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Psychology Internships for High School Students

5 minute read

Psychology, a psychological science, offers the opportunity to understand the complexities of the human mind and behavior. Many students find themselves interested in psychology because the theories allow them to understand the behaviors and motivations of others, and relative to other fields it’s quite intuitive to see how theoretical concepts play out in the real world. While your high school may offer psychology classes, a deeper way to get involved is a psychology internship program! In this article, we’ll walk you through what to expect from a psychology internship as a high school student, provide a comprehensive list, and guide you through best practices on how to apply for these internships.

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What to Expect from a Psychology Internship

Some psychology internships may be more research-focused while others may allow you to work directly with patients or clients, so reflect upon what might be more interesting to you. In both settings, however, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about psychology concepts and apply them to the real world. 

Whether you’re interested in behavioral sciences and mental health, clinical psychology, psychological services, or special education, you're sure to discover a new opportunity below.

Top Psychology Internships for High School Students

#1 American Psychological Association

The APA offers a variety of internships related to policy, research, communications, operations, publishing, and education. As a result, Individual responsibilities and tasks will vary widely by department. You can click here to browse through the full list of internships.

Across all internships, students will be able to apply theoretical knowledge to practice and gain a better understanding of what it’s like to work in professional psychology. 

Location: Remote

Pay: Can choose paid or unpaid internships (for unpaid you can receive academic credit)

Program Dates: Year-round

Eligibility: High school students and students under 18 must submit a D.C. work permit, while interns can only work remotely from certain states (see website for more details)

Application Deadline: Varies by internship, usually in May

#2 Youth Mental Health Academy

This is a community-based internship that allows you to really dive deep into the issue of mental health. The program starts in the 1st summer with a 5-week boot camp where you’ll develop mental health literacy and also work on a capstone project. Following that, you’ll be matched with a mentor and have one-on-one support throughout the school year, while also attending monthly workshops led by industry experts. Then, for your 2nd summer, you’ll get to do a paid internship with a community-based organization or research organization where you can apply the things you learned from boot camp and your mentor.

One of the things this internship does very well is provide a sustained mentor relationship for almost an entire year, which can allow you to directly ask questions to an expert and gain better insights about careers in the mental health field. Further, this program has both a passion project component and an internship component!

Location: Remote, in-person in California, or hybrid

Pay: Stipend of up to $2000

Program Dates: 14-month program

Eligibility: Rising high school junior or senior

Application Deadline: May 20, application opens again in November

#3 UT Southwestern Mental Health Internship

The University of Texas Southwestern Department of Psychiatry annually hosts a 2-week virtual summer internship that showcases the wide range of careers available in mental health. Interactive sessions are led by a variety of mental health clinician-scientists, such as licensed clinical social workers, neuropsychologists, physician assistants, and psychiatrists. 

Interns will also have to do some prep work before these sessions, by completing topical readings from sources like scientific journals. During sessions, leaders share more about what it’s like to work in the field of mental health, and the different topics out there including psychotherapy, neuropsychological testing, neuroscience, interventional psychiatry, and community psychiatry. These engaging sessions are a great way to find a lifelong mentor to guide you along your psychology journey!

Location: Remote

Pay: Not specified

Program Dates: 2 weeks in June

Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: Early February, application opens again in late September


JSSA is a nonprofit agency focused on offering care to the elderly and also providing therapy support to families and children. The JSSA internship allows students to experience a non-profit setting and see how people’s needs are effectively met. The internship is flexible but recommends that students work for 12-16 hours per week to get the full experience of a human service organization. 

Potential psychology interns can expect tasks such as case consultations, assisting in developing presentations (for topics such as psychoeducation on mental health) for the community, and engaging in other administrative tasks. 

Location: Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland area

Pay: Not specified

Program Dates: Summer (no specific dates mentioned)

Eligibility: High school students

Application Deadline: The website does not say, the application link however is closed right now

#5 National Institutes of Health Summer Internship Program

Through this internship, high school students can explore careers in research and healthcare and work in a full-time internship within one of the NIH Institutes and Centers (IC) in the NIH Intramural Research Program. Selected summer interns work under a Principal Investigator (PI) and there are opportunities available in the behavioral and social sciences. Students interested in psychology are encouraged to apply. 

