APA awarded an average of $20,000 each to 32 internship programs in December to help them gain APA accreditation. The awards were the first round of APA's "internship stimulus package," a program approved last August by the APA Council of Representatives that set aside up to $3 million over three years to help qualified, nonaccredited internship programs take all the steps necessary to become APA-accredited. The grants can be used to pay for application and site visit fees, program consultation, administrative and supervisor support, intern stipends and benefits, and other costs of seeking accreditation.

The stimulus "reflects APA's commitment to helping programs go through a quality-assurance mechanism so that we know that our students are graduating from programs that have met the standards of the profession in the same way as students in other health professions," says APA Education Director Cynthia Belar, PhD.

That's important for overall training purposes, for protection of trainee rights, and for students' job prospects post-internship, she notes. Many institutions, including the Veterans Administration and the federal government, will not hire students who have completed internships that aren't accredited by APA.

Eighty programs applied for the funding. Their applications were reviewed by a grants review group headed by the Board of Educational Affairs (BEA), chaired by G. Andrew Benjamin, JD, PhD, and made up of members of BEA and the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Centers, or APPIC. In the second round of grants, expected to be announced in June, APA will award up to $800,000.

APA is giving priority to programs that seek to increase their number of internship positions, that serve historically underserved populations and that prepare psychologists for working in the 21st century health-care system, such as primary-care settings and community health centers, says Belar.

The awards should make a solid contribution toward righting the internship imbalance, potentially adding 150 programs and 520 new internship positions over the three-year period, adds Jackie Tyson, the APA Education Directorate's associate executive director for administration and lead staff person for the project. In the 2012 internship match, 22 percent of 4,067 psychology doctoral students were not matched at all, and nearly 20 percent were matched in unaccredited internships, according to statistics from APPIC.

"It's really exciting to be a part of an effort to promote quality training for psychologists and to help more programs gain APA accreditation," Tyson says.

The 32 funded programs are:

Tori DeAngelis is a writer in Syracuse, N.Y.

To apply for the next round of internship grants, visit Internship Program Grants.