Internships, Research, and Clubs
Apply your knowledge beyond the classroom through experiential learning
UConn political science majors learn by doing.
Our classes give you a solid bedrock of theory to tackle complex problems that face the field of political science today. But you can also apply your knowledge beyond the classroom by getting involved in hands-on experiences like internships, independent research projects, clubs, and organizations. Along the way, you'll develop interpersonal and professional skills that will prepare you for a career in any field.
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. Students may earn up to three credits of POLS 3991 for internships. Students may complete more than one internship, but the placement must be different for each one.
Students are responsible for finding their own internships. Advertisements for interns are available via SharePoint (you will need your net ID and password to access this information) and posted in the Polisci Weekly Brief.
For more information, please contact Kimberly Bergendahl, the POLS internship coordinator, at POLSInternships@uconn.edu.
Eligibility for Credit, Registration, and Grading
Eligibility for Credit
- Students must have junior or senior standing (54 or more completed credits).
- Students must have at least a 2.8 cumulative GPA.
- Students must work a minimum of 126 hours during a semester or summer session.
- 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.
- Students cannot earn credit concurrently with another department for the same experience.
- Membership and/or leadership in a student organization does not qualify as an internship experience.
Registration and Other Requirements
- If you meet the above-mentioned criteria, please complete the Application for POLS 3991. This form must be submitted no later than the start of the semester (or summer) in which you will be completing the internship.
- Upon verification of your academic information and internship placement, the internship coordinator will provide information on course registration via email. Registration cannot be done via the Student Administration system.
- Successfully complete the academic requirements assigned by the instructor of POLS 3991. This online course is graded on an S/U basis.
- Perform the required minimum of 126 hours of internship service.
- Receive a satisfactory evaluation of your work from your internship site supervisor.
- Failure to fulfill any requirement will result in a grade of U (unsatisfactory).
Popular Internship Opportunities
Connecticut General Assembly (CGA)
Each spring semester UConn students serve as interns at the state legislature throughout its entire session.
- Completed applications must be submitted to the CGA program and the POLS internship coordinator by November 1.
- Interviews are held in November/December, and acceptances are sent in December.
- Applications are available online.
- Students earn credits based on the number of hours worked, the evaluation from the site supervisor, and a review of the portfolio completed while at the General Assembly.
- Final grades are determined by the POLS internship coordinator.
- Part-time internships are eligible to receive six credits (three credits for POLS 3991 graded on an S/U basis, and three credits for POLS 2998 graded on an A-F basis).
- Full-time internships are eligible to receive 15 credits (12 credits for POLS 3991 graded on an S/U basis, and three credits for POLS 2998 graded on an A-F basis).
Interns work full-time in federal agencies and departments, congressional offices, or government-related organizations. They also take a class and engage in professional development programming.
- Students apply via the EGL application portal. In addition, they must complete the Washington Center’s application.
- Students must have at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA.
- Summer interns receive nine credits (six credits for POLS 3991 graded on an S/U basis, and three 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 an S/U basis, and three credits for POLS 3999 graded on an A-F basis).
For one semester students become full-time Washington, D.C. staff members for one of Connecticut’s members of Congress. Students participate in the daily functions of the congressional office. Motivated interns usually earn additional responsibilities, such as attending committee hearings, writing policy memos, and researching legislation.
- Open to all UConn students in their junior or senior year.
- Students must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0.
- Students apply via the EGL application portal.
12 credits for POLS 3991 graded on an S/U basis, and three Honors credits for POLS 2998W graded on an A-F basis.
Students can earn political science credit while participating in an internship in London, England during the fall or spring semester. Participants take 12 credits, including the internship and a minimum of two additional courses.
Students apply via the EGL application portal.
- In order to receive three credits of POLS 3991 for the program internship, students must meet with EGL in advance of the program application deadline. A one-credit UNIV 3993 reflection course will be taken concurrently with the internship.
- Internship placement determines eligibility for earning major credit. Placement must be specifically related to political science and approved by the POLS department prior to the start of the program.
More Internship Ideas
- CT Judicial Branch Experiential Learning Program
- Correctional Justice Policy and Planning Division
- CT Department of Children and Families
- Federal departments and agencies
- CT Governor’s/CT Lt. Governor’s offices
- Lawyers Without Borders
- Office of the CT Attorney General
- Political campaigns
- U.S. House of Representatives (state and local offices)
- U.S. Senate (state and local offices)
- UConn Office of Governmental Relations
- Law offices
- Lobbying groups
- Police departments
See how the Center for Career Development can help, or check out their recruiting management system, Handshake.
Don’t forget, if the POLS department hears about an internship opportunity we post it in the Polisci Weekly Brief and in SharePoint.
Frequently Asked Questions
I’m ready to do an internship! Would you please assign me one?
Students are responsible for finding their own internships. If you need some ideas to get you started, take a look at the “Popular Internship Opportunities” and “More Internship Ideas” sections of this web page, check the list of opportunities of which we’re aware, and check out what the Center for Career Development has to offer, including Handshake.
How do I find an internship?
Take a look at the “Popular Internship Opportunities” and “More Internship Ideas” sections of this web page. Our students intern in government agencies, nonprofit organizations, political campaigns, correctional institutions, advocacy groups, and law offices, among other things. For ideas and questions regarding which internships may qualify for POLS credit, please contact the internship coordinator.
Can I do an internship during the summer?
Yes! You can be an intern from May to August. Please be advised that summer credit-earning internships are treated like summer courses; there will be associated fees. Refer to UConn Summer Session 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.
Are there fees involved in doing an internship?
Three credits of POLS 3991 carry the same costs as other three credit courses offered during a semester or summer session. Refer to UConn Summer Session for more information on summer tuition and fees.
How many credits can I earn for an internship?
It depends on the internship. Most are eligible for three credits of POLS 3991. Credits vary for internships with the Washington Center, the Honors Congressional Internship, and the Connecticut General Assembly. (See the "Popular Internship Opportunities” section of this web page.)
Can I earn more than three credits for providing more than 126 hours of service during my internship?
No. The minimum amount of service hours is set at 126. If students exceed this number they will still receive three credits. The only POLS internships that are approved for more than three credits include the Washington Center, the Honors Congressional Internship Program, and the Connecticut General Assembly. (See the "Popular Internship Opportunities” section of this web page.)
Can I receive credit in the current semester for an internship I completed in the past?
No. No retroactive credit will be given for internship work undertaken without being properly enrolled in advance. To receive credit for an internship, students must enroll in the appropriate course(s) prior to undertaking the work.
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 strictly adheres to the CLAS policy on internships. View the internship policy on the CLAS Academic Services Center's website.
How does internship credit apply to my POLS major/minor?
- For POLS Majors: The credits can be counted in part B. 2. of the Plan of Study. No more than three credits of POLS 3991 can be counted toward the 24 credits of 2000-level or higher courses required for the major.
- For POLS Minors: No internship credits can be used to fulfill requirements for the POLS minor.
I’m not a POLS major, can I still get POLS credit for an internship?
Yes! Students in any major can enroll in POLS 3991 as long as they meet the eligibility criteria. Even if POLS 3991 doesn’t fulfill a major requirement, additional credits may count towards the total required for graduation. If you have any questions, please contact your major advisor.
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 may contact the Center for Career Development (CCD) to find out more about how to earn credit through the CCD or another department.
Should I still do an internship if I am not going to receive credit for it?
Absolutely! Internships provide practical experience that may not be learned in the classroom. And it can always be a great resume builder!
What are the deadlines for applying for internships?
Each internship opportunity has different deadlines. Please be aware of that.
What is the deadline for registering for POLS 3991, the internship course?
You may begin the online application for POLS 3991 as early as the start of the registration period, but it must be completed by the start of the semester so that registration can take place before add/drop ends. All internship placements must be verified before registration takes place. All course registrations must be done via the internship coordinator; registration cannot be done via the Student Administration system.
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.
Political science students can enhance their skills by participating in research experiences. Research assistantships and independent projects help students grow intellectually and professionally, allowing them to dig deeper on a specific topic and, in many cases, work closely with a faculty mentor. Opportunities include:
Research Awards and Funding Opportunities for Undergraduates
The Office of Undergraduate Research (OUR) offers funding for research and scholarship projects to all undergraduates at UConn. Many of our students have taken advantage of IDEA Grants; Social Sciences, Humanities, and Arts Research Experience (SHARE) Awards; and Summer Undergraduate Research Fund (SURF) Awards, to name a few.
Honors Research Assistantships
The Alan R. Bennett Honors Program in the Department of Political Science provides competitive research assistantships with faculty members to honors students. These Bennett research awards also support student travel to professional conferences and presentations on campus at the Research Excellence in Political Science (REPS) poster sessions and Frontiers Undergraduate Research exhibitions. Contact the honors program director for questions and details on how to apply.
Faculty Research Projects
Students are encouraged to reach out directly to their political science professors to learn about their research expertise and ask about research assistantship opportunities. Learn more about the Department’s research subfields and visit our faculty directory to learn more about your professors’ research interests.
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 honorary 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 the fall and spring semesters, the department’s faculty advisor will issue an open invitation for qualified majors to join UConn’s chapter. Information regarding membership requirements, chapter activities, frequently asked questions, and an application form are all provided below. The present faculty advisor is Professor Kristin Kelly.
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, you should fill out the online application.
Frequently asked questions regarding membership:
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 G.P.A. in 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 Academic Requirements Report. Or you can do the math yourself to make sure you have a 3.300 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.
How much does it cost to become a member?
Submitting an application to become a member of Pi Sigma Alpha is free. If your application is accepted, you will be provided with a code that will enable you to officially register as a member on the National Website for Pi Sigma Alpha. To become a member you will be required to pay a one-time fee of $35.00. This fee covers the cost of your induction certificate and ensures your permanent enrollment in the society’s membership rolls maintained by the national office. At graduation, Pi Sigma Alpha members are entitled to wear honor society regalia. Graduating members of the Honor Society can purchase cords and/or medals from the national website.
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 varies 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 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.
UConn Undergraduate Political Review
The UConn Undergraduate Political Review is a scholarly publication dedicated to providing a diverse analysis of political events and issues. Learn more about the publication and view their latest issue.
Undergraduate Political Science Association, also known as UConn Stamford Politics Club (Stamford Campus)
The UConn Stamford Politics Club is a nonpartisan, student-led, professionally-run organization committed to creating a space that encourages intellectual dialogue, facilitates civil discourse on political subjects, and helps students grow intellectually, socially and professionally. All students from the Stamford campus are welcome, and students from other campuses are welcome to attend our special events. Events include debate watch parties, candidate debates on campus, town halls, strategy meetings, and presentations. For more information contact email@example.com.
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.
- 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.