What Is a Psychology Fellowship? (With Definition and FAQ)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published April 25, 2022

A psychology fellowship offers post-doctoral and graduate students the opportunity to work in clinical settings. During this time, participants can use and hone relevant skills, such as research and writing capabilities. If you're interested in finding a psychology fellowship, it's helpful to learn more fundamental information about this type of fellowship and some strategies for choosing one.

In this article, we explore the definition of a psychology fellowship, offer steps for how to select one and provide a list of psychology fellowship programs to consider.

What is a psychology fellowship?

This fellowship is a program that allows a psychology graduate or post-doctorate student to build upon important skills for their careers, like data analytics and personal management skills. Most fellowships require participants to be supervised by another psychology professional, who often possesses a Ph.D. and other relevant licenses. They also allow students to work in a variety of settings, including clinics and academic research facilities.

The two different fellowships include a research or practice postdoc. The former provides graduates with the chance to practice their investigation and related skills. Psychology graduates who plan to work in a research position typically benefit the most from this fellowship. The practice postdoc program helps graduates gain the specialized training needed to get certain psychology credentials, such as a Board Certified Diplomate credential. This type of program is beneficial for those preparing to get a license to practice psychology.

How to choose a psychology fellowship program

The following are steps psychology graduates can take when choosing a fellowship to take part in:

1. Apply for fellowship positions of interest

While there are a few different options for psychology postdocs, it's important to select one that best suits their intended area of practice. This can ensure you can gain relevant professional experiences and skill sets for your future career, plus enjoy the position. If you have a preferred work style, you may also want to take into consideration a program's supervision level, as some require graduates to work on their own and others include regular guidance.

Related: School Psychology vs. Clinical Psychology: What's the Difference?

2. Look for positions that complement your lifestyle and work situation

Consider a program's requirements, and whether they suit your current daily schedule. For example, if a laboratory is far away from your home or job, you may have longer commute hours and less time to complete other responsibilities. It may be helpful to ask the supervisor of the program or current participants what the program entails and where it's located before making a final decision.

3. Focus on a program that emphasizes the development of new skills

Postdoctoral programs can give you the opportunity to explore other areas of psychology and broaden your knowledge of the field. For example, if you focused on clinical psychology during a graduate program, you may want to consider a fellowship that teaches research skills. This can allow you to learn more versatile research methods and help you seek jobs in various niches of the psychology field.

Related: All About Psychology Jobs and Common Careers

4. Select a program that allows participants to publish research papers

If you want to advance your area of study, consider finding a fellowship that focuses on designing research studies. For example, a school psychology student might benefit from a program that allows them to conduct experiments that result in significant findings to share with other professionals. Publishing research papers can also help psychology professionals gain recognition in the field.

5. Submit applications relevant to the position

Most postdoc opportunities require potential candidates to include different types of materials in their applications. For example, a postdoc position may ask for a research proposal, while another may only require a CV and resume. Tailoring each application to the specific fellowship program may help applicants improve their chances of receiving entry to a program, which increases your available options.

6. Look for positions on fellowship-related sites

There are several associations and resources that offer information on available psychology fellowship positions. For example, the American Psychology Association has an accreditation page that includes all postdoctoral programs the organization endorses. Other places to look include the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center, the Association for Psychological Science and Science Magazine.

7 types of psychology fellowship programs

Here is a list of fellowships to consider during your search:

  1. Psychology postdoctoral fellowship

  2. Rehabilitation psychology postdoctoral fellowship

  3. Clinical neuropsychology postdoctoral fellowship

  4. Behavioral medicine fellowship

  5. Postdoctoral fellowship in clinical psychology

  6. Clinical child psychology postdoctoral program

  7. Primary care research postdoctoral fellowship

Frequently asked questions about psychology fellowships

Here are a few frequently asked questions related to psychology fellowships:

What competencies can you develop in a psychology fellowship?

Psychologists who want to open their own practice and gain licensure require a postdoc fellowship in many states. The fellowships can focus on a specialty that graduates plan to pursue, such as school psychology or counseling. The National Post-Doctoral Association requires all fellowships to follow six core competencies. These competencies include:

  • Knowledge and discipline-specific concepts

  • Development of research skills

  • The practice of communication skills

  • Adherence to high professional standards

  • Cultivation of personal and project management skills

  • Industry-standard training

Related: 22 Different Types of Psychology

Where does the fellowship take place?

Many fellowships take place on a college campus. The college may be the institution where you gained a bachelor's or master's degree or one you select specifically for the program. Some fellowships take place in laboratory or clinical settings off-campus, meaning you can get real-world professional experience.

How long is a fellowship?

The time it takes to complete a psychology fellowship can vary based on the type of program. For example, some postdoctoral fellowships offered by the Association of Psychology Postdoctoral and Internship Center require a minimum of 1,500 hours that you can complete in nine to 24 months. Other programs may require up to 2,000 hours, which participants can complete in two to three years. You can also customize a program schedule depending on your preferences and needs.

What are the benefits of a psychology fellowship?

A psychology fellowship offers several benefits to participants. For example, some individuals complete fellowships to get experience and supervised hours for a psychology license. Another benefit is that postdoctoral fellowships offer individuals the chance to gain new competencies in the psychology field and deepen their knowledge of a specialty. After finishing a program, you may also feel more confident in your ability to perform psychology research or treat patients.

Related: Interesting Careers for Psychology Ph.D.s: 11 Jobs To Consider

What is the interview like for a potential psychology fellowship position?

Interviews can vary depending on the institution offering the program and the type of program. Some programs may require simply speaking with the supervisor, while others may include a multi-day interview that can last up to a week. If you're unsure about the interview process, consider asking a program's supervisor about the university's specific requirements.

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