Instructional Leadership, emphasis: K-12 School Leadership (MEd)
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Faculty guide for internships

Help your students earn academic credit in the workplace

This guide will help you, the faculty member, to establish and manage for-credit student internships. You’ll find sample agreements and suggestions for best practices you can use to put the internship in place. Refer to the Career Development Office and our step-by-step checklist for additional resources.

Professor works with student on a laptop smiling

Before you start

Before beginning a credit-bearing internship, you and your student should take time to consider both the academic and legal aspects of internships. Most internships take place off campus, in public, private, for-profit, or not-for-profit organizations, which creates additional liability considerations. The student, university, and internship site should enter into an agreement that sets out the parameters of the internship.

You will need to complete the Affiliation Agreement process. The form must be signed by the employer (facility) and turned into the Dean’s Office in the College of Arts and Letters (CAL) for processing. This is always needed when performing a for-credit internship. If a student is not seeking academic credit for their internship, you do not need to complete the form.

While you plan

Internships are a wonderful way for students to make connections between their coursework and the professional world, where their knowledge, skills, and abilities will be applied after graduation.

Course of study

Any internship that is part of a course of study must include, at minimum, the following:

  • A signed academic agreement between the student and the supervising faculty member. Incorporating an academic syllabus for the internship is required.
  • A signed credit-bearing internship agreement between the student, the internship site, and the supervising faculty member (or departmental designee), to be retained with the student’s departmental file.
  • 45 hours of internship work experience per academic credit. This is the minimum standard and is set by the Arizona Board of Regents. Department requirements for hours and other course responsibilities should be noted in the written student agreement.

Credit-bearing internship

When working with your student to plan their credit-bearing internship, keep the following in mind:

  • Duties and responsibilities of the student, the internship site, and the university should be very clearly defined and described in the agreement. Setting out clear expectations for the student and for the site—before the internship begins—will lead to better results. When in doubt, err on the side of including more detail.
  • It’s not a good idea to rely on an oral agreement for an internship. Writing out the agreement and setting expectations in advance will lead to fewer headaches if things don’t work out.
  • The agreement must include a requirement for the site to carry general and professional liability insurance to help protect the student from liability to which he or she may be exposed as part of the internship.
  • At all times, students are subject to university rules and regulations, including the Honor Code, when working in an internship.
  • Because a for-credit internship is a program of the university, it will be subject to civil rights laws.

During the internship

Internships are more successful when combined with scheduled meetings with an internship advisor or faculty sponsor. Structured, written reflections submitted on a regular basis help synthesize what students learn from the experience and how it relates to their academic field of study. Evaluation should be based on what students learn, not just what they do at the internship site.

Benefits of internships

Your student will receive a guided introduction to the work environment and find opportunities to enhance their knowledge, skills, and abilities. Internships also serve as a catalyst for personal growth. Completing an internship can help students clarify career and educational goals. Some NAU majors require internships, but most students can benefit from completing one during their college years, even if it’s not required.

When students engage in experiential learning, they develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. Experiential learning is an umbrella concept that includes many different methods that enable students to earn academic credit for learning beyond the classroom, such as:

Service learning and other volunteer activities

Study abroad

Field studies