Information for Faculty Advisors

Student Internships

University of Montana strategic initiatives emphasize the necessity of experiential learning to support undergraduate and graduate students seeking to engage in high-impact practices (HIPs) that enhance their academic experience and put them in contact with industry and professionals in their disciplines.

Handshake is the primary resource for UM students to find job and experiential learning opportunities. ELCS Career Coaches provide support and connect students with a myriad of additional resources to help them prepare to apply and search for opportunities and plan their academic and professional paths. 

Responsibilities of a Faculty Advisor

Faculty internship advisors are responsible for guiding their students toward worthwhile internships and granting academic credit for these experiences. Responsibilities differ across academic disciplines.

Some academic departments have partnerships with entities offering internships and connect their interns to these resources. In other cases, students find internships on their own and approach their academic department to gain credit for the internship.

Faculty are expected to:

  • Confer with the student to discuss a prospective internship and ascertain whether it is applicable to the academic objectives of their degree program and career aspirations.
  • Work closely with the student to define 3-4 Learning Objectives for the internship. These should incorporate the student’s academic responsibilities with their professional interests.
  • Refer the student to resources applicable to the internship including providing a registration override and connecting the student with the ELCS office for résumé and career support.
  • Ensure the student submits an Experiential Learning Agreement via the Experiential Learning Agreement Portal. This contract outlines not only internship details (compensation, timeframe, supervisor's contact information, etc.) but also records a job description and learning objectives. It also serves as protection should any unforeseen issues arise during the course of the internship.
  • Mentor the student throughout the course of the internship. The degree to which this occurs is at the discretion of the academic department.
  • Grade the internship at its completion.

Internships come in many forms depending on the field of study and the student’s needs. The student intern must be acquiring or honing skills specific to their academic and career aspirations while under the direct supervision of someone considered an expert in the field. 

Internships are not intended to benefit the employer as "free labor," but should directly benefit the student. For more information on the parameters of an appropriate internship, please see the 2018 U.S. Department of Labor Internship Programs Under The Fair Labor Standards Act.

Academic Credit

Some departments require additional academic assignments to further enhance students’ internship experiences which may include: reflection papers, journals, presentations, portfolios, posters, blogs, etc.

  • Only faculty can approve and award internship credit.
  • 1 academic credit = a minimum of 45 hours of work.  Some departments exceed the minimum (Faculty Senate Procedure #201.35).
  • Credits are assigned under "98" number courses (198, 298, 398, 498, 598, 698) in their respective departments.
  • If a "98" course does not currently exist for an internship section in your department, the Registrar's Office can activate one upon request.
  • Credit-bearing internships are offered each semester throughout the academic year.
  • Up to 6 internship credits can be applied toward graduation as either required or elective credit.  Some departments may exceed this.
  • Credit can be offered as a Traditional Grade or as Credit/No Credit.
  • An override slip or electronic override is required for the student to register for internship on CyberBear.
  • Depending on the dates of the internship, students may take credit in a semester other than the one the internship took place; however, the two should coincide as much as possible.
  • An Experiential Learning Agreement must be submitted for all credit-bearing internships.
  • International students:  There are strict legal requirements for international students seeking work authorization to earn pay using the academic credit option. Consult Caroline McLean, International Students and Scholars advisor.

Other Considerations

  • Internships come in a variety of different forms depending on the field of study and the needs of the student.  The student intern must be acquiring or honing skills specific to their major while under the direct supervision of someone considered a master in the field. 

  • Internships are not intended to benefit the employer as "free labor," but should directly benefit the student. For more information on the parameters of an appropriate internship, please see the U.S. Department of Labor Internship Program Fact Sheet.


NACE Definition of Internships

The University of Montana enforces internship benchmarks defined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

NACE Criteria for an Experience to be Defined as an Internship

To ensure that an experience (whether it is a traditional internship or one conducted remotely or virtually) is educational, and thus eligible to be considered a legitimate internship by the NACE definition, all the following criteria must be met: 

  1. The experience must be an extension of the classroom: a learning experience that provides for applying the knowledge gained in the classroom. It must not be simply to advance the operations of the employer or be the work that a regular employee would routinely perform.

  2. The skills or knowledge learned must be transferable to other employment settings.

  3. The experience has a defined beginning and end, and a job description with desired qualifications.

  4. There are clearly defined learning objectives/goals related to the professional goals of the student’s academic coursework. 

  5. There is supervision by a professional with expertise and educational and/or professional background in the field of the experience.

  6. There is routine feedback by the experienced supervisor.  

  7. There are resources, equipment, and facilities provided by the host employer that support learning objectives/goals. 

If these criteria are followed, it is the opinion of NACE that the experience can be considered a legitimate internship.

Employer Referrals

University of Montana faculty and staff have many connections with employers and are frequently contacted by organizations interested in recruiting our students. Experiential Learning and Career Success offers a variety of services to help employers:

  • Increase visibility on campus
  • Hire new talent
  • Begin an internship program
  • Post an internship or other opportunity

Please refer any employer to our office, and we will be happy to help them. All employer inquiries can be directed to