Undergraduate Internship Policies

Washington and Lee awards degree credit "for education, not experience." Credits will be awarded only for internships that contribute toward learning, as specified by departments listing all internship experiences as a 450-level course. Departments are responsible for

  • approving each internship in advance,
  • designating faculty supervisors,
  • requiring interim and final reports,
  • securing evaluations from work supervisors,
  • ascertaining that the student worked full-time for the period,
  • assigning a grade for the course, and
  • retaining records on each individual's performance for evaluation purposes.

Where credit is appropriate for an internship, it should be available whether or not there is a salary or stipend.

Credits may be awarded to students for internships as follows:

  • up to nine credits for winter or fall term;
  • up to six credits for spring term [this policy is under review, since none have been approved for the new spring term; and
  • up to three credits for summer/fall combined experiences.

A maximum of nine credits of internship may be used to meet degree requirements.

Many summer work experiences do not qualify for degree credit. The value of summer work lies in experience and networking. The requirement of some employers that students must receive academic credit in order to be considered for employment has absolutely no bearing on the academic department's decision regarding degree-credit approval. The decision to award degree credit will be based on the educational merits of the internship experience as determined by university faculty.

Washington and Lee University recognizes the educational value of summer internships from organizations that offer high quality summer internship programs. The University will award a student one non-degree credit per summer for qualified summer internships. The summer internship will be transcribed as a non-academic course without a grade. It will appear on the transcript as a summer entry in the year the internship is completed. Up to three non-degree credits will be transcribed. They will have no effect on the transcript totals of degree credit.

To be awarded one non-degree credit for a summer internship, students must complete the application form and meet the following standards:

  • The student must be enrolled as a current student, receive final grades for the winter term immediately preceding the internship, and have no outstanding winter term incompletes on their transcript at the end of the spring term preceding the internship.
  • In advance of starting the internship, students must apply to have the internship approved for possible non-degree credit. When the application is submitted, students must supply sufficient documentation regarding the internship so that it may be vetted by the Career Development Center staff to insure that the internship is sufficiently rigorous and will provide educational value.
  • The Career Development Center staff will use advice from faculty familiar with various types of internships and will approve or disapprove the application. If necessary, once the application is approved, the University Registrar will confirm with the employer that the student will receive credit for the internship.
  • Students must supply to the Career Development Center staff a statement from the employer that the internship has been completed successfully, including that they had worked a minimum of 280 hours.

(A letter stating the above appropriate for summer-internship applications is available for printing online.)

There are clearly some instances where a summer experience may qualify for degree credit based on subsequent work in a fall term. Faculty should be involved in the planning, execution and evaluation of the internship. In order for these summer/fall internships to qualify for degree credit, the following standards must be met:

  1. The summer/fall internship will be the responsibility of an academic department, listed as a 450-level course (e.g. 451 for one credit, 453 for three credits) in the catalog, and intended primarily for majors.
  2. Faculty will determine if the internship merits the opportunity for a follow-up fall term project and academic credit. Credit will be based on the work during an academic term with the summer work as a prerequisite.
  3. The student, faculty and sponsor of the internship must agree in writing on the conditions of the summer portion of the internship during the spring term prior to the internship.
  4. The student will register for the internship in the fall term above and beyond the normal full-time course load. The credit awarded and conditions of the fall term academic work will be determined by the sponsoring department and faculty member.

Students undertaking an unpaid summer internship may request a letter of university support by providing a company contact name and address to the University Registrar's Office.

W&L's Office of General Counsel has prepared guidance about internships for both faculty and students.

As of September 2017, the following disciplines offer degree credit for internships.

  • Accounting
  • Art History
  • Biology
  • Education
  • English
  • French
  • German
  • History
  • Interdepartmental Global
  • Journalism and Mass Communications
  • Music
  • Neuroscience
  • Politics
  • Poverty and Human Capability Studies
  • Psychology
  • Sociology and Anthropology
  • Studio Art
  • Theater