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Undergraduate & Graduate Internship Guidelines

Summer Semester 2021 Internships

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 Summer 2021.

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 of which you may wish or need to take advantage.

  • Internal Penn State internships must follow Penn State guidelines regarding hiring and funding, as well as submitting the Internship Exception Webform below if the internship will be in person and for academic credit. 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 your internship is part of a lab, institute, or research unit at Penn State, you do not need to complete this internship exception form. Contact your research supervisor for the next steps and to plan for your involvement as part of their Guidelines for Sustaining Safe, Research-related activities during COVID.  

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 the academic program does not require an internship but the student would like to complete an internship, the 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 summer 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. If a student is participating in a virtual internship, and the internship has an in-person component, the student must complete the Exception Webform and the Acknowledgement form as well.

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 internship supervisor, under the guidance and/or after consultation with the associate dean for the academic program and relevant University offices.

Factors that are considered in the 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.

Summer 2021 Internship Exception Web Form and Acknowledgement Form

Exclusions

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 your internship is part of a lab, institute, or research unit at Penn State, you do not need to complete this internship exception form. Contact your research supervisor for the next steps and to plan for your involvement as part of their Guidelines for Sustaining Safe, Research-related activities during COVID.  

  • If you are completing a noncredit internship/experience that is not required for degree completion; is not for credit and not for meeting any academic requirements for Penn State; and

  • If you are currently employed in a position and your internship for academic credit is with your current employer.

If either of the last two situations above applies to you, 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.


Fall Semester 2021 Internships

Based on current circumstances, we anticipate Fall 2021 to resemble normal practices, but we will continue to honor alternative opportunities, given that many sites may not be open for face-to-face internships. The alternative opportunities below apply for fall 2021 semester. Students do not need to fill out the exception form above for fall 2021 semester.  If an internship is required for students to graduate, your college and academic program should communicate alternative 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