Considerations for departments considering academic credit for internships

Once the department decides to offer an internship course, they need to decide on their level of involvement. Here are some considerations and suggestions:

How could the credit apply toward degree requirements?

  • Elective credit
  • Elective credit as part of major
  • Substitutes for course required in major
  • Required as part of major

What department policies should be developed?

  • Limits as to how many credits will be allowed for single experience
  • Limits as to whether internship course/credit can be taken more than one time, whether for continuing in the same internship or a new internship
  • Restriction as to whether single internship can be credit-bearing in multiple departments
  • Determine if credit is influenced by whether the internship is paid or unpaid
  • Graded or pass/no-pass; any different requirements based on option chosen

Which staff will coordinate internship courses?

  • Internship course documentation
  • Generate permission codes and determines how they are distributed (individual faculty, administrative staff, etc.)

Must students meet certain eligibility standards in order to participate in internships for credit?

  • Some departments may limit participation based on number of completed credit hours, GPA, and/or whether the student is a major or minor in the department.

Will the department be involved in approving the employer and/or the experience?

  • The department or individual faculty/staff should not be involved in selecting students for a specific employer. A best practice is to share the opportunity widely (through Career Services’ Husker Hire Link, department listservs, etc.). Faculty/staff may reach out to individual students to encourage them to apply.
  • Departments can determine if the experience is “credit-worthy.” Departments may wish to give some examples of experiences that are appropriate and not appropriate. (For example, a chemistry student who is working at Proctor & Gamble may be approved but the department might decide to not award credit to a student who is helping with a summer science camp.)
  • Career Services offers an Internship Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that the student and employer sign so they can articulate learning goals and responsibilities.

What academic expectations will be placed beyond the work done at the internship?

  • Some departments may allow internships for capstone (ACE 10) requirements. In addition to considering how students demonstrate mastery in a subject area through participation in internships, departments will need to meet University requirements for certification/re-certification.
  • Although there may be some that award credit solely for participating in the internship, most have additional academic expectations. These may be journals, posters, etc. Ideally, there is an element of reflection where the student can consider the impact of the internship upon their learning goals. Departments can determine key deliverables appropriate to the discipline.
  • Given that some students may be privy to confidential research, the department would need to figure out how the student can share their experience without violating any agreements with the employer.
  • Career Services has an Academic Credit Contract as an example.

Will students and/or employers complete evaluations?

  • In the past, Career Services sent evaluations to the employer and student to complete but ceased doing so due to low return rate and employers wanting to use their own evaluation.
  • Departments may want to send evaluations to get a sense of the quality of experience and student’s preparedness for the experience. There are sample evaluations on the Career Services website.
  • Departments will need to determine if and how the evaluation content may affect grades.