What Can You Expect?
Graduate study in the psychology department requires both diligence and motivation. Fully accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP), the counseling program is rigorous, both in its academic challenge and in its demand to prepare students to become competent professionals. Students become well-acquainted with both their faculty and peers. They are assigned a faculty advisor who provides assistance with course selection and career guidance. They work closely with faculty on research projects and during practicum training. At the same time, most students are quickly assimilated into the graduate student culture in the psychology department. This peer network increases the learning resources of the cohort group and adds to the social enjoyment of learning. Critical to the concept of peer learning, each year the program strives to enroll a mix of students with respect to ethnicity, background, age, and experience. To this end, the program actively encourages students of color or other diverse backgrounds to consider application to the program.
Full- or Part-Time Study
Efforts are made to offer courses so that individuals employed part- or full-time may pursue graduate study. A full-time load is three to four courses per semester and two courses during the summer. Students with significant outside commitments may enroll on a part-time basis. A typical part-time load is two courses per semester and one course during a summer session. Each year, the counseling programs enroll approximately 20 students, with each incoming class consisting of a mix of full- and part-time students.
Criteria for Admission into the Counseling Programs
Applicants must meet the admission requirements for the counseling program, which include:
- an undergraduate degree from an accredited university;
- an overall grade point average of at least 3.00;
- an undergraduate GPA of 3.00 (B) from an accredited university;
- 15 credits in the social/behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology, human development, etc.);
- a course in introductory psychology; and
- a recent statistics course.
International student applicants can find additional requirements outlined by the Graduate School.
- The Graduate School provides additional information and resources which can be helpful for international student applicants.
Applicants lacking the appropriate background will still be considered for the program, but may have to take additional courses to ensure adequate preparation for graduate coursework in counseling.
Applicants should provide the following by February 15** for priority consideration:
- Valparaiso University Graduate Application and CMHC Supplemental Application (PDF);
- Official transcript reflecting an undergraduate degree from an accredited university;
- Two letters of recommendation;
- A reflective essay detailing applicants’ professional goals (specific essay instructions can be found in the application);
- Application fee: $30 for U.S. citizens, $50 for international students.
The top applicants will be invited to participate in an interview in early spring (usually late February through early April). Admission is typically offered only for the fall semester. Preference is given to applicants who plan to complete the program through full-time coursework, although part-time student applications will be considered.
**Review of applications begin in February and continues until program enrollment is complete. Prospective students interested in applying to the counseling program after Feb. 15 should contact the Graduate School regarding any remaining openings in the incoming class cohort.
Prospective students can also request an application packet from the Graduate School through by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Ranked among the Top 25 Most Affordable Accredited Graduate Degree Programs in Counseling and Psychology in the Midwest in 2014, prospective students will be pleased to discover the affordable tuition rate at Valparaiso University, especially in comparison to other CACREP-accredited counseling programs. For a private institution of recognized national quality, tuition and fees are highly competitive. Current tuition and fee information is available through the Graduate School.
- Funding Options
- Financial aid is available through direct and indirect federal student loans for students taking six credits or more during fall and spring semesters. For most individuals, these loans will cover the entire cost of the program, including tuition and living expenses.
- Scholarships: Students in the counseling programs are eligible for merit-based scholarships (up to $3,000) for the first year in the program. Applicants with a GPA of 3.1 or higher will automatically be considered for this scholarship upon applying to the counseling program. Additional scholarship and financial assistance information is available through the Graduate School.
- Assistantships: A limited number of funded assistantship positions are available, including teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and program assistantships. Students who have been admitted to the program can apply for these positions in late spring, prior to beginning the program. Typically, about one-third of the incoming cohort is selected for an assistantship position.
- Transfer Credit: Students may transfer up to nine credits of approved graduate coursework into the program.
- Employment: In addition to additional on-campus job opportunities, graduate students can usually find employment in social service and mental health agencies in the Northwest Indiana region. Some students elect to work full-time and undertake their studies on a part-time basis. Typical salaries range from $7–10/hr. and usually require an undergraduate degree in psychology, social work, or related human services fields. Depending on the specific position, credit toward fulfillment of the required practicum and internship courses may be counted, assuming the position involves some combination of individual and group counseling. Outside of mental health work, other options are available.
- Post-Graduate Loan Repayment Programs: In order to address the increasing need for qualified licensed mental health professionals working with underserved populations, a number of federal, state, and local loan repayment/loan forgiveness programs were created to recruit counselors into jobs following graduation in exchange for loan repayment. Some examples include the National Health Service Corps and the Indiana Mental Health and Addiction Services Loan Repayment Assistance Program.
Dual Degree Programs
Valparaiso University offers two dual degree options through collaboration between Valpo’s Graduate and Law Schools. Each option provides a different level of psychological competency relevant to legal practice. Because a limited amount of coursework for each degree may apply toward the other, the total number of credits required for the dual degree is substantially less than that required for both degrees individually. In addition, dual degree students receive tuition remission for all psychology courses taken during the academic year, resulting in significant time and cost savings. In this competitive legal job market, now is the time to distinguish yourself with multidisciplinary training and expertise. For more information about these unique interdisciplinary programs, see:
Criteria for Admission into the Dual Law & Psychology/Counseling Programs
Applicants must be admitted to both the Graduate School and the Law School. Admission to each program is separate. For a graduate application, click here. For a Valpo Law School application, click here. Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate School, which include:
- Undergraduate degree from an accredited university;
- TOEFL of 575 or 230 computer version or higher for non-native English speakers;
- An overall grade point average of 3.0;
- J.D./M.A. Psychology program: at least nine credits of prior coursework in psychology in order to enter the program;
- J.D./M.A. CMHC program: at least 15 credits of graduate or undergraduate study (equivalent of a minor) with a minimum 3.0 grade point average in the social and behavioral sciences (psychology, sociology, social work, human development, or other closely related fields). Prior coursework must include introductory psychology and statistics.
- Valparaiso University Graduate Application;
- Official transcripts of all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework;
- Two letters of recommendation (Letters may be forwarded from the Valpo Law School);
- A reflective essay relating your professional goals to law and psychology; and
- An application fee of $20.
Because the number of positions in both J.D./M.A. programs is limited, applications received by March 1 will be given priority for fall semester admission. Furthermore, presenting the minimum credentials as listed above does not guarantee admission into the program. Applications received after March 1 will be considered depending on enrollment availability.
The J.D./M.A. Psychology and J.D./CMHC dual degree programs are designated Premier Dual Degree Programs at Valparaiso University, which means additional financial benefits. This includes paying only Law School tuition during the fall and spring semester for all law and graduate courses while enrolled as a full-time law student. In other words, you receive complete tuition remission for psychology/counseling graduate courses taken during the academic year. Additional information about these financial benefits and eligibility requirements can be found here.