From the APA Science Student Council

Joining an APA Division: What’s in it for me?

With 54 APA divisions, finding the perfect division(s) for you should be no problem.

By Gloria Luong

As student affiliates of the American Psychological Association (APA), you are undoubtedly aware of the numerous benefits of being a member of APA, such as discounts on attending the annual APA convention and subscriptions to American Psychologist, Monitor on Psychology, and GradPSYCH.  You might be wondering if there are even more benefits – there are. You can get much more out of your membership by joining an APA division. Divisions of APA represent more specialized fields and areas within psychology that may better represent your scientific and professional interests. With 54 APA divisions, finding the perfect division(s) for you should be no problem.

Why Join an APA Division?

  1. Networking with professionals in your area of interest: Joining an APA division gives you access to professionals in your area of psychology. Some APA divisions have their own smaller conferences that seem like “home” for psychologists in a specific area of study. For example, Division 8 (Society for Personality and Social Psychology) hosts an annual conference, and some of the most recognized and well-respected scholars make a point not to miss this conference. These conferences and meetings are great opportunities to network with professionals in your area and may open the doors to post-doctoral and job opportunities in the future. In addition, at the APA convention, many divisions have social hours where you can also network with other students, faculty, post-docs, and professionals in your area. If you are in an interdisciplinary program or do not have many faculty members at your university who are specialists in your area, joining multiple divisions and using these opportunities to network with experts in your fields of study may be especially important for establishing your professional identity.

  2. Connecting to the latest findings in your area: Many APA divisions have newsletters and specialized journals that report on the latest, cutting edge research findings in your area. In addition, most divisions offer these specialized journals at a discounted rate for students. As an example, Division 5 (Evaluation, Measurement, and Statistics) offers the premier journal, Psychological Methods, at a reduced price for students. Most divisions also have newsletters, email listservs, and online postings that will keep you informed about relevant upcoming events (e.g., statistics workshops, conferences), award deadlines, and even post-doc and job openings.

  3. Representing the interests of science students in your area: By joining an APA division, you are also making a statement that as a science student, you care about shaping the future of your field and giving a voice to the next generation of psychologists. You may have opportunities to attend division business meetings and vote on division policies and procedures that directly affect students (e.g., increases in membership dues). Believe it or not, students make up a large proportion of APA membership and your participation in division activities will make science student representation in APA more visible and impactful.

  4. Opportunities for award recognition and funding: As any graduate student can testify, funding is often scarce and hard to come by. Luckily, many APA divisions offer awards targeted toward undergraduate and graduate students. Division 38 (Health Psychology), for example, offers a $1200 award to support graduate student research on various health psychology topics, and Division 14 (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology) offers a $1000 dissertation award. Because these awards are often geared toward specific topics within an already specialized area of psychology, the pool of applicants for these awards are typically smaller and your chances of getting these types of awards are generally much greater than general funding opportunities in which many applicants are competing for the same award (e.g., National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship). 

  5. It’s cheap and easy! While most APA divisions charge membership fees in addition to the general APA membership fee, students oftentimes get discounts on their division memberships. Even better, some divisions offer students free membership. For example, Division 20 (Adult Development and Aging) offers students their first year of membership at no cost and Division 7 (Developmental Psychology) offers undergraduate and graduate student affiliates free membership as long as they remain students. As a graduate student you may be living like a pauper, but with cheap (or even free) membership in many of APA’s divisions, you have no reason not to join a division.

To qualify for membership, most divisions require that you are also a member of APA. For more information on APA divisions, including a complete listing of divisions, visit the APA web site. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and join a division (or two or three)!