Beyond the Classroom

UConn political science majors learn by doing.

Our classes give students a solid bedrock of theory and tackle complex problems that face the field of political science today. But students also apply their knowledge beyond the classroom. They do this by getting involved in hands-on experiences like internships, independent research projects, clubs, and organizations. Along the way, they develop interpersonal and professional skills that will prepare them for a career in any field.

Internships

In addition to courses offered by the Department, students are encouraged to think seriously about taking advantage of internship and study abroad programs offered by the University. Options 1-3 below are managed by the department internship coordinator and the enrollment policies below apply. Option 4 is a joint offering of the Department of Political Science and the Honors Program and has different enrollment rules. For more information, please contact Kimberly Bergendahl, the POLS internship coordinator, at POLSInternships@uconn.edu.

Option 1: Government-Related Internships (3 credits)

Eligibility for Credit

  • Students must have junior or senior standing (minimum of 54 credit hours)
  • Students must have at least a 2.8 overall GPA
  • Work done on-site must be substantive and related to the study of political science
  • Internships must be approved in advance by the internship coordinator
  • No retroactive credit will be given for internship work undertaken without being properly enrolled in advance
  • Students cannot earn credit concurrently with another department for the same experience

Registration and Other Requirements

  • Step 1: If you meet the above-mentioned criteria, please complete the Application for POLS 3991 web form. This form must be submitted no later than the start of the semester in which you will be completing the internship. Please refer to the Registrar’s website for information on summer course registration, tuition and fees as a late fee may apply in certain situations.
  • Step 2: The internship coordinator will provide information on course registration via email upon verification of your academic information and internship placement.
  • Step 3: Enjoy your internship and complete the academic requirements for POLS 3991. This is an online course.
  • Step 4: The site supervisor will be asked to complete an evaluation of your work at the end of the semester/internship experience as part of the requirements for POLS 3991.

Grading

Three credit hours of POLS 3991 is on a S/U basis are required. Students must also fulfill three additional requirements to earn a satisfactory grade for POLS 3991:

  • Perform the required minimum of 126 hours of internship service
  • Receive a satisfactory evaluation from the internship site supervisor
  • Successfully complete the academic assignments assigned by the instructor for POLS 3991-002

Failure to fulfill any requirement will result in a grade of U (unsatisfactory).

Option 2. Connecticut General Assembly (CGA) Internships (variable credits)

Each spring semester, UConn students serve as interns at the state legislature during the entire session. Applications are available online at the Connecticut General Assembly website. Completed applications must be submitted to the program as well as the POLS internship coordinator by November 1. Interviews are held in November and/or December. Acceptance notices are sent in December.

Students applying for this internship should register for spring classes so as to ensure enrollment in them. If accepted into the program, applicants may adjust their academic schedules accordingly. Students will earn credits based on the number of hours worked, the evaluation from the internship site supervisor, and a review of the portfolio completed while at the General Assembly. Grades or evaluations by the General Assembly internship supervisor are not binding. Final grades are determined by the UConn internship coordinator.

Eligibility

  • Students must have junior or senior standing (minimum of 54 credit hours)
  • Students must have at least a 2.8 overall GPA

Credit Information

  • 2-day a week Internships with the CGA Legislative Internship Program are eligible to receive 6 credits (3 credits for POLS 3991-001 graded on a S/U basis; 3 credits for POLS 2998 graded on an A-F basis)
  • 3-day a week Internships with the CGA Legislative Internship Program are eligible to receive 9 credits (6 credits for POLS 3991-001 graded on a S/U basis; 3 credits for POLS 2998 graded on an A-F basis)
  • Full-Time Internships with the CGA Legislative Internship Program are eligible to receive 15 credits (12 credits for POLS 3991-001 graded on a S/U basis; 3 credits for POLS 2998 graded on an A-F basis)

 

Option 3. Washington Center Internship in Washington, D.C. (variable credits)

Students also have the opportunity of working in the nation’s capital in federal agencies and departments, congressional offices, or government-related organizations. The University of Connecticut participates in The Washington Center program, through which interns work full-time, take a class, and take part in professional development programming. They also live apartment-style housing with students from across the country and around the world. Information booklets and applications are available from the POLS internship coordinator or online on the Washington Center’s website.

Eligibility

Students must have at least a 2.75 overall GPA

Credit Information

Credits vary depending on when you are placed in this program.

  • Summer Interns: Receive 9 credits (6 credits for POLS 3991 graded on a S/U basis; 3 credits for POLS 3999 graded on an A-F basis)
  • Semester Interns: Receive up to 15 credits (up to 12 credits for POLS 3991 graded on a S/U basis; 3 credits for POLS 3999 on an A-F basis)

Grading

  • For POLS 3991, interns must fulfill the number of hours required and receive a satisfactory evaluation from the internship site supervisor. Failure to fulfill both requirements will result in a grade of U (unsatisfactory).
  • For POLS 3999, the letter grade (A-F) is based on the internship coordinator’s review of the intern’s Washington Center portfolio and grades.
  • Washington Center interns must enroll in POLS 3991 and POLS 3999 at the same time. Dropping or failing to register for POLS 3991 will result in a grade of F for POLS 3999, and dropping or failing to register for POLS 3999 will result in a grade of U for POLS 3991. Failure in one of the courses results in failure in the other course as well.

Option 4. UConn Honors Congressional Internship Program

Students in this program have the opportunity for one semester to become a full-time Washington, D.C. staff member for one of Connecticut’s members of Congress. As a staff member, you will participate in the daily functions of the congressional office, such as constituent service. Motivated interns usually earn additional responsibilities, such as attending committee hearings, writing policy memos, and researching legislation.

This potentially career-defining opportunity is eligible to all UConn students in their junior or senior year and with a minimum GPA of 3.0. Selection is on a competitive basis. Find out more and learn how to apply to the Congressional Internship Program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I receive credit for a summer internship?
Yes! You can be an intern in the summer, from May to August. Internship credits can be earned through Option 1 or through The Washington Center (Option 3). Please be advised that summer internships for credit are treated like summer courses for credit. There will be associated fees with receiving credit for summer internships. Please refer to the Registrar’s Office website for more information on summer tuition and fees. We cannot assign retroactive credit so you must be enrolled in the internship class before completing the hours for the internship.

Can I receive credit in the current semester for an internship I completed in the past?
To receive credit for an internship, students must enroll in the appropriate course(s) prior to undertaking the work. No retroactive credit will be given for internship work undertaken without being properly enrolled in advance.

Can I receive credit for a paid internship?
The Department of Political Science does not forbid monetary payment for internship work, provided that such payment is incidental to the experiential learning to be gained from the work. The Department of Political Science strictly adheres to the CLAS policy on internships. View the internship policy on the CLAS Academic Services Center's website.

What are the deadlines for applying for internships and course registration?
Each internship opportunity has different deadlines. Please be aware of that. The applications for interning with the CT General Assembly are to be submitted no later than November 1st to the POLS internship coordinator. Registration for POLS 3991 may begin as early as the start of the registration period but should be no later than the end of add/drop for the semester/session in which you will be completing your internship. All course registrations must be done with the internship coordinator; registration cannot be done via the Student Administration System.

What types of internship opportunities are available?
While students are primarily responsible for locating their own internships, the internship coordinator will occasionally send out information regarding new opportunities. Our students intern in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, correctional institutions, advocacy groups, and law offices, among others. Other internships may qualify. For ideas and questions regarding which internships may qualify for POLS credit, please contact the internship coordinator.

Can I earn more than 3 credits for providing more than 126 hours of service during my government-related internship?
No. The minimum amount of service hours is set at 126. Students will still receive only 3 credits for going over this minimum. The only POLS internships that are approved for more than 3 credits include: The Washington Center, the UConn Honors Congressional Internship Program, and the CT Legislative Internship Program.

What if I do not meet the eligibility requirements to receive credit for my internship through the Department of Political Science?
Students who do not meet the eligibility requirements explained above may contact the Center for Career Development to find out more about how to earn credit through that department for an internship.

Should I still do an internship if I am not going to receive credit for it?
Absolutely. It is always important to learn as much as you can. Internships provide practical experience that may not be learned in the classroom. And, it can always be a great resume builder!

How can I apply the internship credits towards my political science requirements?
For POLS Majors: No more than three credits of POLS 3991 can be counted toward the 24 credits of 2000-level or higher required for the Political Science major. The credits can be counted in part two (2) of the Plan of Study.

For POLS Minors: No internship credits fulfill any requirement for the Political Science minor. More information on minor requirements is available on our Major and Minor Requirements page.

Additional credits may count towards the total required for graduation. If you have any questions, please contact your major advisor.

Additional Questions? Contact the POLS internship coordinator, Kimberly Bergendahl, at POLSInternships@uconn.edu.

For further information regarding internships please visit the Center for Career Development’s internships site.

Clubs and Organizations

Undergraduates can also gain hands-on experience through membership and leadership positions in student clubs and organizations. Below are a few student organizations that are affiliated with the Department.

Pi Sigma Alpha

Pi Sigma Alpha is the national honor society for political science majors based in Washington, DC. Membership signifies academic achievement within the field, and all members receive a certificate of membership as well as permanent enrollment in the society’s membership rolls maintained by the National Office. The purpose of Pi Sigma Alpha is to stimulate scholarship and interest in the subject of government by providing tangible recognition to students who have excelled in the field.

At the beginning of each academic year, the Department’s faculty advisor issues an open invitation for qualified majors to join UConn’s chapter. An informational meeting is held, and applications are accepted for several weeks thereafter. Membership dues cover the certificate, an informal luncheon with the political science faculty (hosted by the chapter) during the fall semester, and an induction dinner during the spring semester. Other activities depend on the enthusiasm and interest of the chapter’s members.

