Internships for credit at American University
Notes for students asking me to supervise
This post is for American University
students who are interested in me serving as faculty supervisor for an
Like many universities, AU allows students in some cases to receive academic
credits for undertaking internships with an external organization (company or
nonprofit). This can be in addition to being paid for the internship.
To receive credits, there must be an AU faculty supervisor, and an agreement
between the student and the faculty member about what the student expects to
learn during the internship, and how that will be assessed and graded.
In general I'm not a very bureaucratic person, and would like to support our
students doing anything that advances their intellectual interests and/or
academic careers. But there are some requirements for giving academic credit for
internships, detailed at
Please check that link for the full details. The most important parts for
someone asking me to be faculty supervisor are:
- Up to 1 credit-hour can be given for every 5 hours/week of internship,
averaged over the semester. So for example a 20 hour/week internship could
count for up to 4 credits.
- At least 85% of the internship must be devoted to "academic" rather than
administrative work. The intent of this requirement is that we don't give
course credit if an internship is primarily something like staffing a front
desk in a building, setting up chairs for an event, sorting mail, etc. It
should be doing something educational in the same field of study as the
department that is giving the academic credits.
- Is there a supervisor at the internship who would be willing to participate
in assigning a grade? If yes, the supervisor would need to agree to send me: a
grade on the A+ to F scale, and a short (a paragraph is fine) summary of what work
the internship involved, and how strong they thought the student's performance
in the role was. The student and I would also need to agree ahead of time on
what percentage of the final grade the workplace supervisor's assessment should
account for, up to a maximum of 50%.
- The academic supervisor (me) needs to assign a grade for the academic side,
which counts for the remaining percentage of the overall grade. For this
portion, we need to agree ahead of time on one or more learning outcomes, and
how they should be assessed. The assessment could be simply showing me things
that were done in the internship anyway (e.g. a project), or it could be a
write-up summarizing them, or something else depending on the topic of the
internship. See this
page from AU's Center for Teaching, Research & Learning for an overview of
how to phrase learning outcomes, and how to choose assessments for them.
An example: "By the end of this internship, the student will be able to
implement basic iOS apps using the Swift programming language" is a possible
learning outcome, and "The student will give a short presentation/demo of the
app produced in the internship, explaining their contribution to it" is a
possible means of assessment.
Once we've agreed on this, you'll need to fill out the Internship
Registration Form [PDF].