Professional development is a big part of the program, and you can look here to learn more about how interns can boost their careers in science through internships. In addition to the NIH internship program, there are also two cohort programs called HiSTEP (for current high school juniors) and HiSTEP 2.0 (for current high school seniors) that give students access to all the same resources as the broader NIH program, but students also participate in orientation, leadership, professional development, and well-being programs as part of a learning community.

NIH has a very comprehensive website about the internship program so be sure to read carefully before applying.

Location: Various (Maryland, North Carolina, Montana, Arizona)

Pay: Stipends provided (see here for more details)

Program Dates: Summer (no specific dates mentioned)

Eligibility: High school juniors or seniors, must be 17 years old by June

Application Deadline: Applications are currently closed, check back in the fall


DOROT is a non profit organization dedicated to helping older adults deal with social isolation by facilitating meaningful connections between interns and adults. This internship is a hybrid program where 1-2 days per week will take place via Zoom and 2-3 days will be in-person. Interns engage in meaningful programs and activities with older adults such as art projects, teaching older adults how to use technology, and playing board games with seniors. Through these activities, interns can develop leadership skills and understand the psychological needs of older adults. Although this internship does not have a psychology research component, it provides a great opportunity to apply what you’ve learned to help those in need.

Location: Manhattan, New York, and Long Island, New York, but also some days will be remote

Pay: Unpaid

Program Dates: Manhattan: June 24 - July 18 and July 23 - August 15. Long Island: July 22 - August 15

Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors and seniors

Application Deadline: Applications are currently closed, check back in the fall

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Application Procedure for Psychology Internships

Preparing Your Application

In the application process, internship programs typically ask you to submit essays explaining your interest in psychology. Internship programs don’t usually expect you to have many technical skills since the whole point of most programs is to introduce you to the field. 

Writing a Stand-Out Essay

When tackling the essay component of your application, prioritize showcasing your curiosity for psychology. Keep in mind that what sets applicants apart isn't hard skills. The true differentiator is how well you can articulate your passion for psychology and why the program is exciting to you.

Letters of Recommendation and Interviews

If you plan to apply for a psychology internship next summer, it's a good idea to get to know your teachers in school, especially those who teach science, and do your best in their classes. They might be the ones who write your recommendation letters, which are often needed for internships.

Some internships might also include face-to-face interviews. For these, make sure you go over your essays and remember why you're keen on psychology and how you'd benefit from the program. Apart from that, just stay calm! Feel free to talk about what you love.

Maximizing Your Internship Experience

Networking and Professional Development

We encourage you to also learn as much as you can from your managers and mentors during the internship. They were once in your shoes and can be incredible resources for helping you navigate the psychology field in college! If you’re interested in a psychology major, check out our list of the top schools for psychology in the US. Also, be sure you follow the right steps to gain internship credit from your high school or university!

Turning Your Internship into a Career Opportunity

The benefits of an internship don’t just stop after you leave the internship site! The mentors you meet during your internship can be lifelong mentors as you continue to navigate psychology. They can help you understand what careers in psychology are out there and what might be the best fit for you.  In the final weeks of your internship be sure to express your interest in keeping in touch with your mentors. Get their contact info and set up a recurring call to stay in touch so that they can follow your journey as you continue to learn in college.

Polygence Scholars Are Also Passionate About

Opportunities at Polygence

Interested in doing psychology research on your own time? Take your internship opportunity to the next step with Polygence’s Research Mentorship Program, where you can explore a psychology topic of your choice and work with an expert mentor to help your research come to life. If you’re stuck on finding the right project idea, check out our list of psychology passion project ideas.

If you’re interested in neuroscience and studying the function of the brain and nervous system, check out our top neuroscience internships for high school students! If you’re more interested in the broader social sciences like history or political science, read our list of top social science internships.