As a Policy Studies student, you have the opportunity to conduct an internship with a non-profit organization, public agency, company, or campus unit to gain practical experience during your course of study. If you are seeking credit for your internship, you will be responsible for completing a specified number of hours and an academic, policy-related product, in addition to fulfilling the functions of your position. Your academic product should provide clear benefits to your learning, the internship site, and the University of Washington. Once you’ve completed the following prerequisites: BPOLST 500: Policy Process and BPOLST 501: Public Finance and Budgeting,* you are eligible to register for 2-5 credits of  BPOLST 520, the internship course, during a given quarter. Students may earn up to 10 credits of BPOLST 520 during the Policy Studies program.  Please note: BPOLST 520 credits do not count toward your 10 required BPOLST course-based elective credits.

Below is an overview of the entire internship process, and all documents referenced may be found in the focus box on the right side of this page.

Benefits of Internships

The benefits of conducting internships are numerous.  Here are just a few benefits that past students have noted:

  • Internships solidify academic concepts, giving them real-world relevance and application.
  • Internships allow you to explore a range of roles within a chosen industry, often adding clarity to your career direction.
  • Internships develop specific skills and provide direct experience in a particular sector.  This not only enhances career prospects, but allows you to demonstrate credibility while building self-confidence in your abilities.
  • Internships can yield valuable contacts and networks.  Internships allow you to build collegial networks that can lead to future jobs, support systems, and collaborations.

Merits of Academic Internships

As a graduate student, you have the unique opportunity to pursue internships during the course of your program.  While some internship sites stipulate that you must be earning academic credit while completing an internship, others do not have this requirement.  The merits of pursuing a credit-bearing “academic internship” include:

  • Academic support.  You will work with a faculty advisor over the course of your internship, and s/he will help ensure that your experience is integrated with your academic learning.  S/he will provide valuable support as you navigate the internship sector and your relationship to the site and your supervisor.
  • Fulfilling elective credits. The Cultural Studies program requires 24 elective credits.  Associating an internship with elective credits allows you to earn credit while gaining practical industry experience.
  • Increased accountability.  Because graduate students are very busy and balancing multiple priorities, some have found that an academic internship incentivizes more focus and effort.  Additionally, some site supervisors have reported that an academic arrangement helps feel more invested in your learning and think more holistically about the your needs of the experience.   

Conversely, conducting internships outside of the academic system has benefits. Students still gain experience, skill development, industry contacts, and credibility without having the extra requirement of producing an academic product or accruing a specific number of hours. Not-for-credit internships allow students to utilize their elective credits for other purposes.

Internship Process

Below is an overview of the entire internship process, and all documents referenced may be found in the focus box on the right side of this page.

Exploring and applying for internships

  1. Begin exploring and applying for internships 4-6 weeks in advance of the first day of the quarter in which you wish to receive academic credit.  In addition, please notify the Graduate Office of your intent to conduct an internship during this timeframe.
  2. You may have a particular internship opportunity in mind, and if so, go ahead and apply.  If you do not, begin researching internship options through various sources, including: UWB Career News, HuskyJobs, Idealist, InternMatch, Craigslist, etc.
  3. Some organizations are not overtly recruiting interns but are open to co-creating an internship once they understand the skills and expertise you have to offer. Please read through the guide to Cultivating Organizational Partners for Internships (.pdf) to learn more about this option. The Graduate Office is also available for consultation on approaching organizations that align with your academic interests.

Preparing for your internship

  1. While searching and applying for internships, consider who might serve as your Faculty Advisor. Ideally, this person will have expertise related to the sector and/or context of the internship site, and s/he may be your Capstone Advisor. First consideration should be given to Policy Studies faculty members, although other IAS faculty members may be considered. The Graduate Office is available to provide suggestions on advisors.
  2. While in the search and application process, talk to potential Faculty Advisor(s) about serving in this capacity and secure a commitment. Please note: If you are interested in conducting an internship during Summer quarter, many faculty members will be off-contract and not available.  Therefore, it is advised that you start these conversations 4-6 weeks in advance of Summer quarter. Additionally, if you plan to conduct an internship during Fall quarter, you should contact potential Faculty Advisors before the end of Spring quarter, as faculty members may not be available to consider advising until mid-September.
  3. Once your internship site and Faculty Advisor have been secured, notify the Graduate Office of this arrangement.
  4. Work with your Faculty Advisor to complete your Internship Agreement, which outlines the following:

    a) an applicable number of credits, based on the ratio of 3‐5 hours/week per credit during one 10‐week quarter

    - 6-10 hours/week or 60-100 hours total = 2 credits
    - 9-15 hours/week or 90-150 hours total = 3 credits
    - 12-20 hours/week or 120-200 hours total = 4 credits
    - 15-25 hours/week or 150-250 = 5 credits

    b) a set of learning goals (see Examples: Learning Goals and Academic Products)

    c) an academic product due at the completion of the internship (see Examples: Learning Goals and Academic Products)
  5. Share a draft of your Internship Agreement with your Site Supervisor for review and input. Be sure to discuss potential confidentiality issues associated with your academic product, and agree on its public nature (options outlined in the Internship Agreement).
  6. The final version of your Internship Agreement should be signed by you, your Faculty Advisor, and your Site Supervisor.  In lieu of actual signatures, you and your advisors may email agreement with this document to the Graduate Office
  7. Provide all parties with copies.  Submit an additional copy of your Internship Agreement to the Graduate Office, who will provide your Faculty Advisor’s code for registration.

Conducting your internship

  1. Fulfill your assigned duties, keep a record of your hours, and work on your academic product.
  2. Maintain good communication with both your Site Supervisor and Faculty Advisor regarding job performance, work progress, and any questions or issues that arise.
  3. During the internship quarter, the Alumni and Community Relations Manager will contact your Site Supervisor to learn more about the site and to explore further opportunities for engagement with the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and UW Bothell.

Completing your internship

  1. Near the completion of your internship, ask your Site Supervisor to complete an Intern Evaluation and meet with him/her for an in-person review.
  2. Arrange a meeting with your Faculty Advisor to review your Intern Evaluation and overall internship experience. Submit your academic product.
  3. Submit an Internship Evaluation to the Graduate Office. This confidential form is only accessible to graduate staff and helps us determine whether to refer future students to your site. It also informs future internship processes.
  4. Your Faculty Advisor assigns a grade of CR/NC.
Internship documents reference chart
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Cultivating an Internship Site

Read through the guide to Cultivating Organizational Partners for Internships (.pdf) to learn how to go about creating an internship.

For Internship Sites

Potential internship sites and site supervisors should refer to the Internship Site Guide (.pdf) and contact the IAS Graduate Office with questions about hosting an intern.

For organizations looking to create an internship for IAS graduate students, please refer to our guide for Developing a Graduate Internship (.pdf).

For Faculty Supervisors

Faculty internship supervisors should refer to the Faculty Internship Guide (.pdf).