Overview of Graduate Internships at WPI
Graduate internship experiences may be completed by Masters and Doctoral students at WPI in order to enhance their professional development and career readiness. The graduate internship is a short term and temporary work assignment in residence at a company or other external organization that forms a complementary part of a student’s educational program. Graduate students must complete a registration form and gain proper approvals to participate in an internship. The internship experience will appear on the student’s transcript with a minimum of 0 credits and a maximum of 3 credits (as determined by the department/program).
Graduate Students in Robotics Engineering can also follow the same approval process to register for a Practicum, and will be given an option on the internship form to select 'Practicum' or 'Internship'.
Graduate Internship Policies - General
A full description of the policies governing graduate student internships can be found in the graduate catalogue, which is updated annually.
- All students require the approval of their faculty advisor-of record to participate in an internship. Furthermore, the student and their faculty advisor-of-record will define concrete performance metrics and objectives to be achieved during the internship prior to the experience.
- The graduate internship experience must align with the student’s plan of study and be related to the specific graduate degree program.
- Because the purpose of an internship is to provide a student with a new experience, graduate students already employed full-time or part-time may not participate as interns at the same place of employment without program approval.
- Since the internship must be performed at an external site, WPI would not be considered an acceptable sponsor for a graduate internship. There are only very limited exceptions to this rule. One example is the WPI Teaching Fellows Program.
- Typically, Teaching Assistants may not be on internship during the same time period during the academic year as when they are serving as a TA, but may pursue an internship over the summer or with departmental/program permission.
- The graduate internship is not a requirement, but rather an option available to all graduate students enrolled in graduate programs that permit internships.
- Students may pursue graduate internship experiences of up to 3 credits per degree (as determined by the department/program). For-credit internship experiences are only for matriculated students.
- Internship experiences may be completed for 0-3 credits, and multiple internship experiences across semesters may be completed. However, graduate students may be enrolled in internships during a maximum of 3 semesters, inclusive of the summer, regardless of the amount of credit assigned per internship experience.
- Students enrolled in full time internships, defined as more than 20 hours per week, will be deemed a full-time student for that semester. Students enrolled in part time internships, less than 20 hours, will still need to be registered for 8 or more credits, inclusive of the internship’s credits, to be considered fully enrolled.
- Graduate internships may not be applied to multiple degrees (i.e., BS/MS).
- Enrollment in the graduate internship experience must adhere to established add/drop deadlines.
- Graduate internships are registered by the semester. If an experience spans more than one semester, the student must submit a new internship registration form for each semester.
- Once a student is registered for an internship opportunity in a given semester they may not switch to a different internship opportunity in the same semester. Students should carefully weigh their internship options and only accept an internship opportunity that they will commit to completing.
Graduate Internship Policies – Masters Students
- For Masters Students: Students enrolled in a Master’s program may participate in the graduate internship experience after successfully completing their first 12 credits of graduate coursework at WPI, provided they are in good academic standing.
- With approval of the program designee, Master’s students participating in a graduate internship should register for the graduate internship course designated 5900.
Graduate Internship Policies – PhD Students
- For PhD Students: Students enrolled in a PhD program may participate in the graduate internship experience after successfully completing their first 12 credits of graduate coursework at WPI, provided they are in good academic standing.
- With approval of the program designee, PhD students participating in a graduate internship should register for the graduate internship course designated 6900.
Graduate Internship Policies – International Graduate Students
- Special Notes for International Students: Internship experiences for international students are only available after completing one academic year in full-time student status.
- An international graduate student on an F-1 visa must maintain full-time student status while participating in an internship experience during the fall or spring semester.
- International students with F-1 visa status may apply for two types of work authorization:
- Curricular Practical Training (CPT): CPT is used for graduate level internships while students are pursuing their degrees. CPT is authorized by the university, and the internship must be an integral part of an established curriculum. Internships should be for credit and must appear on the student’s transcript. Students can work full-time for up to 1 year on CPT; authorizing more than 1 year of full-time CPT would make a student ineligible for OPT work authorization after graduation.
