Get Academic Credit For Your Internship or Co-op


By Stuart Esrock, Ph.D.

Sure, internships are important for a variety of reasons.  But the Internship Coordinator for the University Career Center suggests that beyond career and professional development benefits, students should use these experiences to apply what they have learned in the classroom.

Maddie McNabb said internships offer the kind of real-world experience that employers are looking for.  “According to survey data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, employers report finding recent university graduates least proficient in several essential areas including critical thinking/problem solving, professionalism/work ethic, and oral/written communication. Internships provide a crucial opportunity for students to develop those essential skills and make themselves a more competitive candidate on the full-time job market.”

In addition, McNabb points out that students can use internship and co-op experiences to test-drive a potential career field. “As someone who shifted their career trajectory because of an internship, I can speak to the value internships provide in career exploration. Finding out you don’t want to do something after completing an internship is just as valid an experience as an internship solidifying your career goals. You will still leave that internship having gained valuable professional development.”

Another reason that internships are important is because they provide excellent opportunities to network.  And networking is imperative since 70% of students find their first entry-level job via a contact.  “Networking is a crucial point that students often don’t think about when searching for an internship. There is sometimes the possibility for an internship to lead to a full-time job, and even when it doesn’t, an internship supervisor is a great professional reference to have when applying for full-time jobs. They will be able to speak more to your professional skillset than a professor or other academic-related reference.”

Beyond these reasons, McNabb said there are academic credit possibilities for internships and co-ops since students are using the knowledge they gain in their UofL classes.  “Being able to earn academic credit needed to graduate while completing an internship (and possibly getting paid to do so) is a win-win in my book. While everything students learn in the classroom is important, there are some things that just can’t be taught and learned in the classroom setting, and that’s where internships come in.”  

There are numerous academic programs at the University of Louisville that offer credit for internships and co-ops. But each program has varying requirements and/or prerequisite courses before students can enroll.  McNabb said, “It’s absolutely imperative that before you accept any internship position, you contact your academic program/department to find out the process for approval and enrollment."  

If you are interested in obtaining academic credit for your internship or co-op-, contact your program coordinator/director from this list.