Develop Effective Graduate Internships

Our master's degree students generally have two to five years of work experience in addition to graduate training in areas as varied as policy analysis, planning, public management, budgeting and fiscal policy, program evaluation, and a variety of specific policy topics. Graduate interns are prepared to think strategically, analyze rigorously, and communicate clearly.

Our Master of Human Rights (MHR), Master of Public Policy (MPP), and Master of Urban and Regional Planning (MURP) degrees require students to do a professional internship in their areas of interest. That means more than 100 students each year are looking for a great internship experience. Internships that make best use of the talents of these students and provide valuable experience include:

  • Project-based work: this type of work allows the intern to take a project (or portion of a project) from beginning to end
  • Clearly defined in scope: an internship agreement between the student and the internship organization developed before the start or early in the internship ensures that all parties are clear on the expectations for the work
  • Supervised: regular updates and check-ins with the supervisor help the intern stay on track
  • Professional connections: facilitating the intern’s connection with professionals both in the organization and in partner organizations increases the value of the internship to the student

Information that will help encourage applications to your internship includes:

  • Organization: Tell them about your organization and give them a context for the project.
  • Project: Describe the specific internship project you need done. Give them enough detail to help them understand why you need this and how it contributes to the work of your organization. If you have a clear timeline for the project and an important deadline to meet, include that information as well.
  • Other duties and responsibilities: List the other things the intern will be expected to do or learn during the internship. Keep in mind these are graduate students. Although everyone does some tedious tasks, the majority of a graduate internship should be challenging project work.
  • Qualifications: Describe the qualifications you want in an intern and be specific. If you need someone fluent in Spanish or skilled at a specific technology, include it. Also specify communications skills, verbal or written, and any other skills or knowledge the student would need to be successful. If they have to have a car, work in the evening, or other special requirements, include that information, too.
  • Logistics and compensation: Start and end dates, hours per week, salary (if this is a paid position), and any other conditions of employment are important to articulate. If you cannot afford a salary, some students still may be interested if the project is rewarding enough. However, most graduate students are funding their own education and must look for paid internships. The average salary for Humphrey School interns is $15 to $20 an hour. This is an outstanding value for the quality of work they do. If you can't pay your intern, think of other compensation you could offer—commuting stipend, low-cost housing, free lunches, free parking, etc. Students also may be interested in using your data in their professional master's degree papers. Please review the information on internship programs under the FLSA if you have questions about internship program pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Application requirements: Give clear application instructions so students submit exactly what you want. This might include resume, cover letter, writing sample, reference list or letters of reference. Specify if you accept mailed, e-mailed or faxed applications. Give exact contact information and let them know who they can call with questions.
  • Deadline and application timeline: Give a specific deadline for applying (we are required to post a position for a minimum of five working days; we recommend at least two weeks during the semester and a month during breaks or over the summer). Also specify your timeline for the hiring process, such as when you hope to interview and when you will make your final decision.
  • Download a sample internship posting.

Humphrey School Online Internship Listings

Our students have access to an online internship listing only for Humphrey School students and alums. To submit an internship posting, send your posting as an email attachment to If you want to reach a wider University audience, post on the GoldPass System.

Office of Career & Professional Development

Humphrey School of Public Affairs
280 Humphrey School
301 19th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55455