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Internship Credits

What is College policy on credit for an internship?

Students may not receive credit for simply doing an internship, but only for academic work based on such an experience through "an approved program which provides an opportunity to apply and expand knowledge under expert supervision in an on or off-campus position." Such internships should provide a "structured learning experience," and "must be approved in advance by the department, and evaluated by a William and Mary faculty member." Finally, getting credit requires not only the hands-on experience of the internship but "an analytic or research component, and a final, written report."

What is Departmental policy on credit for an internship?

[For the College's Washington Program or DC Summer Institute see below]  The Department stipulates that Government credit may be granted for academic work done in connection to an internship only if the position

  • is with a political, governmental, advocacy or research organization (not a for-profit corporation, aside from journalistic enterprises, or law firm);

  • involves at least five weeks of fulltime work (paid or uncompensated); and

  • allows the student opportunities to observe the political/policy process at work

In addition, the student must apply under one of the following options below and submit all necessary paperwork. Even then, credit for work done in conjunction with an internship is still contingent upon the availability of a faculty supervisor. There is thus no guarantee that a student will be able to obtain Government credit for work done in conjunction with an internship.

How do you go about arranging to receive Government credit [Govt. 498]?

[For the College's Washington Program or DC Summer Institute see below]  Students of any major may seek to enroll in Government 498 under the following conditions [from the Govt. 498 form]:

a) Qualifying Internships: Government 498 allows enrolled/returning students of any major to receive either 1 or 3 credits for academic work done in conjunction with an internship undertaken in the fall, spring, or summer semesters for the equivalent of at least five weeks of work. Positions with international, federal, state, or local government; legislative offices at any level; political parties or campaigns; interest, advocacy, or lobbying groups; research institutions or think-tanks; or the media may qualify. Internships on a study abroad course may qualify (see below). Participation in an off-campus seminar or workshop alone does not qualify.

b) Academic Project: Students seeking to enroll in Government 498 are responsible for contacting a fulltime member of the Department faculty at least one month in advance of the internship start date in order to design an academic project to be completed in conjunction with the internship. The project should result in an original research paper of at least 10 double-spaced typewritten pages (1 credit option) or 25-30 double-spaced typewritten pages (3 credit option); the faculty supervisor will also assign reading in connection with the project. The availability of a faculty supervisor is entirely dependent upon previous commitments.

c) Approval Forms: The student should then a) complete the application and obtain the faculty supervisor’s signature; b) fill out the College’s Internship for Academic Credit form (Dean of Undergraduate Studies Office/website), including the signature of his/her external supervisor (faxed is acceptable); and c) attach a project description of no more than one page. All materials should be typewritten and submitted to the Associate Chair at least one month before the internship starts.

d) Registration: After the above steps are completed, the Department will notify the student to register himself/herself into Government 498. For summer internships, students may sign up for the course for the following fall semester rather than be enrolled in summer school (Note: If this would result in taking more than 18 credits in the fall, it is necessary to petition the Academic Status Committee for an overload).

e) Credit/Grading: The students must submit two copies of the completed paper—one to the faculty supervisor and another to the Department Associate Chair--within two weeks after the internship ends. A grade of pass or fail will be issued. A student may take Government 498 multiple times, but no more than six credits total  from any combination of the following courses may be counted to the major: Government 498, Internship; Government 499, Washington Program Internship; Interdisciplinary Studies 499, Washington Program Internship; and Government 494, Independent Study.  Credit beyond six would still count to the 120 needed for graduation.

What if I will not know for certain about my internship until the last minute?

Once you know what internship you will be applying for, it makes sense at that stage to discuss a project with a faculty member and fill out the paperwork. This ensures that you will have things ready to go if the position comes through (otherwise you may miss the deadline or faculty will be overcommitted or both).

Where are the necessary application forms?
What about the College's own internship-based courses in Washington?

Students may enroll in internship based courses administered through the College's Washington Office (which, unlike Government 498, are not graded on a Pass/Fail basis) under the following stipulations:

  • William and Mary in Washington Program (Fall or Spring):  Up to 4 of the 6 credits for the Washington Program Internship course, Interdisciplinary Studies 499, may count toward the major in Government (the others would still count toward the 120 needed for graduation), provided the supervising faculty member is from the Government Department.  Participating students seeking to count up to 4 of those credits to their Government major must notify the Department.
  • DC Summer Institute (Summer): Up to 4 credits earned for Government 499, DC Summer Institute Internship  may count toward the major in Government.
  • No more than 6 total credits from any combination of Government 498, Internship; Government 499, DC Summer Institute Internship; Interdiscipinary Studies 499, Internship; and Government 494, Independent Study, may count to the major in Government (the rest would still count toward the 120 credits needed for graduation).
Is credit possible for internship courses abroad or at at another US university?

Students seeking credit for a government/political science internship-based course to be taken abroad or elsewhere in the US (including at programs in Washington DC) should submit materials describing the academic/research work involved to the Department in advance. Pre-approval will be granted for GOVT ELEC (which counts toward the 120 credits for graduation, but not to the Government major).

Upon returning to the College, students may seek to have that credit converted to Government 498, Internship (which counts toward the 120 graduation credits and the major): doing so requires submitting all academic work completed/submitted as part of the internship course, along with a copy of the College's Transfer Credit Request Form (available at the Registrar's office), to the Department, which will evaluate it based on the criteria for Govt. 498 credit above.

Is funding available to help cover costs?

The College offers modest stipends for students doing approved public affairs-related internships. Consult the Reves Center website for information on stipends, including for positions with the US State Department. Consult the Charles Center website for information about the Bertha Taylor internship stipends. And the Department offers some stipends to majors thanks to the Lawrence and Jean Irwin Memorial Endowment - application form (PDF).

What else should be kept in mind about internships and credit?

Students undertaking internships that will take them away from campus for a semester or year should notify the Office of the Dean of Students before beginning the internship. International students who are considering an internship must contact the Office of International Students, Scholars and Programs (located in the Reves Center) concerning visa requirements.