Psychology Internship Program
Information for current students interested in a doctoral internship with the Bureau.
For more than 40 years, the Federal Bureau of Prisons (Bureau) has trained doctoral-level psychologists. Each of our Psychology Doctoral Internship Programs continues this commitment to training by providing advanced clinical and counseling graduate students with a well-rounded, high-quality training experience. We seek the clinical or counseling psychology student whose personal career goals and objectives can be strengthened, reinforced, and expedited by the training experiences we provide. Namely, our training models seek to facilitate the growth of those who wish to become well-trained generalists who can also function competently in a correctional environment. While individual training sites utilize different training techniques and models to achieve this objective, all training sites have several common features.
With ample supervision, our interns receive graduated exposure to the clinician role, practicing with greater independence as their skills increase. Training includes both individualized and group supervision, assignment of challenging, culturally diverse therapeutic cases, and a sequence of didactic seminars designed to increase each intern's general knowledge as well as his/her understanding of the unique issues involved in the practice of psychology in a correctional setting. Also included in the internship year are opportunities to practice in psychological assessment and research or other scholarly activities.
Individual training sites may also provide interns with additional training opportunities unique to that site. For example, some sites offer experience in such areas as forensic assessment, substance abuse treatment, or behavioral medicine. Other sites may expose interns to unique treatment populations, such as geriatric, female, HIV+, or violent offenders.
For several decades, the Bureau has relied upon the doctoral internship program to provide the agency with uniquely qualified entry-level psychologists. Interns who have proven themselves to be competent clinicians and who are comfortable working within the correctional setting are often recruited by the Bureau at the end of their internship year.
To be eligible for a doctoral internship program position, applicants must not have reached their 37th birthday (in accordance with Public Law 100-238), must be enrolled at least part-time as an advanced graduate student in a clinical or counseling psychology program leading to a doctoral degree. To be eligible for an entry-level psychology position with the Bureau, interns must have completed all doctoral degree requirements, be U.S. citizens, and not have reached their 37th birthday (in accordance with Public Law 100-238) at the time of initial appointment (age waivers can be requested prior to 40th birthday).
Intern selection at each training site is based largely on breadth and quality of clinical experience, demonstrated academic achievement and consistency of interests with the training goals of the program, personal integrity, and maturity. Selections and the offer of positions at each site are made in strict accordance with the policies of the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center's (APPIC) Internship Matching Program. For a detailed description of these policies and procedures, refer to APPIC's website. Our internship sites agree to abide by the APPIC policy that no person at these training facilities will solicit, accept, or use any ranking-related information from any intern applicant.
Applicants should understand that the Bureau is also bound by the specifications of the Pathways Program. While the Pathways Program is a specific process for verifying eligibility for the Doctoral Intern position, the application process is totally separate from the APPIC process and procedures. Accordingly, applicants must submit an application through the USAJOBS website to verify eligibility for temporary federal law enforcement hiring.
Applicants for the Bureau's internship positions should be aware that they are applying for a position in a federal law enforcement agency. Therefore, selection entails not only demonstration of exceptional qualifications as an "advanced graduate student / psychologist in training," but also suitability for work in a position of public trust. In general, Bureau employees, including psychology interns, are held to a high standard of personal conduct and responsibility and are expected to be law-abiding citizens who can serve as strong role models for the inmate population.
Early fall, individuals interested in a psychology internship position at any of the Bureau's training sites should complete each of the following steps:
- Complete and upload the AAPI Online application for Psychology Internships available on the APPIC Website. Be sure to include all components, including a copy of your vitae, graduate transcripts, and three letters of reference.
- Upload one work sample with your application. This should be an assessment report on an adult client that addresses, at a minimum, background information, current behavioral observations, results of a battery of psychological tests, and formulation of the case. Choose this case carefully and take appropriate steps to protect the anonymity of the subject. Some training sites may require more than one work sample.
USAJOBS - DOJ Pathways Internship Program Psychology Doctoral Intern
- Read the announcement on USAJOBS completely especially the sections "Qualifications Required" and "Required Documents". Apply online and submit ALL required supporting documentation.
