1. What are the prerequisites for Senior Experience (i.e., internships and senior research projects)?
  2. What is Psyc 300?
  3. Can students arrange their own field internships?
  4. Should I plan to complete a field internship or research internship? Can I do both?

1. What are the prerequisites for Senior Experience (i.e., internships and senior research projects)?

PSYC 498 Prerequisites

Psyc 498 is taken during the fall semester of your senior year. To take Psyc 498, you must have successfully completed Psyc 300 and Psyc 252, and we strongly encourage having completed 253 as well. Note about summer field and research internships: In order to do a summer field internship (a placement at a site off-campus during the summer) or a research internship (an independent research project), you must successfully complete Psyc 253 by the end of your junior year. Those doing field internships during the fall of their senior year may take Psyc 253 concurrently, but it is strongly recommended that you complete it during your junior year.


We strongly encourage students to take courses that are relevant to their internship experiences (both field and research) either prior to or during their internship. For example, a student who is interested in working with children should make a point to take developmental psychology courses. Students interested in psychological issues in the workplace should make a point to take courses in industrial/organizational psychology or social psychology.

2. What is Psyc 300?

Psyc 300 is the orientation course to Senior Experience course that ALL juniors take in the spring. It is a quarter-credit course that meets once a week to help you plan for your internship. In addition to learning more about the senior experience, a wide variety of professionals from many different agencies will give brief presentations about the internship opportunities at their agency for those interested in field internships. In addition, faculty members will describe opportunities for doing research internships with them.

If I am arranging my own internship or when I know what internship I want to do, do I still need to come to class in Psyc 300?

Yes! Because we are inviting speakers from many local agencies, it is important that we have good attendance. It is not respectful to our speakers if only a few students attend a particular class session. In addition, learning about the different agencies is an important part of your education about your local community, and particularly how psychology is applied in the “real world!” It is likely that you will find similar agencies in other regions, should you decide to do an internship elsewhere. Thus, attendance is mandatory at all classes.

What if I am abroad during the spring my junior year? How do I find a field internship?

For students who are abroad during the spring of their junior year, the Psyc 300 requirement will be waived, but they will still be responsible for finding an internship. Contact the Internship Coordinators for a list of potential agencies. Of course, you can also follow the guidelines below to set up your own internship. We highly recommend that you set something up before you go abroad, or that you return early enough to arrange an internship before the fall term starts. You will need to complete and submit an internship application and proposal to your Psych 498 instructors on the first day of class.

3. Can students arrange their own field internships?

In some instances, students may elect to arrange field internship opportunities on their own. This is acceptable as long as the following criteria are met:

  • The work you will be doing is predominantly psychological in nature. That is, merely working at a psychology-related agency is not enough; you must be actively engaged in psychological work.
  • There is a person willing to supervise you who is qualified to do so (has an advanced degree in psychology or a related field). Please note: it is not acceptable for your supervisor to be either a relative or friend of the family. Your supervisor must be in a position to objectively evaluate your work as an intern.
  • You must submit a brief, 1-2 page proposal for your field internship that explains the nature of your field internship (e.g., with whom, what will you be doing), your goals, and how your field internship meets the above requirements.
  • You must complete both the field internship application form PRIOR to beginning your field internship. If your supervisor is not local (e.g., you plan to do a summer field internship in your hometown), you will need to mail or fax a copy of these forms to your supervisor and have him/her return them to you by the end of the semester. Please note: PER UNIVERSITY LIABILITY REQUIREMENTS, you cannot begin a field internship for credit until both of these forms are in and approved by all parties.

How do I find my own internship, if I want one at an agency that didn’t visit our class?

Approach it like you are trying to find a job. You can learn a great deal from calling government and private agencies (who are listed in the phone book or on the web) and asking to talk to someone who knows about internship opportunities (e.g., the agency’s “volunteer coordinator”). Always ask if they know of other offices who might have opportunities. Remember, pursue experiences that you are genuinely interested in, and that it may take some time and effort to find a good placement/fit.

Can students get paid for their field internship?

Although the majority of field internships are nonpaid, you may be paid if you are fortunate enough to find a field internship that is willing to pay you. Note, however, that we do pre-screen paid internship proposals quite carefully given the potential “conflict of interest.” Of course, the most important thing is that you are getting a good experience, rather than whether you are getting paid.

4. Should I plan to complete a field internship or research internship? Can I do both?

The decision about whether to complete a field internship or research internship depends on where you see yourself after you graduate from Willamette. If you are contemplating a service career in psychology or a related field and do not envision attending graduate school (at least not immediately), a field internship may be best for you. Often, working in an area gives you insight into what to expect in your chosen field, and also provides you with some good experience for obtaining a job.

If you have plans to go to graduate school of any type (especially at the Ph.D. level), a research internship is probably best. This is true even if you are planning to apply for Ph.D. programs in Clinical Psychology. A research internship typically involves an independent empirical project with a faculty member, but it is also possible to get valuable research experience in a field internship that will give you both kinds of experience. Sometimes, the research can be based on archival data that the agency has already collected. Other times, an intern can conduct or take part in new or ongoing research.

What paperwork do I need to complete prior to beginning a field internship?

Prior to beginning your field internship, you need to complete the WU Internship Application (see previous webpage) and have it signed by your off-campus internship supervisor. Note that you will need to meet with your site supervisor to discuss specific goals you have for your experience, as well as the goals of the agency.

What paperwork do I need to complete prior to beginning a research internship/project?

In order to complete a research internship project, you will need to identify a WU Psychology faculty member who is willing to advise your work, and with whom you can develop a workable project that can be conducted. Once you have found an advisor who is willing to work with you and you have developed a plan, complete the Research Internship Proposal Form (see previous webpage for form) and turn it in to the Internship Coordinator.

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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