Internships: Information for Interested Psychology Majors

As a psychology major, you can participate in an internship to gain professional experience by taking one of three available Field Placement Courses:

  • Psychology Field Placement (PSYC 3900)
  • Field Placement in Childhood Studies (PSYC 3904)
  • Gerontology Internship (GERO3900)
  • NOTE: Beyond enrolling in a Field Placement Course, an alternative way to obtain an internship is to participate in the Washington Internship Program. See the last section of this website below for more information.

Enrolling in one of these courses involves you participating in a  placement in the community for at least  120 hours throughout the semester. In exchange, you gain valuable pre-professional experience participating in the activities of the agency or institution and learning from professionals working in the field. You also are encouraged to regularly and mindfully apply what you have learned in your other psychology/childhood studies/gerontology courses and clarify your educational and professional goals. Prior students regularly rate their field placement as among the most valuable classes they had within their undergraduate training (in psychology, childhood studies, and/or gerontology) , so psychology majors should consider adding a field placement to your undergraduate curriculum, especially if you are considering a career in mental health or human services. Gerontology minors are required to take GERO 3900 or PSYC 3900 with an aging placement site.

The internships are a 4-credit course, the course instructor serves as the student’s academic supervisor who is responsible for guiding the educational aspect of the experience, which, at a minimum, includes supplementing the on-site experience with relevant readings and substantial reflection.

Click here for more information. 


Currently, three Psychology faculty members regularly supervise most field placements:

  • Dr. Connie Tang specializes in placements related to children (
  • Dr. David Burdick specializes in placements related to older adults (gerontology) (
  • Dr. Jennifer Lyke supervises a large class with students placed in a variety of settings, especially those related to mental health (
  • Contact Dr. Kaite Yang if you are interested in a field placement related to human resources or industrial/organizational psychology (

A variety of professional settings are available as options for students to work in for their internship, including mental health facilities, nursing homes, substance abuse treatment facilities, schools, hospitals, centers for youth and families, domestic violence shelters, and many others, with the goal that they will have contact with patients or clients of the agency as well as learning about how those agencies and institutions function and fit into the larger community. For childhood studies, students work at a setting that serves children and/or adolescents.

The nature of student activities and on-site supervision vary depending on the site. Ideally, students should have responsibilities that are clearly related to psychology/childhood studies/gerontology and that someone with a bachelor’s degree might be hired to perform for the organization. Possible activities include, but are not limited to, assessing and teaching clients, applying treatment programs, providing training, participating in workshops, collecting or analyzing data, visiting clients’ homes, developing educational materials, conducting literature searches, observing or assisting with therapy/teaching, writing case notes, and providing limited clerical assistance. Menial tasks, such as clean-up, clerical work, and custodial caregiving must be kept to a minimum. Students must be supervised regularly on site by someone with appropriate training or substantial experience in the field.

Drs. Burdick, Tang, and Lyke regularly supervise internships, but you can complete an internship as an “independent study” with any Psychology professor who is willing to supervise you (click here for Guidelines on How to Participate in an Internship via an Independent Study). Click Here to view steps required for signing up for placements.

Psychology/Childhood Studies Field Placements and Gerontology Internships are designed for students nearing the end of their degree or minor program of studies. Students who enroll in the course must be juniors or seniors. The process of finding and completing a field placement generally takes two semesters, so you should plan ahead and carefully follow the instructions of the sponsoring faculty member.

Visit and follow the steps outlined. These include:

1. Completing the application 

2. Meeting with the Internship Coordinator, Elyse Matthews

3. Updating your cover letter and resume 

4. Contacting potential sites

5. Interviewing and accepting a position 

6. Providing Elyse Matthews the following information so she can obtain an affiliation agreement with the site:

   A. Name, Department, Email and Phone Number of the person who will supervise you in the internship.

   B. Name and Title of the person at the agency authorized to sign the affiliation agreement. 

7. Obtaining Permission of Instructor (POI) to register for the course. 

8.  Complete any necessary training or paperworkrequired by the site

Many sites require that you submit other documentation (e.g., fingerprints, background checks, tuberculosis tests), complete special training, or attend orientation programs before you can start. Make sure you allow sufficient time to complete these requirements.

During the Semester You Are Enrolled in a Field Placement Course, you must:

Complete 120 hours at your site, which works out to approximately 10 hours/week over the course of the semester. Keep in mind you must have your total hours completed by the last week of the semester to receive a passing grade.

Attend class meetings as scheduled. Drs. Lyke and Tang’s courses are structured as a hybrid, meeting once every few weeks so students can share reflections on their experiences and we can discuss psychological/childhood issues as they are applied in the field. Depending on the size of the class, we may break up into smaller groups of 8-10 that meet on alternate weeks to make sure there is time to focus sufficiently on each student’s experience. Dr. Burdick’s students communicate online in Blackboard and must reflect and comment on fellow interns’ reflections on a weekly basis. When 10 or more students are enrolled, they are split into groups.

Complete assignments. The primary assignments for Drs. Lyke and Tang’s classes are readings, activity reports, and written reflection papers. Dr. Burdick also requires a brief review of the scholarly literature related to the placement site or clients. Specific assignments for each course and professor are described in more detail in the syllabus. They are designed to facilitate integration of your academic experience with the learning occurring on site.

You must receive a satisfactory evaluation from your site supervisor. Given that the bulk of your time will be spent in the field, your site supervisor’s evaluation carries disproportionate weight in calculating your course grade. Field placement supervisors will discuss the specific criteria in more detail in their class, but in general, reliable attendance, a positive attitude, and willingness to learn contribute to positive evaluations by supervisors.

As an alternative to taking a PSYC/GERO Field Placement Course, you can obtain internship experience through the Washington Internship Program. This program has many internship options that may be of interest to psychology students. Generally, students spend an entire semester living and working in Washington, D.C. to complete an internship. Students that successfully complete this program earn 16 credits.

For more information, interested students should visit the Washington Internship Program Website and contact Dr. Michael Rodriguez (