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.

Requirements

To be eligible for a doctoral internship program position, applicants must be enrolled at least part-time as an advanced graduate student in a clinical or counseling psychology program leading to a doctoral degree.

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.

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.

Application Procedures

Early fall, graduate students from APA Accredited Clinical and Counseling schools interested in a doctoral psychology internship position at any of the Bureau's training sites should complete each of the following steps:

  1. AAPI

    1. 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.
    2. Refer to the brochure for each Bureau training site to determine if additional materials (e.g., work sample) are required.
  2. 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.

  3. USAJOBS - DOJ Pathways Internship Program Psychology Doctoral Intern

    1. After the AAPI Online application is reviewed by each Bureau site, applicants will be notified via email mid-November which sites wish to consider them further. Those applicants will be instructed to continue with the USAJOBS process for possible employment.
    2. Read the announcement on USAJOBS completely especially the sections "Qualifications Required" and "Required Documents." Apply online and submit ALL required supporting documentation. equired documents include:

      • Resume - in order to receive credit for experience contained in an uploaded resume, your employment history must be documented in month/year (MM/YYYY) format, reflecting starting and ending dates and include the number of hours worked per week. Failure to follow this format may result in disqualification.
      • Transcript - must include the School Name, Student Name, Degree and Date Awarded. You should use an unofficial or official copy from your school's Registrar's office.
      • Verification of Completion of the AAPI - examples: 1) a statement from the Training Director presiding over the doctoral program validating completing of the AAPI and matriculation at a clinical or counseling doctoral program or 2) a copy of confirmation of completion of the AAPI and registration for March (i.e., proof of payment or AAPI Match ID number).
    3. During the USAJOBS application process, applicants must respond to a series of assessment questions. Your responses determine category placement (e.g., Best Qualified, Highly Qualified, and Qualified). Additionally, Veterans Preference is applicable during this application process.
    4. After closure of the USAJOBS vacancy announcement, the Consolidated Staffing Unit (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.
  4. 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.

  5. Interview Process

    1. 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.
    2. As part of the interview process, applicants must satisfactorily pass a security clearance procedure that includes a computerized Core Values Assessment, a pre-employment interview, an integrity interview that 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.
    3. 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.
    4. Offers of positions at each site are then made in strict accordance with the policies of the APPIC's Internship Matching Program.

Additional Information

If you have any questions regarding whether you would qualify, you should seek further information from Human Resource Specialists at any of the sites of interest to you to determine if you should continue 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 all of the 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:

Office of Program Consultation and Accreditation
American Psychology Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC  20002
Phone: 202-336-5979

Type of Facility Facility Location Facility Information Program Information
Federal Correctional Complex
Federal Correctional Complex
Federal Correctional Complex
Federal Correctional Complex
Federal Correctional Complex
Federal Correctional Institution
Federal Correctional Institution
Federal Medical Center
Federal Medical Center
Federal Medical Center
Federal Medical Center
Metropolitan Detention Center
U.S. Medical Center for Federal Prisoners
* Accreditation on Contingency by APA.
** Not yet accredited by APA.