The Political Science Department offers course credit for supervised work experience related to subfields in Political Science, including American politics, public policy, pre-law, and global politics. Internships provide students opportunities to gain first-hand experiences in a variety of agencies and organizations. Internships may be paid or unpaid.  

Arranging an Internship

The Political Science Department has arranged over 80 internship opportunities with organizations willing to supervise interns. Most internships are in San Luis Obispo, though we also offer internships in Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. through The Washington Center. For answers to general questions about internships, please contact Dr. Jean Williams. For Global Politics internships please contact Dr. Shelley Hurt. For pre-law internships, please contact Dr. Ron Den Otter or Dr. Jennifer Denbow.

Dr. Hurt is the University Liaison for The Washington Center internships. Information on The Washington Center can be found at and by meeting with Dr. Shelley Hurt. Washington Center internships are offered in all academic quarters and during the summer, and provide opportunities for students to work in numerous governmental departments and agencies, non-governmental and non-profit organizations, cultural organizations, and in areas such as global trade, law, and media and communications. 

To participate in an internship, you will need to complete the Application form (Word doc). You will also need to fill out an Internship Report form when the internship is completed (pdf form).

Students also may arrange their own internships, but only after consulting with the appropriate faculty member. At other times, a student may be employed in a position that may qualify for internship credits. The Internship Director must approve of the internship prior to arranging for credit. The University does not provide internship credit for past work experience.

Course Credit

Any Cal Poly student of junior or senior standing with a minimum grade point average of 2.5 is eligible for an internship. While most students come from Political Science, some come from Journalism, Computer Science, Social Science, or other academic disciplines. To gain credit, a student enrolls in POLS 386 (Government Internship) in the academic quarter of the work experience. Students should arrange for internship credit with the appropriate faculty member in advance of the internship. This course has credit/no credit grading. The student may enroll for 2 to 12 credit increments per quarter. Each unit corresponds to approximately thirty hours of work experience. The credits may be earned with the same organization or with different organizations. Some students may choose to take full time internships (30 or more hours a week) and to earn 12 units during a quarter. Additionally, students may enroll in POLS 400 Independent Study to undertake independent research related to internships.

Internship Registration

Obligations of the University

The Internship Director ensures that the student's academic training meets the needs of the sponsoring organization, and supervises the academic part of the internship. The Internship Director ensures that the internship is a satisfactory one for both the student and the sponsoring organization.

Obligations of the Organization

The participating organization will confirm the satisfactory completion of an internship in a letter to the Internship Director at the end of the quarter during which a student has received internship credit. The letter should be on company letterhead and state the names of the intern and of the supervisor at the participating organization, the position duties and responsibilities, the duration of the position, scheduled hours, intern performance, and rate of pay if applicable. Any special responsibility or project negotiated with the student may be stated in the letter.

Obligations of the Intern

The intern must fulfill the agreement negotiated with the supervisor and abides by the rules and regulations governing employees. If the intern has difficulties in the internship, it is the intern's responsibility to notify the Internship Director. The intern will submit to the Internship Director a progress report (4-6 page essay) which evaluates the internship experience. The evaluation should be typed double-spaced and submitted by the seventh week of each quarter in which the intern is under the supervision of an employer and receiving internship credit. Only one progress report is due each quarter. 

Related Content