Internships provide students the opportunity to build on classroom learning with real-world experience. Enrolling for credit in the Political Science Internship course combines the internship experience with an academic component that involves relevant research and writing in political science. 

  • Gaining inside knowledge of political institutions, organizations and processes
  • Examining the connections between political science theory and practice
  • Acquiring hands-on skills and professional knowledge
  • Contributing to an organization that matches personal goals and interests
  • Developing insights on possible career options
  • Building a network of professional connections

To gain political science credit for an internship (3 credits), students will:

  • Complete a minimum of 144 hours at the internship – or approximately 10 hours per week over a 15-week semester.
  • Submit a weekly internship report (each approx. 1 page in length). The weekly reports are your opportunity to document what you are doing and observing as you carry out your internship duties.
  • Produce a 12-15 page internship paper, due on the last day of the semester. In general, the paper should focus on what the internship experience taught you about politics. Elements to be included: (a) an introduction with background information on the organization with which you interned and the types of issues you were focused on; (b) a summary and review of an argument found in political science scholarship that helps to frame and orient your experiences (including at least three scholarly citations); (c) a discussion of work performed and observations gained; and (d) an assessment of how your experiences matched up with expectations and broader theories in political science.
  • Meet twice during the semester with the entire group of interns, once early in the semester, and a second meeting before the final paper is due.
  • Meet at least twice on an individual basis with the PSCI internship coordinator.
  • The course grade is based on academic performance in meeting the specified requirements.

  • Secure an internship. Students secure their own internship opportunities. There are many options available in local, state and national government offices, interest groups, non-profit organizations, political campaigns, and other possibilities. Career services lists many opportunities, and the Internship Coordinator also maintains internship information.
  • Register for the Political Science Internship course, PSCI 4938-800 (3 credits)
  • Contact the PSCI internship coordinator via email to discuss internship interests and plans. In general, students should plan to contact the PSCI internship coordinator by the following dates:
    • August 1 for Fall semester internship
    • December 1 for Spring semester internship
      Note: If you miss these deadlines, please contact the PSCI internship coordinator for specific instructions.
  • Complete and submit to the PSCI internship coordinator the required College of Arts & Sciences Credit Internship Application, including signature by the on-site supervisor, no later than the first day of the semester in which the internship is being carried out.
  • Maximum number of credits that students may be enrolled in while an intern may not exceed 18 credit hours (3 credit hours for the internship, plus no more than 15 hours of other classes)

Depending on student interests, a wide variety of opportunities in government, politics, public policy and the non-profit sector are suitable for political science internship credit. Be sure to check the CU Career Services internship page and the Handshake job & internship search system for current listings. The PSCI internship coordinator is also happy to meet with students and provide suggestions that match personal interests.

It is never too soon to begin gaining practical experience through internships. Internship opportunities arise year-round, but some are more seasonal in nature. For example, the Colorado State Legislature creates many excellent hands-on opportunities for engaging in the state legislative process, but this is true only when they are in session (the CO state legislative session coincides with CU’s spring semester, January through May every year). Elections also create numerous opportunities for active engagement, typically in the fall. Feel free to schedule a meeting with the PSCI internship coordinator to think through internship plans.  

PSCI internships provide 3 academic credits. Students can count up to 6 credits of internship work in a given department toward graduation. Be sure to check with your academic advisor if you are unsure about your own academic credits.

The PSCI internship program is currently offered only in the Fall and Spring semesters. However, summer internships are often the best option for student schedules. It should be noted that you do not need to gain academic credit in order to be engaged with a rewarding and educational internship experience.

Some organizations require academic credit when they otherwise cannot compensate student interns. However PSCI does not offer credit for summer internships. In this case, you can sign up for an extra credit internship class through Career Services, CSVC 1000, a one-credit, pass/fail class (which does not count toward graduation requirements). For information on CSVC 1000, see the CU Career Services internship credit page.

This CU Career Services program provides funding for summer internships focused on civic engagement. See PIIE for the details. Note that this is a competitive program, with annual applications opening in December for the following summer.

Check out the semester- or summer-long professional internship in Washington, D.C., with a wide range of placement options. More information about the CU in D.C. program.

Where to Search?

Current Internship Opportunities

Archive - Internship opportunites

Join the Internship Information Sessions

Contact

Dr. Nancy Billica, Internship Coordinator
Department of Political Science
Ketchum 214
UCB 333
Boulder, CO 80309-0333
Office: 303-735-4973
Nancy.Billica@colorado.edu