What is the Psychology Practicum?

The Psychology Practicum is the name of the department's internship for undergraduate students. This is a course for which students receive academic credit while acquiring "hands-on" experience in psychology by working within a variety of community agencies, institutions, businesses, and industrial settings, typically located within 500 miles of Indiana. We have had students, however, complete internships in other countries or the other side of the US.

For internship status, students must formally apply to the Psychology Department Practicum Committee through the practicum coordinator, Dr. Bill Meil, at Meil@iup.edu. Applications usually takes place at the beginning of the semester prior to the one in which the student interns, but we have the following deadlines for applying for internships:

  • For spring internships, students must apply by October 1
  • For fall internships, students must apply by April 15
  • For summer internships, students must apply by February 1

For summer internships, if one is interested in locations outside of Indiana County, it is a very good idea to begin considering potential internships as early as the fall term. This allows more time to explore potential sites and determine their appropriateness for oneself.

How do I begin the application process, and what is the deadline for applying?

  • First, you should read the information provided here carefully.

  • Then, if seriously interested in and qualified to begin an internship for the following semester, you should complete the Undergraduate Practicum Application. Once completed, you must submit the application to Professor Meil by email.

  • Once your application is submitted, Professor Meil will contact you to set up a brief meeting.

    At the time of this initial, brief contact, the practicum coordinator can provide additional information and guidance related to continuing the application process.

    The practicum coordinator is familiar with the current sites and can help you in choosing a practicum site that should fit personal career and educational goals and abilities and provides a profitable and enjoyable experience. Other issues concern transportation to the site and whether the practicum fits your course schedule.

  • Next, you will need to make appointments for interviews. You will complete one interview with your Psychology academic advisor, and one interview will take place with a faculty member on the Practicum Committee.

Are psychology majors required to do an internship?

It depends! If you are completing the Applied Psychology Specialization, the practicum is a required part of the curriculum. Students completing the Psychological Science Specialization are not required to complete the practicum. Students do, however, benefit from practicum experience, both at personal and professional levels of development, regardless of which specialization they are pursuing. For more information on the two specializations, please refer to the checklist for the BA in Psychology.

Who is allowed to apply for intern status?

All students who meet the university criteria for acceptance as an intern are invited to apply for intern status. The student must have at least junior standing (60 credits), a QPA of 2.0 or better, and at least 12 credits in psychology when the internship begins. Only one practicum may be taken each semester, with a limit of 12 credits during the student's tenure at IUP.

How much time does the internship require?

  • Internships may be for 3, 6, 9, or 12 credits. There is no one-credit internship.

  • An intern is required to complete a minimum of 40 hours per one academic credit. Fall and spring internships begin the first day of classes and end the last day of classes of each term, respectively; a period of 14 weeks. Summer internships usually begin two weeks before the beginning of the first summer session and end the last day of classes of the second summer session, a period of 12 weeks that overlaps both summer sessions.

    • 3 credits = 120 hours
    • 6 credits = 240 hours
    • 9 credits = 360 hours
    • 12 credits = 480 hours

Do I need to know where I want to intern before I apply for intern status?

  • No, but you need to have an idea of two to three sites that you might be interested in (these will be chosen in consultation with the practicum coordinator during your meeting after you initially submit your application). If there is not an existing site at which you want to intern, you may identify a new site. However, that option includes an additional application procedure and takes longer to complete. If there is a site on our list of existing sites that you are interested in, you will follow the typical two-step process, including (1) acceptance of the student as an intern and (2) approval of the intern by the site. It is common for students to seek acceptance as an intern before knowing for certain where they would like to intern.

  • Some deviation from the 12-week requirement for summer internships has been permitted on an individual basis, depending upon the nature of the site and the rationale for doing so.

When should the student contact an agency?

  • Immediately following acceptance as an intern, the student should make appointments with two or three sites of interest for interviews. The student cannot present himself as a psychology intern until after the Psychology Department Practicum Committee has accepted the student.

  • An exception to the partial procedure outlined above may occur for students who are interested in completing an internship outside the local area or locating alternative sites. They will need to conduct their own search and make inquiries concerning availability of potential sites as early as possible, even prior to official acceptance as an intern.

What internship sites are currently available?

The practicum coordinator maintains two files: (1) local sites near Indiana, and (2) sites throughout Pennsylvania where psychology students have interned previously. Sites include the Community Guidance Center, mental hospitals, crisis intervention centers, continuing care communities, public schools, and residential homes for adolescents, Head Start centers, and many others.

Are there internships that will pay me while I am interning?

Psychology internship sites rarely pay, but see the information in the file of local sites related to the Community Guidance Center's Summer Treatment Program and Adelphoi's sites. It is possible to be hired by a site and simultaneously enroll for internship credit. (Consider Community Living and Learning, IUP Head Start, and Target (for applied psychology)).

May I intern at sites that are not included in the above-mentioned files?

Yes! Students are encouraged to work with the practicum coordinator to develop "new sites" that have not been used previously by the IUP Psychology Department. However, this option takes a bit longer and requires an additional approval process.

Are there definite "deadlines" that must be followed?

You should complete the application process by October 1 for spring internships, by February 1 for summer internships, and by April 15 for fall internships. There may be legitimate reasons why students need to deviate from the recommended timeline, however. We do not want automatically to eliminate such students; however, deviations from the recommended timeline frequently cause problems for both students and faculty. Both have increasing commitments as the term progresses. There are other considerations as well:

  • Some sites may select students on a "first-come, first-served" basis.

  • Psychology students may be competing with students from other departments within IUP and with students from other colleges and universities for the preferred sites.

  • Competition with colleges and universities is especially likely for summer internships. Therefore, students desiring a summer internship at agencies outside of Indiana County may want to seek formal approval from the department as early as the beginning of the fall term.

What is the purpose to the application procedure? Why can't I just sign up for this course the way I do for any other course?

  • The interview process helps to gauge the student's sense of responsibility and to determine the appropriateness of the fit between the student and a specific site.

  • Our procedures are designed to facilitate the student in locating an appropriate internship. They are not designed to eliminate a student, unless that student does not meet the university criteria. All interns who interview successfully and who meet the basic university criteria are accepted.

  • While the department's procedure is not competitive, the site's may be.

I heard that it's difficult to apply for an internship. Is that true?

No! It is easy to apply for an internship when you follow the procedure and discuss any issues with the practicum coordinator in a timely fashion.

How am I to be graded?

The student's experience at the agency is supervised by a professional person who is the "site supervisor." The instructor of note for the internship is the department "practicum coordinator." The practicum coordinator will provide a course syllabus and maintain contact with the student through the student's written summaries (submitted approximately every two weeks). In grading, both the quality of the required work as outlined within the course syllabus and the evaluation of the student by the site are considered.