- Optional Practical Training (OPT): OPT is typically used by students for one year of employment after completion of degree (with an additional 2 years of work authorization available for eligible STEM degree programs). It can also be used in part as pre-completion OPT for summer jobs or part-time employment during the academic year if employment is in the student’s field of study. OPT requires approval by U.S. Customs and Immigration Services and takes around 3-5 months to process.
Graduate Internships and Student Health Insurance Policies
All registered full-time and part-time students are automatically enrolled in the WPI Student Health Insurance Plan, this includes students enrolled in a full-time internship approved by WPI, unless proof of comparable coverage is furnished.
Graduate Students that have registered for a Full-time graduate internship (0-3 credits, 20 or more hours per week of internship work) during a Fall or Spring semester are eligible to enroll in or continue the WPI Student Health Insurance plan during that coverage year.
Funded graduate students (RAs or TAs) that have their student health insurance plan fully paid for by WPI are eligible to receive full payment for the WPI student health insurance plan during an internship under the following conditions:
- The student was in a funded position prior to the start of the internship. This would include being in a RA or TA position in the Spring semester prior to a Fall internship, as long as they have been appointed to a funded position in the Spring semester that would follow their internship.
- The student will be doing their internship for only one semester during the academic year or a combination of summer and one semester during the academic year. Students that will do a full-time internship for both Fall and Spring semesters in a single academic year will need to pay for their own student health insurance plan through WPI.
- The student is in good academic standing and have registered for and have been approved to conduct the internship
Graduate Internship Resources
Resources are available at the Career Development Center (CDC) for graduate students seeking graduate internship experiences during their studies at WPI. The CDC maintains an extensive database of companies and other external organizations interested in supporting graduate students in their professional development via internships. All WPI students have access to this database, as well as the ability to apply to posted opportunities. CDC annually runs a fall and spring career fair, virtual career fair, various employer information sessions. All career fairs and employer information sessions are be able to register through Handshake. To find out more, please contact the CDC: call 508-831-5260, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit us at the Project Center, Lower Level
Graduate Internship Registration Process
- Discuss with your advisor and graduate program coordinator whether an internship experience is appropriate for the desired semester. Your graduate program will review your request to register for an internship and will be responsible for assigning you a grade for the internship experience.
- Secure an internship. It is your responsibility to find an internship, but there are many tools available to assist you and you should consult with the Career Development Center for guidance. Please be advised that if an internship employer requires you to complete a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA), you should review the NDA with your advisor and graduate program coordinator to ensure that you will be able to complete the NDA and still be able to have your internship experience evaluated for a grade by your graduate program at WPI.
- You may want to view a PDF version of the internship registration e-form to understand which information you will need to collect and consider in advance of completing the internship registration e-form. Please note that the PDF form will not be accepted for internship registration requests and is only being provided as a reference.
- Complete the internship registration e-form prior to the start of the semester. Please note that you will need to have the internship offer letter from the employer available for upload along with this form. If you were not provided such a letter, request and obtain the letter prior to completing the internship registration e-form.
- With the internship registration e-form you must also upload an unofficial transcript and a complete plan of study signed by your academic advisor to your department's designated approver, along with the internship offer letter, unless otherwise directed by the department.
- Graduate program approval is needed on the internship registration e-form. If the form has been submitted for graduate program approval and no response from the graduate program is received at the end of two weeks post submission of the form, please contact Deborah Baron (email@example.com) in the Office of Graduate Studies for further assistance.
- Once the internship registration e-form is submitted and after departmental approval is secured, the Registrar’s Office will register you for the appropriate course (Master’s students: 5900; PhD students: 6900). You will receive an email confirmation from the Registrar’s Office once you are registered for the internship. Please note that you must be registered for the internship prior to starting the internship.
- If you are an international graduate student, you must secure your I-20/DS-2019 with CPT work authorization/Academic Training from the International House prior to starting your internship. Please remember that working without authorization is a violation of your F-1 or J-1 student status and could lead to termination of your SEVIS record. The International House will receive your internship registration information once you have been registered for credit, and will email you when your immigration document is ready for pick up. Allow 3 business days after course registration for the processing of your I-20/DS-2019.
For any questions related to the process of registering for the graduate internships, please email the Office of Graduate Studies at firstname.lastname@example.org