Academic Credit and the Internship Experience

Pitzer College Career Services follows the NACE guidelines for defining an internship:

“An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent.”

Connecting Internship Experiences to the Academic Experience: Courses, Independent Study and the Zero-Credit  Option

Pitzer College offers several ways to obtain academic credit related to internship experiences completed during the summer or academic year.  Please read the official documentation regarding this process in the “Independent Study and Internships” section of the Pitzer Catalog so you are aware of all of your options.  The following is a brief, unofficial summary of the options for securing academic credit related to internship experiences.  Students should discuss the following options with their academic advisor and consult.

Utilize an Existing Internship Course

A number of Pitzer College Field Groups have internship courses in place for which students can register,.  Students should consult their academic advisor and consult the Pitzer Academic Catalog for more information.

Independent Study

To earn academic credit for an internship, students must negotiate an Independent Study with a faculty member and that Independent Study must have an academic component. Merely completing hours at a placement is not sufficient to gain academic credit. The academic component normally involves the completion of a project (e.g., paper, video, art work) that combines subject area learning with the placement experience.

For placements in the fall or spring, independent study credit is given in the semester in which the placement occurs, and the academic component must be completed that semester.  In case of summer internships or community service, the placement experience can be applied to an independent study in either the summer or the subsequent fall semester.  The Independent Study enrollment (summer or fall) shall reflect when the academic component is to be completed.

Please read more about this option at Guidelines for Internship and Community Service Independent Study for Course Credit. Completed Independent Study forms should be submitted to the Registrar’s Office, which are then forwarded to the Curriculum Committee for review and approval.  Forms are available in the Registrar’s Office and on the Registrar’s Office website.  Students must follow all deadlines related to independent studies.

Zero-credit Internship Independent Study

Coordinated by the Office of Career Services, this no-cost option allows for students to compose and self-evaluate learning objectives for the internship and complete other requirements.  Once completed, a non-credit bearing notation is included on the student’s transcript.  This option is helpful for students who need to demonstrate that an internship is contributing to their education but do not need credit toward graduation.

To begin the zero-credit internship independent study process, a student should contact Career Services at career_services@pitzer.edu.  A Career Services professional will connect the student to an online form that is to be completed and submitted no later than 1 week after beginning the internship.  It is highly recommended, however, that students complete the form before beginning the internship.

A general guideline for time spent at the placement for zero credit is 80 hours total for the semester or summer.  The placement must be completed within the summer or semester that the independent study will be recorded.  For zero-credit internship based independent studies taking place during the fall or spring semester, approval of the student’s academic advisor is also required.

The zero-credit internship independent study form requests the following:

  1. The student’s contact information and that of the organization with which the student will be working, including complete contact information for a supervisor or supervisors.
  2. At least 3 learning outcomes for the internship.  Information about learning outcomes is included in the form.  The goal of outlining learning outcomes is to encourage the student to maximize their internship experience and to assist the student in articulating to others what was learned through the experience.
  3. A completed and signed Liability Waiver Form.  The Liability Waiver Form will be provided by Pitzer Career Services and can be submitted with the online form.

Once all of the requirements above have been completed, a letter will be provided by the Registrar’s Office confirming a student’s involvement in the zero-credit internship independent study for the relevant time frame.

To secure the internship notation on the transcript, the following must be submitted before the first day of class of the following semester (for example, if a student is completing a summer internship, the following will be due by the first day of fall classes):

  1. An approximately 500-word reflection paper in which the student self-evaluates on each learning outcome.  This evaluation will help the student to reflect upon and articulate what they learned through the internship experience and how to communicate that to others.
  2. Written documentation from the internship supervisor that states the total number of hours that the student completed in the internship.

The 500-word reflection paper can be submitted directly to the primary contact in Career Services via e-mail (as an attached document, NOT in the body of an e-mail).

The zero-credit independent study will not show on a student’s transcript until all materials have been successfully submitted.

For more information, please contact Career Services at career_services@pitzer.edu, 909.621.8519 or in Scott Hall 126.