Psychology Independent Study & Internship

Unless otherwise stated, Psychology 100 is a prerequisite for all advanced psychology courses. Students planning to enroll in Independent Study (U09-400) must obtain a supervising faculty member on their own from the Washington University roster of teaching faculty and meet the stated requirements and deadlines.

Enrollment in these courses requires approval of the departmental coordinator, and there are several prerequisites. Independent work is designed for advanced psychology majors and is not intended as a convenient substitute for regular coursework.

Independent Study (U09-400)

Reading or research in a special area of psychology. Approval of a specific plan of reading or research by the supervising faculty member and the departmental coordinator is required prior to registration.

Prereq: 15 hours of psychology course work, advanced standing, permission of the instructor, and permission of the departmental coordinator. Open only to University College psychology majors with a minimum GPA of 3.00. Petition forms for enrollment are available at 11 N. Jackson Rd, Ste. 1000, St. Louis, MO 63105-2153. A student may enroll in this course only once. 2 to 3 credit units.

Internship (U09-240)

An opportunity for participation, with supervision, in a nonacademic activity in an applied setting for course credit.

Information about prerequisites, registration, and requirements for completion and a complete listing of approved internship sites are available at 11 N. Jackson Rd, Ste. 1000, St. Louis, MO 63105-2153. Approval of the petition by the psychology department coordinator is required prior to registration. Open only to University College psychology majors. A student may enroll in this course only once. Must be taken Credit/No Credit. Maximum credit: 3 units.

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Additional Information

What is the Internship in Psychology?

Internship in Psychology (U09-240) is designed to provide students with the opportunity to apply psychological principles in nonacademic settings, such as social service agencies, medical settings, and business and industry. Students may pursue an Internship for several reasons, including: the rewards of helping others, development of pre-professional skills, and exploration of career interests and goals. PSY 240 can only be taken once and is offered for 3 units on a "Credit/No Credit" basis only.

Our Internship program is rigorous, and students should not enroll unless they are prepared to make a serious commitment in time and energy. Prerequisites are: (i) advanced standing (60 or more completed units of credit), (ii) 15 completed units in psychology, (iii) formal declaration of a major in psychology, (iv) a Grade Point Average of at least 2.50, and (v) permission of the Internship Coordinator. Successful completion of the Internship requires a minimum of 150 work hours at the internship site, exclusive of training hours. In addition, students must complete written assignments in order to demonstrate their ability to integrate psychological theory and principles of application.

Students who do not meet the criteria for registration in Psychology 240 or who do not wish to commit to the requirements of Internship may always elect to volunteer at an internship site for no academic credit. Such students would make arrangements directly with the involved agency or program.

The Psychology Department maintains an updated list of approved Internship sites from which students may choose (see listing below). Opportunities exist in agencies that provide: criminal and offender services; supportive treatment for individuals with mental illness; services to the elderly and chronically ill; support for abused children; services to developmentally disabled adults and children; and emergency services. Ordinarily, students are expected to select an internship site from the approved list. Alternative internship sites are possible, provided that the student locates and makes contact with the site at least six weeks prior to beginning the internship and that the Coordinator approves the proposed internship.

Internship can be taken only once, only for 3 credits, and only on a Credit/No Credit basis.

Summer Internships

Summer internships are available, either at an approved site or at a proposed site outside of the St. Louis geographic area. However, special considerations apply. The minimum requirement for total hours at the site remains 150, so the number of hours per week is approximately 15 to 20. Students should petition the Coordinator for summer internships no later than April 15 (but advisably, prior to spring break). Ordinarily, the student completes his/her work at an out-of-town site, is registered for Psychology 240 in the ensuing Fall semester, and receives credit at the end of the Fall semester. Prior approval (by May 15) is essential; in no case will credit be given retrospectively for summer internship activities.

