Internship Guidelines

Students in the Graduate Certificate in Science Writing or the MA in Science Writing may propose an internship that receives full course credit toward either credential. Students may propose to participate in existing internship programs, or they may arrange an individual internship. Because most students in the Science Writing Program are outside the Washington/Baltimore area, students usually should investigate and propose internships in their home locations. In most cases, MA students should have completed four or more courses toward their degree before seeking an internship, and Certificate students should have completed two or more courses before a proposal.

Proposals should be submitted to the Science Writing Coordinator or Faculty Advisor at least 60 days before the start of the target term. Students should consult their advisor on any internship proposal, and written advisor recommendations on a proposal are encouraged.Proposals will be evaluated on a competitive basis in the order in which they are received, with the final decisions made by a faculty committee. Because of the Science Writing Program’s emphasis on digital classroom interaction, only a limited number of internships will be approved for any term, and priority will be given to students who have completed the most degree or certificate courses and who submit proposals that demonstrate the best internship experience.

An internship generally should last approximately the same time period as a graduate term and will result in one full-course credit toward a master’s degree. The typical weekly workload for such internships is six-10 hours, although workload varies. Some internships involve more work each week for a shorter period. Internships may be paid or unpaid.

Because students receive course credit for internships, they pay tuition levels equal to one writing program course. Depending on university rules and the organization’s guidelines, the Science Writing Program may pay a faculty member to monitor an internship, or it may arrange to pay an on-site supervisor for the intern or the organization providing the internship, or both. The Program Coordinator will arrange any Johns Hopkins payments privately for the student, who is not permitted to be involved in financial agreements.

Internship proposals will be evaluated for academic and professional value. An internship should provide practical or professional experience or other special experience that is relevant to graduate study in writing and to the goals of writing or editing about science, medicine, technology or related fields. An internship focused on secretarial, clerical or low-level labor would not be evaluated as highly as one that involves writing, research, editing, writing support or other direct professional or practical work or experience. Students especially should seek internships that provide exposure to the highest levels of professional or practical experience, even if the student is not directly involved. The student’s proposal should address the following issues:

  1. Is this internship specially arranged, or is it part of a regular internship program?
  2. How does the internship present significant learning opportunities for the student? In what ways will the internship be an active work experience?
  3. In what ways is the internship appropriate to the chosen field of study for the student?
  4. What are the specific duties of the intern and who will supervise the intern on-site?
  5. What is the schedule of work or attendance for the intern? How long will the internship last?
  6. Will the organization or supervisor be willing to answer questions before approval? Would the organization or supervisor also submit interim reports on the intern’s performance and a final evaluation of the intern’s performance and experiences?
  7. What is the current standing and record of the student proposing the internship? Factors to be considered include a student’s grades, faculty recommendations, academic performance, including overall writing quality and promise. Students should list all courses that they will have completed before the start of the proposed internship.
  8. Does the student meet all requirements for the internship being sought? Has the student already been accepted as an intern, or does the student still need to apply for the internship? (Either situation is acceptable. Proposals must describe the organization providing the internship and the name and all contact information of the direct supervisor for whom the intern will work.

Proposals may be submitted via email; however, the student should follow up with the Program Coordinator or Faculty Advisor in Science Writing to make sure the proposal has been received. Proposals rejected for one term are not automatically carried over to the next; students must re-submit written proposals if they want to try again.

Special Note on Course Registration

Evaluation of internship proposals will not begin until after the 60-day cutoff date, so students submitting a proposal who need course credit for the target term should consider registering for a regular course before that time. If a proposal is approved, the registration can be transferred to the internship. If a proposal is rejected, the student will then not miss out on a course because of filled sections. Proposal decisions may take up to one month.

If Your Internship Is Approved

You will be notified and given registration and tuition payment instructions. If the sponsoring organization needs any formal letters or other documentation from the university, it is the student’s responsibility to request them and provide appropriate details. Before an internship begins, all students must present a letter from the sponsoring organization documenting approval for the internship. Depending on the situation, a faculty member or other person may be appointed to monitor the internship and to receive a final report from the intern’s supervisor and from the intern.

At the end of the internship, the student must present a detailed report of the experience, especially describing how the internship promoted the student’s development as a writer. This report should be presented to the Program Coordinator. It’s possible the Science Writing Program will require the student to complete additional work as part of the internship. The quality of this final report and any additional work will help determine the grade or other final university evaluation of the internship, as determined by the monitoring faculty member, the Program Coordinator and the onsite mentor/supervisor.

Academic credit for an internship will not be granted without the submission of the sponsoring organization’s evaluation, the student’s final report and the student’s grade.

For more information, contact Science Writing Faculty Advisor Melissa Hendricks: mhendri1@jhu.edu