Internship Information for Prospective Sponsors

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The Maxwell School's Center for Career Development and Alumni Relations encourages all of our Master of Public Administration students and other professional graduate degree students (International Relations, Economics, Political Science, History, Sociology and Anthropology) to engage in an applied experience outside of their courses. This experience at the graduate level helps them to recognize how coursework can be applied in real practical applications and, in turn, they can bring those applied experiences back to the classroom to foster a greater understanding of their academic material. Due to the nature of the various curriculums, the majority of students interested in pursuing local internships are Masters of Public Administration students. As such, details of their program are described in detail here.


The Masters of Public Administration Program

Inaugurated in 1924, the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program is the oldest one of its kind in the United States. From the very beginning, the program and its faculty members have greatly influenced public administration’s growth and development. Today, more than 8,500 Maxwell School alumni world-wide work in federal, state, and local governments, nonprofit agencies and foundations, private firms, and on university faculties.

Recognized as the professional degree in the field of public service, the MPA is designed principally, but not exclusively, for those who plan to pursue careers in the public and not-for-profit sectors within the US and abroad. The Maxwell School’s MPA program prepares individuals for careers as managers and policy analysts in government agencies and organizations closely associated with the public sector. The curriculum is designed to ensure that all graduates:

  1. gain experience in applying qualitative and quantitative methods to public policy issues;
  2. achieve substantial competency in organization design and analysis, and in management and administration techniques; and
  3. understand the political, economic and social context of public administration.

In the process of meeting the general 40-credit requirement for the MPA degree, all candidates are expected to fulfill all core requirements either by completing one or more designated courses or by passing a waiver examination.

Core requirements cover the following fundamental areas of Public Administration:

  • Citizenship & Public Affairs
  • Public & Non Profit Organizations
  • Applied Public Management Principles
  • Quantitative Policy Analysis
  • Leadership
  • Applied Economics for Decision Making
  • Policy Formulation & Programmatic Design

Although Internships are not required as part of their curriculum, students are invited to participate in a variety of options for internships to expand upon their academic experience. During the school year, all graduate students can participate in projects with local organizations which cover a wide variety of areas in the public (state and local government), private, and non-profit sectors. Some projects can be completed using email and the internet, allowing students to look beyond the immediate local area for opportunities. Some programs require students to do internships abroad and these can be explored through the academic departments sponsoring the internships. The Center for Career Development can assist students with contacts and information for any type of internship.

Internship Options: For-Credit & Not-For-Credit

In the MPA program, students may choose to take internships for-credit depending on the requirements and options within their academic curriculums. However, due to the extremely tight one year timeframe of the MPA program, most students choose to participate in internships on a not-for-credit basis to add the experience to their resumes and gain important and necessary new skills.

For-credit Internships:

Students may do an Internship (Experience Credit) for up to 3 credits. In this case, the agency must agree to sponsor the student by signing their Internship Fact Sheet Form and completing an evaluation on the student at the end of the internship.

Agency Responsibilities:


The internship must be supervised by a member of the organization or company who has expertise in the area of the internship, and who meets regularly with the intern to ensure that opportunities exist that make it possible for the learning goals of the intern to be met. The following is a list of some of the main responsibilities of the supervisor:

  • Determine goals and objectives
  • Set and explain specific duties and responsibilities
  • Establish a timeline for the project
  • Supervise or designate a primary supervisor
  • Provide necessary training
  • Supply professional level feedback to the student on an on-going basis
  • Advise the faculty sponsor of any problems or changes in schedule
  • Assess the student's work and progress
  • Provide a final evaluation of the student’s work which will be distributed at the end of the internship by the Career and Alumni Services Office. 


Although compensation is not required for an internship experience, it does make it more attractive to students who are also presented with a wide variety of assistantship opportunities on campus which are funded. There are many more organizations looking for MPA interns than we have students available to engage in these opportunities. As such, compensation allows an organization to be more competitive with the students who are looking. Some organizations pay an hourly wage while others may offer a one time stipend. Compensation is negotiable. Other monetary considerations for things such as travel expenses or internet capabilities can be helpful for students as well and make it possible for them to participate in an internship that they might not otherwise be able to take advantage of given their restricted financial resources. Arrangements related to compensation are made between the student and the organization, and do not involve Syracuse University.

Earning tuition credits:

If an agency does choose to sponsor a credit bearing internship for students, a contract will be signed by both parties and they are then eligible to earn university credit hours to be used by employees of the agency to study at Syracuse University. The University shall grant to the Agency tuition credits and the formula by which the University shall grant to the Agency tuition credits is:

One-half (1/2) a tuition credit hour for 37 clock hours to 45 clock hours worked by a student in the agency.

Student Responsibilities:

  • They must perform satisfactory work for a minimum of 150 hours. Some students choose to spread the internship out over 2 semesters and will simply receive and INCOMPLETE on the first semester transcript which will be substituted with a grade at the completion of the internship in the next semester.
  • Completion of an 8-10 page paper evaluating their experience.

Not-for-credit Internships:

Many students choose to participate in an internship on a not-for-credit basis. In this case, the arrangements concerning hours and responsibilities are left up to the student and the organization for which they are interning and no tuition credits are earned by the sponsoring agency. The reason that student usually choose to do internships on a not-for-credit basis is the one year nature of the MPA program leaves them very little room for extra courses and as such, they prefer to utilize their credits for specific courses they need and not on internships, which can be done without using up their credit hours.

Posting Internships

Obtaining an internship, whether for-credit or not-for-credit is the responsibility of each student. The Center for Career Development provides an updated list of local internship opportunities every year that is built upon as new opportunities come in. These are also listed on the Jobs and Internships database on the Maxwell Career Development Webpage. Many students will also go ahead and identify their own organizations of interest and are very successful in proposing and obtaining internships with these organizations.

A workshop on internship opportunities and procedures is held each July when the new incoming MPA class arrives. Most students look to start their internships at the start of the Fall semester in September. As such, the Center for Career Development will begin to gather internship postings throughout the month of June. However, organizations are welcome to add new internship posting throughout the year as many students, especially those choosing not-for-credit internships, may decide at any time of year to look for an internship opportunity.

Summer internships are not an option for most MPA students as they are fully involved in coursework through July and August and are in am Executive Leadership program each June. Students then graduate at the end of June.

The internship postings should include:

  • An overview of the organization
  • An overview of the project or type of projects the organization will be asking the intern to assist with
  • Specific details about the responsibilities of the internship project
  • A list of any requirements the students must have in order to be eligible to participate in the internship
  • Start and end dates if applicable, or at least an idea of the time frame under which the internship will occur
  • Approximate number of hours per week the organization would like the intern to be there
  • Information on whether the project will take place completely on site or if there is an ability to work from home on the project
  • Application instructions (what documents need to be sent and where should they be sent)
  • A contact person and their contact information if there are any questions

The posting should be sent to:  

Maxwell Contact:

For further information or questions, please contact:

Kelli A. Young, Director
Center for Career Development and Alumni Relations
Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs
Syracuse University
202 Maxwell Hall
Syracuse, NY 13244
Phone: (315) 443-5453
Fax: (315) 443-3826