Internship Requirement

All SIPA students who (1) are required to complete an internship and (2) must then register in the SIPA U9013 internship course are responsible for reviewing and understanding the details below regarding paperwork, registration in the internship course, and internship eligibility.  

NEW! There is now a 0-credit SIPA U9013 section for students who wish to simply fulfill the internship requirement without registering do not wish to receive academic credit for their internship, but will simply fulfill the internship requirement. Please ensure you are registered in the appropriate section of SIPA U9013 via SSOL. See INTERNSHIP REGISTRATION below.

Internship Eligibility

Students in most two-year MIA and MPA degree programs are required to fulfill a minimum of 120 internship hours and complete the paperwork outlined below in order to meet the internship degree requirement. In addition, students who choose to register in the SIPA U9013 course for internship credit must also complete the paperwork and fulfill a minimum of 120 internship hours for 1.5 credits (or 240 hours for 3 credits); see INTERNSHIP CREDIT REGISTRATION, below, for more details. 

If you are still unsure about your internship eligibility after reviewing this section, please email the details of your internship opportunity to sipainternships@sipa.columbia.edu.

INTERNSHIP CRITERIA

Students should ensure that their opportunity meets criteria for what constitutes an internship, as well what is required for eligibility for the SIPA requirement and/or for SIPA credit, as follows: 

  • It is related to your program, concentration, and/or specialization;
  • The work is substantive and professional in nature (perhaps with some administrative tasks, depending on the organization and the nature of the position); language training, language studies, or other coursework are ineligible;
  • It is not conducted in a family-owned organization/business;
  • It is completed during your degree program; internships completed before matriculation into SIPA are ineligible;
  • It includes at least 120 hours of work at the internship (to fulfill the requirement and/or for the 1.5-credit option in SIPA U9013) or at least 240 hours of work at the internship (for the 3-credit option in SIPA U9013);
  • It follows the criteria for what constitutes an internship, outlined here: Effective Internship Criteria - Fall 2017.pdf.

 

INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS IN F-1 OR J-1 STATUS

International students should be aware of special regulations when seeking paid internships in the United States. Please review the International Student Work Authorization section of the OCS website for details before beginning a paid or compensated internship in the U.S.

MPA-DP STUDENTS

In lieu of the internship requirement, MPA-DP students complete a mandatory 12-week summer field placement. However, MPA-DP students may still choose to register for up to three credits in SIPA U9013 (overseen by OCS) if completing a separate internship that is related to their concentration and outside of the summer field placement opportunity. MPA-DP students who complete a separate internship should still submit to OCS the internship paperwork that is detailed below. Internships must be professional in nature and follow the same SIPA internship guidelines, below, in order for MPA-DP students to receive credit in the SIPA U9013 internship course. 

INTERNSHIP PAPERWORK

STEP 1 

Carefully follow the below instructions to complete an online Internship Report at this special log-in page within SIPAlink. NOTE: This page is not the same as the general SIPAlink log-in page. 

To prevent loss of information, we recommend that you first draft and save your answers in a Microsoft Word document, and then transfer them to the online report. Please use Internet Explorer when completing the report to save it properly.

 

  1. Follow the link that says, ">> First-time Users: Click here to report your internship!" Please do NOT log in if you are creating a new Internship Report. You only log in to edit existing reports.
  2. Fill out all the fields (with complete information: three full sentences per question is the standard) and then submit the report by clicking "Save." 

 

IMPORTANT

  • All Internship Report responses must be in paragraph form with a minimum of THREE (3) full sentences per question.
  • The responses must also be written in a professional tone. Your report will NOT be approved if there is not enough information and/or if the information is not written in the proper tone. 
  • When answering the credit registration questions on the Internship Report, please be advised that you are simply stating your registration intentions. If you will register for credit, you must STILL register for U9013 through the same registration process as your other courses.
  • On the Internship Report, be sure to accurately select the semester and number of credits for which you intend to register, if applicable. If you register in a different semester and/or for a different number of credits than what was stated in the report, please notify OCS as soon as possible to avoid processing delays.
  • When registering internships for credit, they are graded on a pass/fail basis.

 

STEP 2 

Once you are nearing the end of your internship, please submit your internship supervisor's contact information, using the Internship Employer Information Form. This is so the online system can send your supervisor an auto-generated Supervisor Evaluation Survey via a link sent to their work email address. If your internship is with Columbia University, please email sipainternships@sipa.columbia.edu with your internship supervisor's Columbia email address instead of completing the Internship Employer Information Form.
 

