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Common Questions About Internships

Here you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions our students ask about psychology internships.

What is a psychology internship?

A psychology internship is a course, PSY 4940 “Internship in Psychology,” designed to integrate practical experience in the workplace with academic theory. A psychology internship:

  • Enables you to participate in a psychological setting in a “hands-on” capacity by working in that setting.
  • Allows you to apply learned concepts and methods while under the direction of faculty and on-site supervisors.
  • Allows you to explore career options or obtain career-related professional work experience before graduating.

Why is a psychology internship helpful?

A psychology internship provides “experiential learning” — fleshing out and extending beyond classroom theory and knowledge. In some cases, an internship may even be paid.

Other benefits include:

  • Serving the community.
  • Invaluable experience for today’s job market.
  • A boost if you’re interested in applying for graduate school.
  • Increased confidence in professional interactions.
  • Academic credit and fulfilling psychology course requirements.

When am I eligible for a psychology internship?

You may participate in the internship program as a junior or senior Psychology major, after completing at least one quarter (12 credits) as a matriculated SPU student. However, internships are designed to be an advanced experience that builds on course preparation in psychology. For example:

  • If you seek a placement working with the mentally ill, you should have successfully completed PSY 4460 “Abnormal Behavior.”
  • If you seek placement in a social service agency, SOC 4310 “Foundations for Social Service” and SOC 4380 “Social Service Organization” are highly recommended.

What are the criteria for an internship?

  • An internship setting and the activities you perform must be psychological in nature.
  • Your work must be overseen by an on-site supervisor who has successfully completed graduate training in a relevant psychological field.
  • You must meet with your on-site supervisor at least 30 minutes per week.
  • Your supervisor must agree to provide ongoing formative evaluations and a formal final evaluation of your work.
  • The site must provide at least five hours of experiential learning per week.

What kinds of psychology internships are available?

There are countless types of internships in psychology. They can be related to counseling or social services, human resource programs in organizations, psychological interventions in educational settings, evaluation research programs, and so on.

Pick up the current list of internship sites from Dr. Marcia Webb, director of internships, or find a list at the bottom of the Learning Contract page. If you do not find one that fits your interests, the Center for Career and Calling and the School of Psychology, Family, and Community will work with you to find one that does.

What if I am already working?

You may be able to turn your present position into a psychology internship experience. Make an appointment with Dr. Marcia Webb, director of internships. Please note, though, that you may not receive credit retroactively for work already completed.

Are internship sites competitive?

You may or may not be competing with other students to obtain a position in any particular site. A career counselor can assist you in putting together a résumé and preparing you for a professional interview.

How many credits may I earn in an internship?

You may earn 1–5 credits of psychology internship per quarter. Academic expectations and number of on-site hours vary with the number of credits taken. However, the minimum hours at any internship site are five hours per week.

  • 5 hours a week = 1–2 credits
  • 7.5 hours a week = 3 credits
  • 10 hours a week = 4 credits
  • 12.5 hours a week = 5 credits
Kara Bazzi

Kara Bazzi’s Story

“As an undergraduate at the University of Washington, I decided to embark on a mission trip to Jerusalem to work in a rehabilitation center for children. As a pre-medicine student, I was expecting the trip to draw me toward the children’s physical ailments, but instead it clarified my passion for psychology.”

Orlando Sanchez

Orlando Sánchez Montes’ Story

“While neither of my parents received a formal education, throughout my childhood they both emphasized the importance of learning and education.”

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