Interested in conducting a public affairs internship for academic credit?

You've come to the right place. 

Internship choices

Click on the image to open a graphic that explains your internship choices (pdf, ~1MB).

Who can do an internship?

As internships are intended to build on a pre-existing base of public administration knowledge and skills, you must:

  • Be either a junior or senior who has completed five courses in your program; Have a 2.0 GPA or higher; and
  • Receive the faculty internship coordinator’s permission prior to enrollment.

To register for an internship you must submit an Internship Application to the internship coordinator. Undergraduate students receive four credits for completing 240 or more hours at their internship placement; graduate students must complete a minimum of 400 hours and will receive six credits in turn. Students wishing to do internships during the May and summer sessions must apply and register by June 1st for internships in the eight-week summer session. Students may enroll for internships in MyMadison under the following titles: 

  • PUAD 496 (Undergraduate) Internship in Public Administration: For all PPA majors; complete in either a public or non-profit administrative setting.
  • PUAD 696 (Graduate) Internship in Public Administration: For students completing internship in local, state, or federal government organizations.
  • PUAD 697 (Graduate) Internship in NGO Management: For students completing internship in non-government entity or nonprofit organization. 
  • POSC 495 Internship in Political Science: For students seeking legislative, policy-making, campaign, constituency, interest group, and/or criminal justice experience.
  • POSC 495W. Internship in Political Science (Washington Semester): For students who have been accepted for the Washington Semester Program.

Finding an Internship

It is your responsibility to identify prospective internships based on your career interests and goals. If you are unsure of resources available you should email the internship coordinator.  In order to help with your search, reflect on where you would like your internship to be, what type of skills you would like to do in your role as intern, and whether you are seeking paid or unpaid, among other considerations. Additionally, internships must expose students to an array of tools that public administrators use, so purely clerical positions are inappropriate.

Once you have identified a viable internship placement, complete any application process that the provider might want. On occasions where organizations do not have an internship opening posted, it is always possible to email and ask if they would want an intern; organizations rarely turn down help! It is typical for the internship provider to interview you before finalizing the agreement, so treat this interview like you would for any other job. Dress professionally, research the organization, and demonstrates ways that you would benefit the organization and learn new skills. Once the organization has agreed to host you, formalize the arrangement by preparing an Internship Agreement  for the provider. Return it to the faculty internship coordinator no later than your first work week.

Treat your internship experience as you would treat any organization with which you might want to launch your career. While the details of your work arrangement will be tailored to your organization, you should strive to display a high level of interest and initiative. You should maintain high levels of professionalism in your appearance, attitude, and performance.

For some food for thought regarding the diversity of public affairs and public service internship opportunities, click to see a list of recent placements for our departmental internship program.

For additional ideas regarding your internship search, click to see a discussion of internship websites and other resources that you can use to identify potential opportunities

Internship Checklist

To receive academic credit for the internship and to avoid grade penalties, all of the following must be met:

  1. Identify where you want to complete your internship
  2. Review internship guidelines and apply for permission with Dr. Taylor
  3. Register for the internship credit hours on MyMadison
  4. Prepare and sign the internship agreement online
  5. Complete all your hours of service and job duties 
  6. Complete all your written requirements 
  7. Complete and return your self-evaluation online
  8. You supervisor must complete your intern evaluation form online 

Graded Components

Internship Supervisor Evaluation (30%): Your supervisor will fill out a comprehensive form your work performance as an intern. This will focus not only on the tasks you completed and their quality, but also the level of professionalism with which you carried yourself.

Research Report (30%): In conjunction with your supervisor and faculty internship coordinator, you will implement an original research report on a topic of relevance to your internship. Through this paper you should showcase  your skills in research design and knowledge of the subject matter. Submit a two-page prospectus including the research question, methodology, and annotated bibliography of seven sources to your internship coordinator by the third week of the internship.  

Career Report (30%): Your career report is an opportunity for you to draw critical connections between your internship and the administration principles you have studied in class. This report should be a minimum of four pages and should analyze your internship experience within both professional and personal context. Focus on specific tasks you completed or interactions you had which may have either confirmed or rejected the theories you have studied in your coursework thus far. Additionally, tie connections between your experience in this organization and your future career.   

Daily Log & Forms (10%): Record your hours and tasks completed in a format that you can easily share with your supervisor and internship coordinator. This, along with the successful completion of your pre-internship paperwork, Student Internship Evaluation, and your communication with your internship coordinator will comprise 10% of your total grade.

Note: In certain cases it is possible that the academic session in which you are enrolled may end before the internship ends. In this case, you must work with the internship coordinator in order to be granted an grade of ‘incomplete,’ allowing you time to finish your qualifications. Certain regulations exist for having an incomplete, and you should consult with your internship coordinator throughout the process to avoid any grade penalties.



Jennifer A. Taylor, Ph.D.
Internship Coordinator
Department of Political Science
James Madison University
91 East Grace Street, MSC 7705
Miller Hall 2183
Harrisonburg, VA 22807
Phone: 361-779-2392 (please text with your name included)
FAX: 540-568-8021

Internship Forms

Use of these forms is described above. 

The Internship Application form must be read, completed, digitally signed and submitted to faculty internship coordinator before beginning the internship.

(Note to internship providers: Most intern evaluations are now done through an online survey that you will receive by email. Please use this form only if your interns or their instructors specifically ask you to use it.)

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