Internships - Academic Credit
It may be possible to get academic credit for your internship from your department (see detailed list below). Another option is available if you are doing a summer internship in the U.S. - more info here.
Academic 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 liability issues (PDF) for more information.
There are different requirements for International students who wish to obtain work authorization using the academic credit option. You should consult an advisor at the Berkeley International Office.
What You Need to Know
General Information is available in the "Introduction to Courses and Curricula" section of the Course Catalog. We recommend looking online under "Course Search," select the "Course Number" option-look for the numbers below.
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. You must have completed 60 units in order to participate in the upper division courses (197, 198, 199). 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.
You must be an enrolled student at the time of your internship. For summer internships you will need to enroll for the summer session.
In general, you need an instructor to supervise your "study"; may need approval from the dean of the department, and sometimes from the major advisor.
Be prepared to have requirements for written work, meetings with faculty sponsors, seminars, or other requirements depending on the class.
The minimum GPA requirement ranges from 2.0 to 3.3 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. Some programs require that you participate in your internship for a minimum number of hours in order to qualify. In others it just depends on how much you work. The average is about 3 hours per week of internship per unit).
Exceptions to these rules may be authorized by the dean of your department.
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 look at the catalog to get an idea of what your options might be and then call the academic department. 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 would be 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.)
Some departments are easier to work with in this area than others. Don't let this discourage you from finding what you need. You may need to be persistent and creative. Be prepared to do your research and spend some time tracking down your options.
Some departments welcome and 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:
The following information has been provided by a cross-section of departments. The information has been gathered to help guide students in the process of finding academic credit for internships. All information is subject to change and students interested in academic credit for interning should speak to the individual departments for details.