About 24 percent of the 3,598 psychology students who participated in the 2009 match did not get an internship, the highest number to date, according to the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers (APPIC).
Last year, 21 percent of applicants did not get a slot, leaving 743 participating applicants unmatched.
"Certain doctoral programs are sending more and more students into the match every year … and we just don't have the positions to accommodate the increasing number of applicants," says APPIC Match and Clearinghouse coordinator Greg Keilin, PhD.
APPIC released its data Feb. 23.
The match connects psychology doctoral students who need a yearlong predoctoral training experience with programs that have internship slots. Applicants and programs submit rank-ordered lists of preferences, and a computer program matches applicants with available positions.
Students who don't match can try to obtain a position through the APPIC Clearinghouse, which lists internship positions that weren't filled. Students can also wait to secure a match the following year.
The worsening economy played a role in making the number of unmatched applicants the highest to date, Keilin says. Uncertainty over funding and funding cuts caused the number of positions to shrink. In fact, there were seven fewer internship positions available this year compared with last year. Meanwhile, the number of registered applicants who initially sought an internship grew by 66 to 3,825 applicants, another record number.
Of the applicants who did match, 45 percent got their first choice and 66 percent found internships at one of their top two choices.
"Certainly, no one is pleased to see the number of students who are not getting an internship, " says Catherine Grus, PhD, APA's associate executive director for professional education and training.
Grus is working with the five training councils representing the different areas of doctoral training in professional psychology and APPIC to develop and implement actions to improve the imbalance.
"We want to make sure that any actions that are directed toward the internship match imbalance, first and foremost, consider that trainees have a right to a quality internship experience," she says.