Carlson Leadership & Public Service Center

Gen St 350: Frequently Asked Questions

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Do I need to enroll in Gen St 350?

An important question for all students to ask themselves is whether or not they actually want or need to earn credit for the learning associated with the internship experience. In order to be defined as an internship, an experience must involve both work in the field and a focus on learning. While some internships also involve earning academic credit, this is not a requirement. Earning GEN ST 350 credits at the UW may, or may not, benefit your advancement toward a degree–it is best to check in with an academic advisor in your major department. A student can still record an internship experience on their resume without having earned academic credit.

Is Academic credit legally required for an unpaid internship?

Some employers may require a student to earn academic credit for an internship. This requirement is fully within their right, but may also be worth checking in with them about if earning academic credit will not be beneficial toward earning your degree. The employer may just be looking for confirmation of student status that could be demonstrated in another way. The employer may also think that these credits will be beneficial to the student–if this is not the case, and you will be paying for credits that will not advance your degree, you may want to let the employer know. Some employers are also just trying to maintain legal employment practices. While it is not legally required for an unpaid intern to earn academic credit, the Department of Labor does have guidelines to determine whether an intern is considered an “employee.” Employers are supposed to make sure that what they are asking their interns to do are legitimate learning experiences, and not just a way to get free labor without paying benefits, taxes, etc. If they cannot match these criteria then the “employee” and “employer” are subject to the monetary provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. That means that the interns in for-profit companies are entitled to minimum wage and overtime compensation. Courts have used the “primary beneficiary test” to determine whether an intern or student is, in fact, an employee under the FLSA.  Courts have identified the following seven factors as part of the test:

  1. The extent to which the intern and the employer clearly understand that there is no expectation of compensation. Any promise of compensation, express or implied, suggests that the intern is an employee—and vice versa.
  2. The extent to which the internship provides training that would be similar to that which would be given in an educational environment, including the clinical and other hands-on training provided by educational institutions.
  3. The extent to which the internship is tied to the intern’s formal education program by integrated coursework or the receipt of academic credit.
  4. The extent to which the internship accommodates the intern’s academic commitments by corresponding to the academic calendar.
  5. The extent to which the internship’s duration is limited to the period in which the internship provides the intern with beneficial learning.
  6. The extent to which the intern’s work complements, rather than displaces, the work of paid employees while providing significant educational benefits to the intern.
  7. The extent to which the intern and the employer understand that the internship is conducted without entitlement to a paid job at the conclusion of the internship.

If an employer would like to know more about these legal guidelines, you could refer them to the following articles:

How do I register?

Steps to register are outlined below

  • Independently secure an internship. Most internship positions will qualify for GEN ST 350 as course credit is granted for demonstrated learning from the internship experience, not the experience itself.  
  • Please visit our Forms and Registration page for detailed registration instructions

How many credits can I register for?

The number of credits you are eligible to receive is dictated by the amount of hours you will be on-site over the duration of the quarter. Generally, three hours per week on-site will grant one credit worth of eligibility, up to a maximum of six for any registration. For example, a student working 10 hours per week at their internship could register for up to 3 credits. Students may register for less credits than the maximum number. Students may choose to request a lower amount of credits than the maximum amount that they are eligible to receive.

Please note that students may only enroll in GEN ST 350 C/D for one academic quarter per internship experience, to the maximum number of credits allowed for GEN ST 350.

What am I earning credit for?

Students enrolled in GENST 350 receive credit for demonstrating the learning from their internship experience through an academic project, not for the internship itself. Completion of the internship is not sufficient to earn credit under General Studies 350. Students may choose to demonstrate their learning under the guidance of a faculty sponsor (sections A/B) or through a distance learning course (sections C/D). Please note that General Studies 350, regardless of section, is always graded credit/no credit. 

How many total Gen St 350 credits can I earn?

A student can register for a maximum of 6 GEN ST 350 credits during one quarter.  No more than 18 credits of GEN ST 350 can be applied towards graduation credit requirements, and no more than 12 credits may be earned at a single internship site.

Please note that students may only enroll in GEN ST 350 C/D for one academic quarter per internship experience, to the maximum number of credits allowed for GEN ST 350.

How will Gen St 350 affect my tuition costs? Does it count towards full-time student stats for Financial Aid qualifications?

This course will affect your tuition costs, financial aid eligibility, and scholarship status in the same manner than any other University of Washington credits would. Please consult the Quarterly Tuition Rates made available by the Office of Student Fiscal Services for more detailed information regarding any possible tuition costs that may accompany your GEN ST 350 registration.

I don’t know any professors at the UW. How do I find an academic sponsor? Can a TA be my sponsor?

