POLS 490-Political Science Internship

Dr. Scot Schraufnagel-Internship Coordinator



The Northern Illinois University (NIU) Political Science internship program is designed to allow you to test your skills and to apply what you have learned in the classroom, while earning academic credit.  Internships provide on-the-job training, let you get a taste of the field in which you think you want to invest your working years, and provide you an opportunity to network.  To earn academic credit for an undergraduate internship in Political Science you must have at least a 2.5 grade point average. 


The purpose of this syllabus is to outline the tasks and expectations associated with completing a political science internship at NIU.  The internship will be graded on a total point system and there will be a possible 100 points for the class.


Point Range



180-200                                                                                                   Pass                                



< 180                                                                                                 





Task                            Available Points


On-site work               (50 points)


Students are expected to complete, on average, 10 hours per week on-site.  When you are working on-site, it is important for you to work well with your supervisor and complete all assigned tasks in a professional manner.  Your internship placement provides an excellent opportunity for you to see how your organization functions, as well as its “place” in the larger governmental and political world.  Near the end of your internship the contact person with the organization you are working for will be contacted and asked whether your performance was satisfactory.  If they reply in the affirmative you will have received the full 50 points for this portion of the grade.  If their response is qualified, in any manner, the Internship Coordinator has the right to assign lesser points, using professional judgment.


Research Paper            (30 points)


Students will be expected to complete an academic research paper that explores, in some depth, a topic relating to your internship experience.  The paper, at minimum, will provide an academic literature review and in this instance appropriate references to academic sources will provide the basis for the paper. On other occasions students may be afforded the opportunity to collect data on a relevant academic research question while performing their internship duties.  In this event, a student’s paper might look somewhat different than a basic literature review.  In any instance, the research paper should be 8-12 double spaced pages.  It is important that the topic be sufficiently narrow so that it will be possible to explore the topic in a meaningful way.  If the paper is a literature review there should be at least ten (10) references to academic literature in order to receive full credit.  Moreover, the paper topic must be proposed by end of the fourth week of class each semester and accepted as appropriate by the internship coordinator by the end of the fifth week of class.  These will be a point deduction for failing be meet this deadline (please see the grading rubric at the end of this syllabus for more details). 


The proposal and the acceptance of the proposal can be processed over e-mail.  Alternatively, a student may wish to visit the internship coordinator’s office (410 Zulauf Hall) during office hours to establish a relevant paper topic.  The research paper is due on the last scheduled class day by 5:00 p.m., for the relevant semester.  The research paper must be turned in as a hard copy to Room 410 of Zulauf Hall or the Department office on the fourth floor of Zulauf Hall. Papers sent via e-mail or fax cannot be accepted.  If necessary, however, you may send your paper by FedEx, UPS, or regular mail, but the journal must be received by 5:00 p.m. the last day of class.


Journal                         (10 points)      


The journal is reflective in nature; this means that the journal provides you with an opportunity to reflect on how your work connects with the academic political science background that you bring to the job.  There should be a journal entry for each week that you work – or for every 10 hours of work.  The journal is not technically a diary, where you simply list your activities for a particular day.  Instead, your entries should try and draw connections between your activities in the workplace and political science.  Journal entries should be approximately 250 to 500 words in length.  It is important, just as you present yourself professionally while on the job, that you also present yourself professionally when you are reflecting on that experience. This means that the journal must be typed; and journal entries should contain a minimum of grammatical and/or typographical errors.  The journal is also due on the last scheduled class day, for the relevant semester by 5:00 p.m.  The journal can be turned in to Room 410 of Zulauf Hall or the Department office in Zulauf Hall. Journals sent via e-mail or fax will not be accepted.  If necessary, however, you may send your journal by FedEx, UPS, or regular mail, but the journal must be received by 5:00 p.m. on the last day of class. 



Student and Employer Assessment Forms    (10 points)

Attached to this syllabus are student and employer voluntary assessment forms.  If an employer wishes to not fill out the form – simply ask them to sign a blank form and this is what you would need to turn in.  Likewise, a student can rightfully refuse to complete the evaluation form, in this instance you would simply state this and provide a signature.  To earn the points completed forms or forms with refusal signatures must be turned in to the internship coordinator 410, Zulauf Hall.  The form can also be turned in to the department office in Zulauf Hall. Alternatively, completed forms can be scanned and sent via e-mail or sent by FedEx, UPS, or regular mail.  But, the forms must be received by 5:00 p.m. the last day of class.



Grading Rubrics for Written Work


Research Paper:


Submitted on time and appropriate length (0 - - - - - - - - - - - - 10 pts.)          ________


Topic is approved by professor (0 - - - - - - - - - - - - 5 pts.)                             ________


Literature review/data collection is comprehensive (0 - - - - 10 pts.)                ________


Grammar is good (minus 1 for each set of 3 errors) (0 - - - - - - 5 pts.)             ________






Submitted on time and appropriate length (0- - - - - - - - - - - - 5 pts.)             ________


Presentation/Grammar is good (-1 for each set of 3 errors) (0 - - - - 5 pts.)     ________




Student and Employer Assessment Forms:


Submitted on time (0 or 10 pts.)                                                                        ________