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Enrolled students may receive academic credit for an internship in lieu of, or in addition to, monetary compensation. (This is governed by state and federal law as well as institutional policy.) Academic credit for internships can be issued at the department level or through the Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option.

Department-Level Academic Credit

Some departments offer courses that enable students to obtain academic credit for their internships. Courses are typically taken concurrently with the internship and supplement the experience with reflection and a substantial research project as course requirements. Depending on the department, it may be mandatory for your internship to be directly related to your major. Be aware that course offerings change from term to term and policies differ greatly from one department to the next.

Finding A Course

To pursue academic credit through an individual department at Berkeley, we recommend that you review the catalog to explore your options. Courses that offer academic credit for internships are often referred to as “field study”, “group study”, or “independent study”. They may also be called “internship” or “special field research.”

General information can be found in the Course Number Guide section of the Berkeley Academic Guide. Courses numbered 97, 98, 99, 194, 196, 197, 198, 199 are all possible sources of units for activities other than regular class work in which a student engages in an experience that enhances academic learning (97/197 are the most common).

For greater detail, we recommend looking at the Online Schedule of Classes where you can Search the Schedule of Classes for a particular term. We also recommend that you contact the relevant academic department(s). If your department doesn’t have any options, check with one that’s related to your internship. Some departments only permit students who are majoring with them, but there are many that don’t have that restriction.

When you contact the department or advising office, ask who would be the best person to talk to; typically this is the academic advisor, but not always. Inquire about how it works in that department and what your next steps should be (make an appointment, pick up paperwork, find a faculty sponsor, etc.) If you need a faculty sponsor, the department can help support the next steps or the best way to find one.

Some recommendations for finding faculty sponsors include:

  • Approach someone you have had a class with.
  • Ask friends for recommendations of professors they have had. Also, advisors may be willing to refer you to possible professors. They don’t have to, so ask nicely!

General Guidelines

Requirements vary by department. The general guidelines offered here can give you an idea of what to expect and how to navigate:

  • You must be enrolled as a student at time of internship, including summer internships
  • An instructor is required to supervise your “study”. This may require approval from the dean of the department and/or major advisor. Your instructor may assign you written work, meetings with faculty sponsors, seminars, or other activities.
  • A minimum GPA 2.0 to 3.3 is often required, depending on the department.
  • Units are pass/not pass. You can take 4 units per semester and can apply 16 of them towards requirements for a bachelor’s degree. How many you take per semester depends on your situation and the department. The average is about 3 hours per week of internship per unit).

Community colleges often offer academic credit for internships in the form of cooperative education programs or classes in the appropriate departments. This may be an easier and more economical alternative. Information on most California Community Colleges is available online.

Employer Legal Forms & Liability

Employers often require interns to sign legal forms for liability reasons and other considerations. Students and advisors should refer to our Internship Legal & Liability Information (PDF) for guidance.

Although some employers require students to receive academic credit as a form of “payment” due to liability issues, they may be willing to classify you as a volunteer if receiving academic credit is not an option.

Occasionally, employers will ask students to have the university sign a partnership agreement. However, The University of California at Berkeley does not enter into formal internship partnerships with employers or sign internship liability waivers or contracts of any kind. Berkeley Career Engagement does not create and/or manage internship programs for, or in partnership with, employers. 

International Students

There are different requirements for International students who wish to obtain work authorization using the academic credit option. We strongly advise that you consult an SISS advisor at the Berkeley International Office.

Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option

A young, bi-racial, female student wearing a long sleeve, button-down shirt with blue and green checkers. A young, white male wearing a blue shirt with a white t-shirt underneath is seen seated in the background. He is looking in another direction.

Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option – Earn academic credit. Strengthen your internship experience.


This program is paused for Summer 2024. Please check back in Spring 2025, at which time the campus should have a new course to offer.


If you are doing a summer internship in the U.S., you may qualify for Berkeley Career Engagement’s Independent U.S. Summer Internship Credit Option. The program consists of an online Summer Sessions course taken concurrently with your approved internship, and gives you the means to receive academic credit for an internship that you have obtained on your own.

This program is a great opportunity for students who have found a summer internship and:

  • Want to receive academic credit
  • Want to reflect upon their internship experiences in a structured manner
  • Have the time and bandwidth for additional coursework over the summer

Important Dates

  • Application process opens: early February
  • Summer Sessions course enrollment opens: early February
  • Application deadline: early-May
  • Deadline to enroll in course (once approved): mid-May
  • Course dates: Summer Session B (tentative)

Program Information

Please read the important information in each section below before applying: