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Cal Poly recognizes that an internship can be a significant part of a student's Learn by Doing experience.  An internship formally integrates the student's academic study with practical experience in a cooperating organization.  It is an off-campus activity for which a student receives academic credit.  It is designed to serve educational purposes by offering experience in a service learning, business, nonprofit, or government setting.  An internship site is the organization at which the internship takes place.


According to CSU Executive Order 1064 on student internships, “each campus is required to develop, implement, maintain and publish a student internship policy governing internships where the university makes the placement.”

Cal Poly's internship policy applies to any case of a student earning academic credit for an internship, regardless of whether it is paid or unpaid.  This policy does not apply to the following:

  • Educationally related work experiences that do not receive academic credit, such as summer employment related to a student's academic program.
  • Teacher preparation placements or clinical placements such as those for social work, nursing, counseling, physical therapy, or occupational therapy.

Please note: International students may not begin pain or unpaid off-campus employment without work authorization.  Students with F-1 visa must have complete Curricular Practical Training (CPT) authorized by an International Student Advisor prior to the start date of an internship.  Information about how to qualify and apply for CPT can be found in the International Center's "F-1 Curricular Practical Training (CPT)" webpageQuestions about CPT can be directed to


Under this policy, the responsibilities of the Department shall include:

  • Completing a written summary of the internship site (see the "Site Self Assessment and Student Acknowledgement of Risks" developed by Risk Management), retaining the summary, and making it available for review.
  • Ensuring that students sign the University Release Agreement (see "University Waiver of Liability and Release Agreement" webpage).
  • Ensuring that the student, internship and supervisor and university representative all sign a Learning Agreement form, which includes emergency contact information and addresses the work to be provided by the student, the learning outcomes, and the placement logistics including hours and pay.  See "Internship Learning Agreement Outline" (PDF).
  • Retaining all the documents related to each internship for three years and in a manner consistent with university and system guidelines on records/information retention and disposition schedules (see CSU Executive Order 1031 "Systemwide Records Information Retention and Disposition Schedules Implementation Policy"); electronic copies are permissible.
  • Instituting a procedure for orienting students before the beginning of an internship, which shall include conduct expectations as well as health and safety instructions.
  • Conducting an annual review of internships, for both educational purposes and for the safety of the students, which takes into account the information gathered from on-site supervisors as well as from the students, staff and faculty.

The written summary of the internship shall include the following:

  • Preparing a standard form of internship learning agreement to be used by each department.  See "Internship Learning Agreement Outine" (PDF).
  • Designating an internship coordinator responsible for the implementation, compliance and reporting of this policy.
  • Ensuring departmental compliance with this internship policy.

The responsibilities of the University shall include:

  • Establishing academic policies for initiating an internship.
  • Establishing criteria for awarding academic credit.
  • Establishing policies for student compensation, if applicable.
  • Providing a plan to accommodate any students with special needs (for help, contact the Cal Poly Disability Resource Center).



Academic Senate Resolution: AS-804-15 "Resolution on Cal Poly Internship Policy" (PDF). 2 June 2015. 

California State University Executive Order: EO 1064 "Student Internships".  9 September 2011. 

Updated 2/29/2024

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