​Frequently Asked Questions about OPT

 1. What is OPT?

​OPT is the Office of Placement and Training. OPT faculty are administrative faculty whose primary focus is on the training processes of students with regards to practicum placement through internship and postdoc.  OPT faculty may also be identified as your Director of Clinical Training (DCT).   

OPT staff consists of…. 

 2. When am I eligible to begin the practicum/internship search process?

You are eligible to begin the search process when you have met the following prerequisites: 

➢ All students must have a cumulative GPA > 3.0 

➢ Completion or planned completion of required coursework (department specific)  

➢ Approval of the Director of Clinical Training in the student’s program of study with input from the Department Chair and advisors

 3. What kinds of questions can I ask my OPT faculty member?

​OPT faculty are available to aid in your search process for practicum and internship. They are also available to discuss any questions you may have related to your training experience overall (e.g., training hours, supervision experiences, evaluations).  Your OPT faculty will be reaching out to you when it is time to start the practicum/internship search process.  

 4. Why do I need to be approved by OPT to apply to sites? Why can’t I apply anywhere and everywhere I want? How does OPT decide which sites I can apply to?

There are several reasons OPT monitors and limits the number of applications students send to sites. Many sites limit the amount of applications from an institution. Therefore, if more students ask to apply than the site allows, OPT must honor these limits. Popular and more competitive sites often attract more applications than OPT can reasonably send, and again, limits need to be set. 

It should be noted that approvals are primarily made based on the rankings provided by students, as well as the limits set by sites, and goodness of fit between site and student. It is important for students to carefully consider their ranking of desired sites, as this is a primary factor used when OPT limits applications for a particular site. OPT strives not to remove your top choices from your ranking list. 

The search process for online students is overseen by your OPT faculty.  Please reference your training manual to understand the search process for your program of study.

 5. What is important for me to know about the placement search process?

The practicum/internship search process varies by department.  The OPT faculty for your program of study will provide information to you regarding the guidelines for your search process.   

If you are seeking a site that is not currently vetted and approved by your program of study, please contact OPT faculty to assist with the site development process.   

 6. How often is the OPT database updated?

​The OPT Database is the Chicago School community property and responsibility, and an updated OPT Database is to the benefit of all Chicago School students. The information on the OPT Database is the most up-to-date information the sites have provided to OPT. It is imperative for students to let OPT staff know of errors found in the OPT Database, as soon as they are discovered. This can be done by sending a quick email or stopping by the OPT staff offices. 

The OPT Database is updated when OPT staff is made aware of errors or changes, based on information provided by either sites or students. 

OPT annually sends out requests to sites to provide us with the most current information about the site. We are also in contact with sites throughout the year. However, sites are often changing, and unfortunately, sites may not always inform OPT staff of changes made. Students who are currently placed or searching may be the first to hear of these changes. 

Therefore, it is important to maintain good communication with OPT staff, so we can provide everyone the most up-to- date information possible.

 7. Is there a deadline for placement?

​Many top sites and top students do not secure placements by this time, for various reasons. It is important to remain in good contact with OPT faculty during this time, to hear about sites that are still searching for students, as well as to get support for your continued search.  Each program will have a deadline for placement, please reference your training manual.  

 8. Should I wait for my “perfect” site? What is a “perfect” site?

​There is no “perfect” site as all sites have pros and cons. It is important to evaluate sites while on interviews and through other information, such as the internet, OPT Database, and from other students, and choose several sites that can meet your broad training goals. Also, seek out consultation from your OPT faculty to clarify which sites can meet your training goals. There may be several sites that “on paper” did not seem like a good training experience, but in person were an excellent fit for you. This is why it is important to attend all interviews offered, and seriously consider all options available to you.  

It is strongly recommended that you remain open to the search process and remain flexible to search options that may not be in line with what your initial interests.  

 9. Will the type of training or specific population I work with on practicum/internship limit my future career options?

No. Future employers are looking for broader/generalized clinical skill set and flexibility, which are skills you can build on at any training site. Also, most clinical work with a specific population can be generalized to other populations. For instance, if you have your heart set on working with adult DUI offenders, a training experience with adolescent substance abusers or more general community mental health would allow overlap of clinical skills such as substance abuse interventions and treatment of depression.

 10. What happens when I am offered a placement? Is the verbal offer binding? Is my verbal agreement binding?

Each program will have specific guidelines regarding the match process, please reference your training manual.  Please inform your OPT faculty as soon as you receive an offer and update your information in the OPT training database. In addition, please upload the acceptance letter to the OPT training database.  The offer the site extends to you and your acceptance is a binding agreement. Under NO circumstances can you accept another offer once you have accepted a placement position at a site. Rather, you should contact every other site to which you interviewed, inform them you are no longer a candidate for their position, thank them for their consideration, and state your interest in possibly training or working with them in the future.