The Carlson Center recommends that students work with a faculty member whose academic background is in some way connected to their internship work experience. If you do not know or have relationships with any such faculty, departmental advisors may refer you to faculty who are willing to work with students pursuing independent study. While it may be intimidating to approach faculty members that you do not have pre-existing relationships with, consider it an opportunity to get to know a new professor. Graduate students, including teaching assistants, are not eligible to be academic sponsors. For more information on identifying and approaching a potential faculty sponsor can be found here.  

If you do not have a faculty sponsor, we recommend that you take our online distance learning course, GEN ST 350 C/D. Please note that students may only enroll in GEN ST 350 C/D for one academic quarter per internship experience, to the maximum number of credits allowed for GEN ST 350.

What types of credits can I get for Gen St 350? What requirements does it fulfill?

GEN ST 350 does not fill any specific requirements. Up to 18 credits of the course may be applied towards the 180 total credits that must be accumulated to graduate. Please note that General Studies 350 is always graded credit/no credit. Please consult with your adviser for detailed information regarding how General Studies 350 may (or may not) fit into your academic plan.

How do I know if my internship is eligible for Gen St 350? Can I receive credit for my part-time job?

Most internships, paid or otherwise, are eligible for the GEN ST 350 course as long as the academic work is suitable. You cannot receive credit for a part time job you are working, but you may want to investigate how you might arrange an internship at your workplace, completing a different set of tasks or projects than those that are in your current job.

Can I register for the same internship for my department credits and Gen St 350?

Generally a single internship may only be registered for one credit-bearing course. However, it may be possible to make exceptions if the number of hours on site will be quite high throughout the quarter. You may have the same academic sponsor for both courses but you must either double the length of your academic project or complete one academic project for each course.

Is there any way I can register with Gen St 350 for an Internship I have already completed?

No. The GEN ST 350 course is intended to grant students credit for academic work done concurrently with an internship experience, not the internship itself, so retroactive credit is not possible.

What are the deadlines? How late can I register for Gen st 350?

This course follows all University of Washington registration deadlines. Please calibrate these deadlines with business days/hours. Remember that while a UW registration deadline may be on a Sunday evening, the Carlson Center’s deadline is the Friday before at 5 pm. Registration information is offered in more detail here. 

  • Students in section A/B will be registered by Carlson Center staff upon receipt of a completed online application, and completed internship supervisor and faculty sponsor online verifications.
  • Students in section C/D will receive an add code from Carlson Center staff upon receipt of a completed online application and completed internship supervisor verification.

As with all courses, students must register by the end of the first week of the academic quarter to avoid an additional fee. The last day to add the course is three weeks after the beginning of the quarter. Late Add Petitions will only be considered under extreme circumstances, and will not be considered for Distance Learning sections.

How do I get my grade at the end of the quarter?

  • If you have chosen to register with a faculty sponsor (sections A/B), it is the faculty sponsor’s responsibility to submit the student’s grade to Academic Records. Faculty sponsors will not submit grades until a satisfactory academic project is completed and the site supervisor has confirmed satisfactory internship performance.
  • If you have registered for distance learning (sections C/D), the distance learning instructor for your section will submit either credit or no credit based on your successful completion of assignments designed to demonstrate your learning from the internship experience.

I have an X credit for Gen St 350 and it’s holding up my financial aid? what do I do?

  • Contact either your faculty sponsor or your distance learning instructor to see what is holding up your grade. If having an Incomplete or ‘X’ credit will affect your financial aid, make sure that you are monitoring your grade well before the financial aid deadline.

How can I earn Gen St 350 credit if I am doing an internship abroad?

  • You must complete the online GEN ST 350 application prior to your departure, including verification of your internship supervisor and faculty sponsor (sections A/B) or simply verification of your internship supervisor (sections C/D). Please note that students will need internet access in order to engage in distance learning assignments for this course. Students engaged in a concurrent seminar or reflective practice/demonstration of learning abroad can bring their materials in upon return to be evaluated for GEN ST 350 equivalency. Please note: students should consult with the Carlson Center prior to departure regarding how to best move forward with demonstrating learning from an internship abroad. 

What is Summer for Fall Registration?

Students engaged in an internship experience during summer quarter, who wish to hold off on enrolling for academic credit until Autumn quarter, will need to check “Summer for Fall” on their internship application. These students will be administratively enrolled in either a faculty sponsor section in Autumn quarter or a Distance learning section in Autumn quarter. Please note: while enrollment and credit are earned in autumn quarter, it is expected that both the internship and academic work will be completed in summer quarter. General Studies 350 provides the opportunity to earn credit for the demonstrated learning derived from an internship experience. As a result, it is essential that the academic work occur concurrently with the internship experience.