Match / FAQs / Applicants / Eligibility and Participation

Eligibility and Participation

Frequently Asked Questions:
Internship Applicants - Match Eligibility & Participation

Updated July 14, 2023


  1. Which students are eligible to participate in the APPIC Match and attend an APPIC-member internship program?
  2. Will all internship sites be participating in the Match?
  3. What are the differences between APA/CPA Accreditation and APPIC Membership?
  4. Should I consider attending a non-accredited internship program?
  5. Is it possible for me to complete two internships? For example, if I accept a non-accredited internship this year, can I apply for a second, accredited internship the following year?
  6. Is it acceptable to complete an internship after the doctoral degree has been awarded?
  7. What about these businesses that are offering to help me get an internship for a fee?
  8. What about issues of pregnancy and family care during internship?


1. Which students are eligible to participate in the APPIC Match and attend an APPIC-member internship program?

Information on applicant eligibility for the APPIC Match may be found here.

Information on applicant eligibility for the APPIC Post-Match Vacancy Service (PMVS) may be found here.

2. Will all internship sites be participating in the Match?

As of July, 2023, there are 821 APPIC-member internship sites, all of which are required to recruit all of their internship positions via the APPIC Match. A total of 687 of these sites are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), while the rest are not currently accredited. Internship sites that are not APPIC members are not eligible to participate in the APPIC Match or the Post-Match Vacancy Service.

Applying to both participating and non-participating internship programs may result in your having to make some difficult choices. Basically, applicants who participate in the Match would only be able to accept a position from a non-participating internship program: (1) PRIOR to submitting a Rank Order List for either Phase of the Match (applicants who do this must then immediately submit a formal withdrawal from the Match), or (2) AFTER receiving their results on the associated APPIC Match Day and learning that they are not matched to any internship program.

Once you submit a Rank Order List to the Match, you are then obligated to accept and attend the internship program to which you are matched. You are not permitted to back out of this obligation.

If you receive an offer from a non-participating program before submitting your Rank Order List, you have to make a potentially difficult decision. You must decide to either: (1) accept the position from the non-participating site and withdraw from the Match, or (2) decline the position from the non-participating site and submit your Rank Order List to the Match.

3. What are the differences between APA/CPA Accreditation and APPIC Membership?

ACCREDITATION: An internship program that has been accredited by APA or CPA has undergone external review by an accrediting body composed of peers with expertise in professional psychology education. The review process includes an on-site visit to verify compliance with accreditation criteria. As such, it is the highest standard of review that a program can undergo. The accreditation process involves considerable time and effort, and requires the program to submit a lengthy self-study and to host an on-site visit by representatives of the accrediting body.

Here is some information from APA and CPA that may be of interest to students regarding accreditation:

APPIC MEMBERSHIP: APPIC is not an accrediting organization -- it is a membership organization. As such, the term "APPIC accredited" should NEVER be used and does NOT denote that a program is accredited; the proper term is "APPIC Member." As noted above, only the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) are recognized as providing accreditation for internship programs.

In order for an internship program to be a member of APPIC, it must submit an application that describes how the program meets APPIC's internship membership criteria. No site visit is required, and internship programs that are accredited by APA or CPA automatically qualify for APPIC membership.

4. Should I consider attending a non-accredited internship program?

This information applies to students from programs in the U.S. and Canada. Unless otherwise specified, the term "accredited" (as related to internship programs) includes only those internship programs that are accredited by the American Psychological Association (APA) or the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA). Accreditation by other organizations are generally not considered meaningful when it comes to psychology internships.

It is important to state up front that there are excellent internship programs that are accredited, as well as excellent programs that are not accredited. Many non-accredited programs have not sought accreditation because they report lacking the necessary resources; others have not done so because they do not yet meet all of the criteria set out by APA.

However, it is also important to recognize that there is a very strong effort under way within psychology to establish accreditation as a basic requirement for all recognized doctoral programs and internships, which could mean that individuals who come from non-accredited doctoral programs and/or internships will find their licensing and employment options to be increasingly limited.

Specifically, in August of 2013, the APA Council of Representatives passed the "Resolution on Accreditation for Programs that Prepare Psychologists to Provide Health Services" (see the FAQs on the resolution here), which stated that doctoral programs that train Health Service Psychologists should be accredited by approximately 2018, while internship programs that train HSPs shall be accredited by approximately 2020.

