Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts



Internships are one of the hallmarks of our Psychology and Child Development programs. They are a way to check out career options, build a resume, and prepare for graduate school. Students apply to volunteer for local social service and governmental agencies, schools, and business organizations. Alternatively, some students do one or both internships as a research internship with a psychology or child development professor.

We require two quarters of internship in which the student earns credit toward their major. Each quarter of internship, the student works 120 hours, maintains weekly contact with a faculty supervisor, and provides written documentation of the experience. Internships are done in a student's senior year (sometimes junior year) after they have taken PSY 323: Helping Relationships. For Child Development students CD230 is an additional prerequisite. Students must attend a mandatory internship placement meeting the quarter prior to enrolling in internship. Quarterly meeting dates are announced at the start of each quarter. Please read the department's weekly announcements.

To enroll in a research internship you must have completed Research Methods (PSY329 or CD329) and, possibly, Quantitative Research Methods (PSY333) depending on your research internship supervisor.

To prepare for internship:

1) Finish pre-requisites

2) Attend the mandatory internship meeting one quarter before the quarter you intend to enroll in your first internship (usually in week 4)

3) Request contact information for your top site from the associated faculty coordinator (*do not contact our sites without our permission*). LInk to site list is at the bottom of this page.

4) Interview and secure an internship

Please review all of the information below. If you have additional questions, contact our internship coordinator, Dr. Julie Garcia.


Internship FAQ's

  • What are prerequisites for internship?
    • PSY Majors: Junior standing, PSY 323
    • CD Majors: Junior standing, PSY 323, CD 230
  • How do I enroll in internship?
    • Field  (local social service and governmental agencies, schools, and business organizations; on and off-campus sites)
      • You MUST attend the mandatory meeting the quarter before you enroll for FIELD  internship to apply (i.e.,Spring for Fall placement, Fall for Winter placement, and Winter for Spring placement).
      • At that meeting, we discuss the protocol for the field internship process, and you select your top site to interview.
      • List of field placement sites are available on our department website: Internship Sites
    • Research  (with Cal Poly Psychology or Child Development Faculty Member)
      • Research internships can be found by reviewing faculty research interests and attending office hours and by asking your professors about available positions.
      • If a faculty member selects you as a research assistant, they will provide you with a class and/or permission number.
      • To enroll in a research internship, you must have completed Research Methods (PSY 329 or CD 329), and possibly Quantitative Research Methods (PSY 333) depending on your research internship supervisor.
      • You do not have to attend the mandatory internship meeting.
      • Faculty research interests are indicated on our department website:
  • Do I have to attend the mandatory meeting before my second quarter of internship?
    • Yes : If you will be at a NEW field internship site for your second quarter.
    • No : If you will be RETURNING to the SAME field internship placement site OR you are doing a research internship for your second quarter.
  • How do I get a position at one of the internship sites?
    • Attend the mandatory internship meeting during week 4 of the quarter prior to the quarter you want to enroll
    • After the meeting, contact the faculty site coordinator who is listed next to your top choice site on the internship site list (they will give you contact information for the site supervisor who interviews potential interns)
    • Let the faculty site coordinator know if you decide not to interview, if you receive a position, or if you hear from the site supervisor that there are no more intern positions.
  • When am I assigned a faculty supervisor and who will provide me with a permission number?
    • Field : During the last week of the quarter before you begin internship, the internship coordinator will send you a class number and alert you to who your faculty supervisor is.
    • Research : Students pursue a match with a faculty research lab. If a faculty member agrees to supervise your research internship, they will provide you with a permission number.
  • Can I do a summer internship?
    •  Summer internships for credit are limited to seniors who need it to graduate. You are welcome to do a summer internship for experience.
  • Can I do an internship that is not on the list?
    • Off-list sites are rarely approved because of the time and effort involved in reviewing new sites. We devote our efforts to establishing sites that are ongoing and available to multiple students. Childcare sites that are not NAEYC accredited will not be considered.
    • To have an off-list site considered, please:
      • Review this FAQ document
      • Submit an application by week 6 of the quarter prior to the quarter in which you wish to enroll
      • Attend internship coordinator office hours during week 7 or 8
      • Off-list Internship Application
  • Can I do one quarter at one location and another at a second location?
    • Yes, but check the requirements for field and research internships (some sites and faculty require a two-quarter commitment for placement). Make sure to attend the internship meeting again if you are switching sites.
  • Can I do a field AND research internship?
    • Yes, you can do one of each, but know the requirements of the field and research internships (some require a two quarter commitment).
  • How do I know what internship is right for me?
    • Internship embodies the “learn by doing” motto in our department. We see this as an opportunity for you to get experience in a desired field to see if you like it. Select sites that best align with your desired career path or career options that you want to explore.
    • If you are considering graduate school, especially a Ph.D. program, we strongly encourage you to do two quarters of research internship.
    • If you are considering graduate school in clinical or counseling psychology, you should consider doing a one of our clinical field sites (and also research internships if you want to get a Ph.D. in clinical or counseling psychology).
  • What is the time commitment for fieldwork internship?
    • Each internship course is 5 units and, similar to time estimates for traditional classroom courses, requires 12 hours of work per week.
  • What do I need to do to earn credit for my internship?
    • Meet with your site supervisor at the beginning of your internship to go over their expectations for your work on site
    • In addition to the 12 hours/week mentioned above, you should look over your course syllabus with your faculty supervisor and clarify expectations for communication and writing requirements.
  • For how many quarters do I need to enroll in internship to fulfill my graduation requirements?
    • You must enroll in a total of two quarters internship.
    • Two field, two research, or one of each.

Glossary of Terms

Department internship coordinator:  the faculty member who organizes the internship process and documents; facilitates mandatory internship meeting; reviews applications for off-list internships; coordinates provision of add codes for student registration. This is currently Dr. Julie Garcia.

