Internships can be paid, unpaid, or for academic credit. How do you evaluate and weigh these options?
While academic credit legitimizes an unpaid experience, in order to be identified as an internship, the experience must fit the internship criteria outlined by the National Association of College and Employers (NACE) which adhere to the US Department of Labor Fair Standards Act (FLSA). Employers may require credit as part of the internship experience.
Below are some of the options available at the University for pursuing academic credit for internships and support for internship requirements and authorizations. Please contact the UVA Career Center and the Internship Center for guidance in considering these options.
UVA Internship Placement Program is a signature UVA program offering a formal academic internship and more than a 40 year history of supporting students in making contributions to public service through the world of work.
UNST 2820 - Internship Reflection Course
This one-credit course is offered to support students who are required to receive credit by an employer offering an internship that is typically unpaid. The course is a professional development class taken most often as a post reflection internship course after a summer internship, but is offered as a concurrent course to complement an internship during the academic year. The course typically meets 3-5 times per semester and is a University Studies credit/no-credit course that is Pass/Fail.
UNST 2820 is offered in both spring and fall semesters, and is open to all undergraduate students of any year and major. Students may contact the UVA Career Center at InternshipCenter@virginia.edu to learn more about UNST 2820. Pre-registration for UNST 2820 occurs each semester through the Student Information System (SIS). For international students, UNST 2820 is the course that meets CPT requirements.
Some academic departments offer an Independent Study course with an option to earn between one to three credits. If your internship will be closely related to the subject matter of a particular department or the research of a professor, consider scheduling a meeting to speak with a professor about your internship and projects. Draft a proposal and suggest ways that you could write papers, conduct research, and/or write reflective journals that connect your internship to the classroom. This work could be evaluated and used to determine your performance for the Independent Study credits. This option takes advanced planning and is a limited option because it depends on faculty availability as an advisor to your experience.
These Deans advise you on academic matters and can refer you to helpful resources on Grounds. Ask for referrals to colleagues and faculty members who might be willing to supervise an Independent Study.
Local Community Colleges
Local community colleges may offer an internship-for-credit course. While this option may not be widely/easily available, cost-per-credit hour is often less expensive at a community college than it is at a four-year institution. Check with community colleges to see if they offer a for-credit internship course and with your academic advisor to see if internship credits can transfer back to the University. Also, speak with someone at the internship site and determine if there is a specific number of credits you must earn.
Additional Internship Authorization Requirements
Some organizations will require authorizations as part of the application process or to accept an internship offer. Below are the most common authorization requirements. Please connect with the UVA Career Center or email the Internship Center if you are need of guidance.
Hiring organizations may need to confirm your enrollment at the University, credits completed in your major, and expected graduation date. The UVA Career Center works with the University Registrar to expedite enrollment verifications.
If you are in need of an enrollment verification, please connect online to a self-service option through the University Registrar Credentialing Services where you can request an immediate on-line verification that is acceptable to most employers.
Please direct all other employer verification form needs to InternshipCenter@virginia.edu. To expedite the release of credit and grade information, please authorize the release of information to the Career Center using the Student Release form.
F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT) Authorization
Students with F-1 visa status need to complete a F-1 CPT Authorization form reflecting the name of the hiring organization and pre-registration for academic credit. The CPT form can be found in through the International Studies Office (ISO). The UVA Career Center is the signatory authority for CPT forms and submits completed forms to ISO. Please direct CPT forms to InternshipCenter@virginia.edu for authorization.
Service organizations, non-profit, and healthcare providers are types of organizations that may require the completion of institutional agreements with the University. Please send internship agreements to InternshipCenter@virginia.edu.
Global Internship University Travel Registry
UVA Policy requires that “All students traveling abroad for University-related purposes must register their international travel in the University Travel Registry before the expected departure date and, if possible, should update the travel registry as additional information becomes available or changes occur throughout the duration of the trip, including additional countries added during travel. This policy applies to all students traveling outside of the national borders of the United States for University-related purposes, which may include but are not limited to study, research, internships, service, conferences, presentations, teaching, performances, recruiting, or athletic competitions. University-related purposes include any travel that is for academic credit and/or utilizes University resources.”