As an IAS graduate student, you have the opportunity to conduct an internship with a non-profit organization, public agency, company, or campus unit as a means of gaining 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 product, in addition to fulfilling the functions of your internship position. Your academic product should provide clear benefits to your learning, the internship site, and the University of Washington.
Students are responsible for securing internships and may apply for advertised positions or design an internship in collaboration with an internship site. The Graduate Office is available to help students locate options and negotiate relationships.
Students who are interested in developing an internship should:
- consult the development resources for “Internships” below;
- follow up to secure an internship site and supervisor, and, if academic credit is desired, a UW faculty internship supervisor;
- discuss the internship opportunity internship’s site supervisor, and if academic credit is desired, with their primary faculty advisor, and their faculty internship supervisor; and
- complete the Internship Proposal and Agreement Form and email it to their internship supervisor(s) and their primary faculty advisor, and the Graduate Office at IASgrad@uw.edu.
For students seeking academic credit, the Graduate Office will confirm all approval and then provide the student with the registration codes needed to enroll for their respective internship course, as below. For all students, regardless of academic credit, an internship agreement is recommended, for clarity of goals and responsibilities.
Each of our programs specifies students’ primary faculty advisor differently.
- For Cultural Studies, it is your portfolio advisor.
- For Policy Studies, it is your capstone advisor.
- For Creative Writing & Poetics, it is your thesis advisor.
Elective internship course offerings, by program, are:
- MACS: BCULST 520, Internship (2-5 credits, max 10).* Prerequisite: BCULST 500. (Please note: BCULST 520 does not count for MACS’s requirement of 10 credits of BCULST course-based elective credits.
- MAPS: BPOLST 520, Policy Internship (2-5 credits, max 10). Prerequisite: BPOLST 511; BPOLST 502
- MFA: BCWRIT 598, Directed Research (2-5 credits, max 15). Prerequisite: First-year curriculum
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/supervisor 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 credits of elective coursework; the Creative Writing & Poetics program requires 15 elective credits, and the Policy Studies program allows students to pursue an academic internship if it fulfills their research methods requirement and supports their capstone development. All these elective internship options 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.
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
- 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.
- Also during this timeframe, discuss your intent to conduct an internship with your primary faculty advisor and notify the Graduate Office.
- With your primary faculty advisor’s support, begin searching and applying for internships. You may have a particular opportunity in mind, but if you don't, research internship options through various sources, including: UWB Career Services, HandShake, Idealist, Craigslist, etc.
- 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 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 Internship Supervisor/Advisor. Ideally, this person will have expertise related to the sector and/or context of the internship site. They may be your Portfolio, Capstone, or Thesis Advisor. First consideration should be given your program’s faculty members, although other IAS faculty members may be considered. The Graduate Office
is available to provide suggestions on potential Faculty Internship Supervisors/Advisors.
2. During the search and application process, talk to potential Faculty Internship Supervisors/Advisors 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 Internship Supervisors/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 Internship Supervisor/Advisor have been secured, work with your Faculty Internship Supervisor/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)
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).
The final version of your Internship Agreement
should be signed/approved by you, your Faculty Internship Supervisor/Advisor, and your Site Supervisor. In lieu of actual signatures, you and your advisors may email agreement with this document to the Graduate Office
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 Internship Supervisor/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 & Sciences and UW Bothell.
Completing your internship
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.
Arrange a meeting with your Faculty Internship Supervisor/Advisor to review your Intern Evaluation
and overall internship experience. Submit your academic product.
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 Internship Supervisor/Advisor assigns a grade of CR/NC.
Internship documents reference chart
Copies of documents to be retained as indicated below.
Cultivating an Internship Site
Students: Learn more about how to locate and cultivate a good internship opportunity
For Internship Sites
Potential internship sites and site supervisors should refer to the Internship Site Guide 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.
For Faculty Supervisors
Faculty internship supervisors should refer to the Faculty Internship Guide.