Get College Credits for Interning
Most internships, whether they are paid or unpaid, can be used for college credit. Just how much credit you get for your internship depends on your program, but there aren't many colleges don't allow internships for credit. If this is an option that interests you, let's take a look at how to earn credit for the work you do as an intern.
Did you know? In some states, such as California, unpaid interns must be receiving college credit. Otherwise, the internship illegal and the employer offering it is subject to fines.
How the Internship Process Works
Most colleges offering internships have specific faculty members who handle the college's internship program, so if you're interested in this kind of opportunity, start by talking to one of these professors, preferably someone within your major department. Every college has different rules as to the requirements an internship must meet to count for college credit. Here are some of the common requirements colleges have for internships:
- The intern's manager must be willing to give status updates about the intern during the semester.
- The intern must be evaluated following the internship.
- The internship must be a certain number of hours (at minimum).
- The internship must be directly related to the student's major and his or her future goals.
- Only upperclassmen are eligible to participate in internships for credit.
- The intern must have a faculty sponsor willing to manage and grade the internship.
All or none of these requirements might be part of what your college demands in an internship program. Again, every school is different.
Before you ever begin to look at open positions, make sure you have a list of what your college requires so you can compare it to the offered jobs available in your field.
After securing your college's requirements, you can start to look for an internship that interests you. Some colleges have a running list of companies in the area that are offering internships. Others require you to go out and find your own position. In both cases, the application and interview process is similar to what it is like for a traditional full- or part-time job.
Once you've secured an internship, it's time to fill out the paperwork. Many companies require you to sign a contract that clearly states the terms of your internship, and most colleges also require you to fill out a form about your internship so a faculty member can approve it for credit. After this is complete, you can start working! Depending on your college requirements, you might have to check in with a faculty advisor occasionally to ensure that your internship is going well, though most don't require more than one meeting per week (and some do not require this level of frequency).
The last step to earning credit for your internship is to be evaluated. Your manager will typically fill out a form or talk to your faculty advisor about how you did, and many colleges also require you to do a presentation about the internship or turn in a portfolio of your work. Your faculty advisor will look at all this and give you a grade, like you would get in a traditional college class.
How Many Credits You Can Earn
Colleges vary the number of credits you can earn as an intern depending on school policies and the number of hours you work. The general range is three to twelve credits - so an internship can replace one to three classes in college.
Although completing a number of internships can help you gain experience and explore career options, not all colleges allow you to earn credit for completing more than one internship. For students who want to take an internship position, even though they've maxed out the number of credits their school allows them to earn this way, you can seek transcript notation. You won't earn credit in the traditional sense with transcript notation, but when someone looks at your college transcripts, they'll see that you've completed multiple internships, along with the grades you've received for them.
Quick Fact: Even if you don't receive credit for your internship, if it is noted on your transcript, the grade you earn may be calculated into your GPA.
While most of the information in this guide is intended for college students, some internships are open to high school students as well. On the next page, you can learn more about these junior internships.
- Make sure an internship meets your college requirements before you apply.
- Before you start an internship, your faculty advisor has to approve it. At some colleges, you also have to check in with a faculty member throughout the internship.
- At the end of an internship, you'll likely have to do a presentation or turn in a portfolio of work so you can be evaluated.
- You can earn between three and twelve credits for your internship.
- If you've already completed one internship and your college doesn't allow you to earn credit for more, a second internship can still be noted on your transcript.