In addition, APPIC implemented policy changes that took effect beginning with the 2018 Match (representing the 2018-19 internship year) that limited Match participation to students who attend doctoral programs that are accredited or that have been granted an accreditation site visit. More recently, in August of 2020, the APPIC Board established policies that require its member internship programs to become accredited within a specified period of time (approximately three years) in order to continue to be allowed to participate in the APPIC Match.

Furthermore, the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) told us that, as of July 2023, a small number of licensing boards have issued rules that require an accredited doctoral program or accredited internship in order to be licensed in those jurisdictions.

Many students attend non-accredited internship programs each year and experience no difficulty with their future employment or licensure. However, some students who attend such programs do experience such difficulties. It is important to understand that there are potential risks associated with attending a non-accredited program. You should carefully consider the requirements of three different entities:

  1. YOUR DOCTORAL PROGRAM: Most graduate programs have minimum requirements regarding what constitutes an acceptable internship. Many require that you attend an accredited internship, while a relatively small number will allow you to consider non-accredited internships. So, be sure that you clearly understand the requirements of your doctoral program in this regard, as it is a waste of time to apply to a program that won't meet your doctoral program's requirements.

  2. LICENSING BOARDS: Each state and provincial licensing board has its own rules for determining the types of internships that are acceptable. Just because an internship is acceptable to your doctoral program doesn't mean that it will be acceptable to a particular licensing board.

    As of July, 2023, ASPPB tell us that there are two jurisdictions that require an accredited internship in order to be licensed. Jurisdictions that require an internship for licensure will typically consider an accredited internship to meet that requirement without further review, while a non-accredited internship may be required to meet additional criteria (which varies across jurisdictions). A site that is an APPIC member may be able to meet that criteria, but there are no guarantees. Thus, attending a non-accredited internship program can increase the risk of having difficulties with the licensure process or not being able to be licensed as a psychologist at all in certain jurisdictions (e.g., if your internship is deemed to be unacceptable to a particular licensing board).

    If you are certain that you plan to stay within a single jurisdiction throughout your professional career, you can check with that licensing board to learn about its requirements for internship. If you don't know where you might want to get licensed, or if you might move to a different jurisdiction in the future, it can be difficult or impossible to know in advance whether a non-accredited internship will meet future requirements.

    An excellent article, "Why accreditation matters", published by APAGS' GradPsych magazine in April, 2004, addressed some of the licensure and employment issues related to attending an accredited internship. Please note that some of the requirements listed in that article for specific jurisdictions are outdated, as requirements can and do change over time.

    It should be noted that the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) has endorsed the following:

    "The Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPB) endorses the position that graduation from an APA/CPA accredited program should be a minimum requirement for doctoral level licensure for health service providers."

    Information about licensure can be found at the ASPPB web site. Two excellent resources for learning more about licensure requirements in specific jurisdictions:

    • ASPPB Psy|Book - Psychology Licensing Requirements
    • MDLR - Multi-Discipline Licensure Resource Project
  3. FUTURE EMPLOYERS: Some psychologist positions require applicants to have completed an accredited internship program. Furthermore, a considerable (and increasing) number of employment and postdoctoral fellowship positions require or prefer applicants to have completed accredited internships, particularly in areas where employers receive a large number of applications. So, attending an accredited internship can help with future employment, while attending a non-accredited internship can be a barrier to some opportunities. On the other hand, some individuals report that completing a non-accredited internship does not hurt them in the job market.

    You should also keep in mind that it is quite common for career choices and aspirations to change over one's professional career. In some cases, the accreditation status of one's doctoral program and/or internship can help or hinder such transitions. APPIC frequently hears from practicing psychologists who have decided that they want their careers to go in a different direction (e.g., to work at a VA facility), only to find themselves locked out because their doctoral program or internship lacked accreditation.

Overall, there is not a "right answer" to the question of whether you should consider attending a non-accredited internship program. Attending an accredited program is certainly the safest option, as you almost certainly won't have to justify the quality of your internship to anyone in the future. In addition, it provides you with a "seal of approval" with regard to the quality of training that you will receive, and makes it unlikely that your internship program will be a barrier to licensure and/or future employment. Attending an APPIC-member internship that is not accredited does increase the risk to some extent, particularly for licensure boards or employers that require an accredited internship. Attending a non-accredited, non-APPIC member internship is where you assume the most risk, given that there has been no external body that has reviewed the site to ensure that it meets established standards of quality, and given the potential risks to future licensure and employment opportunities.

