Senior Experience in Psychology

All psychology majors must complete a Senior Experience to fulfill the requirements of the major. The Senior Experience has two components, and students must complete both components:

 (a) An applied, 168-hour internship requirement, in which students connect their psychology coursework with either an internship at a community-based agency or a research internship with a Psychology faculty member. This requirement is completed via the PSYC310 and PSYC498 internship courses sequence. For more information, see the FAQ's, and details below.

 (b) An advanced senior seminar requirement, in which students engage in reading primary source research articles, scholarly discussion of the readings, and in which they will write a 4,000-5,000 word analytical paper (see details below). This requirement is completed via the Senior Topical Seminar (PSYC431W).

(A) Applied Internship (PSYC310 & PSYC498)

The applied internship course sequence is designed to provide students with a hands-on, meaningful experience in psychology in which students can apply what they have learned in their Psychology coursework. This unique program supports students in developing and completing a 168-hour internship during the senior year. Many students elect to complete a field internship (a placement at a community agency or organization), while others elect to complete a research internship (an independent research project with a Psychology faculty member). Students are able to use their internship both to aid in discerning their career path, as well as in supporting applications for employment or graduate school post-graduation.

 In spring of their junior year, students enroll in PSYC310 – Orientation to the Major Internship, a quarter-credit course that helps students to consider their career paths, to identify the kinds of internships that might allow them to rule in (or rule out!) possible career paths, and, ultimately, to develop their senior internship experience. The course meets once per week, and professionals from community agencies and current internship students present potential opportunities that are available for field internships in the Salem or surrounding areas.

 Students also have the ability to propose field internships with agencies in their hometowns or outside of Salem, sometimes completed during the summer prior to their senior year (as long as they have completed PSYC253 by this time, which is a pre- or co-requisite for the internship). However, in these cases it is the students’ responsibility to work with the agency to develop an experience that meets the criteria for the senior internship and to get their proposed internship pre-approved by the PSYC310 instructors.

 For those interested in research, faculty members in the department also present potential research internship opportunities on campus. Research internships are often sought by students who are already volunteering with faculty on their research, and/or students who wish to pursue doctoral programs in Psychology. Some students are able to arrange research internships with faculty at other institutions, but as with field internships arranged by a student, it is the students’ responsibility to ensure the experience meets criteria for a research internship and to get their proposed research internship pre-approved by the PSYC310 instructors.

 By the end of PSYC310, students will have identified either a field or research internship, completed the relevant internship application form, which includes a discussion of goals for the internship that are completed by both students and their internship supervisors, and obtained approval by the PSYC310 faculty for their internship plan. The forms for field and research internship applications are provided below.

 Note: students studying abroad during the spring of their junior year complete the internship proposal remotely (through coordination with the PSYC310 instructors, with PSYC310 waived), or have the option of enrolling in the course during the spring of their sophomore year to receive course credit.

 In the fall of their senior year, students enroll in PSYC498 – Senior Internship in Psychology, a course that provides credit for the required 168 hours of internship experience and includes a class-based component that engages students in reflecting on, and completing assignments related to, their field or research internship. For field internships, the 168 hours are spent at their internship site. For research interns, their 168 hours include data collection, analysis, and the write-up of an empirical report of their research under the direction of their faculty supervisor. In most cases, students are expected to complete their internship hours by the end of the fall term, although research interns working with a faculty member sometimes need to extend their hours into the spring semester. By the end of the internship experience, supervisors of both field and research interns complete an evaluation form of the students’ work as an intern. The evaluation forms are provided below for both field and research interns; these evaluations constitute a major portion of the course grade for PSYC498.

Note that all students take this course in the Fall, including both those who are completing their internship hours in the Fall as well as those who completed their hours over the summer.

Field Internship Forms

Research Internship Form

Most Recent PSYC498 Syllabus

 (B) Advanced Seminar Requirement (PSYC431W)

 Each semester, 1-2 topical seminars are offered. While the specific focus on the seminars vary depending upon instructor, all seminars have several core features in common: (a) small class size; (b) discussion-based formats; (c) student responsibility for preenting materials; and (d) the writing of an analytical paper (which can take the form of an argument paper or a research proposal). The paper requrirements are standardized across seminars and must be 4000-5000 words and include a minimum of 12 empirical sources. Students' paper topics must be pre-approved by their seminar instructor. In order for students to pass the seminar, they must submit their scholary paper with correct APA format throughout (including references) and earn a grade of a D or higher on the paper.

While most students will take PSYC431W during their senior year, students can take the course during their junior year, provded they have taken or are concurrently enrolled in PSYC253 (Research Methods & Analysis II)


Students who are invited to apply for honors will be notified during the spring of their junior year. These students will consult with a faculty member in order to determine an appropriate honors thesis (which must be the report of an original research project), and which may optionally be related to their work in PSYC498 or PSYC431W. More details are available at Honors Program.



Willamette University

Psychology Department

900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-375-5306 voice
503-375-6512 fax

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