Guidelines and Requirements for Internships


  • Internships are not limited to political science majors, but normally a student must have taken at least two political science classes prior to doing an internship.
  • There is not a minimum grade point requirement, but there is no right as a major to do an internship. In other words, if there is concern about the student’s record and likelihood for a successful internship, the faculty members in the department can refuse an application for an internship.
  • Students entering Fall 2007 can apply no more than 4 hours of internship credit to the 32 hours required for a major. The only exception to the 4 hour rule is the Washington Semester internship experience. Students entering before Fall 2007 can apply up to 8 hours of internship credit to the major.
  • Students may work with any member of the department but must have the approval of the department head.
  • For all internships, students must complete the required forms prior to starting the internship. Forms are available from the Career Center. The forms require consultation with the internship advisor and the signature of the department head (when not the internship advisor).
  • Students must sign up for internship credit before the add/drop date at the beginning of each term.
  • Normally, one hour of internship credit will require 36 hours of internship work. Regardless of hours of internship work, J-term internships cannot earn more than 2 credits.


  • We want you to keep a journal in which you write two or three times a week; if you can discipline yourself daily writing would be good but that is not required.
    • A substantial number of the entries should recount what you have been doing at your job. Those entries should be more than a log, though, and should reflect your thoughts and ideas about what you are doing and what you are observing. You might ask whether there are activities in your office that surprise you. Are you seeing first-hand things that you had read about in texts? Are you observing a context or culture that is different than other experiences you have had? In other words, the journal should be an occasion to step back every so often and look at what your are doing and at what is happening around you.
    • Although the work is the center of your internship, if you are working in Washington or a larger city, you should spend some time thinking about that larger experience in general. What do you make of urban life, e.g? How does the work day compare with your classroom studies?
  • We expect you to read a book of your choosing that relates to your internship. If you are working in a congressional office, for example, you might choose to read one of the accounts of Washington life penned by a congressperson. If you are working in the public defender’s office you might want to read a book that deals with the urban criminal justice system, and those persons with internships related to the media might read a commentary on media and politics. If you are doing a legal internship you might want to read something related to legal ethics or a social science study of lawyers in America or a memoir of a lawyer looking back on his life. Not only do we expect you to read the book but we also expect to see occasional entries in your journal in which you recount and reflect upon your reading. The ideal (and we know this will not be reached all of the time) is that you will use the reading to reflect upon your internship experience. That is, we hope that you will read a chapter and then say to yourself, “Wow, that explains just why my boss did what she did yesterday!”
  • We want your final entry to be a short (3-5 pages) reflective essay in which you pull together your experience. This should be more than a “Wow did I have fun” kind of writing, but instead should identify a key theme or two that seems to pull the experience together. This might be a scholarly commentary or it might be a personal reflection in which you begin to assess the impact this experience has had on you. You might find it useful to re-read your journal before writing this essay and then use it to make sense of what you have been doing the past three months.
  • The student must arrange a follow-up session with the internship advisor after completing the internship.
  • Supplemental Portfolio Option: Some of you may want to add an appendix to your journal that serves as an official record of what you have done in your internship. That might include a daily diary of your activities, copies of work you have done in the office (memos, drafts, presentations to your office mates, etc.), and occasional assessments of what you have observed.