Finding a solution to the internship crisis remains APAGS's top priority. Combined phase one and two match data indicate that 937 students did not match to an internship site this year, out of a total of 3,847 students who submitted match lists, and many more dropped out. In total, nearly 21 percent of students were not placed at an internship.
This is unacceptable. Every student who is required to complete an internship should have the opportunity to do so.
The effects of this crisis ripple across the field. Students are forced to delay graduation, resulting in increased debt and compromised mental and even physical health. Graduate programs struggle to prepare students for the internship match. Internship directors are inundated with hundreds of applications for a handful of positions. The system is broken.
APAGS is working on this issue at the national level. We continue to advocate within and outside APA for the development of new internship sites, increasing the accountability of graduate programs, and increasing federal funding of graduate and postdoctorate training. (Learn more about how APAGS is addressing the internship crisis.)
However, we need your help to fix the system. Here's what you can do:
1. Activate your department.
Graduate programs vary in the degree to which they support students who are applying for doctoral internships. As you begin the application process, ask yourself the following questions:
Is my department organizing meetings to support me through the internship processes?
Has my adviser set aside time to provide me with feedback on my application, site selections and essays?
Do I have contact information for alumni who have successfully completed the internship application process?
Does my department offer practice interviews?
If the answer to any of these questions is no, work with students in your department to advocate for better mentorship from your faculty. If your faculty is resistant, reach out to friends who are on internship and trusted mentors from outside your program.
2. Encourage the development of new internships.
Through your practicum and externship placements, you'll probably work at a variety of clinics. Many of these sites could host excellent internships as well, though their directors may not know how to develop or fund such positions. You can help. The Council of Chairs of Training Councils has created a "Psychology Internship Development Toolkit," (PDF, 1.24MB) available free. The kit provides practical tips for creating new internships. Give it to your supervisors and encourage them to develop their own internships or join with other sites to form a consortium.
3. Advocate for the Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) program.
GPE is the only federally funded program that supports training in psychology at the internship and postdoctoral level. During APA's 2011 Annual Convention in Washington, D.C., scores of graduate students and psychologists met with members of Congress to encourage them to support GPE, which funds many internships that bring mental health care to underserved populations. But you don't have to travel to Washington to support GPE. Go to the Graduate Psychology Education homepage to learn more. You can also sign up for action alerts and visit to organize meetings with your senator's or representative's local staff to discuss GPE.
4. Increase awareness.
Most psychologists outside of training are not aware of the gravity of the internship crisis. As someone who is personally affected by this crisis, you are uniquely positioned to speak on this issue. Get familiar with the issue and proposed solutions, perhaps by reading the November 2007 special issue of Training and Education in Professional Psychology, which focused on the internship crisis. As you meet with professionals during conferences, conventions and meetings, share your knowledge about the problem, its ramifications and potential long-term solutions. Encourage them to spread the word and make the resolution of this crisis a top priority for psychology.
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