This authoritative, hands-on workbook provides doctoral psychology students with all the resources they need to successfully navigate the internship application process.

Topics include

  • the most common reasons why people don't secure a position
  • how many sites to apply to
  • rank ordering your list of programs
  • writing essays, cover letters, and your curriculum vitae
  • securing strong letters of recommendation
  • preparing for interviews
  • sending thank-you notes
  • receiving Match results
  • and more

Since the third edition of this book was released, the online application process and the internship marketplace have undergone significant changes, such as the growing importance of accreditation.

This fourth edition provides updated information that will help your applications stand out to your internship programs of choice.

The authors also offer advice to directors of clinical training so they can guide and support students during this challenging process.

This valuable resource is provided to students by the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students — the premier group committed to representing, leading, advocating, and developing resources for graduate psychology students.

Table of Contents



  1. Getting Started: General Overview of the Internship Application Process
  2. Completing the APPIC Application for Psychology Internships
  3. Goals, Essays, and the Cover Letter
  4. Curriculum Vitae and Letters of Recommendation
  5. The Interview
  6. The Match
  7. Frequently Asked Questions From Prospective Interns
  8. Advice for Directors of Clinical Training of Students in the Internship Application Process

Appendix: Additional Resources

About the Authors

Author Bios

Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD, earned her doctoral degree from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas, and completed her predoctoral internship at the University of Notre Dame Counseling Center.

She is former and first associate executive director of the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS), where she oversaw all operations for the organization as their chief executive from 2000 to 2008. Before that, she served in several APAGS leadership positions, including APAGS Chair. She established many APAGS programs that remain active to this day, including the Advocacy Coordinating Team, Annual Internship Workshop, several scholarships and awards, and many others.

APAGS honored her work by establishing the Annual Carol Williams-Nickelson, PsyD, Award for Leadership and Scholarship in Women's Issues.

She was also executive director for the American Medical Student Association (AMSA) and the AMSA Foundation, where she developed progressive future physician leaders; created programming that filled gaps in medical education; and led many initiatives advocating for quality, affordable health care for all. In 2012 she received AMSA's prestigious Women Leaders in Medicine Award.

She went on to serve as the executive director for an international testing and certification organization and currently is the principal of a consulting firm providing services to nonprofit education, health care, and charitable organizations.

Dr. Williams-Nickelson has provided services in a variety of health care and forensic settings, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, residential treatment centers, community-based organizations, private practices, and counseling centers. Her background includes chairing and serving on numerous nonprofit boards of directors and volunteering for many charities that promote social change.

Her many publications, keynotes, and presentations at various medical and health care conferences relate to topics that encompass her research and expertise in the areas of mentoring, leadership, women's issues, the application of psychology in nonclinical settings, the education and training of psychologists and physicians, and behavioral health.

She has been a presenter at the APAGS Workshop on the Internship Application Process since its inception in 2000.

Mitchell J. Prinstein, PhD, completed his doctoral degree at the University of Miami and his internship and postdoctoral fellowship at the Brown University School of Medicine. He is currently John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Director of Clinical Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Prinstein's developmental psychopathology research examines interpersonal models of internalizing symptoms and health risk behaviors. He has been strongly committed to professional service and professional development for many years.

Dr. Prinstein was first invited to speak about the internship application process in 1995; he served as chair of APAGS and as a representative to the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers in 1997. He also served as the chair of the APA ad hoc Committee on Early Career Psychologists and on several committees and boards with and outside APA. He has been president of the Society for the Science of Clinical Psychology and the Society of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology.

In addition to this workbook, Dr. Prinstein's professional development volumes include The Portable Mentor: Expert Guide to a Successful Career in Psychology, and several online resources, including his Uncensored Advice for Applying to Graduate School in Clinical Psychology (PDF, 265KB).

He has been a presenter at the APAGS Workshop on the Internship Application Process for the past 18 years.

W. Gregory Keilin, PhD, completed his doctoral degree in counseling psychology at Colorado State University and his internship at the University of Texas (UT) at Austin Counseling and Mental Health Center (CMHC). He served as internship training director at the UT Austin CMHC until 2014, and currently has a part-time private practice and provides consulting services in the areas of internship development and electronic health records.

He is past chair of the board of directors of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internships Centers (APPIC) and, in 1999, led the effort to implement the computer-based internship matching program. He currently serves as the APPIC Match coordinator, oversees the APPIC Post-Match Vacancy Service, and responds to concerns submitted by students and others via the APPIC Informal Problem Consultation process.

He was involved in the development of the APPIC Directory Online and the AAPI Online service, and over many years worked to bring the internship supply and demand imbalance to the attention of the profession.

He is a Fellow of APA Division 17 (Society of Counseling Psychology), and in 2012 received the APA Award for Distinguished Contributions to Education and Training in Psychology.

Along with his coauthors of this workbook, he has been a presenter at the annual APAGS Workshop on the Internship Application Process since its inception in 2000.

Reviews & Awards

This is an incomparable resource for prospective interns and it would be folly to start the internship application process without it. It not only offers perceptive advice and guidance, it also provides a level of detail that will prepare anxious applicants well and set them at ease. This edition is essential given the changes in the process.
Doody's Five-Star Review

Timely and authentic, this fourth edition will be a welcome addition to the health service psychology education and training community. The authors accurately portray the deepest worries and concerns for internship applicants and provide comforting reassurance and clarity. This is a must-have resource for every doctoral program, with step-by-step guidance for faculty and students. The detailed action steps alert training directors to view this as a process of preparation and planning; taking the long view over time will help trainees replace trepidation with excited anticipation for a great internship training year!
—Sharon Berry, PhD, ABPP
Director of Training and Associate Clinical Director, Children's Minnesota, Minneapolis

Packed with current information, practical advice, and real-world examples, this comprehensive yet highly readable book takes students through the internship application process from start to finish. Students will find themselves rereading and consulting it for useful tips on both the big picture and the nuts and bolts of internship applications. It's an essential resource for every internship-bound student.
—Debora Bell, PhD
Professor and Associate Chair for Clinical Science, Department of Psychological Sciences, University of Missouri, Columbia

If this is the year that you apply for an internship, this workbook will make your life a lot easier. It's written by a stellar team with advice that is thorough, up-to-date, and straightforward. The tips on how to prepare for interviews are especially helpful!
—Tim Cavell, PhD
Professor, Department of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville