Policy Title

Experiential Learning: Internships, Clinical Internships/Clinical Experiences, Practica, Externships, and Service Learning




This policy applies to students, faculty and staff.

Policy Number:2.1.12
Effective Date:09/01/2018
Date Reviewed: 09/01/2018
Last Review Date: 04/15/2021
Responsible Official: Academic Affairs
Responsible Office:
Contact Information:

Academic Affairs

115 Tillman Hall

Rock Hill, SC 29733




1.0 Specific meanings of bold terms seen throughout this policy can be found within the University's policy definition glossary by following the link below.

1.1 http://www.winthrop.edu/policy-definitions-glossary

Winthrop University values the experiences of applied work and observation that links students with employers. These experiences include internships, co-ops, practicum, and externships. The following definitions are used by Winthrop University: 


Internships are typically one-time work or service experiences related to a student’s major or career goal. Internships are usually completed for academic credit and may be paid or unpaid. The Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor mandates that unpaid internships must meet specific criteria including the fact that the intern does not replace regular employees and does work under supervision of existing staff (See http://www.dol.gov/whd/regs/compliance/whdfs71pdf). It is the responsibility of the department/program internship coordinators to familiarize employers with these laws.

The internship plan for university credit generally involves a student working in a professional setting under the supervision and monitoring of practicing professionals. Internship credit will be based on a minimum of 50 hours of work experience per one hour of credit. Programs requiring students to take full-time internships for a semester are exempted from the 50-hour per credit requirement. Faculty and the Center for Career and Civic Engagement serve as resources for students who seek this type of experience.

Clinical Internships/Clinical Experiences: Clinical internships/Clinical Experiences involve programs that require rotations through a variety of clinical /educational settings during the course of a student’s academic program. At Winthrop this explains the programs in educator preparation programs, athletic training, and social work and the graduate programs in human nutrition, school psychology, and social work. These experiences may or may not be paid. The university typically engages in a contract with the employer to take a set number of students over a particular period of time. 

Cooperative Education

Cooperative education provides students with multiple periods of work in which the work is related to the student’s major or career goal. The typical program plan is for a student to alternate terms of full-time coursework study with terms of full-time, discipline-related employment. Since program participation involves multiple work terms, the typical participant will work three or four work terms, thus gaining a year or more of career-related work experience before graduation. Virtually all co-op positions are paid and the vast majority involves some form of academic credit. Winthrop does not have cooperative education courses or experiences at this time.


A practicum is generally a one-time work or service experience completed by a student as part of a class for academic credit. Some practica offer pay, but many do not. Experiences are usually for less than 50 hours of work per credit hour and may take place on or off campus. Faculty and staff in the Center for Career and Civic Engagement serve as resources for students who seek this type of experience.

Externships/Job Shadowing

An externship or job shadowing experience allows a student to spend between a day and several weeks observing a professional on the job. Such experiences are unpaid; however, some colleges or departments may pick up travel and/or living expenses. Externships and job shadowing experiences are generally not done for academic credit. The Center for Career and Civic Engagement serves as a resource for students who seek this type of experience.

Service Learning

Service Learning is a teaching method that combines community service with academic instruction as it focuses on critical, reflecting thinking and civic responsibility. Service learning courses involve students in organized community service that addresses local needs, while developing their academic skills, sense of civic responsibility, and commitment to the community. The community service can be done over the course of the semester or it can be a one-time activity. Students can serve individually or in a group and service work is typically followed by reflection activities that connect the service to specific learning outcomes. 


Policy Procedures

Requirements for Internships, Clinical Internships, and Practicum

All internships, practica and clinical internships require written agreements. This agreement should articulate the responsibilities of the student, the employer, and the University. In addition, the agreement or an addendum should outline the performance goals expected of the student. An evaluation instrument(s) must be used at termination of the experience. Onsite evaluation by a faculty or staff coordinator should occur at least once during the experience. If such an evaluation is not feasible because of geography or other reasons, an effort should be made to communicate with the supervisor and student involved through telecommunications. Each student must register for the experience in the same semester in which the experience is pursued. 

Worker’s Compensation: Winthrop University in conjunction with the State Accident Fund provides workers’ compensation insurance coverage for students in unpaid academic credit internships, Practica, and Clinical Internships after all appropriate personnel sign their agreements, and the students are registered. The agreement must include the dates that the experience will begin and end.

It is the responsibility of internship coordinators to inform employers of this coverage and the procedures for filing claims for accidents on the job. Each semester the names of students on unpaid internships, names of employers, and dates of employment must be filed with the Workers’ Compensation Administrator, Winthrop University Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Workplace Sites: It is the responsibility of the internship coordinator to make a reasonable appraisal of the safety and security of a workplace site. Student interns should be provided with the tools needed to be successful in the experience, including:

     a personal workspace (This space should include the things the intern needs to successfully complete projects, such as a phone and computer.)

  • an onsite orientation (This should include a general safety orientation including company safety regulations and emergency procedures. Specific training on the hazards of the internship and how to do the job safely may apply.)

   · a weekly meeting with a supervisor

Home-based worksites may be acceptable under certain conditions; however, at a minimum, all employers should be able to provide evidence that they are bonded, insured, and licensed or, in the case of positions with political candidates, provide evidence that they have filed for political office. (See also, Virtual Internships)

Virtual Internships: It is the responsibility of the internship coordinator to determine if virtual internships are appropriate for their students. The university strongly encourages students to have face-to-face connection with employers on a regularly scheduled basis. Each employer should be licensed, bonded; and insured and this material should be on file with the department/program internship coordinators.

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