Faculty site coordinator: the faculty person who is a point person for the internship site (they are listed below the site on the internship site list); person from whom you receive contact information to set up your interview

Faculty supervisor: the faculty member with whom you will register for the internship class; will assign credit for internship; may or may not be the same person as the faculty site coordinator

Site supervisor: the person at your internship site who will meet with you weekly and provide on-site supervision.

Fieldwork Internship Policy


  • CD 453 Supervised Internship: CD 230, PSY 323, junior standing and consent of instructor.
  • CD 454 Advanced Internship: CD 453 and consent of instructor;
  • PSY 453 Supervised Internship: PSY 323, junior standing, and consent of instructor;
  • PSY 454 Advanced Internship: PSY 453 and consent of instructor;

In the quarter prior to beginning the internship, students must complete the following:

  • In the quarter prior to enrolling in your first internship, i.e., CD  or PSY 453/454, check the Weekly Announcements and/or PSY/CD Website for an announcement regarding a formal group meeting with the PSY/CD Internship Coordinator towards the middle of the quarter. At that meeting, you will be expected to provide your top three choices.
    • If continuing in the same placement for a second quarter (for CD or PSY 454), you do not need to attend another meeting; to reserve your placement, inform your faculty internship adviser about your plans to continue at the site in advance, either via e-mail or in person.
  • In the time period leading up to the meeting: It is your responsibility to decide upon your three choices prior to the meeting. You should start your investigations with the site list which is posted on the Department Website. If you have questions about a particular site, contact one of the Faculty coordinators for that site as indicated at the end of the site description.
  • Attend the mandatory meeting: At this time you will submit your three choices, be given additional information, and importantly given an “Orange Card” that indicates that you have completed the steps above. Sites will not place you without this card; i.e. if you bypass the system and contact the site directly, you will not receive credit for your work.
  • After the meeting: Wait for an email that indicates what site you have been initially placed. We will make every effort to allow people their first choice, but this will not always be possible. Next contact the Faculty Site Liaison for your assigned site (see the Psychology and Child Development Site List); they will provide you with contact information for that site to arrange an interview.
  • Arrange an interview: In general, interviews should take place between the 7th and 9th weeks.
    • Prepare for the interview (e.g., wear appropriate “professional” attire). Note that internship sites have limited placements--you may have to interview at several sites before obtaining a position.
    • If either you or the site supervisor decides the site is not a good fit, please inform the PSY/CD Internship Coordinator to explore different options.
  • When you obtain an internship position: Have the site supervisor sign your Orange Card, and return the card to the Department Office. At this point, you have made a commitment to follow through with the internship placement.
  • Towards the end of the quarter: You will receive an email from the Faculty Internship Coordinator with an assigned Faculty Supervisor. This may or may not be the same person as the faculty member that oversees the site. Contact that person, and they will provide you with their expectations for fulfilling the internship, as well as a permission number to add the class.


Time Commitment and Expectations

  • Students spend approximately 12 hours per week at a designated site, and meet regularly with their site supervisor and faculty supervisor. Obtain specific requirements from supervisors.
  • When choosing your internship site:
    • Look for sites that have experiences in which you would like to explore. For example, if you think you’d like to be a social worker, try sites such as the Family Care Network, or SLO Child Welfare Services to get a sense of what types of duties a person in that position typically performs. If you have interest in working in the schools, check out sites that offer that type of experience such as the PEEP program.
  • Remember that the interview is not a one-way process: the site is interviewing you, but YOU are also interviewing your site. Not every site will meet the needs of every student in terms of the type of experiences, type of supervision, feel of the site, etc. This is your chance to see if you think this would be a good fit for you.
    • Treat your interview as you would any professional interview. Dress appropriately, bring a copy of your resume, take time to prepare ahead of time (e.g., visiting the website of a site, looking at informational material), etc.
  • Start early. Allowing time in the quarter to go on a few interviews if necessary is a good plan. It is often difficult to find an internship that has spots available as the quarter comes to a close.
  • Be aware some sites involving children and vulnerable populations may require fingerprinting and background checks. There may be a fee charged for this.
  • Summer internships for course credit are no longer available. Planning ahead is essential here. If you begin a 2-quarter internship in Spring, for example, you might need to complete your internship as a volunteer in summer.
  • Check to see about requirements for various sites. E.g., some require training the quarter before you begin as an intern (e.g., RISE), others require a 3-quarter commitment, though our department only requires a 2-quarter commitment (e.g., Family Care Network, Office of the District Attorney). In the absence of a compelling reason, you must live up to your commitment to the organization, so plan ahead for these specific requirements.
  • With approval, it may be possible to create your own internship if you have an interest in an appropriate setting not currently on our site list. Contact Dr. Julie Garcia for details.
  • On-campus internships with faculty are also encouraged, for example: research, preschool lab projects, and teaching. Please discuss options with faculty and check the department website for announcements about specific projects.

Psychology and Child Development Internship Timeline


Junior Year


Read internship FAQ; Decide on field vs. research internship



Submit research track application if relevant

Quarter prior to internship

Week 4

Attend mandatory internship meeting for fieldwork internships


Week 5

Contact faculty site coordinator for your top site choice


Weeks 6-8

Interview at site, contact 2nd  choice site coordinator if needed


Before week 9

Once internship position secured, get site supervisor’s signature on

orange card


Week 9

Turn in orange card to PSY&CD main office


Finals week

Register with add code provided by dept internship coordinator

PSY or CD 453: Enrolled

Week 1

Clarify requirements with site supervisor and faculty supervisor


Week 10

Provide intern evaluation form to site supervisor; turn in your site

evaluation form to your faculty supervisor


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