Internships provide excellent opportunities for all students and are required for the Master of Human Rights, Master of Public Policy, and Master of Urban and Regional Planning degrees. To get ideas for planning your internship, see where our students have recently done their internships.
What is the internship requirement?
Students in the MHR, MPP, and MURP degrees complete a professional experience as part of their program. This internship must be a) a minimum of 200 hours, b) primarily professional-level work, and c) related to the student's academic focus and career goals. The experience is not for credit, although credit can be added through independent study (see "Can I get credit for my internship?" below). For an internship to qualify, it must begin after the first day of the first semester of a Humphrey student's program.
Is there paperwork required for an internship?
Can I waive the internship requirement?
Students that can document substantial professional experience in their career field of interest may petition to waive their program’s internship requirement in their first semester. Some appropriate examples of substantial professional experience include:
- Full-time work experience that is one year or more in duration.
- Internship or part-time work experience that is two years or more in duration.
During the waiver process you will be required to submit paperwork describing your professional experience and how it relates to your academic and career goals, obtain the signature of your academic advisor or DGS, and submit to Career and Student Success for review and approval.
Contact Career and Student Success if you would like to inquire about the waiver petition process.
Can a graduate assistantship count as an internship?
An assistantship at the University (RA or TA) is an academic job rather than an experience in the professional public affairs world. Therefore, assistantships are not internships. There are a few exceptions, however, such as assistantships through the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). Similar assistantships, working closely with policy or planning organizations whose focus is off campus, also may qualify. These judgments are made on a case-by-case basis. To explore using an assistantship for your internship requirement, talk with Career and Student Success.
Can I participate in two experiences to meet the requirement?
Yes, if the two experiences are related to your academic and career interests and total 200 hours or more. You'll need to document each separately. For full information about how to submit documentation, see the Internship Documentation Process.
Are internships paid positions?
The availability of paid internships varies with the economy, but normally more than half of internships have a salary or stipend. Many of the paid internships pay between $12 and $20 an hour with no benefits. Paid internships with nonprofit and international organizations are less common and more difficult to find. Please review the information on internship programs under the FLSA if you have questions about internship program pay under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
There are various grants available to assist with unpaid internships. Both paid and unpaid internships may be used to fulfill the internship requirement.
Are there grants to support unpaid internships?
The Humphrey School has funding support available for students partaking in unpaid or underpaid summer internships completed before the student has graduated. The internship may be domestic or international. The Office of Career and Student Success accepts funding applications in the late spring - an email will be sent from the Career and Student Success office in April, and more information can be found on this website.
The Learning Abroad Center has additional information on possible funding sources.
Can I get credit for my internship?
The internship itself is not for credit. However, you may work with a faculty supervisor to conduct a project related to the internship (usually an analytic paper) as an independent study and may earn one to three credits, depending on the project. Keep in mind that no more than three independent study credits can be counted toward your degree. You also need permission from the internship organization if you plan to use confidential data or information.
How do I explain the internship requirement to a potential employer?
A potential internship employer may need to understand how a graduate internship differs from undergraduate internships. Download the helpful Graduate Internship Fast Facts sheet, which you can share with the organizations you contact. The Career and Student Success staff also are available to answer potential employers' questions.
What if I don’t know what kind of internship I want?
It is much easier to find an internship if you have an area of focus. Here are some ideas for narrowing down your search:
How do I find an internship?
- Figure out which skills and experience you want in an internship. (see “What if I don’t know what kind of internship I want?”)
- Browse internship postings on the Humphrey Internships listings
- Make professional connections: talk with your fellow students, get advice from faculty, be part of the alumni mentor program, learn how to approach professionals at events, follow up with class speakers and do informational interviews with people doing work of interest to you. For international internships, be sure to connect with the Humphrey International Fellows who study at the Humphrey School each year and come from many countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East and former Soviet Union.
- Get on LinkedIn — update your profile and join the Humphrey School Alumni and Students group to find alumni who share your professional interest
- Take advantage of events at the School—the career engagement fair and the numerous “Career Conversations” with Humphrey guests are great places to do some networking
- Tailor your resume and cover letter when applying to an internship posting
- Make an appointment with Career and Student Success to develop your internship search strategy.
When should I start looking?
The earlier you start, the better. If you're looking for an internship outside of Minnesota or the United States, start in early fall browsing posting sites, researching organizations, and talking with other students, faculty and staff for possible connections. Start polishing your resume so you are prepared to send out applications. Some deadlines (including the State Department) are as early as October, so be alert to postings and know the deadlines for the organizations in which you are interested. If you plan to travel to the area over winter or spring break, be ready to take advantage of that time by setting up informational interviews.
If you are planning to stay in Minnesota, it is not too early to start making connections and researching organizations in fall semester. Internships can start to be posted by late November but the majority will be posted in early spring semester. Take advantage of your extra time over winter break to conduct informational interviews with professionals in organizations of interest.
If you plan to apply for internship grants, be aware that you need to arrange the internship and have an internship agreement from the internship organization before the grant application deadline (usually in March through the end of April).
Can I use an internship I’ve already completed to fulfill the requirement?
The short answer is “no.” The internship needs to be completed after your first day at Humphrey, and you must begin the internship documentation process within 2 weeks of your internship start date. In rare cases a past internship that has lasted at least 2 years may be considered for a waiver.