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Policies & Guidelines

In an effort to clarify, strengthen, and unify the academic internship program, several policies and guidelines have been adopted and are outlined in the Academic Internships Administrative Policy for the University of Colorado Denver. Some of these are listed below:

Requirements for Internships

  • Directly relates to the student’s field of study and/or professional goals
  • Provides for integration of academic and experiential learning
  • Are deemed academically viable by the department awarding credit
  • Include appropriate written agreements between the student, experience provider, and university that clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of each party. This ensures the integrity of the internship experience and addresses legal and liability issues
  • An evaluation by the site supervisor and student intern at the end of the internship

Academic Credit Requirements

  • Each school/college determines the total number of internship credits allowed within the limits of their 120 hour degree programs, and also determines how internships are counted in a degree plan (elective credit, requirement of graduation, etc)
  • Students may earn one to six hours of academic credit for each internship experience. Most departments offer a maximum of three credits for each internship
  • The number of credit hours earned per internship experience is arranged between the student and faculty sponsor and documented on an internship learning agreement
  • Student interns must work a minimum of 45 hours per 1 academic credit
  • Internship credit can NOT be granted retroactively for previous internship experiences
  • The duration of an academic internship is typically one-semester and coincides with the published semester calendar. Students usually work part-time, approximately 8 – 20 hours per week for a minimum of ten weeks (Fall/Spring semesters) and minimum of 6 weeks during summer semesters
  • Students are given a grade of Incomplete if the internship carries over a few weeks during the following semester. The Learning Agreement must be modified to reflect the appropriate end date
  • Students may complete a second internship with the same internship employer, however, they must both register and pay for an additional internship. They must also have clearly defined and different learning goals for each semester worked

Student Eligibility

The minimum requirements for students to participate in the Internship Program are:

  • The student must be currently enrolled in a CU Denver degree program
  • The student must be in good academic standing at CU Denver
  • The student must have a declared major and cannot be a designee of “Pre-“majors

Each school/college holds full authority to require additional eligibility requirements beyond these minimums, and most do.

Undergraduate requirements usually include:

  • Completion of a minimum of 15 credit hours at CU Denver
  • At least a sophomore standing
  • Cumulative GPA of 2.75

Graduate student requirements usually include:

  • Completion of 6 graduate credit hours at CU Denver
  • Cumulative GPA of 3.0

Internships vs. Independent Study

Internships differ from Independent Study, Directed Study, and other academic or lab-based courses due to the central relationship with, and reliance on, the experience provider. Most schools/colleges currently have at least one course number specifically designated for internships. (Some colleges refer to these courses as practicum). Due to the supervisory requirements of the student/faculty/employer relationship, it is not appropriate to use Independent Study or Directed Study as internships.

Guidelines for Screening and Approving Internships

The ELC uses the following screening criteria to approve internships. Final approval is at the discretion of the supervising faculty sponsor.

  • The position must be a learning experience directly related to an academic field of study available at CU Denver
  • At least 80% of the position must consist of professional or pre-professional work assignments directly related to students' majors and/or career goals
  • The company/organization must be a legitimate established business located in commercial space*
  • An experienced professional with expertise in the content area of the internship must be assigned to supervise/mentor the intern i.e. the “Site Supervisor”)
  • Interns must be given an orientation to the organization, safety procedures, training, ongoing supervision, and evaluation
  • Interns should not be considered “consultants” or experts, or be expected to provide a function that the organization’s professional staff does not have the skills to perform (e.g. create a company website, write a grant, develop a marketing campaign)
  • Interns must have an appropriate workspace and tools with which to perform their duties (e.g. access to a computer, software, etc.)
  • If a confidentiality agreement is required, it must be stated in the job description upon posting
  • There will be no requirements for the student to pay the employer in any form for any part of the experience

Experiences that DO NOT qualify as Internships:

  • Commission-based positions
  • Internship located in home-based businesses*
  • Situations where 100% of the work is done remotely or virtually
  • Positions in which an intern would displace a regular employee (in accordance with FLSA)
  • Positions that require more than 20% clerical duties
  • Positions that require door-to-door canvassing, cold-calling, or petition gathering
  • “Independent contractor” relationships that require the intern to set up his/her own business for the purpose of selling products, services and/or recruiting other individuals to set up their own business
  • Family-owned businesses or positions supervised by a family member
  • Telemarketing positions
  • Positions in which the employer requires the student to pay a fee or fees in order to work at the organization

* Home-based businesses pose higher risks for students. Exceptions may be granted if faculty members have direct knowledge of and experience with the employer of a home-based business.

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