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Internship and Research Programs - Frequently Asked Questions

We know that planning an internship abroad can feel overwhelming, so we've compiled a list of the most frequently asked questions and provided detailed answers to help you navigate this process. If you don't find answers to your question here, feel free to reach out to the USAC internship team at

General Information | Credit and Assessment | Eligibility and Requirements | Availability | Fees | Work Schedule and Responsibilities | Placement Process | Issues

General Information

Credit and Assessment

Eligibility and Requirements



Work Schedule and Responsibilities

Placement Process


General Information

What is an internship?

The National Association of Colleges and Employers defines an internship as "a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths ..."[1]

Does participating in an internship require a significant commitment?

The skills and knowledge gained through an internship are well worth the investment of time.

Specialty program internships require a minimum 135 practical work hours and participation in an online internship seminar where you will maintain a reflective journal, complete readings and engage in discussions about the role that culture plays in the workforce. You will also prepare mid-term and final reports that connect your seminar readings to your internship experience.

The total number of practical work hours and academic expectations of Partnership program internships will differ from those described above but still require a high level of commitment. Partnership internship requirements are set by our Partner university.

Are all USAC internships the same?

USAC offers a variety of internship formats, including semester and summer in-person internships, thematic summer internship and research assistantship programs, and virtual internships. Additionally, USAC offers a number of internship types, including general skills-based internships, discipline-specific internships, research internships, and 1-credit micro-internships. Non-credit experiential opportunities such as volunteer and community service work are available at most program sites.

I want to develop my language proficiency and intercultural communication skills. Is an internship a good way to accomplish this?

Yes! An internship is an excellent way to improve your language proficiency and intercultural communication skills while developing professional skills in a work-place setting. If you aren't sure that you're ready for an internship, consider other options such as language partners, volunteering, or community service.

Are USAC internships paid?

No, USAC internships are academic in nature and do not provide paid work opportunities abroad.

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Credit and Assessment

Will I earn academic credit for my internship?

USAC internships are academic, credit-bearing experiences. Most internships are worth three semester credits. Speak with your home university study abroad advisor to learn more about the internship requirements on your home campus and how your home university will transfer internship credit from USAC programs. For more details on the specific credit you will receive for your internship, check with the USAC Internship Team.

Are internship credits counted toward my credit minimum?

Internships of three or more credits count toward the minimum credit requirements on USAC Specialty programs. Internship credit on Partnership programs may or may not be counted toward the minimum credit requirement; this varies by Partner university. Speak with the USAC Internship Team regarding you credit needs.

I don't need credit for my internship. Are non-credit options available?

USAC internships are academic in nature and carry academic credits. At this time, we do not offer non-credit internships; however, non-credit experiential opportunities such as volunteer and community service work are available at most program sites.

How will my work be assessed?

Your USAC Resident Director or Internship Coordinator will meet with you periodically throughout the term to review your weekly log of hours worked and activities performed, as well as assess a mid-term and final summative and reflective essay. Your placement supervisor will assess your day-to-day work and submit mid-term and final evaluations of your performance. Additionally you will complete a 12.5 hour online global internship seminar in which your work will be assessed by the seminar instructor.* Please see your internship syllabus for more detail. Syllabi can be requested at

*Students participating in a thematic summer internship or research assistantship program are not required to participate in the global internship seminar.

Can I opt for pass/fail, or will the internship be graded on an A-F scale?

USAC internships are graded on an A-F scale and cannot be taken on a P/F basis. However, your internship credit may appear as P/F on your school of record transcript due to their institutional practices for reporting internship credit. The official USAC Grade Report indicates the grade earned.

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Eligibility and Requirements

Are GPA and class standing eligibility exceptions considered?

Eligibility exception requests are considered on a case-by-case basis if there is a compelling rationale for granting the exception.

Are there language proficiency requirements?

Some internship placements have specific language proficiency requirements. However, many English-language placements are available. Please review the language requirements listed on your program's internship page.

Are there any other academic requirements?

Some internship placements may have higher GPA requirements, course prerequisites, or may be limited to specific majors. Please review the internship requirements listed on your program's internship page.

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When are internships available?

In-person internships are available during Fall and Spring semesters as well as during Summer terms at select program sites. Virtual internships are available during Fall and Spring semesters and summer terms. Placement availability may be limited by program location and internship format.

Which internships fields are available?

USAC internships are available in many popular career fields such as business, the arts, community health, digital communication, environmental conservation, social services, and more. You may view specific placement fields on your program's internship page.

