Undergraduate Internships for Credit
The purpose of this proposal is to differentiate between internships for credit and internships that are not for credit. These guidelines do not apply to field experiences, clinicals, or student teaching which are currently extant in College of Professional Studies. We are starting with the premise that internships for credit integrate content knowledge and theory with work. Internships that are not for credit give the student an opportunity to learn about and experience the world of work, but they are less structured than internships for credit and do not directly relate to specific course work.
INTERNSHIPS FOR CREDIT:
Internships for credit are individualized, supervised experiences in a work or volunteer setting which the University judges to be worthy of academic credit. Given that assumption, the question that needs to be addressed is whether there is enough academic rigor associated with the internship to make it worthy of credit. To be worthy of credit, the experience should give the students the opportunity to reflect upon, analyze, and critique their experiences in a way that demonstrates knowledge of course content and ideas and a sophisticated ability to apply perspectives of that specific field of study. The internship should help students gain new knowledge and apply classroom knowledge so their knowledge becomes contextualized and operational.
This can only occur if the internship is well structured and placed appropriately in the overall curriculum. First, content and experiences in other courses must directly relate to and prepare students for the internship experience. Without that cross-curricular integration, students do not have the knowledge base they need to connect with experience.
Second, the internship needs to be structured so that the student, faculty member, and on-site supervisor know exactly what is expected of each and so that it is truly an educational experience. Students may look at an internship as a job experience and the on-site supervisor may look at it as gaining a temporary employee, but, for an internship to be for credit, structure is needed to preserve the academic integrity of the course.
Academic departments should decide how internships for credit fit into their curriculum and set up specific parameters. The guidelines provided in this document are only minimal requirements. The college or department may develop additional criteria. An internship should be a new experience for the student. Therefore, the internship cannot be related to someone's current job nor can an internship be done retroactively. The student must be registered for the internship during the term that he/she is doing the internship. Internships should usually occur in the junior or senior years or after significant course work has been completed.
The proposal should include the following:
- Specific learner objectives that outline what the student will gain from the internship. These objectives should relate to the major curriculum and to specific course objectives.
- Specific responsibilities the student will have at the internship site. These need to relate to the learner objectives and therefore to specific course work.
- Number of credits to be earned.
- Number of hours required on site.
- Number of meetings required with the faculty member supervising the internship.
- Name of and responsibilities of on-site supervisor.
- How the performance of the student will be assessed by the on-site supervisor.
- How the performance of the student will be assessed by the faculty member.
MINIMUM REQUIREMENTS FOR AN INTERNSHIP:
These are minimum requirements. A college or department may establish additional criteria.
- For a three credit internship, the minimum of 120 hours should be required. (This is based on the fact that a three credit course meets for about 40 hours a semester and that a student should put in at least two hours of study time for each hour in class.)
- Students should minimally be required to keep a log of activities and samples of work completed at the site, if applicable, and write an academic paper on their experience relating the experience to work in specific courses and to their learner objectives.
- Students should have weekly contacts with the faculty member, in person, phone or by e-mail, to discuss the internship, to evaluate progress on goals and objectives, and to help connect the internship with course work.
- Evaluation should be done jointly by the on-site supervisor and the faculty member. The faculty member should require a written evaluation of the student intern by the on-site supervisor.
- The internship should be on a Pass/Fail basis. The grade will be assigned by the faculty member. Internships for Pass/Fail may be used in the student's major.
- The student must be registered for the internship in the term that he/she is doing the internship.
- There should be an agreement in writing signed by the student, faculty supervisor, and on-site supervisor before the internship begins.
The internship proposal needs to be recommended by the student, on-site supervisor, and faculty member, and approved by the department chair, and program director, if applicable, and the student's dean.
INTERNSHIPS NOT FOR CREDIT:
Through the Career Placement and Development Office, there are opportunities for students to do paid and non-paid internships for not-for-profit and for profit organizations and companies. These experiences are valuable in that they acquaint the students with the world of work. They are not experiences for which credit is reflected on official transcript.