Undergraduate Internships

Internships give students opportunities to enrich their academic preparation through complementary experiential education.

The Internship Experience

Internships benefit students in numerous ways, including enabling them to experience application of their academic preparation in the work setting, and helping them to identify areas in which they need further academic study. Under certain circumstances, internships may qualify students for academic credit that can be applied toward attainment of a baccalaureate.

Determining internship qualification for academic credit

These guidelines are designed to assist faculty members in deciding whether academic credit should be granted in connection with an internship, and to recommend procedures to assure the academic integrity of this kind of work. These guidelines are not meant to apply to departmentally based internship programs operated as part of an approved degree program (e.g., Political Science/Public Service). In all other cases, however, individual departments should adopt complementary guidelines that specify the conditions under which academic credit is appropriate.

  • An internship for which academic credit may be awarded is one in which
    • Students are able to apply the concepts and methods of one or more academic disciplines to an appropriate work experience or field setting;
    • Students are able to grow intellectually by extension of the general intellectual tools of one or more academic disciplines to the workplace; and
    • Faculty sponsors are able to assess the quality of academic work that the student completes.

Work that is clerical in nature or involves routine maintenance or service responsibilities does not qualify for academic credit.

  • A student for whom academic credit may be awarded is one who:
    • Possesses a suitable background in the discipline for which academic credit is sought;
    • Possesses the background or skills necessary to successfully complete the requirements of the internship;
    • Will experience significant intellectual growth as a result of the internship and the associated academic work.
  • When an academic official determines that an internship is appropriate for academic credit and a student is suitable for that internship, the arrangement for credit must involve the following elements:
    • Adherence to department guidelines setting forth specific requirements for the granting of academic credit. Requirements will vary, depending upon the nature of the discipline, but generally a student must complete reading assignments and a research paper or project that requires the student to relate the academic discipline to the internship experience. The paper or project should demonstrate the student's ability to perform critical reasoning and/or methods of research appropriate to the discipline. Student participation in a concurrent seminar or discussion section also may be required, but student achievement must be documented.
    • Faculty-student contact as appropriate, including, at minimum, a preliminary conference setting forth the faculty member's expectations and requirements for satisfactory completion of the internship for credit. Consultation by the faculty sponsor with the field supervisor is encouraged whenever possible.
  • Time commitment and unit value.
    • The number of units awarded is contingent upon the degree of commitment to the internship setting.
    • The basic formula is one unit of credit per three hours per week commitment for a 10-week period. Learn more about unit value of internships.

Adapted from Academic Senate Guidelines for Awarding Academic Credit for Internships at UC Davis (approved June 4, 1985, by the Representative Assembly of the Davis Division of the Academic Senate)