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Internships & You FAQ

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Hello Forensic Science Students,

Many students express their interest in obtaining an internship during their time at Penn State.  An internship will give you the opportunity to apply what you have learned in the classroom with work experience in a real-world environment. You will also be able to try out a variety of career options and gain professional experience that will be helpful in obtaining a job after graduation. The timing and duration of internships can vary widely from programs you complete over the summer to part-time experiences throughout your academic career. Most of our students who complete an internship do so the summer between junior and senior year, but as an internship is not a requirement for the program, you are welcome to pursue an internship at any point. Some internships are paid or offer course credit, but neither course credit or a stipend are required. The frequently asked question sheet below will better inform you as to your responsibilities in this process and provide you with resources to find internships and complete applications. An updated list of internship opportunities can also be found on our website.

If you have any further questions about internships, make an appointment to see our academic advisor, John Moses, using Starfish. He will help you navigate the process and can answer any questions you may have, including how to complete paperwork and whether or not you need to sign up for course credit.

PSU Forensic Science Internship FAQ Sheet


Is an internship required to graduate from the Forensic Science Program?

No an internship is not required to graduate from the Forensic Science Program at Penn State.

Where do I start?

Prior to applying for an internship it is important to determine your goals. This will assist you in narrowing your search and getting the most out of your internship once it is granted. What is it you want to get out of this internship? Are you exploring a specialized area of forensic science to see if its a good fit?  Do you want a summer internship or a part-time internship during a semester? Paid, course credit or volunteer? Does this company have a record of hiring its interns after graduation? Once you know your goals you can start your search.

How can I find an internship?

For an internship in Forensic Science, searching the website of professional organizations or contacting your local police department are great places to begin your search. You can also visit the career fairs on University Park campus in the Fall and Spring semesters to talk to recruiters from companies that interest you. The Penn State Forensic Science website is also updated regularly with internship opportunities. Click here to see them

Can I receive course credit for my internship?

There is an application process to have an internship approved by the university for course credit. This can not be done retroactively, so you must finish the application process before your internship begins. Internship credit is only offered when the internship experience relates in some way to a student’s academic plan and educational goals. Internship credit is offered as SC 294 or SC 494 depending on the skills and responsibilities required by the position. You can use this link to start the application process. Please keep in mind Penn State tuition and administrative fees apply on a per credit basis.

Do I have to get course credit for my internship?

No, you do not need to do an internship for credit. Some internships, however, may require you receive course credit to qualify. If you want to earn course credit - even if the internship does not require it - you are allowed to do that. Please see the above question for more information about this process, or speak with your advisor.

Will I get paid for my internship?

Many employers, especially in the private sector, pay science summer interns. However a government or non-profit position in forensics may be unpaid. If paid, you may receive an hourly salary or a stipend upon completion of the assignment.

Do I have to find my own internship?

Students are fully responsible for their own internship search and application process. However, the University and Forensic Science Program provide many resources to assist students through this process and help find internships, such as this FAQ sheet!

When should I start looking for an internship?

As soon as possible. Summer internships can have application deadlines as early as October and you may begin to qualify for internships as early as your second semester of college. Internships within a laboratory, however, may require you have some classroom laboratory experience before applying. Additionally a forensic science internship may include a background check, which can take some time to complete, especially if applying to a position within the federal government.

Will there be academic work in my internship?

If you are receiving course credit for your internship there will be some assignments, as well as supervisor and student evaluations.

My internship application is asking for a cover letter, a resume and letters of recommendation! How do I prepare?

The Career Resource Center at Penn State has lots of resources to help you prepare! You can have your resume reviewed, assistance writing your cover letter and even schedule a mock interview. You may also ask faculty members to write letters of recommendation, but be polite and request your letters well in advance of the application deadline. It is also recommended that you ask faculty members with whom you have some sort of rapport or relationship. If the only thing a faculty member knows about you is that you show up to class on time and you got a B, then the letter may not be a strong one. If you do not currently have any strong relationships with faculty - forensic or otherwise - it’s time to start making them. It’s as easy as introducing yourself to a faculty member and asking if you can talk to them about your future.

What If I am an international student?

Don’t worry, depending on your visa you may still be able to get an internship. It is more likely your visa allows you to receive course credit for an internship than a paid or volunteer internship. Additionally, some government internships may require the applicant be a U.S. citizen. Be intentional about your internship search by researching which companies have hired international candidates in the past. Make sure you know how to write a US style resume and cover letter, and seek feedback from native speakers of English and Career Counselors at the Career Center. You may also need to be able to articulate you student visa work authorization options to employers, as not all U.S. employers are experienced in hiring international candidates. If you have detailed questions on student visa work authorization options, please consult with Penn State Global.