After the Match Results: Planning for your Future

Jae Yeon Jeong, Ph.D.
Former APAGS Member-at-Large, Education (2007-2009)

Updated: February 2013

After Match Day, many graduate students in clinical, counseling and school psychology are celebrating the end of a long period of waiting and worrying about where they might complete their internships. Several hundred, however, do not have the opportunity to celebrate. Despite all of the hard work and time invested into the internship application process, the reality is that there are an inadequate number of APA-accredited internship slots as compared to the large number of applicants. The internship crisis is a multi-faceted problem that is being addressed by a number of doctoral training councils, APAGS, APPIC and APA.

Graduate students who do not match to an internship site have the option to apply to sites listed in the Phase 2 Match. More than 180 students matched in each of the most recent Phase 2 cycles. Note, however, that there are a limited number of APA-accredited programs, which might be an important factor to consider for graduation, licensure and employment. At this particular stage in the process, the news of not being matched can be a devastating blow to one’s sense of competence, intelligence and self-esteem. This emotional state may override some important factors to consider during this pivotal point in time. First, one must decide whether to seek an internship outside of the APPIC Match or to apply once more in the next Match process. Either decision can be a difficult one to make. With the former, some students have elected to work without being financially compensated. Others have completed non-APA or non-APPIC member internships. In making the decision to apply for the next Round 2 Match or next academic year's internship match, one must decide whether this is financially and emotionally feasible. Before you make a final decision on what to do next, here are some immediate and long-term factors to consider:

  1. What are your graduation requirements for a doctoral degree: Does the graduate program require completion of an APA-accredited internship? Speak with your director of clinical training (DCT) and consult the program handbook.
  2. What are your career goals and in what type of setting do you want to work? Do you plan to engage in practice, research or pursue an academic career? Some career options may or may not require completion of an APA-accredited internship (e.g., working in a VA requires an APA-accredited internship).
  3. What does your state require for licensure? If you plan to seek licensure, where do you plan on living? Licensure requirements vary from state to state and reciprocity is not universal. Plan ahead and investigate the education and clinical training requirements. Consult directly with the state licensing boards.
  4. Can you focus on your dissertation? At what stage are you in completing the dissertation? Could you possibly use this time to make significant progress or complete the dissertation by the time you apply for next year's Match?
  5. What do your finances dictate?  How will you support yourself? If you wait to apply for the next Match, will you continue to receive financial aid (federal loans, work study)? Do you need to consider options such as working as a graduate assistant or seeking a part-time job?
  6. How can you strengthen your overall application? Are there specific areas that you could strengthen (e.g., seeking additional clinical experiences, additional coursework and internship essays)? Consult with your DCT and seek feedback from several sources.

Please consider additional resources, including gradPSYCh magazine article, "Didn't match? Move on," and "What to do if you don't match" sidebar.

The internship application process is intensive, stressful and requires an investment of considerable time, energy and money. The feelings of angst and disappointment will most likely accompany the news of not being matched, and it will rightfully take some time to compose yourself, consult with friends and family, and plot your next steps. Your future matters to us, and on your behalf, the APAGS committee will continue to advocate for improvements to the match imbalance.