Practicum Overview

Watch this 4 minute video highlighting what PSY 490 is all about!

Does the Psychology Department offer course credit for internships?

PSY 490 is our Psychology Practicum course, which is similar to an internship. Because the word “internship” is typically reserved for graduate school training in the field of psychology, we use the word “practicum.” The practicum course is a student-initiated supervised work experience in an area of potential career interest. Students enrolled in the course receive credit for their work experience and attendance to a bi-weekly seminar.

PSY 490

  • PSY 490 is a course designed to provide students with opportunities to expand their awareness and understanding of the various fields of work and study that are impacted by the psychology discipline and in which students with bachelor’s degrees in psychology often develop careers.
  • Students are required to find a supervised work experience within the field of psychology at a professional site of their choosing.
  • Students will spend 45 hours at their worksite during a given semester per credit hour they are registered for the class.
  • Students will also attend a bi-weekly group meeting with the practicum coordinator and other students enrolled in the class.


PSY 490: Practicum Course Syllabus (pdf)


This course is aimed at students who may not know what they would like to pursue in terms of a career or possible graduate education. If you are a psychology or behavioral neuroscience major, and you are unsure of what you want to do with your degree, this course may be beneficial for you because it will provide you with real-world experience in the field of psychology in addition to learning more about other career options and engaging in career preparatory experiences for your future.

  • Apply concepts you have learned in your psychology (and other) courses to a professional workplace setting
  • Try out a career option
  • Gain practical work experience in a real-world workplace
  • Build self-confidence and gain a competitive edge for future jobs/positions
  • Network with professionals in your field
  • Build a professional portfolio
  • Obtain work references
  • Learn about a variety of career options within the field of psychology
  • Obtain course credit for a volunteer/unpaid or paid work experience
  • Must be a psychology or behavioral neuroscience major
  • Must have at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA*
  • Must be at least a junior standing*
  • Must have taken PSY 101
  • Before enrolling in the course, you must also have your work position/placement and have instructor approval (i.e., via an interview).

* If you do not meet some of these criteria (e.g., sophomore standing, GPA below 2.75) but are very interested in the practicum course, please reach out to Dr. Wildey ( [email protected] ). Typically, an additional letter of recommendation from another professor and the internship coordinator’s approval are required in order for any exceptions to be made to these criteria.

PSY 490 is typically offered in the fall, winter, and spring/summer semesters each year.

Currently, we limit each course to 12 students.

I meet the eligibility requirements, so how do I sign up for PSY 490?

  1. Make sure you meet the requirements for the course as listed above. Watch the 4-minute video also listed above to ensure you understand the details of the course.
  2. Email Dr. Wildey that you are interested in the course and what semester you are considering taking it, and she will reserve a spot for you in the course.
  3. Check the course schedule to ensure the course meeting time works. If it does not, you will need to rearrange your schedule to make it fit. Tip: Because you cannot register for PSY 490 until ALL of the below steps are completed, put a temporary class as a placeholder in your schedule until you are able to officially register for PSY 490.
  4. Find a worksite position. This can be a paid or unpaid position, and it can be a remote position. It must be within the field of psychology. Tip: It is best to look for a work position 1-3 months before the start of the semester you’d like to take the course so that you can secure a position and complete all the steps to register for the course.
  5. Once you have a worksite, ask your supervisor (the person who can best evaluate your work performance day to day) if they are okay with you enrolling in this course. You can use this sample text to communicate with them. 
  6. Decide for how many credit hours you want to take the course. You can register for 1 to 6 credits. Each credit hour you register for equals 45 hours you must work at the worksite across the semester (fall/winter semesters are 15 weeks long, spring/summer semester is 12 weeks long). You cannot sign up for more credits than the hours you plan to work, but you can sign up for fewer credits.
  7. Complete an internship agreement form.
    • On the form, list the “supervisor” as the person who can best evaluate your performance at the worksite and who oversees your work at the worksite.
    • Because the form is a generic one, under the “Description” box, please include the following info:
      • First provide a brief description (2-3 sentences) of the type of work you will be doing.
      • Please write the planned number of hours you plan to work at the site each week. If it is a range, please include that range of hours.
      • Of the hours listed under #2, roughly how many hours will you be working face to face (i.e., in person) with clients/patients (i.e., with people seeking services at your worksite and NOT other employees or workers)? If you are not going to be working face to face with clients/patients, please write zero. I understand you may not know how many hours you will be working face to face, so please provide your best estimate or provide a range. You can also provide a percentage of the time you are working that you plan to be face-to-face with clients/patients.
      • Please list 4 specific learning objectives/goals that you have for the work you plan to do. These can be discussed and generated with the help of your worksite supervisor. Some examples to consider: learning a new skill or improving upon an existing skill, exposure to a new experience/area of psychology, improving professional development/communication with others, experience for a future work job or graduate school, obtaining a letter of recommendation/work reference for a future job or graduate school, etc.
  8. After you complete the form, please email Dr. Wildey to set up a time to interview with her. You will get full details of how to register after you meet with her and she approves you for the course.

list of current sites at which many students have already found work experiences is available. Feel free to look at the list, but you are also welcome to find your own work experience opportunity that will count as long as it relates to the field of psychology. If you have any questions about an experience and whether or not it counts, you can contact the internship coordinator.  

Log into Handshake for additional job or internship opportunities.

To register for at least one credit of PSY 490, you must work at least 45 hours at your worksite over the course of the semester. The fall and winter semesters are 15 weeks long, and the spring/summer semester is considered 12 weeks long. You can enroll in the class for anywhere between 1 and 6 credits. Here is the credit breakdown for how many hours you must complete in a given semester.

  • 1 credit = 45 hours
  • 2 credits = 90 hours
  • 3 credits = 135 hours
  • 4 credits = 180 hours
  • 5 credits = 225 hours
  • 6 credits = 270 hours

Note: You can always register for fewer credit hours than the hours you plan to work, but you cannot register for more credits. For example, if you plan to work 10 hours/week at your worksite during the entire fall semester, you could register for as few as 1 credit hour or as many as 3 credit hours.

Absolutely not! In the field of psychology, there are many wonderful volunteer opportunities as well, and these would also count for your practicum experience.

No. You must be enrolled in PSY 490 during the same semester that you have the worksite position.

No. Once you register for the semester, you are locked into the credits you have signed up for.

No, unfortunately, you can only take it during one semester.

For some students who are working at sites where they will have direct patient contact, some additional health compliance measures might be necessary through GVSU (e.g., certain immunizations, online health training). The internship coordinator will discuss these requirements as needed depending on your worksite location and the job you plan to do. Note that for some students, the health compliance measures are not an option; they would be a requirement of the course and there may be additional financial costs associated with the compliance measures.

The course generally meets every other week during the semester for about two hours. Please see the course schedule in Banner for exact times, but generally, the course is on Tuesday mornings.

A general syllabus can be found here and outlines the types of assignments and workload to expect for the seminar course. All of this work is outside of the hours you are required to do at your worksite.

PSY 490 is graded using a pass/fail system. If you complete the course requirements and obtain the necessary points for the course (see course syllabus), you will pass the course.

Who is the internship coordinator, or who can I contact for more information?

Dr. Mikhila Wildey – [email protected]

Page last modified March 15, 2023