Office of the President

Internship Policy; Supersedes EM 11-046 & EM 89-022

Executive Memorandum 19-025 September 3, 2019

From: Gayle E. Hutchinson, President

Subject: Internship Policy; Supersedes EM 11-046 & EM 89-022

Upon the recommendation of the Academic Senate and after consultation with the Cabinet, I approve the Internship Policy, effective immediately.

Internship Policy


The University recognizes the beneficial educational purpose of student internships, as well as the need to maximize the educational experience while mitigating the risks to participants and minimizing the university’s liability exposure. This policy sets forth the guidelines for facilitating internship opportunities for students, in accordance with Executive Order 1064.(opens in new window) 


For the purposes of the policies enumerated in this document, and as stated in Executive Order 1064: “An internship formally integrates the student’s academic study with practical experience in a cooperating organization. It is an off-campus activity designed to serve educational purposes by offering experience in a service learning, business, non-profit, or government setting. For the purpose of this executive order ‘internship’ does not include teacher preparation placements or clinical placements such as for nursing, counseling, physical therapy or occupational therapy.”  This policy will also apply to internships that take place on campus, although a Site Assessment and a Placement Agreement are not necessary. Internships may be paid or unpaid. 

In order to qualify as an internship, the experience must meet the above definition and:

Provide an intellectual, supervised, educational component; and

Carry academic credit appropriate to the contact hours, tasks and intellectual focus of the internship.

Given that internships are academically related, credit-bearing service, or professional experiences, oversight of internship policy is vested in the Division of Academic Affairs under the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, or designee. Specific academic procedures for internships are delegated to the college deans and departmental faculty (see below). 

Department procedures must be consistent with prevailing University policies and overall best practices in managing internships including:

  • Clear lines of responsibility in defining departmental procedures.
  • A minimum of 45 academic hours (37.5 actual hours) of internship-related work for each unit of internship credit awarded.
  • Documentation of whether or not a student will be compensated for the internship.
  • Accommodations for students with special needs.
  • Collection of emergency contact information from students and the internship organization.
  • A pre-placement orientation to discuss conduct expectations, health and safety instructions, discrimination, harassment, and retaliation reporting procedures and emergency procedures.
  • A University-approved (1) Site Assessment (2) Student Placement Agreement, and (3) Student Learning Plan. These items are discussed in more detail below.

A maximum of 15 semester units of internship may be applied to an undergraduate degree at CSU, Chico (See EM 17-012). The application of internship units to graduate degrees is the purview of departmental procedures, consistent with Graduate School regulations.


Each department or unit that awards internship credit is required to have written departmental internship guidelines that will be retained in the department office and overseen by the college dean’s office.  Departmental guidelines must include a provision for the annual review of the internships, both for educational purposes and for the safety of the students. Implementation of the guidelines is the responsibility of individual departments or autonomous academic units. 

In addition to addressing the University internship policy requirements enumerated above, departmental internship guidelines will include:

  • Whether and in what way internships are required for a degree in a given major;
  • The number of internship units permitted in a major, cumulatively, and by semester;
  • The requirements necessary to complete more than one internship with the same course number;
  • Policy addressing the transfer of internship units earned elsewhere and the way in which they satisfy major unit and course requirements;
  • Grading options applicable to internships; and
  • Special requirements for internships.

Internship placements require the following: (1) a documented Site Assessment, (2) a written Student Placement Agreement, and (3) Student Learning Plan. 

  1. The Site Assessment serves as an evaluation of the internship site (or hosting agency if field placement) to ensure appropriateness as a safe educational environment for student internships. The Site Assessment is to be retained by the college completing the assessment. All internship sites will undergo a Site Assessment consistent with EO 1064(opens in new window) or successor documents, including:
  • A review of actual and potential hazards to student participants.
  • Identification of an appropriate contact person at the internship site for student supervision and for ongoing and emergency communication.
  • Evaluation of the site as an educational environment appropriate to the discipline.

The Site Assessment is conducted via direct contact with the organization and may be done in-person, by telephone or by means of electronic communication. Completion of the Site Assessment is the responsibility of the department faculty member placing the student and/or the department internship coordinator.  A Site Assessment template is available on the Risk Management website

  1. The Student Placement Agreement is a legally binding document that outlines agency and University responsibilities with regard to student internships for a period of up to five years. Before students begin internship activities in a given locale, a written Placement Agreement, consistent with EO 1064(opens in new window) or successor documents, shall be in place between the University and the entity hosting the internship. The agreement shall outline the responsibilities of the University and the hosting agency. Student Placement Agreements must be reviewed, signed and a copy retained by the Office of Procurement and Contract Services.
  2. The Student Learning Plan guides the faculty of record, individual student intern, and the site supervisor about expectations regarding performance of duties including hours of work required, evaluation of student performance, and expected learning outcomes; signed by the faculty of record, the student intern, and the site supervisor and retained by the appropriate department office. The Student Learning Plan includes:
  • The date of initiation and termination of the internship;
  • Any pre-requisites and specific skills required;
  • A description of internship duties, including hours of work required;
  • The method of evaluation and supervision;
  • The number and type of units to be given upon successful completion of the internship;
  • A description of the expected academic learning outcomes;
  • An accommodation plan for students with special needs, where appropriate.

If the internship placement is not required as part of the student’s academic program, the student must complete a waiver of liability form available through the Office of Risk Management. 

Documentation of the above items shall be retained by the department office and relevant college office. 


To review a pdf version of EM 19-025. (PDF)