Each Bureau training site considers AAPI Online materials separately. Therefore, all application materials should be uploaded for each site in which you are interested by their deadline. Applicants are encouraged to submit materials as early as possible. Late applications will not be considered.
After completing the AAPI Online application, advanced graduate students will be notified which sites wish to consider them further. Those applicants notified, after their AAPI Online materials are reviewed, will be instructed to continue with the USAJOBS process for possible employment in a temporary federal law enforcement position.
Applicants can contact the Bureau's Consolidated Staffing Unit (CSU) located in Grand Prairie, Texas, for questions regarding their documentation and inquire if ALL required documents were received.
During the USAJOBS application process, applicants must respond to a series of assessment questions. Your responses determine category placement (i.e. Best Qualified, Highly Qualified, Qualified). Additionally, Veterans Preference is applicable during this application process. Qualified preference eligibles who meet minimum qualification requirements with a compensable service-connected disability of at least 10% will be listed in the highest quality (Best Qualified) category.
After closure of the USAJOBS vacancy announcement, the CSU, in accordance with established OPM procedures for category ratings, will only process applicants that are assessed as qualified and included in the Best Qualified category. Applicants in the Best Qualified category will be notified of their status by the CSU and forwarded to the internship site to be considered for an interview. Please note that all candidates (those being asked to interview and those no longer being considered) will receive a Notification of Results by December 15. Therefore, even though you have applied to numerous Bureau internship sites using the AAPI Online, category placement and assessment of eligibility through the USAJOBS application process plays a vital role in the certification of an applicant to one or all sites. This means it is possible that you will be found ineligible for any of our sites and you are advised to plan accordingly. For example, you might want to consider developing a larger pool of internship applications.
In early December, individual Bureau internship sites will be notified which applicants can be invited and scheduled for an interview, which are generally conducted in December or January. As part of the interview process, applicants must satisfactorily pass a security clearance procedure that includes a computerized Core Values Assessment (CVA), a pre-employment interview, an integrity interview which addresses issues of personal conduct, a subject matter expert interview, and a drug test. If you are applying to more than one internship site, you may only have to complete this process once. Results of the security clearance procedures can be shared with other Bureau sites for your convenience. However, if you fail any portion of this security clearance at the site where your first interview occurs, you will no longer be considered at any of the other sites. Please plan accordingly. Offers of positions at each site are then made in strict accordance with the policies of the APPIC's Internship Matching Program.
Candidates invited for an interview with training site psychology staff will also be required to participate in a standard law enforcement pre-employment screening procedure. As noted, this process may only need to be completed once as results can be shared with other Bureau internship sites for your convenience. To facilitate this process, Human Resource staff may be in contact with applicants prior to the interview to gather specific information needed to complete criminal record and credit checks. The interview process will also include a panel interview in which you will be asked to respond to a number of scenarios that could arise in a correctional facility. These procedures are used to determine your qualifications for a position of public trust and are required of all applicants seeking employment with the Federal Bureau of Prisons.
If you have any questions regarding whether you would qualify for a law enforcement position, you should seek further information from Human Resource Specialists at any of the sites of interest to you, to determine the advisability of continuing with the application process. Psychology staff are not able to advise you on these matters.
Any questions you may have should be resolved prior to submitting your list for matching. Offers of internship positions resulting from the computer match are strictly contingent upon satisfactory completion of the background investigation process. For individuals selected through the matching process, a field investigation will follow to verify that the information provided in interviews and on required forms is accurate. Failure to complete this process or a finding that an applicant is outside the guidelines for employment in a sensitive position would preclude participation in the program. Once hired, interns must comply with the Bureau's Program Statement on Standards of Employee Conduct.
The foregoing is not intended to discourage applications, but to ensure that applicants are aware of the additional law enforcement requirements that will be imposed on them should they wish to pursue a Bureau of Prisons Internship position.
Internship Training Sites and Program Descriptions
We have many Psychology Doctoral Internship Training sites accredited by the: