What is an Internship?

Internships are one of the most important steps you can take toward future employment. Fifty percent of internships turn into jobs either with the original organization, or because of a connection made through the internship. Internships can help you gain experience for your résumé, aid you in making career choices, help establish credentials and contacts in your job field, and integrate the knowledge you've learned in the classroom with the realities of the world of work.

The internship program in Sociology and Criminology provides students with structured work experience related to the field and an opportunity to earn academic credit.  To complete the internship, you must fulfill a time commitment in the work setting, compile field notes recording your experiences, and complete several brief writing assignments in which you systematically analyze that setting and your experiences. The assignments are designed to merge what you’ve learned in the classroom, with the work you’re completing in the internship.

How will an internship help me?

  • Explore career options and professional interests
  • Make connections with experienced professionals and potential mentors
  • Develop professional experience and build your resume
  • Gain marketable skills and self-confidence
  • Apply knowledge you’ve learned in the classroom in a professional setting


Where do students complete internships?

  • Federal, State, Local and National Agencies
  • Juvenile Delinquency Detention and Treatment Facilities
  • Probation and Parole
  • Local, County, in State and Out of state Police Departments
  • Corporate Security Divisions
  • Law Offices
  • Correctional Facilities

O-NET is an online database that contains hundreds of occupational definitions to help students explore and search for occupations.  Sociology students my find it helpful to visit this article form ASAs’ website on strategies for internet job searches for students with a sociology degree.

How Do I Find An Internship?

Locating an internship is the responsibility of the student.  Talk to an advisor or visit Career Services about your career interests and to obtain help in narrowing your career focus.

Liberal Arts majors are encouraged to visit the Liberal Arts Career Enrichment Network website for more information about internship opportunities, career-related activities, and professional development events. In particular, by using their Nittany Lion Careers accounts, Liberal Arts majors can search for internships, upload resumes for review, RSVP for upcoming events, and schedule appointments with a Network staff member to talk about resumes, specific career interests, or funding opportunities to support enrichment experiences.

Advertised opportunities

Advertised opportunities are those that are posted, much like traditional jobs, such as company websites, job boards and other job posting systems. Many advertised internships are a part of established internship programs that offer additional support and learning opportunities.

Job & Internship Fairs

Penn State offers several career fairs throughout the year.  The department also hosts an annual mentoring workshop for all students.

Internship Opportunities List - List of agencies in which students have found internships.


Can I Get Academic Credit?

To complete the internship, students fulfill a time commitment in the work setting, compile field notes recording their experiences, and complete several brief writing assignments in which they systematically analyze that setting and their experience. Thus, the internship provides students the opportunity to integrate the knowledge they gain in their course work with the realities of the world of work. Most students find this experience invaluable for testing (and sometimes revising) their career goals and for establishing credentials and contacts that aid in finding a permanent position after graduation. The internship is highly recommended for all criminology majors, regardless of their long-term career goals.

To earn departmental credit you must be in good academic standing, meet the requirements outlined below and the internship must relate to the field of Sociology or Criminology. Students may enroll in LA 495 for 1 or 3 credits (some exceptions may apply).  Up to 3 of those credits maybe used to fulfill degree requirements toward a 400-level course, beyond the core 400-level course requirements.  The remaining internship credits will be used as electives.  Students earn credit based upon the number of hours spent working at the internship and the number of papers they submit.

If you decide to receive credit or would like more information please contact the Undergraduate Studies & Internship Coordinator, 814-863-0453


Eligibility Requirements to Complete an Internship for Credit

Any Penn State student majoring in Sociology or Criminology may apply for an internship for credit, providing they meet the following requirements.

  • Students must be enrolled with a 2.0 GPA and must be a declared major in either SOC. or CRIM.
  • The internship must have a minimum time-frame of 8 weeks with a minimum of 10 hours worked per week.
  • The internship is a minimum of 45 worked hours per credit.
  • The internship must involve work in the sociology or criminology field.
  • Attend required meeting with the Internship Coordinator. Approval for registration will only be granted after necessary paperwork is completed and students have attended this meeting or made alternate arrangements.  Please contact the internship coordinator to be added to the meeting schedule.

I do not meet the above requirement but still want to receive credit

Students who have secured an internship but do not meet the department's internship course eligibility requirements may want to consult the LA 495 internship course information on the Career Enrichment Network website and request registration for the non-departmental/college section of LA 495.  Credit earned in the Liberal Arts program will not apply to your major, but will count toward your general graduation requirements.

