Internships - Academic Credit
It may be possible to get academic credit for your internship from your department (see detailed list). Departments can offer credit, and policies differ greatly from one department to the next. Often your internship must relate directly to your major and will require you to complete a substantial research project or writing component as part of special studies course.
Keep in mind that some employers require students to receive academic credit as a form of "payment" due to liability issues, but may also be willing to classify you as a volunteer if receiving credit is not an option. Please see the internship liability issues (PDF) with more information for student advisors and students.
What You Need to Know
We also recommend looking at the Online Schedule of Classes where you can Search the Schedule of Classes for a particular term. Courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 194, 196, 197, 198, 199 are all possible sources of units for activities other than regular class work in which a student engages in an experience that enhances academic learning. 97/197 are the most common.Which number you are looking for depends on the department. These courses are referred to as Field Study, Group Study, or Independent Study. Also called "internship" or "special field research." For International Students the requirements are more specific; see a SISS advisor.
Requirements: These are general guidelines only and can vary with each department.
- You must be enrolled as a student at time of internship, including summer internships
- An instructor is required to supervise your "study". This may require approval from the dean of the department and/or major advisor. Your instructor may assign you written work, meetings with faculty sponsors, seminars, or other activities.
- A minimum GPA 2.0 to 3.3 is required, depending on the department.
- Units are pass/not pass. You can take 4 units per semester and can apply 16 of them towards requirements for a bachelor's degree. How many you take per semester depends on your situation and the department. The average is about 3 hours per week of internship per unit).
Community colleges often offer academic credit for internships in the form of cooperative education programs or classes in the appropriate departments. This may be an easier and more economical alternative. Information on most California Community Colleges is available online.
Tips for Pursuing Academic Credit
The easiest way to start is to review the catalog to explore your options and then call the relevant academic department(s). If your department doesn't have any options, check with one that's related to your internship. Most of the departments don't require you to be majoring with them, but some do. Ask who would be the best person to talk to; typically this is the academic advisor, but not always. Inquire about how it works in that department and what your next steps should be (make an appointment, pick up paperwork, find a faculty sponsor, etc.)
Note that some departments are easier to work with in this area than others. Be persistent and prepared to do the research needed to explore your options. The easier departments encourage gaining non-academic experience to enhance your education. Some departments have faculty sponsors all ready to sign you off -- you just have to petition. Others can even recommend internships that you can apply for.
The next step is often to find a faculty sponsor for your course. Once again, some faculty are more responsive than others and you may need to approach a few to find one who will sponsor your activity. Don't let it discourage you if not everyone you talk to is supportive of this process. This is an optional activity for them so you may need to be persistent in order to find a faculty sponsor.
Some recommendations for finding faculty sponsors include:
- Approach someone you have had a class with.
- Ask friends for recommendations of professors they have had. Also, advisors may be willing to refer you to possible professors. They don't have to, so ask nicely!
- Go to office hours and try your luck.
Summer Internship Credit Option
If you are doing a summer internship in the U.S., you may qualify for the Career Center's Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option. The program gives you the means to receive academic credit via an online course for an internship that you have obtained on your own.