If you are searching for a degree program and the idea of attending a large school with a deeply-rooted history is appealing, Virginia Commonwealth University may be the school for you. It was founded in 1838 as the medical school of Hampden-Sydney College, and in 1854 it became the Medical College of Virginia. In 1968 the school merged with Richmond Professional Institute to form Virginia Commonwealth University. The university has more than 24,000 undergraduate students. There are 13 schools and one department that award 226 degrees and certificates. The US News and World Reports ranks the school as #164 of National Universities. About half of the classes at Virginia Commonwealth University have between 20 and 49 students, and the student-to-faculty ratio is 19:1. VCU is classified as a research university which means that a significant amount of its budget is dedicated to research.

Virginia Commonwealth University Accreditation Details

The university is accredited by the following associations:

  • The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
  • Business programs at the school are accredited by the Association for the Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business.
  • Chemistry programs are accredited by the American Chemical Society.
  • The Doctoral Degree in Clinical Counseling is accredited by the APA.
  • The Social Work programs are accredited by CACSWE.
  • Teacher Education programs are accredited by NCATE.

Application Requirements

Virginia Commonwealth University utilizes a Common Application. If you are applying as a freshman, you will need to complete this application online and pay a $65 non-refundable application fee. The common application includes forms for you to request your official high school transcript as well. This should include a list of all courses you took as a senior, your grades, your class rank and your high school profile. You will also need to have your SAT or ACT grades submitted to VCU by whichever agency administered the test you took. If you are applying as a graduate student, you will complete the online common application that includes the application for in-state tuition. You will complete a personal statement and submit three letters of recommendation along with the transcripts from all colleges you attended and test scores like the GRE or GMAT. You may also be required to submit your resume if the department housing your degree program requests it. Your department may also ask for other supplemental materials.

Tuition and Financial Aid

AT VCU, in-state tuition for undergraduate programs is $187 a credit hour for 15 credits. There is also an activity fee of $45, a university fee of $922.50, a library fee of $30, a technology fee of $41.50 and a health fee of $103. On-campus housing averages $5,766 per year and the average meal plan is $3,820. Out-of-state students will pay approximately $31,463 in tuition per year. Most VCU students receive some financial aid; the average amount is $14,963.

At VCU, students are urged to complete a FAFSA form. This is the free application for federal financial assistance that awards grants, loans and/or your eligibility to participate in work-study programs. Virginia offers several state grants such as the Virginia Academic Competitiveness Grant, the SMART Grant for those in STEM programs, and TEACH for those in teacher education. These are merit-based awards. In addition, there are the Virginia grants that will assist people who have financial needs. Two of these are the Virginia Guaranteed Assistance Program and the Virginia Tuition Assistance Program. VCU has merit based institutional and departmental scholarships and grants too. Some of these are the Presidential Scholarship, the Provost Scholarship, the Dean’s Scholarship and the Henrico County Scholarship. They also have assistance for minority students, those in special programs or athletics and other extracurricular activities. Private individuals often fund scholarships as memorials or tributes. Service organizations such as the American legion or The International Lions Club offer scholarships for students with leadership potential or community spirit.

Finally, corporations sponsor scholarships for students studying programs in preparation for careers in certain industries of professions. These can be found by searching scholarships on the Internet. If your scholarships and grants do not pay your bill in total, you might consider a work-study job or taking out a student loan from a lending institution. Student loans carry a lower interest rate than other loans do, and an option that defers repayment until several months after graduation so that you have time to secure employment.

Related Resource: Top 20 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Political Science

Online Degrees Available

Virginia Commonwealth University has a number of degree programs that can be earned in a hybrid format or completely online. One of these, housed in the College of Humanities and Sciences, is the Master of Science in Sociology. The degree can also be earned in the traditional format on campus. The first track of the program is the thesis track which is intended for students who want a career in research or to go on to earn a doctoral degree. The other track, which can be earned on campus or online, is an applied track for those who want a clinical focus. Both the traditional and online programs cover the same curriculum. The Applied track is a 36-credit-hour program offered with no campus presence requirement. The core requisites common to both degree tracks are: Sociological Theory, Methods of Sociological Research, Application of methods of Sociological Research, Introduction to Social Statistics and an internship. The degree also includes up to 18 hours of electives.

Since VCU is a school in an urban arena, the focus of the program is on social problems found in urban areas, policy alternatives and building strategies for social change. The internship is the key to this degree track because it affords practical experience for those intending to establish themselves in clinical practice. Students in this track can complete up to six credits of independent study with the approval of the administration. One of the advantages to the online track, aside from the different outcome, is that students form, and engage in, a learning community. This teaches the skill of collaboration necessary in real world practice, where professionals often function as part of a healthcare team. Another emerging part of the innovative program at Virginia Commonwealth University is the focus on helping students develop an effective online presence.