STEP 3

It is your responsibility as the student intern to ensure that your supervisor receives and completes the Supervisor Evaluation Survey and that it is then successfully submitted to the Office of Career Services. This survey is both a confirmation of your completed internship dates/hours and a detailed evaluation of your performance during the internship. We strongly recommend that you alert your supervisor to the receipt of this auto-generated survey link via their work email inbox, so that they can ensure the survey link is not lost in their SPAM inbox.

 

INTERNSHIP REGISTRATION

NEW!  All SIPA students who are fulfiling the SIPA internship requirement MUST register in the appropriate section of SIPA U9013 (the SIPA internship course), based on their registration intentions, as follows:

  • For 0-credit internships where students do not choose to receive credit, but will simply fulfill the internship requirement, please register in section 003 of SIPA U9013.  
  • For 1.5-credit internships where students choose to receive credit for a minimum of 120 completed internship hours, please register in section 001 of SIPA U9013.
  • For 3-credit internships where students choose to receive credit for a minimum of 240 compelted internship hours, please register in section 002 of SIPA U9013.

 

NOTE: Registration for SIPA U9013 internship credit is through the same registration process as other SIPA courses (via SSOL). See SIPA Registration for details. SIPA does not have summer registration.

 

INTERNSHIP WAIVER REQUEST (FIRST YEAR OF PROGRAM ONLY)

Students who meet any of the following criteria may be eligible to waive the internship requirement:

  • On leave from job.
  • Was employed on a full-time, permanent, professional basis for a minimum of four years (internships not included) in a field relevant to student’s concentration and career goals prior to enrolling in SIPA.
  • Dual-degree student who has completed an internship in another program.

 

IMPORTANT

  • Students who waive the internship requirement or received academic credit for an internship from their dual-degree program will not be awarded any internship credits.
  • Students must submit the Professional Development and Internship Waiver Request Form (for waiver of the internship requirement and/or the Professional Development requirement) and all required supporting documents to OCS within the first year of study at SIPA.

 

RESEARCH INTERNSHIPS (VIA OFFICE OF ACADEMIC AFFAIRS)

With pre-approval from the Office of Academic Affairs, students may also complete a research internship with a Columbia University faculty member or research scholar. This option is intended for students pursuing careers in academia, think tanks, research centers, or similar entities. Students completing approved research internships should also follow up with the Office of Academic Affairs regarding any requirements, paperwork, and (where applicable) registration in the SIPA U9040 research internship course.

To be approved for a research internship:

  • Students will be expected to work on a clearly defined and substantive research project, either under the direction of a Principal Investigator or of their own creation with faculty consent.
  • Students will be expected to gain concrete research skills of a quantitative or qualitative nature.
  • Students must first obtain approval from a faculty supervisor by following the below steps to properly submit the Application for Research Internship Form found in OrgSync.
    • STEP 1: Students must first obtain a faculty supervisor signature on the Application for Research Internship Form in OrgSync. 
    • STEP 2: Students should then submit the signed form with a summary of proposed research and professional objectives to SIPA Academic Affairs (sipa_academicaffairs@sipa.columbia.edu) to obtain the signature of Associate Dean of Academic Affairs Dan McIntyre (IAB 1419). After Dean McIntyre approves the form, the Office of Academic Affairs will forward the application to the Office of Student Affairs.
    • STEP 3: Associate Dean of Student Affairs Cory Way also signs the form, and the Office of Student Affairs will inform Curriculum Director Andrew Johnson.
    • STEP 4: The Curriculum Director creates the research internship course, and OSA then registers the student in the research internship course. Upon completion of the research internship, the faculty supervisor will enter a grade of Pass or Fail for the student.

 

UNPAID INTERNSHIPS

SIPA Office of Career Services (OCS) strongly urges students to fully research each internship opportunity -- particularly before engaging in unpaid internships, regardless if the student chooses to register for academic credit or not. OCS expects all employers to provide compensation for internships to the extent required by the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and other applicable wage and hour laws.

We have included a link to information provided by the US Department of Labor on internship programs: http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71.pdf. This information describes seven factors for an employer to consider in determining whether an intern must be paid as an employee under the FLSA:

1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.

2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.

3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.

4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.

5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.

6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.

7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

The NY State Department of Labor considers additional factors in determining whether an intern must be paid under New York state law. These factors are summarized at the following link: https://www.labor.ny.gov/formsdocs/factsheets/pdfs/p725.pdf. SIPA OCS expects employers posting internships taking place in other states to adhere to the wage and hour laws applicable to that employer at the internship site. Given the cost of higher education and the value interns bring to an organization, OCS encourages organizations that are not required to pay interns to consider paying interns or providing other forms of support, such as a travel allowance, meal per diem, housing, and/or stipend.

If you have any further questions, please visit OCS in IAB Room 420, email sipainternships@sipa.columbia.edu or call 212-854-4613 during our office hours (Monday-Friday, 9am-5pm EST).