Prerequisites for Enrolling in the Internship

The Psychology Department's prerequisites for enrolling in the Internship are listed below. Students should be careful to note that Internship programs may have additional requirements that are more stringent than the departmental prerequisites. The departmental prerequisites are:

  • At least 18 years of age (or older, if required by the Internship agency)
  • Advanced standing (i.e., must be a Junior or Senior who has completed at least 60 units of credit)
  • Declared major in Psychology
  • At least 15 completed (not concurrent) credits in Psychology with a grade of C or better
  • Minimum overall GPA of 2.50

Selecting an Internship Agency

Basic summary information on the Internship sites that have already received approval by the Department of Psychology is listed below. If you wish to intern at one of these agencies, you should first study this information to determine whether you meet a particular agency's requirements. Before contacting an internship site, check with the Internship Coordinator to determine that the site is currently approved and to discuss any questions or concerns. Then call the contact person at the agency you selected to make an appointment.

Before you meet with the contact person, be sure that you have given at least preliminary thought to the kinds of learning goals you wish to pursue with the given population at their agency. Although your goals can be refined during or as a result of discussion, most of the contact professionals at these approved sites have stressed the need for students to have clear, articulated goals they wish to work toward. Students are encouraged to interview with as many agencies as they wish before making a final selection of an internship site.

When you meet with the contact person, be sure to bring with you a Petition to Enroll form with sections I and II completed. Have the contact person complete the Agency Approval section after you have agreed about your acceptance by the particular agency. You will need this completed form, along with certain other materials, to submit to the Internship Coordinator in order to complete your registration for Psychology 240. Only a Petition to Enroll form bearing the signature of the particular contact person listed for the agency in the information section of this Guide will be accepted as indicating valid acceptance of you for the Internship. The Psychology Department has gone to great lengths to develop relationships with specific professionals at each agency to handle acceptance, supervision, and certification of performance, and we must ask you to respect these specific relationships.

Alternative Sites

Students may petition to enroll for an Internship at a site that has not yet received departmental approval. The Internship Coordinator will consider such sites for approval, which may take at least six weeks. Thus, students should initiate the approval process well in advance of the usual University registration deadlines. The approval of a new site for Internship placement will be judged against, but not necessarily limited to, the following criteria:

  • The site must contain an organized and structured program that provides services directly relevant to the field of psychology.
  • Training must be provided in the areas of service delivery to be performed by the student.
  • A professional with graduate training in psychology or a related field must provide regular, face-to-face supervision to the student at least once per week.

The agency must be willing to work with Washington University in monitoring student progress and providing evaluations and certifications to the Internship Coordinator.

Registering for Internship

Submit your signed, completed Petition to Enroll form to the Internship Coordinator along with the following materials:

  • A printout of your student record (available free of charge from WebSTAC or from the Registrar).
  • A photocopy of your driver’s license (to verify age).
  • Verification of your psychology major status, unless your major is clearly indicated on your student record.
  • You cannot register independently for Psychology 240. The Internship Coordinator will take care of registering you for the course on the last date to add a course in each semester by separate administrative means. If you have met the registration requirements and prerequisites, the Coordinator will register you without fail.

Under no conditions will Petitions to Enroll be accepted after the university deadline for late registration in a given semester. This deadline usually occurs about two weeks after the first day of classes in each semester and is designated in the course listings calendar as the "last day to add a course."

Requirements for Completing Internship

Departmental Requirements

During the approval process, each student will meet at least once with the Department's Internship Coordinator. It will be decided how frequently the student is to meet with the Coordinator during the semester and also what writing assignments will be required. The writing assignments will be designed to encourage students to integrate their academic knowledge of psychology with the experiences in applying psychology during their internship. Students will also be expected to evaluate in writing the quality of their internship experience.

Site Requirements

Your site supervisor will provide your most regular and direct supervision. These supervisory sessions are mandatory and should be taken seriously. Failure to meet as requested by your supervisor or failure to respond favorably to your supervisor’s recommendations may result in a grade of NCR for Internship.

Your Internship will be successfully completed when you have:

  • Completed a minimum of 150 hours of Internship activity
  • Met all additional requirements of your Internship agency
  • Attended all required meetings with the departmental Coordinator
  • Received a satisfactory written evaluation for your site supervisor
  • Submitted the required written assignments, which are in turn evaluated as satisfactory

Approved Internship Agencies

A current list of approved internship agencies is available from the Psychology Coordinator, Emily Cohen-Shikora at ecohensh@wustl.edu or (314) 935-9171.