Some programs may tell you that they are planning to apply (or have already applied) for initial accreditation, have a site visit scheduled, or are at some other point in the process. While a site may have the best of intentions, you should be aware that the application and/or approval processes for initial accreditation and/or APPIC membership may take far longer (months or years longer) than a site anticipates. This situation was made much worse by the pandemic, which added delays of a year or more to an already-lengthy process. There is no guarantee that a program will ultimately achieve accreditation or will achieve them in a timely manner. Thus, while a site in the midst of the initial application process may convey confidence that they will ultimately be successful, you should accept an internship offer from such a site only if you clearly understand the risks in doing so.

The decision as to whether to attend a non-accredited or non-APPIC member internship program can be a difficult one, particularly if the student is geographically restricted. We encourage you to consult with faculty or other knowledgeable individuals, to carefully consider your career interests and options, and to familiarize yourself with issues related to licensure and future employment.

Finally, it is important to remember that sites do not have to be accredited in order to participate in the APPIC Match or the APPIC Post-Match Vacancy Service. APPIC Members are listed in the APPIC Directory, and their accreditation status is included in their Directory listings (and may be double-checked at the APA or CPA web sites). In addition, the list of programs that participate in the APPIC Match (available at the National Matching Services web site) includes information on the accreditation status of all participating programs.

5. Is it possible for me to complete two internships? For example, if I accept a non-accredited internship this year, can I apply for a second, accredited internship the following year?

APPIC occasionally receives inquiries from students who want to know if it would be acceptable to complete a non-accredited internship with the plan to re-enter the Match in the following year in order to secure an accredited internship at that time. The theory is that the student would gain additional experience during the first internship, with the hope of being more competitive when he/she re-applies for a second internship.

While the APPIC Board understands the thinking behind such a strategy, the Board strongly discourages students from pursuing two internships. Many Internship Training Directors may be unlikely to consider a student who is applying for internship when they have already completed (or are in the process of completing) an internship. Thus, a student who accepts an internship with the idea of later seeking a second (and more preferred) internship may actually significantly hurt their chances of obtaining that second internship.

It is very important that applicants NOT view internship as an opportunity to strengthen their experience in hopes of obtaining a "better" internship the following year. Instead, students who wish to gain additional experience in order to be more competitive for an internship should do so by arranging additional practicum experiences through their doctoral programs.

Thus, students should make their internship selection decisions with the understanding that they will complete one, and only one, internship.

6. Is it acceptable to complete an internship after the doctoral degree has been awarded?

APPIC policies state that students who participate in the APPIC Match or Post-Match Vacancy Service must be currently matriculating through a doctoral program that meets APPIC's criteria. Thus, individuals who want to complete an internship after the doctoral degree is conferred (e.g., if they graduate without an internship) will NOT be eligible to participate in future APPIC Matches.

There is an exception to this rule for individuals who are engaged in a re-specialization program in health service psychology (i.e., doctoral-level psychologists who are completing a re-specialization program in an area other than that emphasized in their original training). Other exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis, such as for students who have completed a doctoral program outside of the U.S. or Canada. Additional information is available here.

Individuals who have questions or concerns about this policy may wish to use APPIC's "Informal Problem Consultation" process.

7. What about these businesses that are offering to help me get an internship for a fee?

Each year, the APPIC Board receives feedback about the increasing number of enterprising individuals who have established businesses that focus on assisting applicants in obtaining an internship. Furthermore, the APPIC Board has heard comments and complaints about the claims that some of these individuals are making, the ways in which certain individuals are advertising their businesses and recruiting students, and the rates being charged to students (e.g., $200 or more per hour) for these services.

While there may in fact be some legitimate and helpful services that are being offered, the Board remains very concerned about the potential for exploitation -- i.e., that some of these businesses may be exploiting students' fears and worries about not getting matched.

We encourage students to be cautious and informed consumers when it comes to decisions about using any of these services. Please know that there are a number of no-cost and low-cost ways of obtaining advice and information about the internship application process, such as the workbook published by APAGS (as well as books written by other authors), the free information available on the APPIC and NMS web sites, discussion lists sponsored by APPIC, APAGS, and others, and the support and advice provided by the faculty of many doctoral programs.

8. What about issues of pregnancy and family care during internship?

APPIC has published a document that provides guidance regarding issues of pregnancy and family care during the internship and/or postdoctoral years. That document is available here.