How Internship Credit Works

  • For every 45 hours interned, a student will receive 1 credit.  (3 credits = 135 hrs)
  • Students can earn 1 or 3 credits per semester per internship
  • Hours are determined by the number of credits a student wants to receive.
  • Students have from the first day of classes until the last day of classes to complete their internship hours.
  • Individual work schedules are negotiated between agencies and interns, but must be a minimum of 10 hours per week.
  • Students must pay tuition for the academic internship (including summer internships)
  • Internship must be approved by the Internship Coordinator
  • All internships must be a minimum of 8 weeks in length


  • Complete written assignments in a timely manner as outlined by the internship grader.
  • Students must earn a favorable work evaluation from their supervisor
  • Interns are required to submit a time sheet with their total hours worked at their internship.
  • Complete any additional departmental assignments


All students completing the internship for credit must attend a MANDATORY orientation prior to starting your internship.  These meeting are held each fall and spring semester.  For those considering a fall internship you must attend the meeting at the end of the spring semester.  Please contact for more information on the meeting dates and times.

Will I get paid?

It depends.  We believe interns provide meaningful service to their supervising agencies. However, many organizations view the time and effort they devote to training interns as compensation for the learning opportunities gained by the students.


Penn State's tuition rates vary by campus, program, student level, and residency. Use this student tuition calculator to determine your tuition rate.

Enrichment Funds

An important goal of the College of the Liberal Arts is to involve undergraduates in appropriate enrichment activities. Accordingly, the College, as well as a variety of Academic Departments, has modest funds available to assist students participating in activities such as internships, education abroad, or undergraduate research. Liberal Arts majors seeking financial support for such enrichment activities are encouraged to read the information on the Liberal Arts, Career Enrichment Network site.



Insurance during your internship

The University does not provide nor purchase liability insurance coverage for students engaging in an intern program or fieldwork experience nor to the host sites. Because some host organizations require that interns have liability or malpractice insurance, students need to personally purchase intern liability insurance when required to do so by the cooperating institution/agency/company.   The University should NOT be listed as a named insured on the student’s personal policy. This is between the student and the host site only. University personnel must not obtain nor direct students to specific insurance providers

In addition, the University is not liable for accidents or harm that may occur while students are transported to internship sites in non-University vehicles. Information on supplemental insurance available to undergraduate students is available through the Penn State Student Insurance Office.

Students must provide copies of insurance, if required, directly to the site or through a third party service The University will not maintain evidence of such records on behalf of students.


I don’t have the finances to register for the internship for the semester

Can I take the internship now and register for it another semester?  This is not an option. Senate policy 34–81 states that students must be registered for the course during the semester in which the course requirements are completed and a grade must be assigned at the end of that semester. The Registrar’s Office will not permit you to take the internship one semester and register for it another.

Requesting a signature

Some institution applications require a representative at Penn State to sign documents.  If your employer asks for this information please contact the internship coordinator who will read and sign the requested forms at his or her discretion.

What do I do if I already have an internship?

Contact the department internship coordinator to ensure the agency meets the requirements and be added the the mandatory meeting schedule.


Contact information

For further information on the internship program and process, please contact the Undergraduate Studies & Internship Coordinator at the information below:

Department of Sociology and Criminology
Penn State University College of the Liberal Arts
211 Oswald Tower
University Park, PA 16802
Phone: 814-863-0453
Fax: 814-863-7216



Internship Information for Agencies

The internship program is recognized by both students and alumni as one of the most valuable experiences of a student’s academic career. It provides students the opportunity to integrate their classroom experiences with work experience preparing the students by exposing them to other professionals in the field and to the work environment in a way that cannot be duplicated in the classroom.   Serving as a supervisor for an intern not only permits you to participate in student growth, but also in the development of your organization’s future work force. Interns often bring new skills and knowledge with them to apply in their new work setting. They can add a fresh perspective and make a real contribution to your agency.

Supervisors are expected to:

  • Allow the student the opportunity to apply classroom learning in an agency setting.
  • Encourage the development of a professional identity and appropriate set of skills.
  • Provide the student with a broad overview of the operations of the agency.
  • Help students identify and clarify their career interests.
  • Evaluate the student’s professional performance on the internship.

The internship will also allow you to observe and evaluate potential staff members.

If you or your organization would like to provide an internship opportunity for a current student, you can get started with the recruitment process by emailing the Career Enrichment Network at or by calling (814) 865-1070.