Curricular Resource Center

Academic Internships

An Academic Internship (AI) is a part-time, unpaid internship that is supplemented with some coursework on an academic topic related to the internship experience.

About Academic Internships

Academic Internships (AIs) count as credit-bearing courses. This means that you must complement your internship or work experience with external coursework such as readings and posters — that is the academic portion of the AI.

Academic Internships allow students to combine an independent study with internship work experience and receive course credit for it. In order to qualify for credit, the academic study and the internship must take place during the same fall or spring semester. A strong, rigorous academic component must complement the work experience. Participating students bear the major responsibility for both the planning and conduct of the academic internship. A faculty member advises the project and evaluates the student's work. An academic internship carries the same course credit as any other course offered at Brown.

The academic component of the internship is as important as the job itself. The student works with both an agency sponsor and a Brown faculty member, and must read, write, and research as much as for any other class. The internship can be a case study for a course, or it can be an experience to which you want to bring an academic perspective. A required final paper will help you integrate your internship experience with your academic course of study. An academic internship is demanding, but the rewards are well worth the effort. Put your education to the test and engage in hands-on work in the larger community.

At the end of each semester, students participating in Independent Study Projects (ISPs), Group Independent Study Projects (GISPs), and Academic Internships (AIs) are asked to give a 2-3 minute creative presentation about their work over the course of the semester. These presentations offer you the opportunity to share what you have learned during your Independent Study experience with an audience of your friends, peers, faculty and administrators.

Get Started

You may already have an idea for an internship in mind. Whether or not you do, consult with Curricular Resource Center staff and browse through their internship archive to generate internship ideas. Past students have explored teaching, journalism, advertising, law, finance, elderly day care, computer programming, TV production, and many other fields.

Once you’ve brainstormed ideas, you can visit BrownEngage - the Swearer Center’s community engagement tool - to learn about Providence community partners interested in working with Brown students to build their organization’s capacity. Connect with the Swearer Center newsletter to stay informed about community engagement opportunities. Students are welcome to visit the Swearer Center to talk more in-depth about their interests and are encouraged to contact community partners directly to discuss internship possibilities.

An academic internship is possible as a virtual work option. Like with an in-person academic internship in the Providence area, the remote internship supervisor must submit a letter of support with your AI proposal.

Next, approach the professor with whom you would like to work. Do this as early as possible; professors plan their semester loads long before the semester in which they complete the work. If the professor is willing to work with you, they will most likely want to be involved in the planning of the internship. The CRC has AI planning sheets to help you start the planning process.

Academic Internship Proposal/Application

To create an Academic Internship, you will need:

  • A part-time internship
  • A faculty sponsor and a sponsor from the organization you’re working in (in-person or remotely)

An Academic Internship (AI) can be proposed as a credit-bearing course through the CRC or arranged directly with a faculty member by registering for their departmental independent study course. For a departmental independent study course, work directly with your faculty advisor/sponsor to register for their course before the deadline to Add a Course (four weeks into the semester).

Note: AIs can only be taken during classes (e.g., summer internships cannot become AIs). CCC-approved AIs cannot be taken by first-semester students. AIs require you to coordinate with both a faculty sponsor and a workplace sponsor.

To apply for an Academic Internship, you must fill out the same application as (G)ISPs -- Independent Study Projects (ISPs) and Group Independent Study Projects (GISPs) -- but with the addition of the Academic Internship supplement form. You must submit the application the semester before the course being offered by the application deadline for that semester.

G(ISP) Application Form     Academic Internship Supplement Form