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At VCU, you’re ready to start your career

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About 5 ways VCU is uncommon: In this series, we explore how VCU students learn, grow and challenge the status quo at one of the nation’s premier urban universities.

At Virginia Commonwealth University, your work isn’t busywork. You will complete projects that matter — ones that give you real-world experience while making a difference. Projects like these can help you start your career.

A photo of a student in scrubs reading a prescription label in a pharmacy next to the text "Experiential learning leads to job offers"
Last year, more than 1 in 4 graduating VCU students who reported participating in an experiential learning opportunity received a job offer directly as a result of that experiential learning opportunity.

At VCU, every student has the chance to engage in hands-on experiential learning opportunities; for incoming students, these transformative experiences are guaranteed to be part of your VCU experience. The experiential learning offered through VCU REAL is built to help you connect the learning you’re getting in and out of the classroom with how that experience will serve you in your life and career.


Transformative experiences offered at VCU include:


Work-based learning icon

Work-based learning

  • Internship
  • Field experience
  • Practicum
  • Clinical placement
  • Cooperative education
Problem-based learning icon

Problem-based learning

  • Capstone
  • Research
  • Lab experience
  • Project-based learning
  • Independent study
  • Interprofessional collaboration
  • Entrepreneurship and innovation
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Engagement-based learning

  • Global learning experience
  • Service learning
  • Civic engagement
  • Leadership education
  • Living-Learning Communities

Take PharmaCart, for example. The collaborative effort with VCU Health to design a solution for hospitals to securely deliver medications to patients gave a team of students from arts, business, engineering, humanities and sciences and pharmacy valuable hands-on experience researching, developing, testing and marketing a product.

Three students gather around the Pharmacart, a cart with a medication in it.
A group of students from different fields created PharmaCart, an invention that could make it safer and more secure to distribute medicine in hospitals. (Tom Kojcsich, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Last spring, 64% of VCU students participated in at least one experiential learning activity.

Our students gain experience through internships, with a rising number of first-generation students participating in internships, which translates to success after graduation.

Our students have opportunities to work and hit the ground running professionally because they already have proven themselves to be responsible, open to learning and growing and able to work well with others. Employers who hire VCU students come back saying they want to hire more.

All of that makes a difference. Within six months of graduation, 78% of respondents from the Class of 2022 reported they were employed or continuing their education.

Top industries our graduates enter after graduation:

28% health care
15% education
6% government

At VCU, you’re not on your own in getting there; we’re here to help you prepare for the real world. Career Services will support you with networking, workshops, resume- and interview-prep and professional opportunities throughout your time at VCU as you explore your interests and gain experience to reach your career goals. Identity + Career support is available for students, including our Men of Color Initiative, which offers Black and Latino men at VCU a chance to build community.

The free Suit Yourself Closet is available so you can dress for success for job interviews, internships and career opportunities. Gain experience and support via our VCU Internship Funding Program, which awarded nearly $200,000 to support students during internships in 2022 alone. Our online Handshake platform is one of several ways to connect with employers and find job opportunities, and VCU Link is another resource to find mentors and alumni in your field of interest.

In addition, the Student Opportunity Center allows students to search for experiential learning activities ranging from courses to volunteer experiences to undergraduate research to study abroad. Education is global at VCU; our School of the Arts has a campus in Qatar.

A student wearing a VR headset engages in an experiential learning activity next to the text "$200K in internship funding (for students in 2022)"
VCU's Internship Funding Program awarded nearly $200,000 to support students during internships in 2022.

Many graduate and health professional students at universities across the country gain research experience, but at VCU, you don’t have to wait until graduate school to gain research experience that translates to real-world experience. The VCU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, part of the REAL program in the Office of the Provost, works with undergraduate students to engage in research projects led by outstanding faculty in laboratories, libraries, studios and classrooms throughout the university. Roughly 5,000 VCU undergraduate students participate in credit-bearing REAL research courses. About 45% of students in VCU’s Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program are students from underrepresented backgrounds, and 40% are first-generation college students.

And, as one of the nation’s top 50 public universities for research, the caliber of research you’re a part of is top-notch. Most graduate and health professional students engage in research, and 79% of graduate and health professional students in the Class of 2022 reported being employed or continuing their education within six months of graduation.

A student types on a laptop on top of a lab table next to a desktop showing a visualization of data, testing equipment and a microscope.
Students at VCU have opportunities to get involved in research and to learn from the faculty who are making discoveries in their fields. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

Undergraduate students pursuing careers in the health sciences can gain valuable paid experience to prepare for graduate health sciences professional school. The Initiative for Maximizing Student Development Scholars Program prioritizes research training, as early as freshman year, for undergraduate students from traditionally underrepresented groups in the biomedical sciences. The Summer Academic Enrichment Program and other health sciences pathway programs give you a taste of what pharmacy, physical therapy, dental or medical school will be like while you’re still an undergraduate.

If you’re an undergraduate looking toward grad school in your future, we’ve got you covered with accelerated bachelor’s-to-master’s programs available to save you time and money, and guaranteed admission to VCU’s dental school, medical school, pharmacy school, physical therapy and occupational therapy programs and other graduate programs through VCU’s Honors College.

Many VCU grads stick around, contributing to what makes Richmond the place to be. Seventy-two percent of May 2022 grads employed after graduation reported they were staying in Virginia. Of more than 218,000 living alumni, 68% live in Virginia, and 40% live in the Richmond metropolitan area. They’re here to connect with you as you join the ranks of notable VCU alumni and continue your journey as a graduate of VCU.

But to get there, you have to come here.