Internships are an integral part of a liberal arts curriculum, enabling students to participate in structured, supervised learning experiences that enhance knowledge gained in previous course work, connecting the theoretical with real-world applications. Students also benefit from having opportunities to explore fields of interest as they crystallize their passions into an academic course of action and career path. The Internship Program works with students, faculty sponsors, and community partners to create intentional, academically relevant learning experiences. Students may engage in internships in a wide range of off-campus settings which match their academic goals, including non-profit organizations, government, business, and the arts.

The primary academic objectives of internships include:

  1. Providing opportunities for students to examine first-hand knowledge and theories learned in the classroom for their wider impact on society and the world at large.
  2. Providing opportunities for students to evaluate and apply a body of knowledge and methods of inquiry from an academic discipline.
  3. Providing students access to a larger or different “laboratory” of equipment and/or situations not easily obtained or available on campus.
  4. Providing students expanded opportunities for self-directed learning.
  5. Enabling students to develop work competencies for specific professions and to explore career interests and form networks.
  6. Providing opportunities for students to develop intellectual and professional partnerships.

However, as you advise a student, keep in mind there are other ways an internship may be a positive curricular option. For a student struggling with decisions related to the choice of a major or career, an internship can produce valuable experience and insights that provide motivation and direction. A meaningful internship can also be a great option for a student you see as being “burned out” or disillusioned with school. The real world connection can serve to re-invigorate the student and get them in touch with the value of completing a degree, perhaps more clearly seeing their education as a means to a desired end.

Policies and Guidelines from the 2016-2017 Macalester College Catalog:

  • No more than twenty-four semester credits earned in independent study courses (tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships, honors independents) may be applied toward the number of semester credits required for graduation.
  • Students may not register in a single term for more than six semester hours of internship credit which take place outside of the Twin Cities area, or for more than four semester hours of credit for a single internship in the Twin Cities.
  • Students are required to complete a Learning Contract with supporting documentation for each separate internship experience and have it reviewed/signed by the faculty sponsor and Internship Program Director before it may be registered for credit.
  • Students who may not register an internship for academic credit include students with first year status, students on academic probation, and students with incompletes (unless they have the permission of the instructor who assigned the incomplete).

Other considerations

  • International students may do paid internships, but only if done as a fully registered academic internship and if properly authorized by International Student Programs.
  • The January term is an ideal time for students to do “shadowing” types of internships that help explore possible professions. This is especially valuable for students in the hard sciences.
  • A scheduling option that is often attractive to students and community partners alike is planning a “double internship” for January and Spring, working intensely for an organization for the three weeks of the January term to begin a project and following through with a two-credit internship in the Spring as the project is implemented.
  • A student may intern for the same organization more than one term, but only if the learning objectives for the second experience are different and build upon the learning exhibited in the first term. A student may do a maximum of 4 credits with a single organization.
  • Consider scheduling an internship in conjunction with a particular course, e.g. an internship in the office of a state legislator while also taking a “Legislative Politics” course. An incredible combination of classroom theory and real world experience!

Hours required for credit
The minimum number of hours worked per week at the internship site in relation to registered credits is as follows:

Fall-Spring-Summer Internships
(Internships must last a minimum of a ten-week period)
4 credits = A minimum of 140 hours per semester or 10-12 hours per week
3 credits = A minimum of 105 hours per semester or 8-9 hours per week
2 credits = A minimum of 75 hours per semester or 5-7 hours per week
1 credit = A minimum of 45 hours per semester or 3-4 hours per week (at least 60 hours in summer)

January Internships
(Minimum of three weeks)
2 credits = 100 hours per semester or approx. 40 hours per week
1 credit = 50 hours per semester or approx. 20 hours per week

Please feel free to refer your student to Michael Porter at 651-696-6152 or in the Internship Program office for a consultation about possible internships. We will help brainstorm options, develop a search strategy, create/refine a resume and cover letter, prepare for interviews, and manage all documentation to register the internship for credit. Faculty are also encouraged to contact Mike to explore incorporating experiential education/civic engagement in courses, and/or to learn ways to be an effective faculty sponsor. We are open Monday through Friday, 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. Appointments may be made by calling 651-696-6128 or emailing .