MPA Internships

PDF documents for the Internship Work Plan, Student Intern Responsibilities, and Agency/Organization Responsibilities & Best Practices can be found at the end of this webpage.

The Purpose of an Internship

The primary goal of an internship is to give students an opportunity to apply lessons learned in the classroom to a real-world experience set in a professional practice-oriented environment, with the intern’s work preferably overseen by a professional. 

In addition to offering students the opportunity to demonstrate and develop their technical skills, it allows students to develop professional skills such as teamwork, effective communication, social interaction and professional networking, an understanding of business procedures, leadership, and critical thinking.

Finally, it should provide students with work experience within a semi-formal academic framework that carries with it official course credit from the University of Arizona.

Definition of an internship: An internship is a guided learning experience offered by an organization with the student’s education and preparation for future employment in mind. An internship is a temporary practical assignment, usually lasting only 1-2 academic terms, with no guarantee of ongoing employment. When internships are pursued for academic credit, the academic unit is responsible for assessing assignments and awarding credit.

Concurrent enrollment: All hours of work at an internship for credit must take place on or after the first day of the term in which the student will register and for which the student will receive credit and be completed on or before the last date of the same term. Retroactive requests for credit will not be granted - no exceptions.

Complete UA Internship Policy


Internship Benefits

Internships are an important part of the Master of Public Administration’s curriculum. Internships offer students a chance to work in an area of interest and allow the time and experience necessary to evaluate future career opportunities. Internships provide an opportunity to:

  • Accumulate new professional skills
  • Gain experience in a chosen field
  • Develop a network of professional contacts
  • Increase your ability to find employment


MPA Internship Learning Outcomes

In an internship setting, students should be able to demonstrate the ability to do at least 3 of the following:

  • The ability to lead and manage in public governance
  • The ability to participate in and contribute to the policy process
  • The ability to analyze, synthesize, think critically, solve problems, and make decisions
  • The ability to articulate and apply a public service perspective
  • The ability to communicate and interact productively with a diverse and changing workforce and citizenry

Students may use the above examples as a loose guideline in searching for appropriate internships.



  • Master of Public Administration students are required to complete a 3-unit internship (135 minimum total hours) within the span of one semester. 
  • Students should be in good academic standing participate in an internship.
  • An internship must be with a non-profit organization or government agency to receive academic credit.


Steps to Find, Secure and Enroll in an Internship: 

Finding an internship is similar to the process of securing employment. Students need to contact organizations of interest and apply for an internship in the same way that they would a job.

Initial Steps: Secure the Internship
  • Plan ahead! Depending on location, apply 6-9 months before your planned start date.
  • Understand internship requirements (see above information).
  • Research internship options and apply to multiple organizations.
    • Search online for non-profit or government agencies in your areas of interest.
    • Many internship hosts (including public and non-profit sectors) use Handshake to post internship opportunities for UA students.
    • View list of pre-approved MPA internships
      • If you find an internship of interest and it is NOT listed on the pre-approved list or the Jobs and Internships webpage, please contact the Graduate Programs Manager. Please clearly describe your interest in the organization and how you believe it will be applicable to your future career. Students are welcome to search the pre-approved list of SGPP undergraduate internships as well.
  • Prepare resume(s) and cover letter(s).
  • Internship Approval and Acceptance
    • Prepare Internship Work Plan with Site Supervisor.
    • International students must apply for and receive Curricular Practical Training (CPT) approval from the International Student Services Office (ISSO) before participating. More information can be found on the ISSO website under F-1 Student Employment: Curricular Practical Training.
Final Steps: Earn Internship Credit for PA 593
  • Complete the INTERNSHIP WORK PLAN with your site supervisor once you have been offered an internship and it has been approved - this must be submitted to the Graduate Programs Manager at least 1-2 weeks before the start of classes for the semester you wish to complete your internship (see semester/term deadline dates below). 
  • Submit the completed work plan to the Graduate Programs Manager via email for faculty assignment and final approval.
    • After instructor assignment and approval, you will be enrolled in 3 units of PA 593. An email confirmation will be sent to the student along with information on their faculty supervisor.
  • Progess through internship according to Internship Work Plan.
  • Regularly correspond with faculty supervisor and complete any additional assitnment(s) requested.
  • By the last day of classes of the semester/term, submit internship evaluation forms.  The Graduate Programs Manager will provide both links to the student at least 2 weeks in advance prior to the last day of classes.
    • Student Internship Evaluation Form (to be completed by the student)
    • Internship Supervisor Evaluation Form (to be completed by the internship supervisor)


Additional Information

Internship Work Plan Submission Deadlines:

  • Summer 2023 - June 1st
  • Fall 2023 - August 14th

Internship Hours:

  • must be completed within the designated dates of your course enrollment

  • should be tracked by the site supervisor and the intern

  • will be reported by the site supervisor at the end of the internship

Internship Waivers:

For consideration of an internship waiver, it is strongly recommended that MPA students submitting a request have completed 4-5 core classes, has a minimum 3.0 GPA, and meets one of the following criteria:
(a) have at least three years of substantial and relevant full-time managerial or supervisory experience in a government or non-profit organization
(b) is a U.S. Active-Duty Military, Reserves, or National Guard member or Veteran
(c) is currently a Coverdell Fellow or served at least 1 year in the Peace Corps
Individuals who do not meet the above criteria may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Students who are approved of an internship waiver must complete an additional 3-unit elective course in lieu of receiving internship credit.  Students who are currently pursuing a dual degree program may not be subject to the internship requirement; please check the dual degree requirements posted at


Tuition, Fees, and Registrar Deadlines:

Per University policy, PA 593 is considered a course where academic credit is received.  Therefore, all regular university tuition rates, fees, and deadlines apply.


Page updated 11/2/2022.