two undergraduate advisors, the psychology advising office (109 Williams Hall) and Kurt Hoffman, who are happy to answer any questions you have. In addition, you can consult the Virginia Tech Undergraduate Advising Office and Virginia Tech Career Services.