Internship Rules


Internship Coordinator: Dr. Craig Curtis

Department of Political Science

426B Bradley Hall

(309) 677-2492



The Political Science Department at Bradley University is committed to providing the best possible educational experience for our majors and minors. To that end, the department offers an internship program so that students can gain practical, "real world" experience working in government agencies, political campaigns, the third sector, and other organizations which have a direct impact on politics in the United States. Not only does an internship experience provide valuable lessons which can be learned in no other way, but completing an internship provides benefits for student participants in terms of work experience, job contacts and job references which makes them better able to compete in the after-graduation job market. It is with these considerations in mind that Political Science 480, Internship in Political Science, is offered to our students.

PLS 480 allows qualified students to earn academic credit for work experiences in organizations that have an effect on political life in our society. Most of our interns work in government agencies; however, the range of organizations in which an intern may work is much greater than just the government agencies which spring readily to mind. The range of organizations is limited only by the generally accepted definitions of political science (such as Lasswell's “who gets what, when, and how?”) and the ingenuity and energy of the prospective intern.  Thus, legislative offices, political campaigns, lobbying organizations, government agencies, third sector agencies, and other not-for profit agencies, as well as some for-profit agencies may well qualify.  Just as the range of organizations is broad, so are the types of tasks which an intern may find him or herself performing. Thus, PLS 480 allows a student to customize their education at Bradley as well as increase their probability of success after graduation.

In addition to the internship in Political Science, our Pre-Law Center offers internship credit for legal internships, such as working for a law firm or assisting a judge.  More information about PLW 300 can be found at

Internships are rewarding experiences for the students, but often entail significant investments of time and energy. Given the realities of tight job markets and increased competition for slots in graduate and professional schools, a student with a GPA lower than 2.5 might be better served by concentrating their energies on raising their GPA rather than taking an internship.  Because the job sites are off campus, students need to furnish their own transportation to and from the work site.


Choosing an Internship

The first step taken by most students interested in an internship is to contact the Internship Coordinator. Dr. Curtis's office is in 426B Bradley Hall, his e-mail is, and his campus phone is 677-2492. PLS 480 is reserved for juniors and seniors, although this requirement may be waived in certain circumstances. In any case, the consent of the Internship Coordinator is required to enroll in PLS 480.  That means that you can’t enroll on Webster.  Dr. Curtis will put you in the class.  A maximum of six hours of political science internship may be earned during the course of a student’s tenure at Bradley.  The course itself is for variable credit.  From one to six hours of credit may be earned in any given semester.

The first question that the prospective intern will be asked is: An internship with whom? Most students have already contacted an organization that they consider to be appropriate and wish for approval to get credit for working in that office. This is a very favorable state of affairs because matters can proceed very quickly from that point.

Some students lack a clear internship opportunity when they first contact the Internship Coordinator, although they have some very definite ideas about the type of internship they would like. That too is a favorable state of affairs, since the Internship Coordinator will likely have several ideas about how to proceed from that point, including the identification of agencies and people to call. Although the Internship Coordinator does not maintain a definitive list of organizations looking for interns and cannot place an intern himself, information on a wide variety of internship opportunities is available in his office. Placement decisions are made by the supervising organization, although the Internship Coordinator will assist a prospective intern in any way possible in securing a placement.

Some students merely know, in a general sort of way, that they would like an internship. This is not an unfavorable state of affairs, but a bit of refining of the student's thinking is needed. The Internship Coordinator will discuss the student's program of study with them, and suggest possible opportunities. Once the student has a clearer idea of what they want, then the task of identifying a specific placement becomes easier. This does not mean that a student need only come in and express an interest in an internship. Ultimately, the responsibility of finding a placement rests with the student.

Registering for PLS 480

Once the Internship Coordinator has judged that the internship proposed is appropriate and the organization in question has agreed to supervise the intern, the student is eligible to be enrolled in PLS 480. Enrollment is by reserve card only, which means that you can’t enroll using Webster.  Once there is placement decision, Dr. Curtis arranges the reserve card.  The usual rules governing late enrollments apply – once you get past the date for dropping and adding classes, the late add process, with all its signatures and explanations of why things didn’t get done on time must be followed. 

Summer and J-term internship credit is available, but the semester in which credit is awarded and the actual internship must overlap.  The cost of paying tuition does fall heavily on the student.  Zero hour internship arrangements, with no tuition, can be made through the Career Center.

The student is required to designate the number of academic credit sought at the time of the request for registration.  Up to six hours can be earned in any one semester, and a total of six during your time at Bradley.  Seventy hours of contact with the agency are required for each hour of academic credit.  That means that a typical three hour internship should include 210 hours of agency contact.  That amounts to fifteen hours per week for a fourteen week semester.

PLS 480 is a pass/fail course.  That means it will not count towards your Bradley GPA.  The internship may not count towards the 30 hours of PLS courses for the major, or for the 15 hour requirement of the minor.


In order for the student to receive a grade of "Pass" for their internship, all the requirements of the internship must be completed by the last day of exams of the semester in which the internship credit is to be granted. It is the student's responsibility to see that all documents and papers are turned in on time. Incompletes will be awarded only when, through no fault of the student, the student did not finish on time, e.g., an unexpected illness or injury requiring extensive medical treatment. The requirements include:

1. Working the specified number of hours -- Seventy contact hours with the internship organization are required for each hour of academic credit.

2. Keeping a journal of the student's activities during the course of the internship -- Entries must be made at no greater than weekly intervals, although more frequent entries are desirable.  The journal should include times worked and tasks completed.  It need not be typed – a handwritten notebook is sufficient.  Some internship agencies will require the student to keep a log as part of their duties.  If so, that log will also work for this requirement.

3. Completion of an academic project -- Early in the semester during which academic credit is to be earned the student and the Internship Coordinator will meet to negotiate the terms of this project. For a three hour internship a 3 to 5 page paper of some kind is typically required, although all aspects of this project are negotiable. It need not be a paper.  The size of the academic project varies according to the number of hours of academic credit.  It is best when the student suggests a project, or at least initiates the discussion.

4. Provision of contact information for the internship site supervisor, typically an e-mail address.  The Internship Coordinator will make contact with the site supervisor via e-mail, including sending an evaluation form.

5. Receipt of satisfactory evaluation from the internship supervisor.  Ideally, one form should be completed about halfway through the internship and the other at the end of the internship, although one evaluation is sufficient if that is all the site supervisor is willing to complete.  The agency supervisor is not bound to use this form and may use a form of their own choosing, or send me an unstructured evaluation via e-mail, or call me on the phone.  

Grading Policies

PLS 480 is graded on a Pass/Fail basis. The satisfactory completion of all the requirements listed above will result in the awarding of a grade of "Pass." If any one requirement is not met, then a grade of "Fail" will be awarded. Incompletes will be awarded, in accordance with official university policy, only if justified by factors beyond the control of the student.