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Undergraduate & Graduate Internship Guidelines

Based on federal guidance and statewide mitigation plans implemented by Gov. Tom Wolf around the coronavirus pandemic and Penn State’s ability to meet the state’s requirements for in-person instruction, Penn State is planning for in-person instruction for fall 2020 and spring 2021 semesters.

In-person internships, however, can often take place in locations where conditions differ from Penn State campus locations. Given this situation, Penn State will continue to review requests for in-person internships to ensure that students are aware of the flexibility they have to meet academic requirements.

During each semester, experiential education (including credit-bearing internships, clinical assignments or noncredit experiences that are required for degree completion) may be either in-person or virtual. All academic units must accept virtual experiences as meeting internship requirements unless accreditation or other regulations prevent that. These guidelines also apply to any internship experiences offered through Penn State that you may wish or need to take advantage of.

  • Internal Penn State internships must follow Penn State guidelines regarding hiring and funding. This decision reinforces the University’s primary goal to maintain health and safety for all involved and to recognize that different and rapidly changing situations are emerging across the nation and world.

If an internship is required for students to graduate, your college and academic program should communicate options to students.

Alternative Opportunities

Academic programs are expected to support students in meeting internship or other experiential requirements during this unique period. Graduating seniors will be prioritized in this process. Alternative activities may include, but are not limited to:

  • Remote virtual internships or experiences

  • Independent/special topics courses that meet learning outcomes of experiential education internships

  • Research or culminating project that simulates the internship or other required experience

  • Program-specific course substitutions

International student guidelines

For international students who are in F-1 immigration status, if their academic program DOES NOT require an internship, these students must enroll in internship credits. F-1 regulations require that the internship be directly related to the major and be curricular.

While most internships are in person, it is possible for virtual internships to take place and international students should seek advice from an international student adviser in DISSA.

Review and Decision

If, at any time during your fall or spring internship, you plan to participate in an in-person for-credit internship, on- or off-campus, you are required to complete the relevant Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form at the link below. See the section on exclusions below for experiences that do not require a review.

Requests for completion of an in-person internship are reviewed and approved by the associate dean for the academic program, under guidance and/or after consultation with relevant University offices.

Factors that are considered in review include, but are not limited to, whether the in-person internship is being completed at your existing workplace, the nature of the activities involved in the internship, the risk mitigation practices communicated by the internship location, and overall risks in the geographic location. If the internship is located within a particular program, department, or college at the University, then you must also request and receive approval from the academic unit leader through the relevant Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement below before continuing or conducting work in on-campus facilities. Though Penn State considers various factors as communicated by the student and internship site, the University cannot follow up with each location to verify protocol; therefore, it is the student’s responsibility to follow relevant guidance and best practices at all times and communicate concerns to their internship supervisor and advisor as appropriate.

To receive a review for an in-person internship, complete the relevant In-person Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement below.

Fall 2020 Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form

Spring 2021 Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form


The Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form does not need to be completed for the following situations:

  • If you are completing an internship that is conducted virtually, with no in-person or on-site work at the locations of the organization providing the internship;

  • If you are completing a noncredit internship/experience that is not required for degree completion;

  • If you are currently employed in a position and your internship for academic credit is simply an extension of your current employment; or

  • If your internship or employment is not for credit and not for the primary purpose of meeting an academic requirement for a Penn State program

In the last two situations above, then you may be considered an independent employee. In all cases, while this experience may be outside of Penn State academic requirements, you are encouraged to comply with CDC guidelines, as well as applicable state and local guidelines, for protecting yourself and others.

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