What is an internship?

An internship resembles a real job in many ways. It integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom and/or studio with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Employers may also identify interns for new permanent positions as students approach graduation. 


Why do students do internships?

Internships provide an opportunity for students to learn from experienced professionals in their field. Student outcomes include a stronger resume, valuable professional connections, and exposure to career fields and job markets that can inform their career path.

Registering an internship for academic credit

  • Once a student has accepted an internship offer they can register the internship for academic credit.

  • To register an internship for academic credit, students must complete the online internship registration form in Artworks. 

  • The Artworks system will automatically gain approvals from the employer, the RISD department head, OISS (if needed) and the registrar.

  • Students and employers are required to sign the Internship Agreement. 

  • Electronic forms for evaluating the internship experience are provided to the internship supervisor and student through ArtWorks as the internship is nearing completion. Supervisors and students will submit their internship evaluation forms electronically at the end of the internship period.

  • See the Internship Agreement

Registering a non-credit internship

  • Department approval is not required for non-credit internships.
  • The Career Center strongly advises students complete the online internship registration form in ArtWorks because it includes an internship agreement that is e-signed by the student and employer. 
  • The internship agreement clarifies student and employer expectations, student safety and termination of the internship if necessary. It serves as an effective reference point if there are issues or concerns that arise between the student and employer.

Register Your Internship on ArtWorks


Eligibility requirements and credit details

All students: Credits and hours

  • Credit bearing Internships must be approved by the student’s department. They are taken for 3 credits and must be a minimum of 100 hours total. 
  • Summer internships require a minimum of six weeks involvement. 
  • Wintersession internships last for five weeks. 

Undergraduate students:

  • May take a maximum of 6 internship credits toward their degree.
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • Are eligible to take a fall, spring or wintersession internship once they have successfully completed their freshman year. Students may take their first summer internship after their sophomore year. 
  • See Full RISD Policy

Graduate students: 

  • May take 3 internship credits toward their graduate degree, except where exceeded by departmental requirements.
  • Must have a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher.
  • See Full RISD Policy

Architecture students: 

  • A summer professional internship (ARCH 2199) is required of all BArch and MArch candidates. Minimum of 8 weeks at 35 hours per week, 280 total hours.

International students: 

  • Credit-bearing internships only.
  • Curricular Practical Training (CPT) - Contact OISS and/or the Career Center for more info. CPT must be approved before the internship begins.
  • Learn more about CPT

What qualifies as an internship for credit?

Internships for credit must: 

  • Occur while students are enrolled in classes.
  • Provide experience that engages students in professional work.
  • Facilitate growth and development of the student’s knowledge and skills that will compliment academic studio and classroom instruction.
  • Provide intern supervision and mentorship by a professional in the student's field.
  • Be registered with RISD and approved by the student’s academic department. 
  • Internship evaluations must be completed by the student and supervisor and approved by the academic department. 

Paid vs unpaid

Paid internships 

These are internships that meet state requirements for minimum wage. Gaining academic credit is optional. Recent graduates are also eligible.
Unpaid internships

Under federal law, if a student is interning at a for-profit company and is unpaid, they are required to receive academic credit. Credit is based on the educational merits of the internship and must be deemed credit worthy by the student's academic department.


When considering an unpaid internship, students should ask if stipends for travel, housing or meals are available. A stipend is an allowance or fixed amount of money offered to an intern to help cover these expenses.


What time of year can I do an internship?

Summer is the most popular time for internships for both students and employers. Wintersession internships occur over 5 weeks in January and February. Students may work as part-time interns during fall and spring semesters if their class schedule allows. 


RISD 2020-21 Internship Deadlines and Timetable

Internship Deadlines and Timetable PDF

If you have questions about the internship registration process, please email internships@risd.edu