Why do an internship?  Because internships lead to jobs! More than half of Political Science majors at RU complete an internship during their time at Radford. A quarter of students who complete internships received a full-time job offer as a direct result of their experience.  Three-quarters of students who completed an internship credit it for getting them their graduate school acceptance or career. In other words, even if you don’t get that job, doing an internship serves as an initiation into the world of work, giving you contacts, incredible assistance in networking, career-ready skills, and professional demeanor.

Internships in Political Science and Public Administration engage students with local, state, and national political institutions; campaigns; law firms; business associations; lobbyists; and non-profits. Internships may be completed either for academic credit or without credit.

Internships for Academic Credit

Prerequisites to complete an internship for academic credit: Political Science major, junior or senior standing; 2.5 GPA in political science; 2.0 cumulative university GPA; and departmental approval.

In order to earn course credit for your internship, you must successfully complete the academic component related to your experience.  This is designed by the student along with Dr. Paige Tan, the internship coordinator for the department, and is intended to enhance the student’s work placement experience. So, a student working in a county social services office will read a book about eviction, do research on affordable housing issues, keep a journal of her experiences in her work placement, and develop job search documents like a resume and cover letter. 

The major goals of the academic internship are for students to:

  • Apply the theory and methods learned in their courses to agencies in which they are placed and make contributions to that agency or organization
  • Understand the communications, decision-making and problem-solving mechanisms used by agencies in providing services for their clients.
  • Observe the styles used by staff members in interacting with clients and other staff members.
  • Better understand the pressures facing those who 'practice' politics or public policy.
  • Develop their critical thinking as well as oral and written communication skills.

If students choose to complete an internship for academic credit, they will complete paperwork with Dr. Paige Tan, Internship Coordinator for the Department. 

To receive credit, students submit the internship paperwork and are signed up for: POSC 485 - Internships in Political Science and Public Administration.  Credits: (3-15).  They pay Radford University tuition for the number of hours they plan to earn with the internship. Roughly, 120 hours of on-site work along with the completion of related academic assignments will put you in a position to earn three hours of academic credit.

Internships for academic credit may be either paid or unpaid.

To apply to receive academic credit for your internship, student should review the Internship Manual 2021-2022 and complete the following documents and submit to Dr. Tan ( 

1. Internship Manual 2021-2022.  This is done with your internship site supervisor. Signatures are required from the placement supervisor and the student.  Dr. Tan will sign, if ready to approve, and submit through Radford University channels to get the student signed up for the course.

2. Sample syllabus for the internship experience. Students use the sample syllabus to develop one of their own. Working with Dr. Tan, they should develop a suitable book idea and research project that will complement their academic placement.

Supervisors can find evaluation forms here.

Radford University Government Relations Internship

Radford University’s Government Relations office will be hosting a Government Relations Internship Program in which selected interns work closely with southwest Virginia state legislators and their staffs in Richmond, Virginia during the General Assembly session (January-March), and then return to campus and participate in a virtual internship with Radford University’s Government Relations office for the remainder of the semester (March-April). During the internship, students develop professional skills, strengthen political knowledge and gain a unique understanding of the Virginia General Assembly process.  Selected students will receive 12 academic credits and Radford University will provide housing for student interns while they are in Richmond and a stipend to offset internship expenses.  The application deadline for the 2024 Program has passed; application materials for the 2025 Government Relations Internship Program will be available beginning Summer 2024. 

Radford University Government Relations Internship Overview (PDF)

Internships without Academic Credit

Students may find work experiences that can serve as internships, though these will have no affiliation with Radford University.  Without academic credit, the experience will also not have the academic components of the experience: the book, research, journaling, etc.

These experiences can still be listed on your resume as internships done while you were a student at Radford University.

Finding an Internship

At this time, we do not have the capacity to place students in specific internships.  However, opportunities are diverse and numerous.  Some students start with general searching on internships.  Others start with organizations they are interested in and explore opportunities through their websites (look for "Careers," "Work with Us," or "Join Us").  If you don't know any organizations you might be interested in, start with our internship spreadsheet (EXCEL), which lists many areas of work and organizations.  Many organizations now offer remote opportunities, so, even if you're not able to spend a semester in Washington, DC, you might be able to have an important, enriching internship experience from your home or right here in Radford.    

Students are responsible for making contact with potential internship hosts.  Dr, Tan, the internship coordinator; other professors; and the Career Center may serve as sources of guidance. 

See this sample letter as a way to make contact with a potential internship host organization.