6 Pros and Cons of Offering College Credit for Internships

ExperienceNo doubt: internships remain the best way for college students to get a jumpstart on their careers while in school. As a result, many colleges and universities now require their students to do internships as a condition of graduation.

In a recent article featured on USA Today, however, it was stated that many colleges across the country are throwing up roadblocks for students who want to gain hands-on experience. Whether colleges are putting a cap on college credits earned for internships, or refusing to offer credits at all, this is creating a negative impact on students.

But here’s an most important issue these institutes of higher education don’t seem to be taking into consideration: many employers are still making the earning of college credit mandatory when offering the internship. Of course, this contradiction makes it more challenging for students to land internships that provide great experience!

For a college student, employer, or university weighing the options of credit and non-credit internships, consider these pros and cons of credit only internships:

The pros…

Ensures an Educational Experience for the Student

When the college requires credit to be earned for the internship, it requires the employer to meet this standard and provide an educational experience for students. College students who do internships for college credit expect to learn what they cannot learn in the classroom. By making it an expectation for employers to require college credit for internships, it makes the employer and the student accountable for making the internship a productive learning experience.

Helps the Student Earn College Credit

For-credit internships are an excellent way for college students to earn credit toward their degree in addition to gaining experience. Whether they have to fill internship credits or they can simply do internships as an elective, internships provide a hands-on, educational experience that simply can’t be found in the classroom. College students can benefit from this in so many ways. Not only are they learning valuable skills, but now, they can bring those skills back into the classroom after their internship.

Motivates Students to Complete Internships

Offering credit for internships can serve as an incentive for students who wouldn’t normally complete an internship before graduation. Schools that offer internships for college credit give students the opportunity to become informed about this type of experience and encourage them to pursue internships in general. This way, students can gain real world experience while making progress toward their degree.

And the cons…

Employers May Only Provide Credit as a Reward

This an issue for employers that reward their interns only with college credit. The problem arises when there is a student who cannot receive — or doesn’t want — credit for the internship. This creates an issue because students who don’t need the credit could miss out on the opportunity because of the employer’s college credit requirement.

College Credits are Expensive

It’s no surprise that college credits are pricey, and when you put a price tag on an internship, it can make it difficult for students to feel motivated to do one. When universities require their students to pay for credits to complete an internship, it can discourage the student from doing the internship or trying to gain additional experience after their first internship.

Can Limit the Internship Experience Students Acquire

There are some universities that only allow students to earn a specific number of credits for their internships. Whether a student is allowed to complete one or two internships, if they want additional experience, they could miss out on the opportunity earn credit for it.

When it comes down to for-credit and non-credit internships, it can be a sticky situation for the student, university, or employer, if there isn’t room for flexibility. To get around this issue, universities and employers should provide flexibility when requiring their students and interns to earn credit. Regardless, internship experience is invaluable for college students; therefore, both the school and the employer should be willing to do whatever it takes to make the opportunity a reality for the student.

What do you think are some advantages and disadvantages of for-credit internships?


For this post, YouTern thanks our friend, Heather Huhman!


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HeatherAbout The Author: Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for job search and human resources technologies. She is also the instructor of Find Me A Job: How To Score A Job Before Your Friends, author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011) and #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.



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