Internships, Independent Study, and Undergraduate Research FAQs
What is an internship?
Internships allow students to earn credit for gaining hands-on experience in a position related to their major. For example, the internship could be a seasonal position where students participate in data collection and analysis or other activities with professional research or management personnel. The experience could be on-campus and in collaboration with a faculty member, or off-campus working with a professional related to the student’s chosen area of study.
Students earn credits for internships through WILD 298/498 for students in the Fish & Wildlife Ecology & Management option, or BIOE 298/498 for students in the Conservation Biology & Ecology, Biology Teaching, and Organismal Biology options.
Interested students must find an appropriate internship opportunity and get permission from their work supervisor (“employer”) to get credit for their work. Next, students must find an Ecology instructor (“on-campus instructor”) who will oversee their work.
What is an independent study?
WILD/BIOE 292/492 and BIOE 592
Independent study opportunities allow students to earn credit for exploring a specific topic of interest, related to their major and future career. Typically, these independent study topics are not already explored in another MSU course offering. The independent study experience will likely include finding and exploring existing knowledge related to the topic of interest and result in some kind of final project (e.g., written paper, literature review, etc.).
The independent study program must contribute to the student’s intellectual growth and development, include structured supervision by faculty in the Ecology Department, and result in a final product.
Students earn credits for research through WILD 292/492 for students in the Fish & Wildlife Ecology & Management option, or BIOE 292/492 for students in the Conservation Biology & Ecology, Biology Teaching, and Organismal Biology options. The 292 courses are available to freshman and sophomore students, and the 492 courses are available for students at junior or senior status.
Graduate students can earn 1-3 Independent Study credits through BIOE 592.
Interested students must work with a faculty member to develop a written narrative describing the exact activities to be engaged in for the credits. The narrative should also include the process to be used for evaluation of the student's achievement and assignment of letter grade.
What is an undergrad research course?
Undergraduate research opportunities allow students to earn credit for participating in the research process. The research experience can include developing research questions and hypotheses, analyzing newly collected or existing data to address those questions and evaluate hypotheses, exploring existing knowledge related to the questions (e.g., published literature), and results in a final scholarly product (e.g., written paper, poster, etc.).
The research program must contribute to the student’s intellectual growth and development, include structured supervision by faculty in the Ecology Department, and result in a final scholarly product.
Students earn credits for research through WILD 290R/490R for students in the Fish & Wildlife Ecology & Management option, or BIOE 290R/490R for students in the Conservation Biology & Ecology, Biology Teaching, and Organismal Biology options.
Interested students must work with a faculty member to develop a written research proposal describing the exact activities to be engaged in for the credits. The proposal should also include the process to be used for evaluation of the student's achievement and assignment of letter grade.
I’m currently employed. Can I get internship credit?
Perhaps! The internship adds an academic element to any professional experience. If
your current employment involves work related to your degree, if your work supervisor
is willing to evaluate it for internship credit, and if a faculty sponsor agrees that
it has merit as a learning experience, then you could consider enrolling for internship
credit by adding that academic component.
How are the credits earned determined?
The amount of credits earned are based on how much time you spend working. A semester-long 3-credit-hour internship should require about the same amount of work as any other three-hour course, which the university calculates a minimum of 9-10 hours per week. Typically, it’s 3 hours in class and 6 hours outside of class.
So if you work at your internship for about 10 hours a week, you can get 3 credits. If it’s less than that, it would be a 1 or 2 credit internship and the credits are calculated proportionately.
You and your faculty sponsor should look over the amount of work you propose to do and discuss a fair amount of academic credit for it.
See the MSU Credit Hour Policy for more information about how credits are calculated.
Is there a GPA requirement?
Internships have a minimum GPA requirement of 2.5. Remember, you can check your GPA on your degreeworks.
What academic work does an internship require?
Internships require both professional work you do as an intern, and academic work you do as a student. It is the academic work that allows the university to award academic credit for your experiential learning. The forms below are turned in to your faculty sponsor to get the credit.
Do I have to be a certain class standing (e.g., junior or senior) before doing an internship?
No. You can sign up for credits during any academic year.
How do I know what level credit I will receive?
While you can sign up for an internship or independent study during any academic year, your class standing can affect what level of credit you receive. We offer 200 level, 300 level, and 400 level credits. Your faculty sponsor will determine the credit level during the initial discussion about your internship.
Which internship do I request? BIOE or WILD?
If you’re a Fish and Wildlife student, you should sign up for WILD credits. Everyone else, select BIOE credits.
Is there a certain time of year internships are “supposed” to be done?
No, there isn’t. However, your internship work must be completed by the end of the semester in which you’ve registered for it. We can’t give credit for something that isn’t completed. Additionally, MSU requires that for internships that take more than one semester to complete, you must be enrolled for credit in each semester you work on it. Remember: we cannot give credit retroactively!
Please note: Summer is generally a good time for internships. Please also note that you are required to register for credit hours during the summer. Alternatively, if you do your internship in fall or spring and those credit hours are above the 12 credits you pay for full-time status, they are effectively no additional cost to you.
How do I set up an internship?
Once you’ve located an internship, your next step is to select a faculty sponsor who can help you navigate your internship. Then you’ll contact your work supervisor and together discuss the nature of the internship: what work would be involved, how much, over what period of time.
What does a faculty sponsor do?
Your faculty sponsor monitors your progress during the internship, provides any necessary academic guidance and evaluates your work at the end of the internship to assign you a grade.
How do I choose a faculty sponsor?
Any member of the Ecology faculty may serve as an internship sponsor if they choose. Usually, this person is your advisor.
What if the “Add” period is already passed for the semester I want to enroll in the internship?
Follow the same procedure for a late-add of the internship as you would for any other class. Registrar's Add/Drop Information
How does my work supervisor evaluate my internship work?
Your supervisor must submit a written evaluation of your work to your faculty sponsor (find the form above) that details how you performed during the course of the internship.
Can I do multiple internships?
Internships are repeatable up to 8 credits.
Is there benefit to doing more than one internship?
Perhaps! It’s possible that one internship may lead to another. If additional internships
seem valuable or you may find a different internship experience compared to the first
one, go for it!