Discover CALS

See how our current work and research is bringing new thinking and new solutions to some of today's biggest challenges.

Undergraduate Internship Guidelines

Several departments in the college offer supervised internships for academic credit. Internships may be granted for pay and/or credit, with students limited to not more than 6 credits throughout their undergraduate career. The number of credits awarded follows NYSED guidelines equal to one semester credit hour awarded for every 45 hours of supervised academic activity during the fall or spring semester immediately following the internship. 

Academic credit isn’t awarded for the internship, rather the work (presentation/paper/project) conducted during the following fall or spring term in the special studies class. It is the student’s responsibility to find a faculty supervisor to complete the special study with and for them together to decide on the academic work required during the semester to receive academic credit. Since the New York State Education Department requirement is a minimum requirement, academic departments may require more than 45 instructional and supplementary hours per credit earned. Fall and spring semesters consist of 15 weeks.

The 6-credit allotment includes external transfer credit and credit from internships in other colleges at Cornell. The 6-credit limit does not apply, however, to secondary, post-secondary, and cooperative extension teaching internships in the discipline of Education. The awarding of credit will not be allowed in cases where a student brings to the college, or to a professor, a description of a past experience and requests credit. 

Note that a maximum of 15 (pro-rated for transfer students) of the 120 credits required for the degree may be taken in internships, individual study courses, and undergraduate teaching or research. For internships not governed by an established internship course, the student must enroll in a 4960 course for the number of credits assigned.

Internship Guidelines

To ensure a straightforward and equitable system to manage internships, the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences has set forth guidelines to serve as minimum requirements for a student to receive internship credit.

  • Academic Credit: Academic credit isn’t given for the internship, rather the work (presentation/paper/project) conducted during the following fall or spring term for the special studies class. Credit can only be awarded during the semester in which the academic coursework was completed. For example, a student participating in an internship during the summer can enroll in a 4960 course in the fall semester immediately following ONLY if the academic credit is awarded for academic activity completed in the fall semester. If all internship-related work is completed in the summer the student must enroll through the School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions to earn credit. 
    • Evaluation: Credit will only be assigned or accepted in cases where a Cornell faculty member is directly involved in determining both the special studies course content and in evaluating the student's work.
  • Learning Contract: Before a student begins an internship, a learning contract should be written between the Cornell faculty internship advisor on campus, the supervisor at the internship location, and the student. This contract should state the conditions of the internship work assignments, the supervisor's contact information, learning goals, number of credits for the special studies class, and methods of evaluation of the special studies coursework.
    • The internship should be purposeful, provide opportunities for reflection, present a continual challenge to the student, and incorporate active learning, with the student an active participant in all stages of the experience from planning to evaluation.
    • Check to see if your department has its own contract form, otherwise create one with your Cornell faculty internship advisor.
  • Progress updates: Students must keep their faculty internship advisor updated on the progress of the internship while away from campus.

Arrangements should be made with the offering department for the assignment of a faculty mentor for planning the program of work, and for evaluating student performance. This faculty mentor can be but does not have to be the instructor for the special studies class. Individual departments may add more requirements to the internship based on specific needs (i.e. time constraints, faculty workloads, and the relationship of the internship to the goals of the department)