Application Requirements

Membership is open to all students who meet the following requirements:

  • A declared political science major
  • A grade point average of 3.300 or higher in the major (Not Internships)
  • The completion of at least 3 2000-level political science courses

If you meet these requirements, please fill out an application. A $35.00 application fee is required.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I join if I am taking my 3rd 2000-level course this semester?
No, you need to have grades for those 3 courses factored into your major GPA before you can join. You may join during the semester following completion of the 3rd course.

My GPA for my major is listed on my transcript, right?
No, actually it’s not. What’s listed on your transcript are your GPAs for the semester (SGPA), division (DGPA), and total average (TGPA). The only place to find your major GPA is to look on your Academics Requirement Report. Or you can do the math yourself to make sure you have a 30300 GPA in the major. Find the grade and grade point chart in the general catalog (listed under academic regulations), assign the correct grade point to all the Political Science classes you have taken (A=4.0, A-=3.7, etc.), and then divide the total by the number of Political Science classes you’ve taken. This is your GPA in the major.

I fit all the requirements, but no one asked me to join. How come?
We send out membership invitations based on overall GPA rather than major GPA; hence some students who do not qualify for membership received one, while some students who do qualify did not receive one. We sincerely apologize if you belong to this latter category, and we would still be excited to have you become a member. Membership is a nice thing to list on your resume, but it really is just restating what your transcript already reveals — that you are a good student.

What does the $35.00 cover?
All dues are deposited in the chapter’s account at Student Union. The certificates from the national society are $35 each. At graduation, Pi Sigma Alpha members are entitled to wear honor society regalia. Graduating members of the Honor Society will be given the opportunity to purchase cords and/or medals in early April.

Does the chapter meet frequently, what kinds of activities does it plan, and what is its organizational structure?
The answers to each of these questions vary tremendously from year to year. Precisely how active the chapter is depends on the enthusiasm and interest of its members. One dynamic that seems constant is that most students join when they are seniors, which means not only that they are already very busy, but also that membership roll-over is very high. It is not uncommon for the chapter to have 90% new members each year. In order to handle the paperwork and financial issues, volunteers within the group are usually solicited. Monthly meetings have sometimes proven to be useful venues for the exchange of information on graduate and law school applications and preparations. The level of activity and the nature of organizational responsibilities are really up to each year’s members.

Travel Model United Nations

(Formerly International Relations Association)

This organization is open to all students in the University, but it is of special interest to political science majors. It seeks to provide opportunities to increase their knowledge and understanding of international events. Members participate in Model United Nations at Harvard and in New York. For more information, see the Travel Model UN Website.

UConn Undergraduate Political Review

The UConn Undergraduate Political Review is a scholarly publication dedicated to providing a diverse analysis of political events and issues.

Affiliated with the Department of Political Science, articles are written, edited, and reviewed by undergraduates who have exhibited a commitment to academic excellence and political involvement. Our objective is to provide an opportunity for students to present nuanced contributions to the policy debates ongoing within our society and the UConn community.

As we present student-generated dialogue, interested undergraduates are encouraged to reach out to us. We accept general applications for new writers at the beginning of each semester. To apply please send a resume and writing sample to uconnpoliticalreview@gmail.com.

Undergraduate Political Science Association (Stamford Campus)

The Undergraduate Political Science Association, based at the UConn Stamford campus, is a nonpartisan, student-led, professionally-run organization committed to creating a space that encourages intellectual dialogue on political subjects, strengthens the relationship between students and faculty, and helps students grow intellectually, socially and professionally. All students from all campuses are welcome. Events include debate watch parties, professional headshot sessions, town halls, discussions, strategy meetings, and field trips.

University of Connecticut Model United Nations

UConn Model United Nations (UCMUN) is a tier two student organization. They host an annual conference during the fall semester and invite high school students to represent a country in a simulated United Nations committee. The organization was founded in 1999 and seeks to expand and improve upon its conference every year. UCMUN offers a wide variety of positions to interested students including assistant director, director of committees, topic specialists, executive positions, and secretary and director general positions. UConn Model United Nations seeks to foster international awareness through the process of simulation.

Position Descriptions

  • Assistant Director – For this position, students join during the fall semester and are paired up with a director. Assistant directors assist in debate and are generally first time UCMUN staff members.
  • Directors – These members apply in the Fall semester after the conference and direct existing committees or create their own, with the approval of the director general. Over the year directors chose topics and create background guides for students to use during the conference.
  • Topic Specialists – Topic specialists apply in the spring semester and are tasked with doing extra research above what Directors have done. During the conference they may be called upon to give informative speeches to delegates.
  • Executive Staff – There are several executive positions that often change on a yearly basis. These students are each responsible for a specific area of UCMUN duties necessary for the conference. These positions are appointed by the director general and secretary general. They are usually reserved for more experienced UCMUN staff.
  • Director General – The student with this position is tasked with hiring directors, assistant directors, and topic specialists and in conjunction with the secretary general hires executive staff. Director general is an elected position.
  • Secretary General – The secretary general is this highest ranking member of UCMUN, they are responsible for overall conference and organizational success. This is an elected position.

For questions or more information, please contact the UCMUN director, Alex Anievas, or email uconnmodelun@gmail.com.