What if an internship is not available in my desired field?

USAC will work to set up a placement in your desired field whenever possible, but we cannot guarantee placement availability. To see available placement fields please review your program's internship page.

Can I participate in a virtual Internship while abroad?

If there are no onsite internship options at your program site, you may participate in a USAC virtual internship while you are abroad. Before pursuing this option, consider carefully the time commitment of a virtual internship and the fact that it may not allow you to participate fully in the onsite activities of your program abroad.

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Are there any fees associated with a USAC internships?

Specialty program in-person internships require a $985 placement fee in addition to the program fee. Virtual internships and summer internship programs do not have a placement fee since internship participation is a requirement of the program. Some Partnership programs also charge a fee for internship placement. Please refer to the Fees and Deadlines page and the Interactive Student Budget for your desired program for fee details. The USAC Internship Team can also assist you with your questions.

At what point am I financially committed to an internship?

Please review the Fees and Deadlines page and the Interactive Student Budget for your chosen program to understand the financial commitments specific to your program. The $985 non-refundable internship placement fee (Specialty programs only) is charged once a placement has been made and you have signed the formal internship contract. You will not be charged a placement fee if USAC is unable to place you in an internship.

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Work Schedule and Responsibilities

When will I learn my work schedule and what if it conflicts with my class schedule?

Your work schedule is determined in consultation with your placement supervisor after your placement is confirmed and after your course schedule has been finalized once you arrive at your program site. Internship hours may not conflict with your USAC course schedule.

When can I expect to begin my internship, and will it end when my courses conclude?

Internship start and end dates are generally aligned with your program's course start and end dates, but may not correspond exactly.

When will I learn what my specific work responsibilities will be?

Your work responsibilities are outlined in your internship contract, which will be presented to you as your official offer of the placement.

How long does a USAC internship last?

Internships placements vary by placement site, but typically last 12-15 weeks during semesters and 8-10 weeks during summer terms.

How many hours will I have to work each week?

  • Semester = 135 hours/3 credits (approximately 9-10 hours per week)
  • Summer = 135-225 hours/3-6 credits (approximately 15-30 hours per week)
  • Virtual = 135 hours/3 credits (approximately 9-10 hours during semesters; 15-16 hours per week during the summer)

Will my internship site be close to my housing or host university?

Placement sites may be in close proximity to your host university or student housing or they may be located some distance away. You are responsible for the cost of transportation to and from your internship placement site.

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Placement Process

How should I prepare for my placement interview?

The most important way to prepare for your placement interview is to have clear understanding of what you are hoping to achieve through your participation and the academic and/or professional experience that will prepare you for success in your internship. Additionally, treat your placement interview as you would any other professional interview.

Is the internship placement process competitive?

USAC has a very high acceptance rate and it is unusual for a student to be rejected by a placement site. However, some placement sites have a limited number of positions and therefore the most well qualified applicant will be selected by the placement supervisor. In the case you are not selected by your preferred placement site, we will work with you to determine an alternative placement whenever possible.

What if I am not accepted by the internship site I apply to?

USAC has a very high acceptance rate and it is unusual for a student to be rejected by a placement site. However, in the case you are not selected by your preferred placement site, we will work with you to determine an alternative placement whenever possible.

How long does the placement process take?

Placement confirmation varies by program site and the internship format. On Specialty programs, placements typically are confirmed within six weeks of your initial placement interview. On Partnership programs, the placement process may not begin until after you arrive on site. Please review the application and placement page corresponding to the internship format you are interested in. The USAC Internship Team is available to assist you with any questions you may have.

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What if something goes wrong?

On-site program staff serve as a liaison between you and the placement site and are available to mediate any issue that may arise. If a reasonable solution cannot be found we will consider replacement at a different placement site.

If COVID were to worsen while abroad, would my internship be able to continue?

In the event that your in-person placement cannot continue due to COVID, USAC will work with your placement supervisor to shift your work online. Should online work not be feasible for your existing placement, USAC will work with you to secure an alternate virtual internship so that you may complete your internship hours.

Will I receive a certificate of completion or some other acknowledgement of my participation?

Academic internships are officially reflected on your USAC Grade Report (Specialty programs) or Partnership university transcript (Partnership programs). We are be happy to provide additional documentation verifying your participation in an international or virtual internship, if desired. Contact the USAC Internship Team to make this request.

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Virtual Internships

Discover international education from the comfort of your home. Learn more about USAC's Virtual Internship opportunities in a variety of academic areas of study based out of companies around the world.