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Academic vs. Non-Academic Internships

Credit Bearing

Academic internships are opportunities that allow students to earn course credit while interning. Specific guidelines and requirements vary by major and academic department. The arrangement is overseen by a faculty or staff member at the University of Tennessee, in partnership with a designated employee of the selected internship site. The university representative determines whether or not the host site meets academic requirements regarding terms and conditions for assignments, internship tasks, work hours, and compensation. An integral component of the internship experience is the inclusion of learning activities separate from a student’s work tasks. Examples of learning activities include the opportunity to observe meetings or client appointments, the ability to shadow staff in other departments, and homework-like assignments to be evaluated by members of the professional staff and/or academic staff.

Academic departments and colleges at UT utilize a variety of internship-related models that award credit. Depending on the department, the internship may be a requirement for graduation, it may count for credit toward the major, or it may be awarded elective credit only. Most often, but not always, these are 300 or 400 level courses and may or may not be repeated for additional credit, depending on the department. Below are some examples at the University of Tennessee:

  • Internship Course
  • Independent Study
  • Field Work
  • Practicum
  • Clinical Work
  • Student Teaching

Students are encouraged to review offerings in the catalog and speak with the advisor for their academic program to determine options and requirements.

Cost to the Student

Tuition and fees for credit-based internships are included for the semester in which the student is enrolled in experience. In order to receive academic credit for intern work experience the student must register and pay the appropriate fees for the credit hours during the semester in which the internship takes place.  f wanting to participate in student activities, the student must pay the Programs & Services Fee.  For the upcoming academic year please see the cost per credit hour at:

Non-credit Bearing

Non-credit internships are found and completed independently by students to supplement their formal education and to gain practical work experience.

Learning contracts, networking, reflection activities, and journals are strongly encouraged to make the experience more meaningful. These internships may or may not be paid, with compensation ranging from salaries, stipends, and hourly payments to travel allowances, housing and food subsidies, or scholarships. Students are not charged tuition for these internships since no academic credit is granted for the work. If a student is interning full-time or going to be away from the university during the internship and cannot also register for any academic credit courses, the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration encourages the student to consider the “co-op in field” registration option.

Co-op in Field Status

Although working full-time and not earning credit, students may keep their full-time UT student status by being classified by the Registrar’s Office as “Co-op in Field” (noted on transcript). To be classified as such, students must contact the Center for Career Development & Academic Exploration to complete necessary paperwork*. The Registrar’s Office requires students be advised before beginning their co-op, be in good standing with UT, and have no outstanding fees/fines. Students do not typically earn academic credit for co-ops and, therefore, are not charged university tuition.

*Some academic departments and colleges manage their own co-op process; e.g. the College of Engineering’s Office of Engineering Professional Practice.