Internship Guidelines

Internship Map

The map below indicates locations where SIA students have completed internships over the past few years.

One of the degree requirements for the Master of International Affairs degree is to complete either an internship or a master's paper. The requirements for the internship are as follows:

Ordinarily, you must complete the core curriculum before you embark on your internship. It is advisable to start your search and other preliminary work as early as possible, however.

Identifying and obtaining an internship is your responsibility, but you will have the resources and support of the Office of Career Services available to you throughout that process. There are over 150 opportunities listed on the SIA internship database. In addition, through your own connections, through faculty or administrator connections or through linkage agreements, you may be able to identify a work location and propose a new placement. In addition to the Director of Career Services, your assigned faculty advisor and other faculty and administrators all are available to advise and assist you in this process. In the (unlikely) event that you are unable to obtain an appropriate internship, you will be required to submit a master's paper.

Plan for Internship
All students who plan to get credit for an internship experience must complete a Plan for Internship Form. This form will be accompanied by a Plan for Internship statement, in which you will reflect on the purpose of the internship for which you've been selected, its relationship to your particular field of study, and your learning objectives while in the internship. Once approved by the Director of Career Services and your faculty advisor, this document will be shared with your supervisor at the internship site, so that s/he is full conversant with your academic as well as professional objectives in undertaking the internship. This step must be completed prior to the Registration process described below.

We will enroll you in INTAF 595 (3 cr.) for the internship.  You must be registered for credit during the internship semester.  You and your faculty advisor will decide on the number of credits (1-3) to be assigned for the internship semester.  If you register for less than 3 credits during your internship semester, the remaining credits will be scheduled the following semester — you will complete your final internship paper during that semester. For registration purposes, you are required to complete the Capstone Registration Form and note specifically if you plan to split your internship credits across two semesters or complete them during one semester. Once your faculty advisor has signed, return the completed Capstone Registration Form to the SIA Office of Career Services. Career Services will then work with the Registrar to enroll you in INTAF 595. This must be completed prior to beginning the internship. Late enrollment will be allowed only with serious extenuating circumstances, and with the approval of the Director of Career Services.  Late enrollment fees will apply.

Internship Agreement
At the beginning of your internship an Internship Agreement Form will be completed by you and your supervisor at the internship site, with the assistance of the Director of Career Services. It will incorporate the dates of your intended employment, the hours you will work, the name of the person who will serve as your immediate supervisor/evaluator, and other details of your employment. Attached to this agreement, for the benefit of your supervisor, will be: 1.) a copy of your Plan for Internship statement, 2.) the Site Supervisor Guidelines, and 3.) the Site Supervisor Final Evaluation Form. This agreement must be signed by your site supervisor and returned to the Director of Career Services within the first week of your internship.

International Students
International students are responsible for meeting all visa requirements for employment. Ordinarily, you will be allowed to work as an intern for credit towards your Master of International Affairs degree. In order to qualify, you must complete a Curricular Practical Training (CPT) form. You are strongly advised to thoroughly review the rules and regulations regarding CPT and to meet with a visa advisor in Penn State Global.

Internships outside of the United States

All students (regardless of citizenship) undertaking an internship outside of the United States MUST be registered in the Penn State Travel Safety Network a minimum of 30 days prior to departure. Registration requires enrollment in Penn State's international travel insurance (at no additional cost), and attendance at a Penn State Emergency Preparedness Workshop. If your internship is in a country listed on the Penn State Restricted Country List, you must petition the Penn State Global Safety Office for permission to complete your internship there, including carefully documenting the housing, transportation, and emergency support arrangements to ensure your safety. Petitions must be filed at least 30 days prior to departureAdvance planning is necessary to ensure completion of these requirements in a timely way.


Terms of Internship

Employment site: The purpose of the internship is to experience the integration your curricular studies in a professional environment. Internships must be with the international arm of organizations in the government, education, business or NGO sectors. Internships must be of sufficient breadth and depth so that you may experience the full range of activities within the office.

Hours/days/weeks requirements: Ordinarily the internship will consist of six to eight weeks of full time work or its equivalent. A minimum of 150 hours must be completed, but longer experiences will allow for a fuller immersion in the work of the organization, and maximize opportunities for professional development. Multiple short-term experiences, longer part-time experiences and other exceptions will be considered.

Previous position: Ordinarily, the internship position must be a position that is new to you and not simply the continuation of a job you already have.

Payment: Payment by the host organization is allowed, though not required, to defray the cost of living. However, an internship is not a job and must be treated as a learning experience by both the host organization and the intern.

In order to receive credit for an internship experience, the experience must be approved in advance. Three credits are required to meet the SIA Capstone graduation requirement. You may receive additional credit for more involved work, longer hours, or for other reasons, but internship credit will not be allowed to replace your required elective course work.


The internship will be graded with an “R” for research. “R” denotes the work was completed satisfactorily. The determination of satisfactory work will be made jointly by your site supervisor and faculty advisor. The “R” grade is not calculated into your GPA; the credits will be counted toward fulfilling degree requirements and will show in your total credits earned. If you split the internship credits up in any way, you will receive a grade for each component of the internship.  As an example, if you register for 1 Internship credit during a summer session when you are working and 2 Internship credits the following fall, while you are writing your internship paper, you will receive two grades for the internship, one for the summer credit and one for the fall credits.

Site Supervisor Evaluation
Your site supervisor will be asked to evaluate your performance during the internship. Some internship placements have their own evaluation processes. If that is not the case, we will request that the site supervisor complete our Site Supervisor Final Evaluation Form. The supervisor will receive a copy of the form as an attachment to the Internship Agreement.

INTAF 595 Paper
At the conclusion of your internship (or earlier, if your internship extends beyond the end of the semester in which you're enrolled) you will be required to submit a paper regarding your internship experience, no later than the last day of the semester in which you're enrolled (the final semester of enrollment, in the case of split enrollments). The paper should be a minimum of ten pages in length and should evidence your understanding of the relationship between your work and the theoretical concepts and factual information gained in the classroom and through readings and research. You should discuss specific professional skills learned and knowledge gained, in addition to a critical examination of the work of the organization with which you interned. It will be helpful to maintain a journal during the internship to shape the writing of the final paper.

If you would like to complete a confidential evaluation of your internship experience that is separate from the paper, you may use the Optional Student Internship Evaluation Form.


Forms and Links