Academic Internship Programs

While the University of Illinois does not give academic credit for work done on an internship, academic internship programs in the Department of Political Science provide the opportunity to earn credit in association with an internship. Credit is earned by integrating the internship experience with academic work through our internship course. 

Illinois in Washington

Contact: Andrea Mayer

Through Illinois in Washington, students are able to live and work in Washington, DC, for a semester or a summer term. During the fall and spring semesters, the program allows students to earn twelve hours of credit: six hours for classwork and research projects associated with an internship (PS 491, Government Internship and PS 291, Internship), and six hours from courses offered by faculty in the Washington, DC, area. In the summer, students can earn six hours of credit (three hours each of PS 491 and PS 291) for classwork and research projects associated with an internship.

Full program details and application materials are available on the Illinois in Washington website.

Champaign County Public Defender Program

The department in collaboration with the Pre-Law Advising Services and the Champaign County Office of the Public Defender directs an internship in the Public Defender's office for up to five undergraduates per semester. Academic credit in this program is based on class meetings and structured assignments that integrate readings on political systems, the legal system, and constitutional and human rights, with on-the-job experience summarizing case files, witnessing trials and colloquies, and interviewing witnesses and clients. Students are supervised by the Champaign County Public Defender or attorneys in the office.

Application details will be publicized to Political Science students via email as well as posted on the Pre-Law Blog

Applications are generally due in October for the spring semester and April for the fall semester. Application deadlines will be posted here as they are announced. The application deadline for Fall 2018 has already passed.

Political Internships in Illinois

Contact: Marie Henehan

A student doing an internship while enrolled on campus can earn three credits through the PS 491 internship course. This program runs fall and spring only.

Typical placements are the district offices of our state and US representatives, local and county government, legal aid, non-governmental organizations, and social service programs.

Professor Henehan advises and screens prospective students and maintains a list of placements of potential interest to students. Students are welcome to secure internships on their own provided the work can be related to public policy, politics, government or law. While guidance and connections are provided, students are ultimately responsible for securing their own internships.

PS 491 operates as a course, but meets only six times over the semester. Reflective essays and journals are among the assignments, and students complete a major internship research paper.

More information about placements and applying to the program can be found here.

Questions? Contact Professor Marie Henehan at

Off-Campus Internships

Contact: Marie Henehan

It is possible to earn credit in association with a political internship anywhere in the world, during fall and spring only and subject to departmental approval. The most common example is US State Department internships. The student enrolls in PS 491 and participates long-distance in the same class as the on-campus students. We have had students in Vienna, Paris, Dhaka, St. Petersburg, and at the US Mission to the UN in New York. Plan ahead! For more information visit the State Department website.

Individual Study

An internship can be the basis for an individual study. Students must work these projects out as you would for any other individual study arrangement. Students cannot earn credit directly for job-related work at an internship site. Also, written work completed on the job does not in itself constitute academic work; the faculty sponsor must supervise and direct any work done for academic credit. Students must have at least sophomore standing and be in good academic standing to choose this option.